NICK BOYLE PRESS CONFERENCE
Head Coach John Harbaugh & TE Nick Boyle
Opening statement:"OK, good to see everybody. I appreciate everybody coming out. This is awesome, and it's definitely a great day for the Ravens. It's a celebration for all of us, and for Nick and Kristina and for the Raven family. It's a big moment. It's been something that we've been working on for quite a long time. Actually, Nick and I have been having this conversation for probably about a year back and forth, and just to see it happen last night finally, late, was just a great thing for the Ravens. So, we're really excited about it. I think Nick is a huge piece of our offense going forward from the standpoint of how he plays, the tone he sets, the type of player he is. I think he's an all-around tight end. I would say he's the best blocking tight end in the league; there's no question in my mind about that. He sets the edge. He sets the tempo. He's a physical presence out there, but he's definitely an underrated talent in the passing game, and you've seen that when he gets an opportunity to catch passes and run routes, he makes those plays. So, he's an all-around tight end in our view as coaches, for sure. I know Andy [Bischoff, offensive assistant/tight ends coach] feels that way. Bobby [Engram, tight ends coach] feels that way. So, that's how we look at Nick as a player. But, beyond that, what he brings to us in terms of our personality, in terms of what it means to be a Raven [and] play like a Raven. That's something we saw at Delaware on [his] college tape. We felt like he fit us perfectly, and there's been nothing since then in his play that has changed our mind about that. As a matter of fact, even more so. He's our kind of player. He's what, I think, Baltimore fans really appreciate and love about their football team, and he's going to be with us for the long haul. So, it's an exciting day and it's a celebration. What questions do you have?"
You talk about TE Nick Boyle's talent, but I guess it was important to get him in addition to TE Mark Andrews and TE Hayden Hurst. Is it good to have three tight ends that you can really count on? (David Ginsburg) "Exactly. I think that's a great observation, the ability to basically build the tight end group the way we want to build it and round it out. Those two young guys in the draft were pretty unusual. You get two young guys like that as rookies in one draft that have the abilities that they have, is unique. And then, just to be able to make one move with a proven guy, who we love, to make it really the complete tight end group that we want to have, I'd be hard-pressed to think there's a better tight end group in the league right now."
I know you can only play the cards that you are dealt, but how much of the offense that you ran with QB Lamar Jackson really showcased the best that TE Nick Boyle has to offer? (Jonas Shaffer) "I just think he's a fit for us and our personality. Nick can do any kind of an offense. As attested to by all the teams that were after him in free agency, everybody wanted him who needed a tight end. But certainly, the way we run our offense, the perimeter blocking, the perimeter route-running, the big target, all those things are a big part of it."
You talk about how in the past, sometimes you get a little antsy with negotiations. You want the player back. At the NFL Combine, there was talk that as many as 20 teams were interested in TE Nick Boyle. What were your thoughts in this process that you could lose him? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I wasn't surprised. The good thing is that Nick and I have a similar personality that way. We were both pretty antsy. (laughter) He'll explain that all to you, but we were talking pretty regularly through the whole thing. But, at some point in time, you just have to step back, both as a coach and as a player, because it's really out of our hands, and it goes to the negotiators. We wanted Nick, and Nick wanted to be here, and I think both sides did a great job of making it happen."
You guys used multiple tight ends much more than any other team in the league last year. Do you foresee that being a big part of the new offense? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Absolutely. We think we'll be very, very multiple with our personnel groups, and tight ends are hard to defend. It's really tough. From a defensive perspective, what personnel group do you want to put on the field against tight ends, against really good tight ends? It's a big challenge, and I think it's proven the better teams in the league do that, so we're going to be able to do that."
Free agency hasn't even started yet, and you guys have made a lot of moves. How would you describe your offseason thus far – not yours, but the team itself? There's been a lot going on between QB Joe Flacco, S Eric Weddle, CB Tavon Young and TE Nick Boyle. (David Ginsburg) "I think we have a lot to do. We knew that even during the season – we were going to have a lot to do. We have a lot of young players that we want to keep. We had veteran leaders that were going to be different types of scenarios for each guy. We're still working that out. As far as, for instance, Eric Weddle, which just happened a couple days ago, that was something that, I guess, we all knew was a possibility but didn't want to think about it. When you start putting the numbers together, and I think when the picture starts to unfold for Eric and for the organization, it starts to become clear how you're going to manage your resources. And sometimes, it's unfortunate in what you have to do.
