**Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg
On the punt return Washington had in overtime, was it just a case of maybe somebody over-pursued and maybe over-kicking? (Aaron Wilson)"Much like all special teams plays – good and bad – it was a combination of factors that led to that particular play. Our coverage broke down in a number of areas. We have layers of coverage, and it broke down on the first layer, it broke down on the second layer, and it broke down in the third layer, and then Sam [Koch] prevented the touchdown. So, it was no one thing that caused our problem. We missed a tackle, we lost leverage on the ball, we didn't have back side fold – it was a number of things that led to that play."
When you have to make changes, like Corey Graham becoming a full-time cornerback, how much does that cause a trickle-down effect? (Aaron Wilson)"Well, Corey is doing a great job for our defense. I think everyone has now come to realize that one of the top special teams players in the league is a top special teams player for a reason; he's not only a good football player, but he's also a tremendous athlete. He can go out there and compete against the best wide receivers in the National Football League and play corner at a very high level. And that, to me, really speaks to why Corey has been such a good special teams player over the years. And now he's expanded his role on our team and he's doing a great job for our defense. At what point he comes back and has a bigger role for special teams, I don't know, but we look forward to having him play for the Ravens for a long time and doing whatever he can to help us win."
Is last week kind of a lesson that someone can break a punt return at any time, so you have to be on point every single time? (Ryan Mink)"Well, I think that lesson had been learned a long time ago. Our guys are very, very proud of how they cover kicks. And it's something that stung everybody in that unit, and everybody saw what happened, and everybody takes it upon their own shoulders to make sure it doesn't happen again. And it didn't take long to figure it out; everybody knew what happened. At the same time, they've covered punts well all season long, and we've addressed it, and we are working diligently to make sure it doesn't happen again. The front four of that particular unit, that was one of those games – and I told the guys after the game – that I was really proud at how hard they played, because the front four on that unit, all four of those linebackers that made up the guards and tackles of that unit, played an extraordinary number of plays during the course of that game. And they busted their humps as hard as they could down the field, and we didn't make the play, and that was just one of those situations where the opponent did a better job than us."
Were you surprised that Sam Koch was able to catch up to a punt returner? (Ryan Mink)"Yeah, you don't see that very often. (laughter) That tells you what kind of player Sam is, and all those people back in Nebraska that used to watch eight-man football know Sam quite well."
Did you turn in the play where Morgan Cox got blocked? (Aaron Wilson)"We did. We did. We turned in a number of plays. That was one of them we turned in, yes."
Did you think the ball went out of the corner on the last kickoff? Jacoby Jones seemed very upset that it wasn't flagged. (Bo Smolka)"It's very difficult for us to say [based on] where we're standing. Certainly, the official has the best angle in the house, because he's standing right there at the pylon looking at the ball. He has a better angle than Jacoby, I might say. But Jacoby saw what he thought he saw, and the official is the guy that makes the decision, and the official made the call, and it's [placed] at the 20-[yard line]. So, that's the way it works."
Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell
**Jim, what kind of a stamp do you hope to put on the offense? And, the no-huddle [offense] is something you guys used a lot earlier in the season. Is that something that you hope to incorporate a little bit more as you go forward? *(Aaron Wilson) *"One of the good things, I think, about our system is the fact that it's versatile. We can do whatever it takes. It just depends on who we are playing, how we want to attack them and what we think best suites our personnel. We kind of bounce in and out of it, but every game will take on its own personality."
You were one of the guys that was assisting with Cam [Cameron] running it. In terms of input from the other guys, how much of a priority is that to get input from the other coaches? (Aaron Wilson) "I think it's huge. Obviously, they have been in this system for quite some time. They have a real good understanding of it. They are extremely knowledgeable men that do a tremendous job. They coach extremely well. They are fine technicians, but they also have a great, great grasp for strategy and technique and things of that nature. I'm going to lean on them heavily, obviously. We've done that all along, I think, just in terms of divvying up responsibility and things of that nature – probably even more so now."
Do you plan on being in the booth or would you like to be on the sidelines? (Aaron Wilson) "That's my plan [to be in the booth], but obviously, that could change. Whatever John [Harbaugh] wants me to do, that's where I'll be. At this point, that's where I plan to be."
**[John Harbaugh] was saying [wide receivers] coach [Jim] Hostler will help you in terms of the communication. Will he be the kind of [means of communication] if you are in the booth? You will speak to him and then relay stuff? *(Aaron Wilson) *"That's correct. That's how it's working presently. Matter of fact, we are working on that on the field. We did yesterday. [We] had an opportunity to go out, I give the play to him, and he relays the play into Joe [Flacco]."
