Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Good to see everybody – really appreciate you guys being here. [It was a] good practice – very intense. It was just what we needed for December football. A couple of things: Not practicing was Kamar [Aiken]. He should be fine for Sunday. He had a bruise. We will see how it develops. Lorenzo [Taliaferro] continues with his hamstring. Crockett [Gillmore], also with that. Alex [Lewis], you know his situation. We gave Marshal [Yanda] the day; Marshal took the day off. Jimmy [Smith] was back. I guess there was a question about Steve Smith [Sr.] from the one-on-one [drill]. He practiced, so he was OK."
From watching the Dolphins on tap, what jumps out to you about them?* (Ryan Mink)* "Probably the main thing is that they're finding ways to win, especially at the end of the game. I think they've been down two of the last three, maybe, and scored – down two scores last in the game and found a way to win, get stops and make plays. They have made plays in those situations. The quarterback, receivers have made plays. Of course, the run game has been good all year, and their defense. Their front four is excellent. It's a really aggressive defense. Generally, I'd say that's what they look like."
**Dolphins head coach Adam Gase talked about the fact that their streak started when everyone got on the same page. To what do you attribute your three of four wins after that dark stretch? *(David Ginsburg) *"I don't know. I'd have to go back and look at every game differently. We did what we needed to do to win games. We didn't make the mistakes that we made in some of those earlier games, whether it's being on the same page, or however you want to say it. That's all true. I just think we're improving as a football team. That's kind of where we're at now. We're improving as a football team. We're starting to play good, complementary football. Each phase is playing to the strength of the other phase – field position, offense and defense playing to each other. We want to keep building on that. We want to improve in every single area, every single day, while taking it into account that the next challenge is a new challenge. We play a different defense, and there are going to be different circumstances we're going to have to face."
You have declined since the summer to name a starting running back. You have been going with the hot hand. How happy are you with how it has worked out? (Jeff Zrebiec) "That's a great point. I totally see it just that way. Both of those guys [Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon] are going to be so important for us. I wouldn't rule out [Javorius] 'Buck' Allen or Lorenzo [Taliaferro] either, as we go down the stretch. Both running backs are getting better every single week. They're both young guys. Neither one of them have played a lot of football. Of course, Kenny is a rookie. I just feel like they're starting to really get their feet under them, so to speak, and they are really making some plays for us. They run hard. They're not easy to bring down. They catch the ball. They've both been solid in pass protection, which is not easy for a young back. They're doing a good job."
Can you shed some light on how you view December football? What should a team be like now versus September?* (Jarrett Bell)* "You should be, at this point in time, more of a finished product than what you were early on. You learn a lot about yourself in September and October, and you try to win some games as you do it. By now, we understand our strengths and weaknesses, and we continue to improve, but it's about finding a way to win football games. It's football in the sense of you don't make mistakes, you create mistakes, you play field position, your guys make plays to win football games in critical situations, and you win games in the fourth quarter. I think defense and special teams are big. Run game is important. Completing passes is important. Then making plays in the pass game. You have to open people up. You have to get strikes, and you have to put yards up in the passing game. All of those things, I think, are part of it. But in the end, I think the best way to describe it more so than ever is it's about playing winning football."
Do you talk to your team much about the possible playoff picture? (Jarrett Bell)"Our goal is always to be relevant in December. We like to be in the lead in December. We want to have the lead in December, if we can. We're in that position right now. That's as much as we'll talk about. It's a one-week season for us. That's just the way we look at it. As far as the standings and all of that, the guys see it. They read about it, they watch TV, so they know all that already."
How do you think OLB Elvis Dumervil felt to be back and really healthy? How excited are you to have him contributing?* (David Ginsburg)* "I was very excited. I told you before I'd be happy to see him out there making plays, and right on cue, he did it. He looked like himself. He looked very explosive. I know he's excited also."
DT Brandon Williams is never going to be a guy that gets a ton of stats, but what does it say about him that he does all of the dirty work mostly to benefit his teammates? (Jeff Zrebiec) "That's what he was born for. If you look at his body and the way he's built and athleticism, he's built to be a run stopper and a pocket pusher. He's built perfectly for it. God gifted him to do that job. He's just such a great guy – unselfish, hard-working, great personality, great attitude guy. That's what he wants to do. He wants to do it better than anybody else in the league. That's his goal."
