*RAVENS MONDAY TRANSCRIPTS
John Harbaugh, Dean Pees, QB Joe Flacco, CB Marlon Humphrey, OLB Matthew Judon, LB C.J. Mosley, K Justin Tucker, WR Mike Wallace & S Eric Weddle
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Statement on the retirement of defensive coordinator Dean Pees:"We love Dean. I love Dean. Great person, great coach. Innovator, thorough, mentor, teacher and friend. How fortunate for us to have him with the Ravens. Look at his record. It is historically good. Dean coached me as a senior in college, and he has influenced me ever since.
"I have total respect for his decision. He and Melody have the best family, and we know they are looking forward to creating more special times in their lives. All of us at the Ravens will miss Dean and his exceptional coaching."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
Opening statement: "I appreciate the opportunity here to talk to you. John [Harbaugh] allowed me to address the football team this morning at our team meeting, and at that time I told them that after 45 years of football, 680 games and over 6,000 practices, I have decided to retire from coaching. It has been a great, great run, and I am very, very proud of the 45 years and what I have been able to accomplish. I also feel like it is a time in my life … A lot of times guys are forced to retire because of health reasons or whatever, and my health could not be better. I think that is the reason why I want to retire. My wife has raised our six kids. They all got their degrees, and they are all doing well. Five out of the six got their masters, and she has done it all. I feel like most of the time in my 45-year career football has probably come first and everything else second. It is time that changes. I really want to spend a lot of time with my wife. We have a lot of grandkids. A bunch of grandboys and girls that are all active in sports, and I want to see them participate. I missed a lot with my kids, and I don't really want to miss a lot with the grandkids. I am very, very indebted to obviously, first my wife, just for what she has put up with through all these years and being gone and traveling and different teams and different cities and different places. If any of you know my wife, she adapts to all of them. Secondly, though, is this organization – Mr. [Steve] Bisciotti, Ozzie [Newsome], especially John [Harbaugh]. I told John this morning … We met at about 8:30 a.m. this morning sulking over the game, and I said what a unique opportunity [it is] to be able to coach for a guy that you once coached. It is a unique, unique opportunity that does not come around very often, and he has been very, very great to me. Most of all, then, to my players, through all of them. Obviously with 45 years, there is a heck of a lot of them. My texts are going crazy from all the way back to guys I coached in high school. I think I have had a unique career. I started out as a high school coach, coached Division II football, coached Division I football, coached major college football and then in the NFL. I have seen every aspect of it, and I feel like I have been touched by all of them. I am very, very grateful for the opportunity God has given me in my life through coaching and how many people … I said this morning, I have been fortunate enough to coach in the Army-Navy classic, been fortunate enough to be a part of a National Championship college football team, been fortunate enough to be in three Super Bowls, and the two things I am probably most proud of aren't those. No. 1 is the fact that I have never been fired. Even though people still think I was fired from New England, I was not. No. 2 is that I have never in 45 years ever had a confrontation with a player – ever. I feel like I have shown them the respect, and they have shown me the respect that a coach and player relationship should be. I always felt like if it ever got to that point that it was my fault, and knock on wood, it has never gotten to that point. I am very proud of that. That is what I have done."
What are you looking forward to the most in retirement? (Garrett Downing) "I don't know. After three weeks, my wife may tell me to go back to football. Who knows? (laughter) Just spending time with [my wife] Melody is probably the biggest thing. We went on our first vacation about three years ago when John [Harbaugh] gave us a week off here, and we really have … We just have not [been on vacation]. It has always been with all the kids and grandkids; it is kind of like that has been your vacation. When you get time off, you just kind of go and see them, because you feel guilty, because you have not been able to see them. Her and I getting away and maybe going somewhere and having a really, really nice vacation, just the two of us. At least that is the start, and then after that, I really do not know. I am very up in the air. I love my music, and I plan on writing some more. I don't know. We will see where it takes me."
