As the Ravens prepare for their Divisional Playoff game with the Tennessee Titans this Saturday at LP Field in Nashville, two members of the enemy team answered a few questions about their squad.
BR.com gives you head coach Jeff Fisher and quarterback Kerry Collins.
Head Coach Jeff Fisher
Do you see playing the Ravens a second time this season to be an advantage or disadvantage?
Jeff Fisher:"Clearly there's going to be some familiarity, but I wouldn't say it's an advantage for either team. I think both teams are different than they were back in early October. I think both teams have improved. I've seen pretty good improvement in the Ravens in all areas. So, I don't think there's an advantage or disadvantage just because we played earlier in the season."
What types of things did you do during the bye week to keep your team fresh as well as prepare for this week's game?
JF:"You have to look at each individual player, and that's what we did. That was the reason for the decisions we made going into Week 17. Of course, the overall goal and philosophy of the team and objective of the bye week was to practice and practice hard and practice full speed, and we did so. We didn't necessarily work on an opponent. We worked on things that we felt we needed to improve upon. We put pads on and we got physical. We played 'ones' against 'ones' and we were very competitive, and I thought it was beneficial for us."
What have you seen in Ravens wideout Derrick Mason both when you were coaching him and this year when he has played through tough injuries?
JF:"It doesn't surprise me that Derrick plays hurt. He's a tough guy. He's just a great competitor. I guess the best way to describe it [is that] Derrick will shake your hand before the game and he'll do everything possible to beat you during the game, and then he'll shake your hand after and wish you good luck. He's a great competitor. I think he's a great example to most of the younger receivers."
As a coach, what do you tell Kerry Collins to try to nullify Ed Reed?
JF:"There's not a whole lot you need to say to Kerry Collins, other than don't throw it to Ed Reed. Ed is a great player. He takes advantage of situations. He takes advantage of pressure and heat and film study and recognition and jumps routes. There are a lot of other good players on the field, aside from Ed Reed. When you put an offensive game plan together your intention is to try to make plays against the defense, not necessarily avoid plays as far as one particular player is concerned."
What have you seen from Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and what he's brought to the Baltimore organization?
JF:"You could see early on just the element of discipline. When a new coach comes into a program and you're able to keep your defense intact and your defensive staff together, that helps as far as continuity is concerned and stability is concerned. And then you put your stamp on the offense and Cam [Cameron] is doing a great job with the offense. He understands the strengths and weaknesses of his team, and he puts game plans together and directs his team accordingly."
Quarterback Kerry Collins
How do you think the Ravens' defense is playing right now?
Kerry Collins:"They're playing very well. Obviously, [they're] getting the turnovers that they've been getting and making it difficult for people to put drives together. So, they're playing very well."
What do you think makes the defense unique compared to other defenses around the NFL?
KC:"I think, schematically, they're unique. Obviously, in third-down situations, they bring blitzes from a lot of different places. I'm not sure we see any more exotic blitzes from anybody else."
How do you think Ed Reed has been playing, especially over the last few games of this season?
KC:"The guy is doing what he's done his whole career – find the ball. He's extremely smart. He studies, you can tell. He knows your tendencies and plays to them. I think that's what puts him in a lot of positions to make plays. He's a guy who you've just always got to know where he is."
Do you tell the younger players on your team not to take playoff opportunities for granted?
KC:"Yeah, that's definitely a message. I remember my second year I went to the NFC championship game and I thought, 'This is going to happen every year.' And, it doesn't happen that way. So, the veterans definitely try to convey that message around here."
Is there an irony in the connections between the 2000 Super Bowl year when the Ravens beat Tennessee, then played you as quarterback of the Giants and now when you are facing the Ravens again?
KC:"It was a long time ago, but obviously there are some connections there. It is what it is. But, regardless of what happened in the past, I think everybody is focused on what we're trying to accomplish this weekend."