Because of Dolphins G Laremy Tunsil and T Ronnie Stanley being on the field together for this game, people may think back to their crazy draft day. How impressed have you been with Stanley? (Jamison Hensley)"Very happy with Ronnie. The thing I like about Ronnie, I've said this before, is that Ronnie is very smart, to go on top of his talent. He improves. He doesn't make mistakes on top of the same mistake. To me, that's why he has a chance to get better. It really hurt him to be out for four or five weeks. That was a long stretch. He kind of had to start over a little bit from a technique standpoint and speed of the game. He has done that, and he's gotten better every week"
What do you say to people who wonder how close the Ravens were to drafting G Laremy Tunsil? (Jamison Hensley)"I would say it doesn't matter, and really, there's no way to measure it. I don't even know, and I was in the draft room. I would probably say Ozzie [Newsome] doesn't know for sure. Or maybe Ozzie does, but he wasn't telling us. It doesn't really matter."
How important is it to get contributions from some of these less-heralded guys? (Ryan Mink) "That's such a good point. I really think that the foundation of our football team is really strong. Top to bottom, we're a really well-built football team, because of guys like that. Rick Wagner is playing the best football of his career in the last three weeks. Lawrence Guy, the best football of his career in the last … Really, all season, he's played great. I just feel like those are the guys you were talking about that make a team a really good team. That's probably a big part of our strength."
OLB Elvis Dumervil
Statement from Heather Darney, Executive Director of the Ravens Foundation, Inc.:"The Ravens have been working on some support in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew. While we realize a little bit of time has passed, we have been waiting, because it is really important to us that Elvis is involved in this announcement. We were excited to get him back on the field and making that a priority. Now that he is, we wanted to share some news about what we've been doing to help in relief of Hurricane Matthew."
OLB Elvis Dumervil statement: "Thanks Heather. I'm proud to announce that the Ravens and Steve Bisciotti stepped up and were able to help support the cause of the homes being built in Haiti through www.newstorycharity.org in the amount of $50,000 from Steve and $50,000 from the Ravens, which is tremendous. It just shows you the first-class [nature] of the organization and Steve himself. I want to personally thank you, and I appreciate it, because it helps so many families back home. Back in Haiti, after seeing what happened with the hurricane … I have no words for it. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something like this, and the Ravens being side by side and helping is amazing."
On how great it was to play on Sunday: "Like I said all along, coming out and being out there with your teammates and seeing the whole process the whole time of not being able to go physically [was difficult]. Mentally, I wanted to be out there, but the first time around, the strength wasn't there. We went back to the drawing board, and we were able to come up with a game plan. Give credit to the training staff and the weight room guys. We really just went after a plan, and we got the job done. I was able to come out with the team and help contribute to a win."
On getting the strip-sack at the end of the last game: "Like I say all the time, sacks are a group effort. You have to have coverage, and everything has to align the right way. The opportunity was there, and I was able to seize the moment."
On coming off an injury fresher than teammates, who have played all 13 weeks:"I still have to get back in football shape, in a sense. There's a lot I can work on to get better at. I am a little fresher, I'll say that. There's still a lot of work to get done, and I'm excited for the challenge."
On how his body reacted to the game:"I was able to practice today, so that's a good start. Walking up the stairs with my baby girl after the game, that was pretty difficult. For the most part, my body is on track. I'm excited to come out and compete against a good Miami Dolphins team coming in."
On if this next game is a chance for the team to prove itself: "Absolutely. They're a well-coached team. I'm very familiar with coach [Adam] Gase. We have to make sure that we come prepared. They have a very talented roster as well. We just have to make sure we come in and do what we do – continue to practice hard, work on our craft. Toward the end of the year, the fundamentals sort of get lost. That's one thing coach 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh] has been emphasizing, is making sure we stick to our fundamentals, and that's what we're going to do – continue to play hard."
On how frustrating it was to work his way back through an injury: "You have to listen to your body. As a competitor, as a winner, sometimes you think you're invincible, and then that's when you get humbled. I can't control things I can't control. Things I could control, which is go out and work on rehab and eating right, working out and doing the things necessary to be a pro, that's what I've done. I've just been doing that. My family has been very supportive, my wife. They have just been there making sure I'm staying grounded. It was a great opportunity to go back to the drawing board and get ready for the game."
On the importance of crowd noise at M&T Bank Stadium last Sunday: "It was huge. I think, especially down the stretch with that last drive, the defense, we were pretty exhausted, but we were just fueled by the fans. It was so loud, and it really gave us an edge. We have to continue that from play one."
On if he sees the Ravens home crowd noise affect the other team: "What happens is, it limits the checks. It eliminates a lot of the things the quarterback can do at the line of scrimmage. That's what happened toward the last series. They had to go with the plays. Once the guys on defense are locked and ready, we're all moving at the same ball. That's when we feel the crowd advantage. We need that 12th man stronger than ever this week."
QB Joe Flacco
On if there is anything he can point to about why the team has won three of the last four games after losing four in a row:"We play tough games every year and all season, and sometimes you go through tough stretches where you lose close ones, and you aren't playing the best you want to. I think everything is starting to come together. I think we are starting to get guys healthy. I think we have a more consistent lineup, and it is leading to more consistency. We are starting games better, I think. We are not necessarily finishing them out with the foot on the gas, but we are playing good football. I think we are just getting more consistent across the board."