*How long has this been in your head or when did the wheels of this start? (Bo Smolka) *"I would say even a year ago, a little bit. I think anytime you get that many years in and you get over 65 and you have to go sign up for social security and Medicare and all that kind of stuff, you think, 'I have to start thinking about retirement.' Then, really, I will tell you what really kind of made me decide was [former Ravens defensive line coach] Clarence Brooks. Clarence was going to retire after last year, and here is a guy that I dearly love, and you just never know when your time is going to come. Clarence never got a chance to go … He had a house down in Florida, was all set to do that, go see the grandkids and all those kinds of things. All of a sudden, things do not work out that way. That hit me hard. I started thinking about the rest of my life, and how many more years do any of us have? I want to spend those years quality. I don't want to be, 'I can't do anything,' 'I can't go see anything,' 'I can't do anything with my wife or grandkids because I'm sick' or whatever.' Not that I think I'm going to be, but none of us know. I really think coach Brooks – and there have been about three or four other coaches in the last year or two that I've grown up with, that have either passed away or have gotten very sick – it just started hitting me a little bit. Really, after last year it started hitting me a little bit that it might be my last year. I really didn't make the decision until … Going into the year I was thinking about it, kind of midway through the year I was thinking a little more about it, because I didn't want it, but I also didn't want it to be a distraction, and really didn't make a decision until just recently."
**DB Lardarius Webb talked about how they should build a statue of you, and S Eric Weddle spoke about how you'll always be on their mind. How touched are you by the players' responses? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"That's a whole thing. It's like the texts today. [Former Ravens cornerback] Jerraud Powers, from a couple years ago, texted me today. Haloti Ngata texted me last night. Ray [Lewis], Ed [Reed], I got a bunch of guys from New England, and it's great. Those are the things that you really remember, more than the victories and the defeats. I remember the defeats just as well as the victories – probably more so in some ways. But, it's really the life experiences you have with players. I got a text from a kid that I kicked off the team at Kent State who has made something of his life and said that … And, I wasn't mean to him when I kicked him off. I just said as a matter of fact, 'You broke the rule. I told you what the rule was; here it is. It's done. I'm sorry. You can transfer wherever you want,' which he did. But, I'm telling you that story though because, again, I didn't have a confrontation with the guy – it was just a matter of fact, and this is what it is. He texted me and said [getting kicked off was] probably the best thing that ever happened to be, because I was the first person who stood up to him and made him feel like he had to be accountable. It meant something to him. Now, he's the head of the Boy's Club of America. Things like that are just … Those things mean the world to me. With 'Webby' [Lardarius Webb] and those guys – I love those guys. I've been blessed. I've had great players. I love the people I work with. This organization is incredible – just incredible. I see everybody around here … I don't want to mention somebody, because then I'll leave somebody out. But, it's just the whole organization – it's just fantastic."
When you talked to the players this morning, did you offer them any kind of message of what lies ahead for them? (Childs Walker) "All I told them was just my life experiences – work hard, do what's right. Biggest thing is getting up in the morning [and] being able to look yourself in the mirror and be proud of what you're looking at."
*How proud are you of just the legacy that you leave? There are a lot of accomplishments on your resume. *(Ryan Mink) *"I feel good about those. Those are all great accolades. The University of Findlay here on Jan. 27 … I'm getting the Lifetime Achievement Award from them. I didn't even go to school there, and I was shocked. Those things are all great, but they still don't mean as much as the relationships that I have with the players and being able to call those guys my friends. The coaches, too – I don't want to leave those out. You think about three of the bosses that I've worked for in a row: coach [Lou] Holtz, coach [Nick] Saban and coach [Bill] Belichick. I should have a statue, I think. *(laughter) I learned so much from all those guys. Talk about three different personalities. But how fortunate is a guy to work for three guys like that, and coach [John] Harbaugh. Gary Pinkel, which may not be as big of name for you guys, but Gary Pinkel – a heck of a coach; Dick Storms in the Hall of Fame in Division II. I have just been blessed being around a lot of great, great people."
What are you going to do on Sundays next fall? (Bo Smolka)"Root for the Ravens! I wanted to retire a Raven, so I'll be cheering for the Ravens. Who knows what will happen." (Reporter: "Yelling play calls at the TV?") "No. I am not going to second-guess anybody. (laughter) I've had enough of that in my lifetime. I can't stand the announcers now. When I do watch the TV, I turn the sound off and just watch the game, draw my own conclusions. So, no. I'm not going to second-guess anybody."