Coach Hostler was an offensive coordinator at one point in San Francisco. Are there any tips that he had for you as far as this post is concerned? (Joe Platania) "Jim [Hostler] is a very, very good coach. He's been around. He's had great experience. Obviously, he will be involved as well. In terms of tips and things of that nature, I think he probably realizes that I know [a few things]. I've been around football a little while, so I do have a good sense of some things, but other things I'm going to lean on him heavily for."
What kind of experience do you have in calling plays throughout your career? (Jason Butt) "I think one of the things that you look at, and certainly understand, is that anytime you have been coaching quarterbacks, the offense runs through you. That's why I've always been excited about … I actually played in the secondary; I was a defensive back. Defensively, I coordinated. [I] went to the offensive side of the ball to get a good sense of balance and things of that nature, because I wanted to really know offensive football. The latter part of my career I've been on offense. There's not anything that you should not know if you have a good sense of it if you are coaching the quarterbacks. You are involved in every situation. It's not just third down; it's not just first and second down. It's also short-yardage [situations], goal line, you name it."
In terms of running this offense, you get a small window where you are taking over here late in the season, which is an unusual situation. Is your plan to just sort of augment sort of what has already been working as you guys have? You obviously can't make major changes this late in the season. (Aaron Wilson) "That's correct. Obviously, there's not going to be a system change of any sort, but we are going to add a few wrinkles here and there where need be. For the most part, I think the guys are comfortable with what we do. We have to find out what best suites our personnel and utilize that – do the things that we do best. That's key."
**Scoring points, obviously, is priority as an offensive coordinator. What is your philosophy of how to go about doing that? *(Aaron Wilson) *"Score as many as you can as often as you can." *(laughter) *
*Any excitement, or how would you describe your feelings, taking over this job? Excited? (David Ginsburg) *"One of the things … The reason why I coach and the reason why I'm involved in it is because I have a great passion for the game. I love a challenge. There is nothing about professional football that's easy. It's going to require everything you have, and then just a little bit more. That's what makes me excited about what we are doing. I get a chance to step in. The situation is tough. You hate to see a colleague lose his job. When you've been around as long as I have … I've been fired a few times as well. That's the tough part of it. But nevertheless, I certainly am excited about having an opportunity to work with some outstanding men in a great organization with outstanding people surrounding me. Let's see what we can do."
*Can you appreciate the irony of going against Peyton Manning in your first gig as offensive coordinator? I mean, you have to score enough points to outdo him, which is not easy. (David Ginsburg) *"We are more concerned about, obviously, our end of it, trying to make certain of the things we're supposed to do and put some points on the board. You know he's a talented guy that has left his marked on this league, and he continues to grow. I'm not the first coordinator that he's ever played against that's coached him. Bruce Arians was at Cleveland when we went into Cleveland and played against him. I think [John] Hufnagel, who coached him as a quarterback coach, was at Jacksonville when we went down to play. It may seem like a bit of a novelty, but it really isn't, and we both have a job to do."
Does this feel like an audition for you to become the permanent offensive coordinator? Is that your goal to be the guy three years to come? (Aaron Wilson) "I don't look any further ahead than the next day. Nothing is promised to you. In the Bible, it tells you that. What I do is I do my job. We'll worry about the other things later on down the road."
**How about an audition to become a head coach again? *(Mike Preston) *"I think if you are in this business that should always be your goal, right? I don't think I'll ever lose that particular desire until the point of time where they run me out of this business. Nevertheless, that's always something that I'm certainly interested in."
How do you attack Peyton Manning this week? Do you go out and try to get in a shootout with him, or do you just kind of control the ball and run No. 27 [Ray Rice]? (Mike Preston) "What we're going to do is really try to put points on the board, which is what we know we need to do. We're playing against a very talented defense – one of the best defenses in the league. Von Miller, who rushes the passer on the outside, and [Elvis] Dumervil are very, very active guys. They create problems for you. [Wesley] Woodyard in the middle, their leading tackler, is running around making plays all over the field, and obviously, [they have] maybe one of the best corners to play the game, Champ Bailey. We have a lot of different challenges there. We have to really just focus in on us and get the things done that we need to get done. John [Harbaugh] sets the overall philosophy and the tenor of how we attack each ball game. I'm sure he's probably addressed that with you at all at some point or will."
*How would you rate Joe Flacco's performance so far this year since you were the quarterback coach? *(Mike Preston) *"I still am [the quarterbacks coach]. *(laughter) [I'm] doing double duty. But nevertheless, I think he's growing and developing. I really do. I think he's getting better. I think he's been getting a better grasp of things. I think you will continue to see Joe improve."
