With the Ravens preparing to take on the Minnesota Vikings this weekend, two members of the enemy team answered a few questions about their squad.
BR.com gives you Vikings head coach Brad Childress and quarterback Brett Favre.
Head coach Brad Childress
What were was your experience like working with John Harbaugh in Philadelphia?
Childress:"I think it goes back to probably the Big 10 days. He was coaching at Indiana, I was at Wisconsin. There's some commonality there. When I got there, John was a guy that Andy [Reid] had retained from Ray Rhodes' staff. He kind of knew the city of Philadelphia, and had done a great job the year before with the special teams on a not particularly good team. We just struck up a relationship. I knew of him, I didn't know him very well. [We had] a lot of common interests, a lot of Michigan Bo Schembechler stories, those kind of things. He was always able to be a very good football coach, but we were able to have some laughs and enjoy ourselves."
Did you two bond during your long-distance runs?
Childress:"We did. I'm not sure [with] either one of us it's pretty. You've seen him jog from drill to drill, I know what that looks like. (laughing) And I'm not sure I'm not much different. 'Run' may be an over-exaggeration. It may have been more of like a home-run trot."
How pleased are you with your team at this point of the season?
Childress:"I'm happy to be undefeated, but by the same token, and our guys know this, we've got whole bunches of things that we can clean up offensively, defensively and special teams. The good part about this group is they come to work every day. They're eager to know what it is they need to clean up from last week, and they go about doing it and are eager to learn about the next people we play."
How has Brett Favre impacted the team?
Childress:"I think first thing is he's a very good leader. All the travails that they talk about in the locker room and so on, he's been intentional about getting to know the people in the room. With that said, he's not going to go out after practice with those guys, but he's great in the locker room. The impact is by the way he's played. He's accepted immediately. Our defensive guys have played against him for years, and whether it's competing in the 2-minute drill on a Thursday afternoon, he's a great, great competitor. Anytime you can put your money where your mouth is and play the way he plays, guys want to play with good players. And he's a good player."
What kind of reception should Matt Birk anticipate in his return to Minnesota?
Childress:"I don't know. I don't think they introduce visiting players on road games. Certainly not like if he would have left Philadelphia, where he might have gotten something thrown at him. I don't think there will be any foreign objects or anything. I think Matt's a native of here, and they have a great appreciation and respect for him here in Minnesota. We're not quite as mean-spirited."
QB Brett Favre
What about the Ravens' defense can be exploited? "It goes without saying how good they [the Ravens defense] are. They're very physical. You've got Ray [Lewis] who is the quarterback of the defense. Ed Reed is patrolling back there. They're a lot like our defense. I mean, it's a different scheme, they give up a few big plays, but they make a ton. I've watched all the tape already from this year and they're good. They give you a lot of exotic looks. We have to work on a lot of different nickel looks and protection issues and stuff. Not a whole lot different, from a schematic standpoint, of what we've seen with Green Bay and San Francisco as far as nickel goes. They give you a lot of looks, by doing that they leave some holes sometimes. It's easier when you watch it on film [to think], 'Oh yeah, we could do that.' The pressure and the speed they have in the secondary is very impressive, and the physical-ness they have upfront is very impressive. It is as physical of a team as we'll play all year."
Does going up against the Vikings defense in practice helps prepare for the speed of the Ravens?
Favre: "No. I would say no. First of all, it's a different scheme from a base standpoint. They're just different... Pat Williams is a big guy for us upfront. Their big guy, he's a stud. Terrell Suggs is about as good as they come in this league. We don't go against our first team guys at this point during the season. But, their speed in the secondary is pretty impressive. Ed Reed is really a corner playing safety. He's still physical and has the safety capabilities, but man, the guy covers sideline to sideline like nobody."
Do you like facing off against Ray Lewis because of the respect you two have for each other?
Favre:"I don't necessarily like going up against him. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for competition and all that stuff, but I'd like an easy week for a change. There aren't too many easy weeks in the National Football League. But Ray is right. I've got a tremendous amount of respect for him. The guy is a winner, he's a competitor. I love his passion. He'd be a great guy to play with, and not a guy you really want to go up against. Yeah, it's a challenge. I guess you could look at it a couple of different ways. We have to show up and play the game. He sure makes life a lot tougher. The way he rallies the troops, play-in and play-out… I've seen all of the footage and of course watched him play – what a leader, just a great leader."
What have you seen in Joe Flacco and his progression as a quarterback?
Favre:"What little bit that I've seen of him, probably saw a little bit more of him last year than I have this year, but I have watched bits and pieces. I think he's played outstanding. I think he's everything they thought he would be and then some. I think he's got all the tools. He moves around, he's a big guy, he's got a real good arm, makes all the throws, seems to be a great leader. I think they struck gold with him."
Do you remember your stellar game against the Ravens in 2001 and not-so-stellar game in '05?
Favre:"I remember the first one very well. (laughing) The first one, God, I can't believe it was that long ago. You say 2001. I actually remember both of them quite well for obvious reasons. '01, I think that's the year they came off the Super Bowl win, and I think in that game, first of all, we just played better for whatever reason. That happens sometimes. That's no different than the second time we played them when we didn't play as well. We didn't protect very well the second game. Really, neither team had anything to lose, if I'm correct, and we got shellacked 40-something-to-3 or whatever. Everything that could go wrong went wrong, and I give them credit for that. Kyle Boller had a great game. I think in that first one, I think we spread them out. We just kind of, I hate to say, 'Dink and dunk,' we just kind of took what they gave us. Really, in some ways, took away what they're really good at, that was being real physical on defense. We tried to spread them out, because we couldn't match their guys up front. So we just spread them out and tried to get completions and move the chains, and that seemed to work for us better. Maybe we should have done that the second time we played them, I don't know, but they out-physicaled us in a big way. I think it was a Monday night game, if I'm correct. And Adalius [Thomas], I think, had an outstanding game. He made every play. And Boller played outstanding."