"But, Eric Weddle, he is just the consummate football player, the consummate leader. He will go down in history like that. I think he should be in the Hall of Fame. I think we'll have two Ravens safeties in the Hall of Fame, I think, at some point in time. I really believe that. [Weddle and Ed Reed] are different kinds of players, but they both had the same kind of an impact in terms of on their team that I could see as a coach. Eric was just… He's tough, he's relentless, he's in the weight room every morning with Nick [Boyle] and the rest of the guys. He's a leader that way, and I think Nick will kind of take over the mantle that way a little bit, along with some other guys as a young player, because he got a chance to see in Eric Weddle how he does it. And, that's something that's just invaluable – it's invaluable – to your organization. Plus, the guy is a great player, so he still has – it sounds like, I talked to him, pretty sure he still wants to play. [I] got calls from other coaches asking about him, couldn't speak highly enough about him in every single way, consider him a great friend. That's part of the process there. Good? All right, we'll turn it over to Nick Boyle."
Opening statement: "Thanks guys. I'm super excited to be here today. First, I want to thank Steve Bisciotti, Eric [DeCosta], Ozzie [Newsome], Pat [Moriarty, senior vice president of football administration], Coach [John] Harbaugh, my coaches – Andy [Bischoff], 'G-Ro' [Greg Roman] and Bobby [Engram]. Me and my wife are super excited to be here. We wouldn't want to be in any other place, and that's something we thought about over [time], since the end of the season. There's nothing really else to say besides just my excitement and the want between both sides to be back here."
You're one of the best blocking tight ends in the league, and it's grunt work. You embrace it. What about people that look at your stats from around the country, seeing that you've never gotten to the end zone, and saying, "Why is this guy getting this kind of money?" (Kirk McEwen) "Oh yeah, I see it all the time. They'll say, 'Nick Boyle, who?' (laughter) It's fine. That's a huge thing, like, 'Oh, paying this guy a lot, and he didn't get a touchdown.' Whatever they want to say, they can say. It's not hurting my feelings. But, I have a lot of pride in what I do, and like I said, whether it's catching a pass or having a really key block on a certain play, I think I get the same satisfaction out of it."
What are the odds that you get in the end zone during the length of this deal? (Ryan Mink) "Hopefully I'll get there. (laughter) I can't tell what the future is."
Every team has use for blocking tight ends to some degree. What makes you such a good fit for what this offense has done, especially since offensive coordinator Greg Roman came in two years ago? (Luke Jones) "I think it's a combination of the coaching, the play calls, the system we're in, how we use all of our different tight ends and different movements, different formations. There's a lot that goes behind the scenes of that – a lot of studying – and I think it's what you really need to have a good tight end group to do. I think our tight end group is really special right now. I think we cover all the areas of what we need to do to help the team win."
This is obviously a significant commitment from the team to you. What does that mean to you? (Garrett Downing) "It means everything to me. Like I said before, and Coach 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh] said, this is where I want to be. I said at the end of the season to someone, I forget who it was, that this was like my first love, coming to Baltimore. Something about that first team you come to, and it's the relationships with the coaches I have that were so strong. Also, with the players, the tight end room. We had some articles [written] this year about the tight end room being so special, so that was something that really just drew me back here with the coaches and the relationships."
You were about a week from a bunch of teams calling your agent and offering you a lot of money. I don't know where it would have compared, but were you at all interested in that process? Was it tempting to see what the open market would have held for you? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, so here's the whole thing behind the whole thing. I wanted to come back here right away. We had talks with Coach 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh]. We were on the same page of wanting to come back here. Then, you have your agents who work for you saying, 'You should do this a little bit, see what your value is.' So, free agency is like, 'Oh, man.' You get torn like a rubber band, getting pulled side to side, to where you're not breaking yet, but you're really stretched out. (laughter) So, I didn't want to go to another team. I don't think [my wife] Kristina did, either. I think we love it here. We love the relationships. Is it interesting to see where I can go? As long as I thought it was fair and something that we wanted here, I would just come back here."
What is it that you think makes you such a good blocking tight end? (Ryan Mink) "The want to do it, I think. I think there are a lot of guys with the size, probably the strength, that can do it, but I think their mindset is really what it is. And just to try to dominate someone across from you, that's just kind of a want to."
There was so much talk about the versatility of the tight end room. You guys can all do different things. How much do you see that playing a part in offensive coordinator Greg Roman's offense going forward, especially since he uses multiple tight ends, and he uses you all in different ways? (Kyle Andrews) "I think that's, like I said before, a huge part of our offense, and with Hayden [Hurst] and Mark [Andrews] and I in the group, I think we cover all bases. All of us in the game, two of us in the game, one of us in the game, whatever it is, 'G-Ro' [Greg Roman] does a really good job of incorporating all of us and just making us really important parts of the game plan."