On why he likes the no-huddle offense and if he would like to run it all the time:"I think it plays well to what we do; we have a lot of speed. We get guys in little cracks with simple things, don't overcomplicate it for everybody, just let kind of the speed of it take over. I think getting up to the ball plays into that. I do not think you want to do it 100 percent of the time – the two-minute drill. No-huddle is good, but going two-minute drill like that 100 percent of the time doesn't allow you to get to your whole offense. I think you want to be able to do some of that stuff every now and then, so it still plays well as a consistent switch-up, more so than a 60-minute thing."
On if the drawbacks to no-huddle are that it limits the things you can do as an offense: "Eventually, you might put yourself in positions to have pieces of the game [where] you are off the field pretty quickly, just because the defense all of a sudden gathers itself and starts putting some pressure on you and catching you with some different things. I still think we would do a good job out of it and react to it, but obviously, the more you do it, the more teams will be ready for it and have some kind of plan for it. I think when you just surprise it and put it in here or there, it is not like the [opposing] team necessarily had a great plan for that coming in, so you can take advantage of that a little bit."
On how the no-huddle offense simplifies things:"Sometimes when you come out of the huddle and you are doing all this play-action and you are making a check here and you are doing this here, it can be a lot for guys to think about. Rather than having that … It might be a half-second difference that guys are not exploding and just attacking. I think with some of the youth that we have, with some of the inconsistencies that we have with our lineup, I think just going out and playing well and playing fast and playing straight forward allows guys to go out there and keep their speed and not have that half-second delay in everything. Then, therefore, bad things happen [when they have a delay]. I think when you go out and play full speed, and guys that have not had a ton of reps and things like that are able to just play fast without thinking too much and just reacting, I think it plays into their hands better. It plays into our hands as a team better."
On the most significant thing he has come to appreciate about WR Mike Wallace: "Mike, he shows up every Sunday ready to go. He is a super passionate person on Sunday, and it shows in his play. Having said all of that, he is just a good player. He runs well and catches the ball. His speed, obviously, allows him to separate from people underneath and deep. He has beaten a lot of people underneath this year and has got some yards after catches in recent weeks, and that is what has been a big part of it for us – just beating man-to-man [coverage] underneath and letting him catch and run."
On what he meant specifically by his comments after the Bengals game that the offense got a little conservative:"A little bit of everything. I talked to [offensive coordinator] Marty [Mornhinweg] about it, and we had a little funny conversation. We did what we had to do to win the game, and I just didn't want ... I'm used to … We are used to around here winning games at the end in close games. But when you have a team 16-3, you would like to choke them out and get it over with. I think I was just a little disappointed in the moment that we had to withstand a last-minute drive to where they could have tied the game up or went ahead. The type of game it was early on, I felt like we had the opportunity to put them away a little earlier than we did, and that is probably where I was coming from."
On if TE Dennis Pitta has mentioned to him that he has not scored a TD this season:"No, he has not. I have actually thought about it. Listen, Dennis is pretty good. I mean, what am I really going to do about it? [Am I] going to start calling plays for him to score in the red zone – every time we get down there, three-consecutive plays to Dennis? There is only so much I can do and he can do. He is playing really well. You cannot try to make those things happen; they just start happening. That is what we are going to do."
On what makes the Dolphins' secondary so strong:"I think they have some good guys back there. I think they have confident guys that are playing well at corner. They obviously have a couple good players up front, and they allow those guys to penetrate and get pressure on the quarterback. I think that can always add to it a little bit."
T Ronnie Stanley
On how helpful it is to have T Rick Wagner lined up across from him in his rookie year: "Rick has been an awesome teammate – an awesome friend, just very, very helpful when it comes to wording all of the nuances of being an NFL tackle."
On specific things Wagner has helped him with: "Really, a lot of things – too many things to name. It's a lot of the little things, more intangible things that go along with being a tackle. It's a lot of the mindset that we have."
On what he has learned from G Marshal Yanda, now that he is on the left side: "I wouldn't say I learned more about him. I would say it's just right in your face at that point. It's very insightful to see such a talented person play next to you that's been doing it for so long. You get a chance to see how it's done."
On the challenges of a no-huddle offense on an offensive line: "It will get a little tiring at some point, that's for sure. Other than that, it really keeps the defense on their toes, and it forces us to execute at a really high level and really be precise with what we're doing, because we don't have that much time to get our calls out or see what we're working to within the defense."
On his development as a rookie:"I feel like I'm starting to get back into my normal groove and just really getting back to the fundamentals. I'm starting to feel more comfortable out there. I'm just focused on improving every single day."
