With the Ravens kicking off their 2010 season against the New York Jets, two members of the enemy team answered a few questions about their squad.
Here is Head Coach Rex Ryan and linebacker Bart Scott, both former Ravens…
**Head Coach Rex Ryan
Have you heard Ray Lewis's recent comments about the Jets?Ryan: **"I'm laughing. I think it's great. That's good. I don't care one way or the other. We don't have to sneak up on people to tell them what we think. We expect to have a great football team, we expect to win, we go into every football game expecting to win, and if that's 'cashing a check' and all that other kind of stuff, then so be it. Sounds like we got under Ray's nerves, but we're not here to sneak up on anybody. We're just here to play them."
Since you're facing your old team, is this game even bigger for you?Ryan:"It's a huge game for us. There's no 'ands' or 'buts' about it. Anytime you open up the season, you want to get that win no matter who you're playing. The fact that we're playing an outstanding football team just adds more to it. If you come out on top, this will be a big win for us, and that's our mission. We're trying to get this thing, go 1-0 this week, and that's what we're going to try to do. As far as the fact I spent 10 years there and got passed over for the head coaching job, yeah it might add a little bit more to it.
"But to be honest with you, it was a great thing for me. It was a great experience being under John [Harbaugh] for a year, and the things that he allowed me to be with gave me a huge advantage going into my rookie year as a head coach, experiencing some of the things. And he allowed me to sit in there with him, and that was huge. I think the world of him for allowing me to do that, and it was just a great experience. But I had 10 great years there. But we play my brother every year… I don't care who's across [the sideline] – my brother, my dad, the Ravens. It's a great organization and things, but hey, trust me, I still want to win and I don't care who's over there."
A lot of people say "Super Bowl or Bust," but you trumpet it. Why?Ryan:"Well, not everybody says it, because nobody has the guts to say it. We're just a little different that way. If you really believe it, you should be able to say it, and I don't care if anybody likes it or not. If that's what you have to do to get your team fired up and put those things on the wall, then go for it. But at the end of the day, we believe in our team, and we truly believe in our team. So again, that's our goal. We have one goal as an organization and that's to win the Super Bowl. It's not about the Pro Bowls or anything else. It's about winning the Super Bowl, and that's what we plan on doing."
What do you think about the progression of Joe Flacco and Ray Rice?Ryan:"They're outstanding. And you know, it's funny to see… Both of them were excellent players when I was there, their rookie years, but you saw how they matured last year. Obviously, Ray Rice being a Pro Bowl running back his second season, and then the way Joe improved, they really did a great job. I think you've got to credit the coaches as well – Cam Cameron and all those guys, Wilbert Montgomery. Those guys did a great job there and the players really responded. But both of them are terrific young players."
Do you think you could have won more Super Bowl rings with an offense like the Ravens have now?Ryan:"I'd rather not think about it to be honest with you,because that offense is pretty darn good right now."
LB Bart Scott
What do you think about the Jets' Super Bowl or bust mentality?
Scott:"That should be for everybody. Everybody – whether they want to say it publicly or not – believes that they're going to go to the Super Bowl. When the Ravens acquired Anquan Boldin, they said, 'We're ready. We've got no excuses. We can go to a Super Bowl.' The only difference is we're not afraid to say it publicly. You know, when you do that you put a target on your back and expectations. I think you set yourself up for people to wish for you to fail, but I mean who cares? We're a confident group, and we believe that we have a legitimate shot, and it's up to us to go out there and prove it."
Where do you see the Ravens' offensive weapons challenging your defense? Scott: "It's not letting them throw the ball over our head when they decide to take a shot down the field. Everything starts with Ray Rice. He's a dual-threat running the ball and also catching the ball, so we've got to try to bottle him up and make him one-dimensional and try to set our offense up with a short field so they don't have to try and march down the field on that defense and put them on short fields. And win the turnover battle."
How much better is the Ravens' offense now than when you were in Baltimore? Scott:"It was a one-dimensional offense. They really didn't have an identity other than running the ball. Now they're a balanced attack. I think they're a respected attack, and they have the capability to make a lot of noise. They can throw the ball now. You can't just stack eight in the box, because they've got guys one-on-one. They've got guys who can win the one-on-one battle, so you can't just drop eight in the box and say, 'We're going to take Ray Rice away and single up everybody else.' Now you see the reemergence of Todd Heap. He's going to get a lot of single coverage – get a lot of linebackers, a lot of safeties – and I think they would think that was an advantage."
Do you think Rex was hurt when he didn't get the Ravens' head coaching job? Scott:"I'm sure that was a blow because he was next in line. He had paid his dues, and I'm sure that was disappointing. But I think he handled it with pride and class. He came in and he got that defense to play that last year [in Baltimore]. He helped guys buy into [John] Harbaugh's system. He was an integral part in that run. He gave Harbaugh instant credibility, because Rex put his name behind what Harbaugh was trying to accomplish and the message that he was saying. Rex was saying, 'I know this guy. Trust me, guys. Buy in, and we have a shot.'"
Do you still have the same fun-loving personality you had as a Raven? Scott:"Did you watch 'Hard Knocks?' I'm still me. I'm always going to have fun, I'm always going to play with a chip on my shoulder, and I'm always going to be passionate about what I do. I take things personal, and that's the way I play. That's who I am, and that can't change. I think I still can do that and still be a leader as well. Being a leader is being a guy that comes in here and they see how hard you work and how hard you prepare. And that's how you gain the respect of your teammates – not by saying words. Words mean nothing. Productivity is what leaders produce."