**In terms of [Von] Miller and [Elvis] Dumervil, is that one of the better tandems you've seen? There are a lot of good ones, but what makes them, if they are, one of the best? *(Aaron Wilson) *"I think without question it's an outstanding tandem – very, very unusual. Typically teams may have one at the one side, and then a guy that's maybe more of a power rusher on the other. But in terms of speed, dexterity, moves and just flat out strength, that combination is rare – those two guys. There's obviously the two guys over at Indy, [Dwight] Freeney and [Robert] Mathis, who pose a very good combination, and these guys are equally as good."
*Are you going to max protect in there, too? *(Aaron Wilson) "We'll have to do whatever it takes to make certain that we can keep things moving in the right direction."
Having spent as much time as you did with [Peyton] Manning in Indianapolis, how impressed are you with what he's done this season? (Michelle Beisner) "One of the things that [once] you've been around him awhile, you know he's one of those guys that can literally fight through any and everything. If there's a guy that can come back from the type of surgeries that he's had, he could do it – never doubted that. I think, obviously, the rate in which he's accelerated here through the season has been amazing, but nice to see as well."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
You've seen Peyton Manning many times. What have you seen from him this year as he has made his comeback? (Aaron Wilson)"He is still as accurate as ever. He still does a great job of controlling the tempo of the game, of his offense, which controls your defense. It's his offense. From watching them early in the season to now, to me, it's now like watching the Indianapolis Colts all over again. Some of the runs and things might be different and some of the names might be different, but there are an awful lot of similarities. I even noticed in the last game – I think it was the Oakland game that was on TV – him on the sideline with the pictures with the offensive line, so I'd say he's coaching them up, too. I see the same thing that he was at Indianapolis."
How much do the injuries to Ray Lewis, Jameel McClain and Dannell Ellerbe impact what you guys can do at the inside linebacker position? (Ed Lee)"Obviously, it impacts us. It'd be ludicrous for me to say that it didn't have some bearing, but also, the guys that go in there have to know what our package is. It's like we've talked about kind of all year. We've tried to put guys in positions and try to ask them to do things they can do and don't ask them to do things they can't do. Sometimes, that limits you. We were kind of coming along a little bit because we kind of had all these packages devised where you could be in this package and we can do this and you can be in this package and we can do this. All of the sudden, those packages have now shrunk, too, because we don't have guys to put in that package, so that package is out. That's kind of changed a little bit. It hurts you a little bit. It's actually hurt us a couple of times in the last two games, trying to close this thing out because we're wanting to maybe do some things that we maybe either can't do, or if we do call something, it's really probably the first time that guy has had to actually do it in a game situation, and it didn't turn out so well."
Dean, do you have any hope that Ray Lewis might play on Sunday with his level of activity and what he has been able to do so far, which has been limited? (Dean Pees)"That really is totally up to the trainers, John [Harbaugh] and the organization. Look, I'm not really trying to avoid it. It really is a matter of whoever is out there in practice is who we coach up. Whoever shows up on Sunday, that's who we're going to coach up. As coaches, we're almost out of the loop. It's whoever is out there in practice, that's who we've got. I've never gotten caught up in that and saying, 'OK, let's wait and hold this out because he might be back.' Then what happens is he doesn't come back and you've held everything out or you've waited. You just have to go ahead with what you have."
How is Terrell Suggs doing? (Aaron Wilson)"He has been practicing and seems to be doing fine."
How has Jimmy Smith done since he has come back? With a guy like that, do you want to kind of ease him in, or can you put him right back in there? (Garrett Downing)"I think you have to go out there and see what he can do. That's the same thing. You put him out there and say, 'OK, I can't do this. I can't do this. I can't do this.' If you're going to put the guy out there – and it's kind of going back to your question a little bit with the inside guys and the new guys – they have to learn this stuff. Now, I have to make a decision if I am going to call it on Sunday after I watch it in practice all week. You have to put them out there and see if they can do it. If they can't, then OK, I know they can't. To sit there and try to piecemeal everything in there, it just curtails you so much and it hurts the rest of the defense. I think you just put the stuff in, you go out there, you practice it and then you make the determination as a coach if this guy can get it done with what we want to do. If he can't, then you curtail it for Sunday, but not during the week. You have to find out."
Has communication been a challenge with so many different guys playing different spots and guys coming off the field and going with different guys? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Good question, but actually, our guys have done a pretty good job on the communication part of it. That's something we're always evaluating and somebody is speaking in the helmet a little different each week. Really, that has not been problem. Guys have done a really good job with the communication part of it. That really has not been an issue."