On if it took longer than he expected to feel like himself after the foot injury: "Yes, it definitely took more than I thought it would."
On if he has kept up with Dolphins G Laremy Tunsil throughout the season: "Not really. That's my guy. We met at the draft. He's a really awesome kid and a good person. I hated to see what happened to him [on draft night]. I wish the best for him. I know he's doing good out there in Miami. Other than that, that's pretty much been our relationship."
On if he hopes to have a strong game so he can brag to Tunsil: "I want to go out there and have a strong game for the win. I don't do it for the bragging. I'll say 'congrats' or, 'What's up?' after, but the bottom line is I want to win."
On if he sees the running game hitting its stride: "I do. You see week after week after week we're just improving little by little. It's just little things here and there that really will time that run game down."
On specific things he sees in the run game: "It's a lot of little things. It's more execution within the scheme. I'll leave it at that."
On how much the continuity in the offensive line for the last few games has helped:"It's helped a lot. Really being able to come together as an offensive line and execute as one unit has really helped us in the pass game and run game."
On if he still feels like a rookie:"I definitely don't, and I really don't have a choice to, because they don't care how old you are out there. They're going to come at you no matter how old you are."
On how he feels with the playoff push coming soon:"I really just try to stay focused. I have good vets on our team, thankfully. They really help me, as a young guy, to keep my mind in the right place and really focus. Terrell Suggs has been saying it's a five-game season from here on out. He's always told me – what was it?" (Terrell Suggs: "I need five fights out of you.") "Five fights out of me." (laughter)
OLB Terrell Suggs
On if OLB Elvis Dumervil takes a little off of his workload and if it was nice to see his face in the huddle:"It was great for our team that he is back. We have been pretty much doing the job up front, collectively, all year. I think it adds to our arsenal. You definitely want a guy like Dumervil back on the field, and we love having him back."
On if having six of his eight sacks in the fourth quarter this season is a credit to his stamina or intelligence:"I think it has something to do with all of that. [It has to do with] the weight loss, how coach [John Harbaugh] is letting me prepare throughout the week with the rest he gives me, and also our young guys – Matt Judon, Za'Darius [Smith]. It is a collection of all of that. It is good to have … We understand the big picture, so we are going to keep chugging along."
On how much pride the team takes in stopping the run first: "We take a lot of pride in it. That is Raven football. You do not want teams to run the ball on you. We take a lot of pride in that. We take a lot of pride in playing defense. We like to play defense around here, and it is a good feeling."
On what he has seen from Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi:"The kid is special. The kid is special. It is the NFL, so you are always going to face a good back, but he is one of those … He has a little something more to his game, and you are going to like it – just like we had a couple weeks ago [against Ezekiel Elliott]. We love playing against the best and taking the challenges. This is just another one; we love them, and we look forward to playing."
On if the defense is still working on finishing games:"Yes, definitely. At the end of the day, it is wins and losses, and you want to win all your games, especially in the fourth quarter. We believe more games are lost than won. We do not want to lose any games, we want to win them. The fourth quarter is where you get that done."
On how the attention DT Brandon Williams gets helps the rest of the front seven: "He is in the middle of the defense. That is the heart of it, if you ask me. For a long time around here, we had the great Ray Lewis, [but] nobody ever really mentioned Kelly Gregg and the dominance that he had and how technically-sound he was and fundamentally-sound. That goes to our middle linebacker and our nose guards, that is pretty much the source of our defense. We are glad that Brandon is playing the way he is."
On how much of the defense is made up of unheralded guys, such as DE Lawrence Guy:"Lawrence Guy, Brent Urban, they are [good]. If you ask me, they have played the most consistent in our five-technique, and they get most of the action. Those are blue-collar guys, they understand their job is not pretty, they understand that they are probably not going to get a lot of interviews and their names in their paper, but we value them. They are a big part of this defense, too."
BALTIMORE RAVENS CONFERENCE CALLS
(with Miami Media)
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Did you get any texts or phone calls from fellow coaches after the final play of your win on Sunday?"No, I didn't get any. Probably [kicking consultant] Randy Brown and [special teams coordinator/associate head coach] Jerry Rosburg, the brains behind the operation, they probably did. It was a good play. I just was really happy the way it was executed by the guys."
We just talked to WR Mike Wallace. What can you tell us about the season he's having for you guys? "He's done great. It's really just been great to have him here. I love his attitude. He works. He's competitive. He has great personality. He really wants to be a great player, and he's been doing it for us. He's just had some huge plays for us, and we needed it. He's done a great job."