QB Joe Flacco
On if it was a long talk with head coach John Harbaugh:"It always ends up getting lengthy with John – just talking about things, reflecting on the year."
On if the season's ending is any easier this morning:"No, it's tough. We play this game to win it all. Obviously, at this point, we don't have the chance to do that, so it's tough."
On what improvements need to be made in order for the team to make the playoffs:"It's so close – it really is. We have to play a full 16 games. We can't sit here with eight games left, and here every year, try to turn it on and expect to get it done that way. We have to play consistently throughout the course of 17 weeks. There's a lot that goes into that, but we have to make it happen."
On if this will be a healthy offseason:"It should be a full healthy offseason. I'm definitely going to need a little bit of rest. But I don't foresee anything crazy happening."
On his reaction to people noting changes should occur in the offseason after the loss:"That's how it always is. That's the nature of this business. It's all about now, performing now. We haven't done that now for a long time. You understand that that's what is going to happen, but at the same time, we have to keep our heads down and do our best to do our part."
On what he was most disappointed with offensively: "It's tough. It was a tough year – it really was. The first half of the year was not a lot of happy days walking in here on Mondays and Tuesdays – just the way we fought through some things and struggled early on in the year. It was definitely great to see how we rebounded in the last part of the year and giving ourselves a chance. I thought we really played well down the stretch, did a lot of good things. It was just tough early on. To go out there every week, play the way we were playing and not really getting anything done, not moving the ball, not scoring points – I think we were dealing with a lot, to be honest with you. We were trying to do our best to play winning football and put ourselves in position to win the football games the best that we could, the way that set up for our football team. I think that we had to win football games in certain ways in the early part of the year, due to a lot of things. We were trying to play to that style and do those things. We just weren't good enough at it."
On if he would like to see a focus of building the offense more in the offseason instead of the personnel department investing so much in the defense: "No, man. Hey, it is what it is. When you have a great defense and you have an organization that's willing to put a lot into that, it helps the offense out. We have to go out there and … We dealt with things this year. We dealt with injuries. We were very thin. Even towards the end of the year, we were dealing with guys who haven't been here for long and were hanging on by a thread, and we're trying to fight through. It's the name of the game. It's what we are. It's what we're good at. It's my job to go out there and get all 11 guys on offense operating as one – no matter what we're doing, no matter what we have to overcome that week – and go get the job done. We had plenty of talent. We had a lot of good guys and a lot of guys who fought hard on this team. I'm never going to feel bad about what they're doing upstairs. It's my job as a quarterback to go out there, play the game and get everybody playing well."
On how much he would enjoy having current unrestricted free agent WR Mike Wallace back next season: "Mike – he's been a warrior for us for a couple years now. The attitude he brings and the explosiveness that he brings out there – I think you guys can see it. The amount of big plays that he's had the past couple of years … He's second to none in the league, and he does a lot for an offense like this. It'd be huge to see him back."
On if he expects offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to be back and the importance of continuity with the offensive coordinator and play-caller: "Yeah, I do. It's always huge. Our relationship is growing; it's always evolving. It'll definitely be a big thing moving forward."
CB Marlon Humphrey
On what he takes away from his rookie season: "I felt like I had a pretty decent year, rookie year. I enjoyed the way I came into the season not coming in the starter at the beginning. I never have really enjoyed special teams as much as I have this year, because [special teams coordinator/associate head coach] Jerry [Rosburg] is … I never thought I could have that much fun playing special teams, honestly. Even running down on kickoffs or playing corner on punt return. I was definitely blessed to receive some reps not being the No. 1 or No. 2 corner. On all the teams I have been on in the past, the third corner has never really played as long as the No. 1 or No. 2 corners were healthy. As the season went on and Jimmy [Smith] went down [with an Achilles injury], I was able to get out there and start. They definitely used me in a pretty good way, and I felt like when I had to go in and start, I was ready to go."
