With the Ravens' upcoming matchup with the Cleveland Browns, enemy Head Coach Eric Mangini and quarterback Colt McCoy chatted with Baltimore media via conference call.
Topics discussed revolved around the emergence of running back Peyton Hillis, if the Browns can pass the ball if Baltimore stops the run and the wintry conditions that await at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
*Here are the highlights: *
Did you envision Peyton Hillis as a tailback as opposed to a fullback?
Eric Mangini:"Well, I had seen him play tailback in Denver, and actually we played against him as a tailback in Denver. And he was tough to deal with. It was the physical running that he had, but even in space, he could make people miss, and then the other thing is his hands out of the backfield. He's got incredible hands – like Ray Rice's-type hands. I mean, they're both guys that seem to catch everything that's thrown to them."
Do you expect the Ravens to make stopping Hillis a top priority after his performance in Week 3?
EM:"Well, they're excellent at stopping the run, and I'm sure that they're not going to allow that to happen again. They're usually pretty good at correcting things when there is a hiccup, so we're going to have our work cut out for us in that area."
How confident are you that your offense can perform if the Ravens' shut down the run?
EM:"Well, the Ravens' defense has the ability to put pressure on anybody they face. And there's a lot of different blitz looks, even when they're not blitzing, dealing with [Terrell] Suggs or any of the interior guys in the way that they can push the pocket. It's a problem; and it's a problem for everybody that they face. And then the secondary… Ed Reed wasn't there the first time we played them, and that's a whole different component for a guy like Colt, because he is so dynamic in the passing game. There are a ton of challenges."
Do you like being able to impact the playoff race in your division?
EM:"Yeah, I really like the way that it's set up this year, where you're playing division opponents at the end of the season. I think that's a good system, and we have a chance to continue to make progress as a team. And we can do it against the two top teams in the division, and they're playoff-bound – or arguably playoff-bound – and it's about as good a test as you can get."
How do you account for a guy like Haloti Ngata?
EM:"It's hard. I remember him coming out in the draft, and he was impressive on tape, and it's just been the same thing throughout his pro career. Just dynamic for a guy his size, ridiculously strong, can throw guys around, runs down the line making plays, pushes the pocket. I mean, he's a really, really good player."
QB Colt McCoy
How are you feeling after missing practice on Wednesday?
Colt McCoy:"I'm feeling a lot better. I don't know if it was a 24-hour bug or if I got some food poising or what, but yesterday wasn't a good day. But today I feel fine. I'm back and had a good practice and you know, back rolling."
What is the biggest challenge for a rookie quarterback in this league?
CM: "I don't know if I can nail it down to one specific, but I think there are a lot of challenges. And because of the guys that I look up to, like Peyton [Manning] and Drew Brees and Philip Rivers, just the guys that have been doing it for so long, Tom Brady, I have so much respect for them just because of the week-in and the week-out. You know, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, there are just so many guys who have played and have been successful. And it's a challenge, it's a burden and it's tough. And you know, starting with leadership and then your feel for your receivers and your running back and the speed of the game, the adjustments to that, the adjustments to film study and your preparation week-to-week. There are a lot of things, and it's tough, but I feel like we've done some really good things. We just need to start winning football games."
How difficult is it to throw in Cleveland given the wind and weather associated with Lake Erie?
CM: "Well, we don't practice in there and I've only played in there obviously three or four times, and I think Sunday – as they're predicting – will be some of the worst weather we've had so far this year. The wind will be swirling, it'll be a little cold, and it'll really be the first time that I've really been in those elements playing. We practice in it every day; we practiced outside today and it was real cold, real windy. So, [we're] slowly starting to prepare for that, but we'll see. You've got to know the game plan, got to know what we're trying to do offensively, and then go to work."
Do you feel like defenses come after you more because you are a rookie?
CM: "It's hard to tell. It's hard to tell. You know, I watched the Baltimore game against the Saints, and Baltimore blitzed pretty much every play [on] Drew Brees. And they were coming after him, they were pressuring him, and then you watch the other games, and you watch our game when Seneca [Wallace] was playing and they do a lot of different things, lots of disguised coverages. I think week-to-week it's different. This week I expect to see a lot of pressure, I expect to see them coming after us a little bit, and how we handle that is going to determine how successful we are in the game."
Have you seen defenses try hard to shut down Peyton Hillis first?
CM: "We've got to get the running game going again. We've played pretty well the last couple of weeks, but we just haven't really established that consistency in the running game like we had early in the season. I don't know if they're taking it away or if they're just doing a good job of kind of having a handle of what we're trying to do. But, it'll be huge for us to get the running game going early and I think if we can do that then some of the offense that we have based off of that will produce as well. So, yeah I think that's a big key for us this week."