OLB Terrell Suggs is getting up there in age but still producing, and the same goes for DE Cameron Wake. What do you see in terms of similarities between those two guys? "They're not exactly the same in the way they play, but they are both potential game-wreckers in the same way. I mean that the defense is a little bit different, but they both are very physical, very good against the run, power-edge, speed-to-power pass rushers that can get to the quarterback at any time and just make a game-changing play. That's a great comparison with those two guys."
What's your impression of LB Kiko Alonso and the season he's having? "Kiko Alonso is an amazing guy in the sense that he's so productive. He's got a great feel for the game. It seems like he's always in the right spot. He finds the ball, both in run and pass. He's been a really good player ever since he's come into the NFL."
John, how would you describe the interview you had with head coach Adam Gase last offseason when you were searching for an offensive coordinator?"I really enjoyed it. I hadn't really had the chance to spend any time with Adam before that. He came in, and I just feel like we hit it off. We had a great time talking football philosophy. I loved the way he thinks. I loved his style, loved his energy. I just felt like he was really one of the top coaches I've talked to in an interview-type setting. I really enjoyed it. It would have been great to be able to bring him here, but I think we knew at the time that he was destined to be a head coach very soon, and obviously, he is doing a great job with that."
What do you see as the foundation of the Dolphins' recent success:"It's hard for me to say, because I'm not there every day. I don't really follow them too much until we're getting ready to play them. Just watching them on tape, I would say they're running the ball really well. [Adam Gase] has Ryan [Tannehill] playing at a high level. The offensive line has really come together. They're very well-coached. Defensively, start with the front seven; they are really disruptive up front. They play a fast, aggressive style of defense."
The 49ers really loaded up against the run last week and were able to slow RB Jay Ajayi down. What do you think about approaching the Dolphins' new power-running game?"You better find a way to stop it, I know that. The teams that didn't saw that if you allow them to run the ball, they'll run for as many as you'll allow them to. That's obvious, based on some of the huge games that Jay has had. That's going to have to be something that's a priority for us. Then you have to … When you do that and commit to that, you have to deal with their other weapons."
The Dolphins' offensive line has been in a patchwork situation in the past couple of weeks. Can you talk about the challenges in that area?"That's such a great point. We faced the same thing in the middle of the season when we were just hobbling together as an offensive line and guys were playing out of position. It's very challenging. I know that the really great offensive line coaches prepare for that and do a great job, just like they've done in Miami, and they haven't skipped a beat."
A few months back, the Ravens, Dolphins and the entire NFL mourned the passing of Clarence Brooks. Can we get your thoughts on what he meant to the organization and you, as well?"Thanks for that. That's exactly right. I had known Clarence for about 30 years. When I first started coaching, we went to visit Syracuse, and he was the D-Line coach, and we [held a] clinic with them. He was the same then that he was this summer coaching our guys in training camp. [He was] just a consummate ball coach – consummate father and family man for his family and for the players. Any player that was around him just has a special relationship with him, because he was the kind of guy that was the most demanding he could be to bring out your best, and yet, you knew that he loved you in every single sense. The guys just understood that. He could teach them or he could chew them out, and they loved him for it. I don't know if there's a better compliment you can give somebody – a man of faith and a great family man, and a great coach."
Do you have a favorite memory of him?"Probably my favorite memory was one that I saw quite often. Somebody would get a couple of yards on a run against us, and he would just go ballistic on the sideline and just start going crazy. Some of the salty, funny things he would say to guys about their technique or what we needed to get done – a lot of that is probably on – he's probably been recorded with a few of those things. That's my favorite, the passion that he had for stopping the run."
WR Mike Wallace
On how he recalls his time with the Dolphins:"How do I recall my years? They were pretty good; they were decent. I had a good time."
On if he has any regrets about his time with the Dolphins: "Of course. We didn't make the playoffs."
On if he felt he contributed all he could during his time with the Dolphins:"Most definitely. I worked hard every single day – no days off."
On if anything still bothers him about the way things ended with the Dolphins:"Definitely. I wanted to be better, I wanted to make the playoffs, make a run. But all in all, I feel like I worked hard, like I said, every single day. Obviously, you do not want to go out how I did, but at the same time, I feel like I took advantage of every single day at practice."
On how he would describe his relationship with Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill:"I think it was a good relationship, honestly. You can ask Ryan. I think we had a really good relationship. Unfortunately, the way it ended, it may have looked like we didn't, but I was always good with Ryan; I liked Ryan. I think he is a great guy. He is a hard worker, and I see him getting better."
On his relationship with former Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin: "We were good. It was just an unfortunate incident at the end. I feel like my whole time was good, until the last game."
On if he feels like he and QB Ryan Tannehill never clicked on long passes: "Yes. It is obvious that we never did. We didn't hit as many passes as we wanted, but at the same time, me and Ryan did have a lot of success in those two years. We made a lot of plays. We did not hit the ones that we always wanted to, but we did have a lot of success, I feel."