On how ready he is to be a starter going into the season: "That lies in the coaches' hands. I know Jimmy [Smith] will come back better than ever. I do not know if everyone knows, but he was playing more than half the year with a messed up Achilles and doing pretty well. I think he would have definitely been a Pro Bowl guy if that report [suspension] didn't come out. For him to do that coming off an injury is definitely huge."
On the sense of the team knowing defensive coordinator Dean Pees is retiring: "I think somebody in the media told me yesterday that there were reports that he might retire. I did not know that. When he told us that today, it definitely woke me up. I was very surprised to hear that. I think I said yesterday, I just remember the last time he was up in front of the team he told us about finishing. That was one of the things he really prided us on, and for us not to finish for him in his last year, it definitely hurts a little bit. Great coach and definitely a great leader of this team."
On if there is anything he will focus on in the offseason: "I figured out what I needed to do, but I spoke with my DB coaches. A little bit of off coverage, continue to work on my ball skills is one of the things that I have to work on a lot before I came to the NFL. I had some pretty bad plays in college, so off coverage and ball skills and just becoming faster and stronger."
On if *Pro Football Focus *having him as one of their Top 5 rookie CBs validates his assessment of his abilities:"I think so. Coming into the league, I think everybody says Alabama DBs are going to be a bust. That was one of the things I was trying to change that trend around. Me and Eddie Jackson [in Chicago], that was one of the things, where we were like, 'That is going to have to change.' That is pretty big, especially with Marshon Lattimore probably [being Rookie] Defensive Player of the Year. I felt like all the rookie cornerbacks balled pretty good this year, so that is definitely a big thing for me to be in that Top 5."
OLB Matthew Judon
On if he feels better after the loss last night and how he slept:"I did not get too much sleep. We are going to feel like this until we get to play [again]."
On his initial reaction to defensive coordinator Dean Pees retiring:"I have been in this league for only a short amount of time, but I do not think there is a better coordinator than Dean Pees. It hurts. I learned a lot from that guy, and I am going to miss him, but such is life – especially in the football realm. There is turnover every year in the locker room and in the coaching staff as well. It hurt me a little bit, but we have to move on."
On how he heard the news of Dean Pees' retirement: "I kind of heard some stuff. You know that you media guys ruin everything for us.* (laughter) *I heard some stuff and saw some stuff on social media and what not, but he came up and told us in front of the team."
On what made Dean Pees such a great defensive coordinator:"Just look at his winning percentage in the games that he played and the defenses that he coached. I do not know what it is, but he spends countless hours with film study and stuff like that. I do not know what it is, but he has done a great job."
On this season being a breakout year for him: "I think it is because they moved my locker next to Marshal [Yanda]. *(laughter) *Marshal is always here, and that is all his room over there. I just take away from it growth. I have to continue to grow as a player, and as a young man in this league, and hopefully next year I can come back even better."
On if the taste of the loss will fade away and he can take away satisfaction in his progress:"We play to win games. We do not play to have moral victories. Until we win another game, the last game I played is going to be a loss."
On if he takes pride in having a breakout season after several people predicted it: "No. That is just something you guys wanted to write. I knew my skills and my talent level, so I just went out there and did what I could do. You all just guessed it." (laughter)
LB C.J. Mosley
On how unexpected this situation is today:"We fought back and had a good game. We gave it all we [had], and it came down to one play again. It sucks for the defense. Two years in a row we had a chance to seal the deal, and we didn't. [This is] just another learning point as a leader and as a player. We've got to get everybody get healthy and get better for next year."
On if he expects any drastic changes this offseason:"Drastic? I don't think so. We can always find a way to get better on each side of the ball. As far as players, that's on us to get healthy and get our bodies right and be able to put in the offseason [work]. As far as the coaches upstairs, that's on them about figuring out free agency and all of that stuff. I can't really do anything about that part."
On if defensive coordinator Dean Pees told the team he was retiring today:"Yes, he announced it today in the team meeting. Like I said yesterday, [I have] a lot of respect for him; I love him as a coach and as a man. He had a long career – way before I was born – so the things that he did for this organization and for the NFL, you've got to give credit to him, you've got to thank him, and like he said in the meeting room, it's time for him to spend time with his family."
