Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg
What did you see from Justin Tucker on film after the game in terms of how he kicked the football? (Aaron Wilson)"It was pretty much what you saw in the game; he kicked it very well. He was making good ball contact, the ball was traveling straight, and as you saw, he had plenty of range."
Are you feeling better about how the return game is going? (Aaron Wilson)"We had the one early one that was good. We really didn't get anything going after that – they changed their coverage a bit after that first one – and we were working on it through the game, getting the adjustments made, and we never really got a crease. So, there's always room for improvement."
Jerry, on that last drive, did you have a yard line in mind on where you'd try Tucker from for a field goal attempt? (Bo Smolka)"I didn't have a yard line in my mind, but I think we all had it kind of playing out in our mind that this is a situation that could very easily come up to where we're preparing for it on the sideline. The yard line hadn't really gotten to the point where we were discussing that yet. We had a yard line in mind in pre-game, but when you get in the heat of the battle, sometimes you have to adjust. He'd shown plenty of range prior to that, so we were confident that wherever we gave it to him, we'd be able to deliver."
Was this one of Brendon Ayanbadejo's better games in a while in terms of kick coverage? (Aaron Wilson)"Our players that we look to make plays on special teams and coverage aspect – and in blocking – really played well. Brendon had an excellent game; he had three tackles. Sean Considine had a couple of tackles. Corey Graham had a couple tackles. Sam [Koch] punted the ball very well. So, our players were making plays, and that was encouraging."
With the fake punt, it looked like it was there. Did he trip over his own guy? (Aaron Wilson)"It was kind of a combination of things. It was there; we thought it was there. It looked good at the start; it didn't look very good at the end. We got a little penetration, but overall, I didn't coach the timing of that play well enough. If we had the timing down, it wouldn't have mattered what happened. He probably would have stopped somewhere out there by General Washington's encampment." (laughter)
Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron
When you went back and watched some of the tape and looked at some of the third-and-shorts, do you wish you would have run on least one of them?* (Aaron Wilson)*"We didn't really have, in our minds, a third-and-short in the game. It was all third-and-two. That last one was third-and-two-plus. I really felt good about the calls that we made. I think this will probably be the one thing that we can go back on, because I would kind of like to move forward. We had the same situation against Pittsburgh last year – the exact scenario, everything. We executed first down, went on to score and win, and it was a non-issue. I think we had the opportunity, as Joe [Flacco] said, 'We have to execute better.' If we ever got to third-and-one, or if that was a legit third-and-one, we probably would have run the football or had the chance to, but [it was] third-and-two-and-a-half in that situation. I like the idea of our quarterback having the ball in his hands, five potential receivers, and then you've always got the ability for him to scramble and improvise vs. running the football into where you have at least one, and in Philly's case, two unblocked guys. That was the plan. We didn't execute it. I think that's probably the issue."
Understood, but in the second half it didn't seem like Joe [Flacco] was really very accurate or completed a lot. He was also hit a lot, and the receivers didn't have a lot of separation. Would all those factors kind of work against you? (Aaron Wilson) "There is some truth to what you are saying, but it wouldn't affect the call. The bottom line is you saw what happened the previous series – the previous two series – and there was a lot of good things done there. Joe Flacco … I'm going to have a ton of confidence in Joe. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence in anyone else. I like our chances, and as you guys have seen with Joe Flacco, with his ability to get the ball to any of those other five. And will we do that all the time? No, but in critical situations you are going to see that a lot."
Was the biggest issue in terms of creating separation, grabbing, and the physical nature of their secondary?* (Bo Smolka)*"I'm going to kind of push this into this week, if that's alright. There really aren't any issues when it comes to that, because we've never approached … Defensive guys are allowed to jam you and even grab and hold you. That's what you do. We play through contact, that's our philosophy. We are going to work technique, work through contact. That will be huge this week. This is a team that comes up and presses every down. They do it differently. They do it in Cover 2, where last week, they did it in Cover 1. I have a lot of confidence in our guys getting through, working through the separation. The windows are probably a little tighter, but that's part of this league. That's always been our approach. It really hasn't been a topic of discussion for us as much as it has been for everyone else."
You talked about crowd noise being a factor in Week 1. Was it a factor last week, and what about this week? (Jerry Coleman) "A factor in what sense?"
In terms of play-calling and communication. (Jerry Coleman) "I don't see any issues, because all stuff we do nonverbal anyway. Our communication – home or away – we should be in good shape."
