With the Ravens preparing to take on the Houston Texans in their postponed Week 2 game this weekend, two members of the enemy team answered a few questions about their squad.
*BR.com gives you head coach Gary Kubiak and wide receiver Andre Johnson. *
Head Coach Gary Kubiak
Talk about the maturation of WR Andre Johnson and how it can help a quarterback.
Gary Kubiak:"He got very hot there for about a month. He had a lot of things go his way, a lot of punted balls coming his way, and coverage-wise, it gave him a chance to make a lot of plays. He has been playing extremely well this season. And he's a worker. Every kid that I've ever had out of Miami, from [Clinton] Portis to Andre, those guys work hard at what they do and play the game at a high level, and Andre is no different. He's an exceptional player. He's been here for a long, long time fighting the fight trying to help this organization turn the corner. He's an impressive young man and he's been playing very well."
How has the team dealt with the distractions this season with Hurricane Ike?
GK:"We went through a very difficult first month. We had some life issues down here that we had to deal with it. That's a part of it. I think everybody did a good job of dealing with it. Then we dealt with a pretty good stretch of road games. We didn't deal with that very good. We didn't play very well and got off to a poor start. [Then we] kind of regrouped ourselves, and then we were playing better and then went on the road for a tough road game last week and did some good things but ultimately hurt ourselves with some turnovers and stuff. That's part of the National Football League. Every game every week is a battle. For us playing you guys [this Sunday], you guys are playing as good as anybody in football. So to me, we've got a tremendous challenge on our hands and we need to clean up our act to give ourselves a shot."
Will the Texans game-plan to attack the secondary by throwing the ball rather than running against the Ravens?
GK:"I think we've got to look at ourselves. First off, I've been up against this defense many times and have the utmost respect for it. They are a very, very difficult [defense] and they present a lot of challenges for you from a personnel standpoint and all the looks they give you. The job that they have done there for a long, long time, in my opinion, is second to none. They have a tremendous leader in the middle [in Ray Lewis]. They've got guys who play extremely hard all around him and just make it very difficult for you as an offensive football team. But I go back to us. We've got to worry about our situation and protecting the football because regardless of who we play or when we play them, if we don't get better from that standpoint, we're going to struggle."
What has surprised you the most about the Ravens so far this season?
GK:"I'm not really surprised, to be honest with you, because I know how well they were set on the defensive side of the ball and they've been playing that way for a long, long time. I think John [Harbaugh] is doing a tremendous job there. Their special teams are playing great. And on the offensive side of the ball, Cam [Cameron] has been doing it in this league for a long, long time. And, he's got that young quarterback [Joe Flacco] settled down and they're very difficult to defend. They're causing a lot of problems for defensive coordinators to get ready to play them because they're doing so much. They're a fine, fine football team, I'll tell you, and I'm just so impressed with that. But, I have to admit, I have been for a long, long time."
How has your team had to readjust with the loss of your bye week?
GK:"That was unfair. It was difficult on them, too, because we basically all sat around that week trying to wait and see what was going to happen. When you lose your bye week in this league it's difficult. I think it's very difficult from a mindset of everybody because everybody looks forward to that break and the NFL has a long season. But, we have to deal with it, and I'm sure John has dealt with it his way. We've tried to deal with it down here as best we could, but I think it's something that we'd both like to have back. It helps you get players healthy, it helps guys get a little relief from the long grind of the season, but there's nothing we can do about it."
WR Andre Johnson
How have you been successful in his past few years and particularly this season?
Andre Johnson:"I think just running more and more every year, just playing the game and just watching things on film. This year, I became more patient in doing things, playing a little smarter, and I think it's helped me out a whole lot."
Do you agree with some of the Ravens who called you one of the best receivers in the NFL?
AJ:"I definitely feel like I'm one of the top guys. I always said I [would] never consider myself the best until I put up the numbers. I think over the past two years I haven't put up [the numbers]. I evidently haven't put up a 1,500-yard season or anything like that. That's what the elite receivers do. I haven't done that yet, so I won't feel like I'm the best until I put up big numbers and things like that."
Do you like the thought of being matched up with a smaller corner and think it's a matchup that you can win?
AJ:"You can think that, but if you don't go out and do what you're supposed to do, the size doesn't really matter. If you don't go out and work your technique and things like that, you're not going to be successful on routes. It does help, the size, sometimes you can use your body. [Like in] basketball [where] a guy boxes the guy out and gets the ball still, but you definitely have to work your technique and things like that."
Do you find that opposing defenses are paying extra attention to you?
AJ:"Yeah. A lot of times we come out of the huddle and I'm in the slot and you hear the guys yell out '80 in the slot' or, depending on my split, they'll yell out to the defense. But that's part of the game. That's what defenses are supposed to do."
How well do you know CB Samari Rolle and do you look forward to playing against him?
AJ:"I know Samari well. Samari is a great guy. I played against Samari when he was in Tennessee and we were in the same division. He's a great guy. I think he's a great player. He's had some injuries, he's been banged up, but other than that I think he's a great cornerback."