On if he thinks linebackers coach Don "Wink" Martindale should be considered for the position:"Yeah, he always talked about wanting to be a coordinator, and he was one at the Broncos. I'm a little biased, because I've been with him my whole career and I know what kind of a person he is and what kind of a coach he is. But you never know how things will work out. There's always a business [side], [but] as long as he's here with us I'll be happy."
On what is missing for the defense to get over the hump of finishing these games:"I really don't know. We fought back … As far as defense, we didn't start off well, but we fought back with a lot of help from the offense and special teams. It was definitely a team effort to get the lead back, and like I said, it came down to one play. We had a good coverage called, and then he threw a perfect pass. That kind of stuff happens. You live and you learn, and just like last year you've got to move on. Each year is a new year. As far as the offseason goes, we've got to make sure we get our bodies right and try to win the games that we need to so we don't have to be in this type of situation next year."
On how he is feeling physically entering the offseason:"Luckily for me, I've got one more game [the Pro Bowl], so I'm good. I just keep working out and staying in shape, bump out the minor little bumps and injuries. After that, I'll probably take a little break before we get back to work."
On how much it stings each year that the team doesn't make the playoffs:"It hurts, because I know we're a kind of team that can go out and get to the playoffs. The NFL does, too. When the Ravens get to the playoffs, anything is possible. When any team gets to the playoffs, it's a whole other season. So, it hurts for me as a player and as a team, but I definitely want it for the younger guys. I want for them to experience a playoff mentality and how it is, because like I said, no matter what you've done all season, if you get into the playoffs anything is possible. For the Ravens, we transform into a whole other team when we get into January football. We've got to take this loss, take it as a man, and we've got to move forward and remember for the whole offseason. Like I said, the games that we have to win, we're going to have to sure win next year and make sure we win and finish."
K Justin Tucker
On the reality of the season ending:"We're less than 24 hours removed from the game, from the end of our season. You hate for it to end up the way it did. It's heartbreaking. I don't think any of us were planning on [losing Sunday]. Nobody was planning on being done right now. But the fact of the matter is, we are. I think it's important to keep things in perspective, remain positive, think about the things that we did well and build upon them, and then take into account the things that were disappointing for us and work to fix them. It's fitting that today is the start of our new year and for us, the Baltimore Ravens. It's the start of our 2018 campaign. Hopefully it's a good one."
On how he felt he performed this season: "I hadn't really taken the chance to reflect upon my season as an individual. I don't really care to – ever. I think more importantly, we have to win. Like I said, you hate to end the season the way we did. The only thing you can do is try to remain positive and build upon the things that we know as a team, we can do well. We as a special teams unit, we can cover kicks, we can kick the ball through the uprights, we can return the ball. We can do a lot of good things on our special teams. And building upon them and tweaking things here and there to make our shortcomings our triumphs, I think we'll be able to do that, and it starts now."
On if this season proves how difficult it is to win in this league:"Certainly. The NFL is a tough league to win in. We found that out throughout the course of our season. We had nine great victories, and we had seven crushing losses. Every single guy in here would probably tell you the same thing that you play this game to win. There might not be any better feeling in sports than winning a football game in the National Football League – just because, like you said, it is tough."
On why it is so hard to cope with the season-ending loss:"Perhaps it's because we knew we were on the precipice of something great. We knew we had an opportunity, and we simply didn't capitalize. Also, [the media] is here less than 24 hours removed from the end of our season. The end of that game was almost surreal – like it didn't happen. I think if you ask anyone in here, they would all feel the same way. All of us have families to come home to, and there's no sense in moping any longer than a couple hours, I think. I'll just leave it at that."
WR Mike Wallace
On the rough loss last night:"It is definitely heartbreaking. It is football. We are not the first team to go through this, and we are not the last team to go through this. There are going to be some people next week and the week after. It is just different timing. It is heartbreaking. This one, I definitely feel like we had the team to make a run. It hurts, but we just didn't get it done."