**Cam, Vonta [Leach] played 16 plays and eight runs. Is it something where you just continually try to get him in more and … *(Aaron Wilson) *"It's week to week, it's week to week. Our game plan will always vary. You are always going to try to set things up and do things off of what you've done, but I think our use, the way we use Vonta, and Ray [Rice] and those guys, kind of speaks for itself. I think in any given situation you can look at it one way or the other, but I think when you look at the big picture, we have a great fullback, we have great running backs, we have tight ends that we really feel good about. It's going to be spread across the board. That's going to be the key for us to get where we want to go is making sure we are keeping everyone involved to some degree. Some weeks it's more than others. That also gives you the best chance to be successful against defenses. If you think you are going to do the same thing each week in and out, it's not going to happen in this league. He had an impact in that game, a tremendous impact. He will this week as well."
Adding Jacoby Jones to this offense, what does that enable you to do as the offensive coordinator? (Ryan Mink) "It's just been huge, because you see the vertical threat, and his route technique, and his experience, and his energy, his confidence. He picked up the system pretty seamlessly. I think that was huge. That's the one thing you never really know how a guy can pick the system up. I think Jim Hostler does a phenomenal job, and having 'Q' [Anquan Boldin] in the room helps. Anytime you have a vertical threat that can make plays as you've seen in that game – made a couple of huge game-changing plays for us – that's going to impact our offense, but it impacts all the other skill guys, too."
**Is there something that Torrey Smith needs to do get more involved in the offense on a play-by-play basis? *(Robert Klemko) *"He's very involved, and I think the stats bare that, and just play – keep playing. That's what he does. As we all know, there's one football. You're going to get to one guy at a time. He's been very involved, and we'll keep him very involved."
Are teams giving him [Torrey Smith] a lot of attention after the kind of year he had last year? (Ryan Mink) "It really hasn't changed a lot. You'd have to talk to them. I'm sure they're probably looking at his technique, trying to figure some things out, whether he's running a comeback vs. a nine-route, an end-cut, whatever those would be. They know who he is; there's no doubt about it. He's always a big part of what we are doing."
How much better has New England gotten defensively, and where do you see their biggest gains?* (Bo Smolka)* "I thought they were better than advertised last year. Obviously, people get into this total defense stat and think that's how you measure a defense. They didn't give up a lot of points last year, so they were always pretty good. Teams got some yards on them late in games when they had big leads. I thought they were pretty good last year. This year, obviously, they are very good. Their interior five guys are tremendous. They drafted Arthur's [Jones] brother [Chandler Jones] at defensive end; he's going to be an outstanding player. They moved [Rob] Ninkovich down to defensive end, who has always been a heavy, crafty player, so they get more pass rush than they've had in the past. Then they are playing their Cover 2 scheme. These young guys are athletes. They have long arms. They have length. You can just tell they are smarter, and it was just matter of time. They've drafted well, and they've got talent. That's a good combination."
What do you like about what Dennis [Pitta] has done so far? He's been targeted a lot and he's catching a lot of passes. (Aaron Wilson) "[He is] just that. If you're targeted, you have to deliver, and Dennis is doing that. He's doing that in critical situations. I don't think that's a surprise to us or anybody else. He kind of had a … That Arizona game last year comes to mind where all of a sudden he came alive in that game. We think he's a very good player, and I think he's really going to play well the whole year."
How about [Vince] Wilfork? (Aaron Wilson) "Vince is playing extremely well, and now they don't have to substitute. Their package now – their 4-3 package – is a very, very … It almost mirrors their sub package, so now they can keep him in both packages. They used to run him in and out of the game a lot. Now they just keep him in the game. He can rush the passer. He's probably as good as interior pass rusher as there is in the league. [It is a] different style than what we saw last week, but just as effective. [He is a] perennial Pro Bowl player, great player, a guy that we will need to know where he is on every down."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
Coach, what do you expect it to be like coaching against your old team? Do you think it's going to be an emotional day for you? (Aaron Wilson)"It's always an emotional day. I'm not going to lie about that and act like it's just another game. It's a big game for me. I think I mentioned it once before: It's kind of like when you go out and you play golf against somebody and you want to win, but when you play your brothers, you really want to win. There's a lot of friends over there on the other sideline, a lot of old colleagues, a lot of players that I coached. So yeah, sure it's an emotional game. It always is."
What was your motivation to come here and coach linebackers after working there? What was the thinking going from there to here? (Aaron Wilson)"Personal reasons."