On his reaction to the Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill's current success:"They are doing a great job. They have won five or six games in a row. I still have a lot of friends on that team, so I never wish anything bad or don't want them to do well. I have no regrets. They gave me a lot of money in two years. I have no regrets, nothing against those guys. It is all love on my end. My life is a lot better because of those guys, so I have no regrets or grudges against them whatsoever."
On why he tweeted that he was looking forward to this game:"It is exciting. It is exciting to play against my old team. I know a lot of people probably took it the wrong way, but I have nothing against those guys. It just did not work out. I am excited about the opportunity to play against them though. They are doing really well; they are having a good year. We are doing well, so it is just going to be a good showdown against some of my old teammates."
On if he would care to "set the record straight" as to what happened in his last game with the Dolphins: "Not really. Like I said and I will say 1,000 times, I never quit on my team. That was not the case. I know there was a lot being said about that, but that never happened. That would never happen; I would never do that. Any one of you guys know me. I worked hard every day. Most of the time, I was the last guy off the field every single day. When you do that type of stuff, you expect and want certain production from yourself and everybody. It was just an incident … It was just a frustrating incident where you wanted to do well and you wanted the team to do well, and it was not going that way. But like I said, I would never do anything like quit on my team. I work too hard for that, and my teammates work too hard for that."
On if he feels like he was underappreciated by Dolphins fans, the team or the media:"I would not say that. When you make a lot of money, people expect certain things. I definitely have fault on my end, but there was a lot of other fault, too. Like I said, they gave me a lot of money in two years. No regrets."
On who he is close with on the Dolphins' roster: "I'm going to always be close with 'Juice' [Jarvis Landry]. Juice is my bro, forever. I still talk to Ja'Wuan [James]. 'Haze' [Matt Hazel] is not there anymore. I talk to Reshad [Jones]. Those are my guys right there. [I talk to] Branden Albert. I will always have love for 'Pounce' [Mike Pouncey.] I still have a lot of friends on that team. Even though you don't talk to guys all the time, everybody lives different lives, everyone has different agendas, but at the same time, those are my guys. I do not have anything against anybody at all. Like I said, my life has been really good. I appreciate them."
On why he has had such a successful season with the Ravens:"Just an opportunity. I think the way they use me, the opportunity is there. I think I am just getting … It has been a good situation for me, I think. I have not done anything different. My approach has always been the same, and it always will be the same."
On if he is still as fast as ever: "You will see." (laughter)* **(Reporter: "You are getting up there in years.") *"You think I'm old now? I think I am forever young. *(laughter) *I think I will be 45 years old and can still run past people. I do not think that is ever going to be a problem for me. That is the way I feel today. Maybe tomorrow that might change. As of today, I feel as if I will never slow down."
On the importance of Sunday's game with both teams competing for a playoff spot: "This is a big game, a really big game. We are both gunning for a playoff spot, and we are both trying to hold off Pittsburgh and win our division. They are trying to make way in their division. They are in a really good division with New England, who has only lost two games, and Buffalo is playing really well, as well. For us, it is a head-to-head matchup until the end with Pittsburgh. It is a very big game for both of us, as far as what is involved, and I think both teams are going to have it on their mind. I know I will."
On if he wishes he was still with the Dolphins when he looks at the success that their offense is having:"No. I don't wish anything. I feel like everything happens for a reason. I am happy for those guys. Like I said, no ill feelings; I am very happy for them and everything that they do. I feel like I have been taken on this path for a reason. I do not wish I was still there, no. I enjoyed the times I did have there, though. I made a lot of friends, I made a lot of money. I am good with that."
On how much he enjoys Baltimore: "I love it. It is great. It is more like … I think it is more my speed, just the way it is handled. Just the way the organization is ran, I think it is more my speed here."
*MIAMI DOLPHINS CONFERENCE CALLS
(as transcribed by the Dolphins' PR staff)
Head Coach Adam Gase
(When you look back on the six-game winning streak, is there anything you can put your finger on as to why you guys have been so successful?) –"It starts really with we've eliminated all of the type of nonsense that most of the teams around the NFL doesn't have during the week – guys being late, guys getting fined, having practices that really are not energetic and you're not getting things done the way you need to. We've really turned around as far as a maturity standpoint of our younger guys doing things right (and) our veterans doing a good job of showing these guys the right way to do things day in and day out. I think that's been our biggest turnaround as far as just doing all of the things leading up to the game and then on Sunday, that's at least giving us our best chance to know what to do and to execute our game plan."