On if there was a final message from the coaching staff:"Not really. At this point, you are still kind of hurt about the game and you let people get over it. We fought hard, we had a great team, and we had a great group of guys. I loved it here; it was great. The intensity, these guys gave me the love for the game back in a time when it was tough on me. I just appreciate them. I appreciate all my teammates. I appreciate you guys and everything."
On if he expects to be back with the Ravens: "I am a free agent. There are a lot of things that go into football. I, for one, know more than a lot of guys on this team. I don't expect anything. Do I hope? Yes. I expect nothing. You just go and you live your life and be the best person you can be and hope that things work out. It is football. You can never just expect anything. I don't, anyway. At the same time, I love it here. Like I said, this team, these coaches, they just gave me the love for the game back at a time when it was dark. If they will have me, I will definitely come back."
On if it was more emotional this morning compared to after the game:"No. It just was reality this morning. I did not sleep much. I stayed up kind of late. The whole time it was like, 'Dang!' I woke up yesterday morning, and I definitely didn't expect to be talking to you all right now about this situation. It was a shocker. Nine years, I have seen it all. I was in this situation two years ago, and like I said, it is just a different kind of heartbreak. Same situation pretty much, we were in the first round of the playoffs and missed a kick at the end of the game to go to the next round. It is just football. Things happen. Life does not stop because the game is over. We just go back, take a week or two off and you get back to the grind. That is going to make a difference. You might not see it now, but I just have to keep grinding."
On how he plans to approach the free agency process and what factors it will come down to: "Just situation. Honestly, I want to win. This is my ninth year, it will be my 10th year next year, and I want to win a Super Bowl. I got there my second year, and it has been so far away ever since. When you are a young player, you are like, 'Oh, we will be right back.' I have never seen it again, and I have been on some great teams that I thought had potential. It just did not work out. It is that hard. Honestly, I just want to win a Super Bowl. I have made a lot of money. You are not going to play for pennies, but at the same time, that [money] is not the most important thing to me. I want to win. At one point in time, my focus was to make sure my family was secure. My mom never has to work again – that was my focus at one point, but now it is to win. That is going to be my key, just putting myself in the best situation that I can to win a Super Bowl. Hopefully it is here, but like I said, football is business. You never know how things are going to go. I am going to be Mike regardless. I am going to be positive, and whatever situation it is, I am going to approach it to the best of my ability."
On if yesterday's game was a microcosm for the offense struggling in the first half and coming alive in the second half: "At this point, it is going to be a long offseason, so you have to take some of your moral victories. You do not win with those, but at the same time you do not want to go through a whole season, a whole offseason of workouts … At this moment it feels like nothing, but you have a lot of highs throughout the season, so you have to focus on good things that you did do. Yes, you did not win the Super Bowl and that is the ultimate goal, but were you committed? Did you make plays? If your answer is 'yes,' you do not have anything to hang your head about. Be a man. Man up. You take the wins and you smile. You take the losses, you are not happy about them, but you come in and you talk to these guys [the media] and you man up."
On if he feels good about how he played towards the end of the season:"Oh yeah. Most definitely. I felt good. Obviously, I wanted to make more plays. That is why I was always talking about it, honestly just to amp myself up and amp my guys up. Intensity, I just wanted to bring that and put my guys in a situation where we felt like we could win and feel like they could count on me. I definitely feel like I made some plays. I would have loved to make more. Hopefully, I can continue to play."
On what needs to happen for the offense to improve next season: "Health. We lost a lot of players. I think that was our biggest thing, just staying healthy. We lost Marshal [Yanda], we lost Alex [Lewis]. Jeremy [Maclin was hurt] throughout the year. I had some nicks and bruises. 'Camp' [Michael Campanaro], Chris Moore, the whole O-line [dealt with injuries]. That is football. You are going to have injuries, but we lost some heavy hitters. That is why I am so proud of the team because of the way we responded. We lost some heavy hitters throughout the season, and we just kept going, kept fighting. Obviously, we are going to have to have more depth. But that is kind of hard, because I feel like we had depth. I feel like guys stepped up in the absence of other guys. For the offense, I think if we are healthy, we will be fine. We are going to be hard to deal with. We can't underestimate that our quarterback was not here for the whole training camp. Like I said, then your O-line comes back and you are missing two or three guys, it is going to be times where it is going to be tough. That is no excuse. You never heard anybody say anything. The season is over so you can talk about it. You never heard guys complain. You never saw guys put their head down. We just kept going, kept grinding. Like I said, if we have health, we will be fine. Because the heart is there, the talent is there, and the intensity is there. It is just sometimes you can't overcome certain situations, and yesterday was one of those."