With Aaron Hernandez out and Kellen Winslow in, it's not as easy as just exchanging one for another. How do you see them changing offensively with that?* (Bo Smolka)*"Well, the thing is that, if you remember, Winslow was with him for a while, and then Winslow was also in the Tampa Bay system with Pete Mangurian, who coached in New England. So, there's not as big a transition for people there, with Winslow coming into this system, as somebody might think, as just some tight end coming in from somewhere else. He'll know the system. How they use him … The one thing, being with them for six years, there are so many different ways they can approach this game, and they have. I have seen a lot different ways. I think you just have to be prepared for a lot of different scenarios personnel-wise. They brought Deion Branch back. There are a lot of different things that can go on there. Like I said, having been with them for a long time, there are a lot of different ways they can approach this game. We're going to have to be ready for all of it and see how they start it, see how they play."
How would you describe your relationship with Bill Belichick, and what did you take away from the time you spent with him? (Garrett Downing)"My relationship with him is great. We still speak on occasion when we're playing a team that's a common opponent and we aren't playing each other. In certain years, we'll discuss things. It's a great relationship. The biggest thing I have taken from him, as I've taken from all the head coaches, all the head coaches I have worked for, John [Harbaugh] included, they all have their different ways of doing things, and they are all good. So, what you do is you kind of try to steal a little bit of attention to detail, or whatever it might be, within your personality. You take all those things from every head coach I have been with."
Dean, an underrated or maybe underappreciated area of Lardarius Webb's game is his tackling. He is a sound tackler. What is it about him that allows him to be so sound? (Matt Vensel)"The thing is he is aggressive – that's the biggest thing. It's just like the caused fumble he had the other day when we blitzed him there in the Eagles game, and he popped the ball out. That was big play right there on the fringe or in the high red area. He is an aggressive guy. He goes after the tackle. He is not tentative. Most guys that miss tackles go up there, and they start to break down three yards away from the guy. If the back is a good back in the open space, he is going to make you miss. The thing about Lardarius is he goes up there, and he's aggressive and goes after it, keeps his head up and sees the tackle. Most tackles are missed because a guy drops his head or he stops – one of those two things usually. The good thing about 'Webby' is he usually doesn't do either one. He keeps his head up and he tries to run through the guy."
The fact that Lardarius and Bernard [Pollard] have been on the injury report, how is that holding you back? (Jerry Coleman)"Nothing is really holding us back. We are still game-planning for all the stuff that New England does. With those guys, you'd have to talk to [head coach] John [Harbaugh]. It's day-by-day with those guys as far as whether they play or not."
Is there a way to describe the difference between seeing Ray Lewis from the outside and then seeing him on a day-to-day basis? He is really a machine at this stage of his career. (Julian Benbow)"The thing I have always said about Ray is he approaches every year and every game and every week like he is a young guy in a young part of his career. He has never gotten to the point [of slowing down], which a lot of the great ones don't, and he is a great one. He approaches every day like, 'This is important.' It's, 'I'm not taking anything for granted.' I told you, he sits there in the room, and he looks like a rookie back there writing down notes, watching film, coming in and telling you things that you may or may not have seen even as a coach. He studies. It's important to him, and he studies. There are a lot of guys, sometimes after certain years, they go, 'I kind of have all the answers.' He is not like that. That is the thing that I think a lot of people may not see. He is a student of the game. Besides being a good player physically and emotionally, he is a great player mentally."
It looked like the Cardinals ran a lot of nickel defense at New England last Sunday. How much nickel did they run? (Aaron Wilson)"Pretty much all. They played the whole game in nickel."
And that seemed to be a good strategy, right? (Aaron Wilson)"It seemed to be. They beat them."
Dean, we saw Courtney Upshaw get his most action to this point on Sunday. Where have you seen him improve and what area do you think he still needs to work on the most that might stand out? (Luke Jones)"The thing he has really improved on is just playing outside 'backer and setting the edge. The one improvement we made from Week 1 to Week 2 was we did a good job of setting the edge on [Eagles RB LeSean] McCoy. He got outside of us once, we missed a tackle at the line of scrimmage, and that was his one big run. The rest of the time we made him cut back into the traffic, which we wanted to do. He is a good back and made us miss sometimes, but for the most part, we weren't good the first week in that. We were good in the second week. He, Albert [McClellan], all of those guys did a much better job. The downside of that is we missed some tackles. So, there were good things about the game last week in the running game. And the fact was that we did a good job of setting the edge, and the second thing was we missed a couple of tackles, which we can't give up 100 yards – I don't care who it is or who it is to. We gave up 30 yards to the quarterback. The other part with Courtney, though, is still – and he had some good pass rushes. He had some hits on the quarterback. He has to just keep learning the system, knowing the pass drops. That is usually always the outside 'backer's biggest learning curve is all the pass drops, because they haven't had to do it in college, most of them – whether it be 'Double J' [former Ravens OLB Jarret Johnson], almost all of those guys. I'd say that's the biggest area he still has to keep working on."