Have you ever been around a group that is this banged up, especially with so many standouts?* (Jeff Zrebiec)*"No. I know there was a year in New England – I don't even remember what year it was – when we had a lot of guys banged up, but they weren't out for long periods of time. Like this guy might miss this game, then he'd be back, then this guy would miss this game, and he'd be back. Maybe they'd be out for a game or you might have two out, then they came back. I don't think I've ever had so many out for long periods of time and all at the same time. It's been interesting."
If Ray Lewis can't go and with Jameel McClain out, who has the headset in their helmet on defense? (Jason Butt)"Next question. *(laughing) *No, Josh Bynes probably, or whoever will be in there at inside linebacker. I hate to say Josh because it's only Thursday, so it's hard to tell. Whoever the inside 'backer is, one of them will have the headset on."
In regards to all the injuries, can you just sum up how much it has impacted you as a defense, not only at inside linebacker, but all over the defense? How much has that hindered you guys this season? (Ryan Mink)"That's using it as an out. Here's the way I look at it: In the last two games, using those guys as examples because that's kind of the two that we're kind of pondering here, we've had a chance to win the game and finish it. It's like last week. When you started out the first two series, you're thinking, 'OK, this is a 42-40 game.' We were OK. We just weren't playing things right. It wasn't like we made a ton of adjustments after that second series – what our adjustment was to play, what we're asking you to play correctly. Guys were a little antsy about the option and all that kind of stuff. We were just not playing the technique that we wanted to do to stop the option correctly. Once they figured out they did it, really, I thought we played pretty well [in the] second quarter, third quarter and up until four minutes to go in the game. So, to say that the injuries really impacted that game is not really correct because we played OK in the second quarter, third quarter and most of the fourth quarter. It was the same guys playing in the first quarter and the same guys playing at the end of the game. What's hurting us right now is we have to learn how to finish and close out a game. I give the offenses credit. There is a lot of talk about the backup quarterback thing. It isn't so much those guys, it's us. We have to finish the play, we have to make the play. A couple of the passes that have been completed that have been caught, any college quarterback could have thrown. It had nothing to do with [Steelers QB Charlie] Batch or with [Redskins QB] Kirk Cousins. Any college quarterback could have thrown Kirk Cousins' touchdown pass – any college quarterback. It's us executing the defense and it was no rare defense. It's us just doing it. The injury factor had no bearing on that play. I know it may have been a new guy, but we still have to make that play. We can't use that as an excuse going forward. What we need to do is, then because it's happened twice now to guys that are young, they have to learn from it. To go in there and beat them up and say, 'You're wrong,' [would not be prudent]. They know they're wrong. Let's learn from it. Let's not let it happen again. If that's an experienced guy doing that, it may not have happened the first time, but if it's the first that you've been out there, and you've never done that play … An All-Pro guy when he was a rookie probably didn't look like an All-Pro. We just have to coach it better, play it better and do that."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On how he is feeling health-wise:"I feel all right. I had a week of rest. I feel a little bit better than last week, so yeah, I feel good."
On how close he felt he was to playing last week:"I was really unsure, and that was pretty much the deciding factor. It was wet, [we were facing an] option quarterback. It was a must-win game. There was just too much on the line to chance it, especially with my arm. I thought I would hinder the team by playing last week. It feels good this week, and we'll just have to see come Sunday."
On how anxious he is to get back on the field:"If I'm able to play, I'll be really anxious. But like I said, it all comes down to how it feels on Sunday."
On if there is more of a call for leadership amongst players when there is a coaching change:"We've always had tremendous leadership in this locker room, so nothing really changes among us. We have a game to win this week. This is a big game for us, championship game, so we are going to approach our business like we always have."
On if his arm has held up during practice:"I can't really say. Different plays, run, pass, a lot of things are different. There are a lot of deciding factors when you are playing in a football game, so like I said, come Sunday, we'll just have to see."
On if there is extra motivation going against Broncos QB Peyton Manning:"Whenever you go against the best, there's always extra motivation. The guy has got a quick gun. If he knows where to go with the ball, he is going to tear you apart. You definitely have to have your motor running."
On if he and LB Ray Lewis have talked about playing on the field at the same time together this season:"Hopefully. Like I said, we are just waiting to see. We have these last three [games], and these last three are our season. Hopefully, all that happens soon."
On if he has ever been around a team with so many injuries on defense:"No, I haven't. I don't know what's going on. Last year, we had some injuries, but definitely not this many. It's not the cards you're dealt; it's how you play your hand."
On if he would bet on himself to play Sunday:"If it was a Vegas game and 50/50 odds, you would have the best odds in Vegas. But anything else, I wouldn't know. So, we'll just have to wait and see Sunday."