On if he thinks there were enough playmakers on the team: "Most definitely. You can never have too many playmakers, ever. But the fact that [people say] we did not have enough, that is ridiculous. I think it is crazy. Guys did not make as many plays as they want to make, but we have a lot of guys. You can point to so many guys that did not make plays throughout the season. Maybe they didn't make them the whole entire every single game, but everyone had big moments. I think we had more than enough playmakers. I think the hardest part was trying to find out how to use everybody, because you have so many players."
On how challenging this year was on QB Joe Flacco physically:"Physically? I do not know about physically. Everyone is going to have their nicks and bruises. Joe is a standup guy. I am on a team with him. I sit next to him, and I never hear him complain. That is my guy. I talk to him all the time. Joe is a laid-back guy, but when you sit next to somebody every single day, they are going to say stuff and talk to you about certain things. One thing I never did was hear him complain about any situation even when he was having tough times, when the offense was [struggling], when he was hurt. Whatever, I never heard him say one thing about anything. He just grinded, and that is what I respect and love about him."
S Eric Weddle
On defensive coordinator Dean Pees retiring: "We all hold Dean to a high standard. It hurts, because we look at Dean as a father figure to a lot of us. He means a lot to us. The love and respect and passion he has given myself, and obviously the players in this organization, over his time here has been utmost. I have nothing but [respect for him]. I hold him in a high regard. One of the great things about a coach and one of the greatest qualities as a coach is to listen to their players and take their ideas and then decide whether it is good or bad. But at least he listens, and he never ever threw a player under the bus. As players, when you have a coach like that, you are going to do whatever it takes – run through a wall for him. I think our defense especially knows after games that if we mess up, we own it. I think that stems from Dean, because he always owned up on his mistakes. He is going to be missed. He is a guy that we all look up to. The great thing is that we are family, and we will always keep in touch, so I wish him the best."
On if he expects change around the team: "There are always changes. We were not good enough, so changes have to happen. That is for management to figure out and the coaching staff. 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh] said it perfect today. [He said], 'No one needs to feel sorry for themselves. The longer you let this linger and let it hinder you and your performance of your personal career, then you are not going to get better.' The whole next step for us as players is to get better. Let's take this time to evaluate yourself, your performance and take ownership of your career. If someone else values your career more than yourself, then that is a big problem. Everyone just needs to look at themselves, get better [and] use it as motivation. Two years ago when I got here, we were not very good. We improved, and we improved this year. The next step is to go win the division. There is no doubt in my mind that we can go do that. That starts now."
On why the team is still so emotional a day after the loss:"Why do you think? You work for something, and you don't reach your goal, and you failed. It is not easy to accept failure when you want to succeed at everything you do. Obviously, it is going to hurt. For me, I use it as motivation and to get back to work. I am about to go get a workout in and get my frustration out and use these experiences – good, bad and indifferent – to help lead and to get better in those situations and to come back and win those games. Everyone will handle it differently. Hopefully we will come back and get ready."
On what the defense needs to improve on: "I just think more so than anything is the attention to detail in those pressure-packed moments. Two years ago in Pittsburgh, we had a couple of breakdowns, whether it is blitz or pass, whether it is guys dropping or passing off routes in zone coverage. Then, you look at last night and in the last series, there were breakdowns in coverage and in the front. Why does that happen in the most intense situation? That is what we have to get better at, trying to replicate those situations as a defense and being successful at them. We are better than we were last season, but it was not good enough. That will be the focus, and hopefully, we can get better. If not, we are not going to win."