(Was that an issue prior to this six-game winning streak? How did it change? Was it a landmark moment or just a gradual shift?) –"I think it's been mostly a gradual (shift) through the progression of the season. We would have one or two things a week. It wouldn't be always these huge (things), like this guy isn't playing because of this. It wasn't things like that all the time, just little tiny irritant things for a coach where, 'Why can't we just be on time?' Some of those things happen every once in a while and it happens in every organization and it's frustrating when it does because this is your job. It would be like any of us not being where we're supposed to be and just kind of shrugging your shoulders, not really caring. That was something we felt like we needed to get changed fast and we needed to make sure we were doing the right things because it does matter on Sunday. It all adds up at the end of the day."
(Was that a result maybe of guys trying to take advantage of a rookie coach?) –"No. I think that's how it has been here for the last how many whatever years. That's just what it was."
(You've directed some good offenses. What goes into a decision whether to go no huddle, and when you use it, and what are some of the drawbacks maybe? There has been a lot of talk around here about the Ravens using it, and how much they should.)– "You have to be built for it, for one. If your terminology is not really built for it, it's hard. Our system's built for it, because that's what it was when we created it in 2013. It was hard for us to do in 2012, because really we had a huddle terminology, but then we started going no huddle. So we kind of were changing things mid-season. In 2013, we switched everything, and we created it for no huddle. That's the starting point, because if the quarterback's back there and he has to tell everybody what to do by guy, it makes it tough. You have to have signals, and buzzwords. There's a lot of work that goes into it. It's not as easy as you think. I know, especially the way TV is now, where they pick everything up, it makes it really tough, because now all of a sudden, you say one word twice, then you use it the next game, and every player on the defense starts saying 'it's going left, it's going left.' That can be somewhat frustrating for your players, because they feel like they know what all your code words are."
(Are you guys using it much less since the start of the season, and if so, why?) - "I think a little bit of it had to deal with the fact that we were never really together as a full group through spring and training camp. We've had guys in and out. It makes it tough when the quarterback's trying to get everyone lined up and some guys didn't know what to do. There was a lot put on his plate, to where it is things that he shouldn't have to worry about. We kind of had to reel it in a little bit, as far as we got DeVante (Parker) back. We wanted to make sure that everyone was good with what we were doing. So we started huddling. We had our linemen back. We just didn't have enough experience practicing it because we were never together as a group. We lost so much practice time, because (Mike) Pouncey goes down in the second preseason game, a couple of other guys go down (and) we didn't get to work on it as much as you need to in order to be really, really good at that."
(What do you remember from your time when you interviewed here [in Baltimore] for the offensive coordinator position?)– "It was a great experience for me. I really enjoyed being able to talk football with Coach (John) Harbaugh. It was a late night, I know that. I really appreciate the fact that he didn't have to squeeze me in when he did. We were up there from … I think I got into his office at 10 o'clock at night, we talked until one in the morning and he drove me back to the hotel I was staying at. He really did me a favor by just not making me wait. I was kind of getting pressured as far as making decisions on some other places. The fact that he did that to at least give me an opportunity to come interview there, that was something I'll always be appreciative of."
(The game this weekend, the Ravens, very good against the run as you know. Does that present an extra challenge for you and will it put a little more pressure on QB Ryan Tannehill?) –"I think any time you play a defense that has the players that they have and then the coaching staff that they have – it's a very good coaching staff to where those guys will be in great position. They'll obviously be dialed in to our scheme. And it's really going to be about who executes their scheme better at the end of the day. Our guys have to do a great job of getting on their blocks, just staying on their blocks, finishing every play. They're going to be trying to do the opposite. They're going to be trying to get off blocks, and making sure they're in the right gap and making solid tackles. It's going to be really, at the end of the day, it's going to be about which side of the ball executes their scheme and finishes plays better."
(Not a whole lot of people naturally talk about DT Brandon Williams of the Ravens. What kind of force is he against the run and how do you have to account for him?) –"I hate to single out one guy because there are so many guys that are impactful on that defense. It's consistently … These guys do such a good job at executing their scheme. When you have a group that does it the way that they do it, that's why they have success. You never feel like there's any lanes. Like if you see a clip of film where you felt like a guy had a lane and he rips off a 9-yard run, those are very rare to see. They do such a good job as far as doing their assignments in the front, but then the linebackers are doing a great job of making sure any time a guy gets loose, they get him down. They're tackling well. The whole front seven just causes so much … so many problems for what you want to do on offense."