Did you feel like it was a new role this past year with two younger guys, just being more of a leader in the room? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yeah, it felt weird, because we were used to having Ben [Benjamin Watson] in the group, who's like this old, wise guy. (laughter) Still a freak! But, when Maxx [Williams] and I were at the beginning of the season, we were like, 'Wow, it feels weird. We're the oldest guys.' I still feel like I'm 22. I'm 26, not that much of a difference… (laughter) It was cool. It was cool to see what they were kind of working with and see how they were kind of struggling, and what you can tell them that relates and helps you to help them get better."
When they were negotiating with you, did they talk about their plan for the team? You've seen a lot of it happen around you already. As executive vice president and general manager Eric DeCosta said, he wants to stay young. Was that discussed, and what are your thoughts? (David Ginsburg) "Like the plan of how I'm being used?" (Reporter: "No, not necessarily you, but the whole team, getting rid of S Eric Weddle, signing you and CB Tavon Young.") "I think the bottom line was I wanted to be here, and they had extreme interest in bringing me back, and that's what really made it work."
Have you had a change to look back? A few years ago, you were a fifth-round pick. Now, you've gone on to be a player that so many teams had interest in. Have you had a chance to think back about where you've come from and where you are now? (Jamison Hensley) "Yeah, a little bit, I'd say. I look at my past a lot. There are things that I could have done better, and things that I come from that made me the guy who I am today, and it's really exciting. It's really humbling, and it's something I think about a little bit, but I'm not a guy to live in the past or in the future. I just kind of live day by day."
Along those lines, when you were going through those ups and downs early in your career, head coach John Harbaugh wasn't really reluctant to call you out for shortcomings you might have had. Do you appreciate that now even more? (Jonas Shaffer) "Yes. I'd call myself the same thing if I was back there. I have no hard feelings. That's the truth. The truth is the truth. You can't hide behind the truth, and that's something that, like I said, built me today. It made me a stronger person. It made me look back on what really meant so much to me and just everything in general. I'm a believer that everything happens for a reason, and just excited to be here today for all of this."
Were there any specific changes you made to get past the suspensions, or was it more just staying the course? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Just staying the course. The hard part is, all the media people, you guys just want to come out here like, 'Oh, Twitter, Twitter, Twitter!' (laughter) It's like, 'Oh, jeez, I can't even go on Twitter.' I had to get past it, even walking into the supermarket like (covers face, laughter). But, it's just something that you have to put your head down. What covers it up is how you go out there and perform on the field. Winning is a huge cure to a lot of things, playing well, and that's… Keep playing well, keep playing well, get on the right track and do the right thing, I think, was the key."
Does this deal affect your hurdling at all? (Ryan Mink) "No, I don't think this deal affects how I play at all. I don't think it affects how I live. I told [my wife] Kristina that. We're not going to really be buying any more clothes and stuff. (laughter) We're still at Nordstrom Rack and stuff. We're not going to Nordstrom. (laughter) But, I'm still going to bring everything I bring to the table and still keep my game the same."
Earlier this offseason, the coaches said they're remaking the offense. Have you thought about how things might be different? Is that something that excites you? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Yeah, I thought about how – Andy [Bischoff] is in the back, he's probably laughing – we found a lot of loopholes when we go over things. We question a lot of things, which doesn't always work out, but I'm super excited to see what 'G-Ro' [Greg Roman] has come up with, the whole coaching staff, and just go from there."
We haven't gotten a chance to talk to many offensive players. What is a huddle like with QB Lamar Jackson? What is the excitement level? Is it any different than with QB Joe Flacco? (Kirk McEwen) "I don't think the excitement level is different. I think whoever is your quarterback, you're going to go believe in him and lead him, and that's who you have your faith in, because he's doing his job, you're doing your job. But, it was interesting this year. It was totally two different types of people, and I think it was a really cool experience to see. There's nothing really like, 'Oh, I'm more excited Lamar is in,' or 'Oh, Joe is in.' (Reporter: "Did you see QB Lamar Jackson growing as the season progressed?) "Oh, yeah. And the cool thing about Lamar is that I think he has a good carelessness. It sounds bad. I think I just developed it this year after I had a bad play, because if you have a bad play, then you can't let it affect the next play. You just have to smile and go on."
What does this mean for your secret santa budget? (Jonas Shaffer) "I'll probably get another 'RC' [remote control] car, I hope, or something like that." (laughter)
You have a new tight ends coach in Bobby Engram. How much have you kind of bounced things off of him in the past, if at all, before he became the tight ends coach? (Kyle Andrews) "Not too much, because he was the wide receiver coach. We worked closely with them, but you kind of stick to your coach. But, I'm extremely excited for Bobby and Andy [Bischoff] to both have the tight end group this year. I think they'll teach us a bunch of things. They'll help our game from both the receiving and blocking aspects. It should be very exciting."