(Is it a case where you look and see what the Cowboys did against the Ravens being that they had the most rushing success because in large part they kind of stuck with it … Is that something that you look at and say, 'Even if we don't have success early on the ground, it's something that we need to stick with?')-"Yes, you try to talk yourself into it. It's really kind of the flow of the game. You're trying to do what's best for your team for that game, and sometimes it changes mid-game. I was a little surprised last week as far as how consistent San Francisco was as far as sticking with the coverage that they stuck with and they did a great job as far as executing their scheme. Their guys played well and made it really tough for us in the run game. We made a couple of plays in the passing game to kind of open a couple things up that allowed us to move the ball. It's a tough thing to kind of keep your mind wrapped around as far as, 'Stay with the run. Stay with the run.' But, having the running back that we have makes me feel good as far as consistently staying with Jay (Ajayi), knowing he's a big man that plays for four quarters and does a great job as far as wearing a defense down and trying to consistently get positive yards. It doesn't always work out that way, but there is some comfort with me being able to stay with the run because you do feel like your guys get better as the game goes on."
(I knew you were missing three offensive lineman last week. What's the status of those guys?) –"I'll find out more today as far as we're going to be able to take a look at them in practice today and get them in individual and possible get them into some of our practice reps. We're so early in the evaluation stage as far as actually seeing these guys take reps in practice. It's still kind of up in the air for me."
(This is a hypothetical, but if you had become the offensive coordinator here, do you think it would've been probably a short stay, because you would've been a head coach very soon after?) –"It's hard to predict anything ever, because you never know what's going to happen. You never know how the health of your team is going to be. You never know the results of anything. It's one of those things … There's no point in thinking about it."
(Do you feel like you have the culture of the locker room where you want it right now?) –"I think there's always room for improvement. There's always room to get better in certain things. I know there are a couple things where some of our veteran players would like to straighten out a few things occasionally with some of our younger guys, because we are very young, and guys still make mistakes. That's what happens when you got a bunch of 22-, 23-, 24-year olds. They're going to mess up here every once in a while. Thankfully, we got enough veteran guys that have really stepped forward – especially as the year has gone on – to take control of that locker room. I rarely have to deal with anything, because those guys handle it."
RB Jay Ajayi
(Can you talk about your success this year? Has this been a surprise to you, or is there a reason why you've been successful this year?) –"No surprise. I've always had belief and confidence in myself and waited on an opportunity. Now, it's all about being consistent."
(Do you look at this week as a big test for you going up against a Ravens team that has the best ranked run defense in the league?) –"For me, personally, I think we've had the opportunity to go against a lot of great run defenses over the past couple of weeks, and it has been a great challenge to go out there and try and succeed in the run game. We know this week is another good defense we're going against, and we want to be up to the challenge, have our offensive line play well and be physical on Sunday."
(After having those 200-yard games, what have you seen from how defenses are approaching you? More eight-man fronts, nine-man fronts? What are you seeing?) –"(There) have been a lot of different things that teams have started to do. You definitely see a lot more teams are stacking the box, respecting the run game and kind of daring us to pass, and we've been able to do that as well. It has been fun showcasing our balance over these couple of weeks, showcasing what we can do, and we want to keep executing on offense."
(How has Head Coach Adam Gase changed the culture down there?)– "He makes it fun for us to come to work. At the same time, he stresses a lot of accountability for us. It's a one-day-at-a-time mentality as well as one week at a time. You can definitely see around the building no one is really looking too far ahead. We're all focused on what we're trying to achieve right now."
(You mentioned accountability. Was that something you guys needed?)– "I definitely think that it's a huge part of why we're doing better. A lot more people are accountable. Everyone is playing for each other. I think we're playing as a complete team, whereas maybe in the past, we were not playing together."
(Was that really the change – because that's what Head Coach Adam Gase said – after you guys started 1-4, this six-game run he attributed to the fact that everyone seemed to buy in to showing up on time and being disciplined a little bit more.)– "I think over this win streak, fines are down and player accountability is definitely up. I think to be successful, you need to be accountable to each other, and it has bled over to the field. We're trusting each other on the field. We trust our defense to get us out of situations. Special teams – they've got us out. On offense, we always want to help the team put ourselves in great situations to win. We're definitely working on playing as a full team out there on the field each game."
(Along that same thing, when Head Coach Adam Gase left you at home for the road trip to Seattle, how much of a shock was that to your system, and do you look at what has happened since then? What does that mean to you and the success you've had?) –"No one wants to get left home. No one wants to be a healthy scratch. It's tough. I'm a competitor, so I wanted to help my team win. Moving past Week 1, it was all about refocusing, being more consistent and focusing on myself, really, and blocking all the outside noise and going and grinding each week."
(Has Head Coach Adam Gase made any other changes besides the mental or cultural aspect in the locker room?) –"Not that I know of, personally. I know I feel like our team this year is a completely different team than we were during our losing streak. I think now that we've been winning, we understand what it takes. I think he has done a great job in showing us what it's going to take. But at the same time, we still are scratching the surface. We still have a lot of room to grow. It's comforting because if we can figure those little things out and hone in on those details now at this time and really get rolling, then December is going to be huge for us."