*RAVENS TUESDAY TRANSCRIPTS: Week 16 vs. Colts
CB Brandon Carr, QB Joe Flacco, OLB Terrell Suggs & WR Mike Wallace
(The transcript of Indy head coach Chuck Pagano's call with Baltimore media are also below.)
CB Brandon Carr
On his impression of Colts WR T.Y. Hilton:"Fast, big-play guy, run-after-catch guy, vertical-threat guy. He can do it all, so we have to make sure we communicate where he is at all times."
On if Colts WR T.Y. Hilton reminds him of any other receivers he has played in the past: "No, he is a little fast guy. This is my first time seeing him. I have never seen him before. We played against them [Indianapolis] in Dallas, but he was injured at the time, so this is my first time ever seeing him on the field."
On if he knew Colts WR T.Y. Hilton has the nickname, "The Ghost": "Yes I know he has some names. That's cool."
On what have been his impressions of playing with OLB Terrell Suggs: "He is a guy that loves the game. He loves not only the game, but being in the locker room with these guys. You see it in his personality, his attitude, but it carries over into the classroom and on the field. He is always a step ahead of the offense, and he is out there relaying the message to the D-line. When it is needed, he gives our pep talk as a whole, as a team and as a defense. He is a great leader – a very passionate guy. We go the way he goes."
On if he understands the catch rule:"Ha! I knew that was coming. Man, I understand that slow motion is a monster! Geez. Slow motion is very ... It is crazy. But hey, sometimes it just doesn't go your way, but I hope we are on the other end of that call one of these days in the future. I have been involved with some of those catch rules, à la Dez Bryant. I am still kind of bitter about those rules – the slow motion and the replay – but you have to adapt with the game. The game changes; you have to change with it."
On if he thinks the catch rule has to be tweaked at all: "They are going to tweak the rules every year. They are going to tweak it every year. Let's just go back to playing old school football and take out half of these penalties and different calls they have added in the game the last seven years. Yes, they should keep tweaking it. Tweak it and go back to old school. Let us go out there and play some hard football."
On how difficult it was to play as well as he did against Cleveland after struggling against Pittsburgh:"Like I said, I have been playing a long time, and you can't get them all. You have those days in the office, where you have a bad day, a bad game. The biggest thing, like [Terrell] Suggs talked about, is it is how you respond. Have a great week, but ultimately come to the game and just let it all go. Have that confidence again. It is just another game, another opponent. Last week is last week, and you just have to go get ready for this week. Nobody cares about what happened last week. It is all about the task at hand. I had to respond well, and I had to respond and play 60 minutes, and we came up with the win. It was a big deal for us as a defense as a whole."
QB Joe Flacco
On how impressed he has been with WR/RS Chris Moore:"I think we talked about it a little last week. I think Chris is starting to hit his stride. He is starting to get a lot of confidence out there. I think special teams, initially, kind of kick-started that. He is a good player, and he has the ability. It is good to see him playing well and really helping us out. I think he is going to be big down the stretch."
On how much it helps from a focus standpoint that the team doesn't have to depend on other teams losing to make the playoffs: "It definitely helps. I have been in both situations. I have been in [situations] where we have to win, and that is it. I have been in situations where we have had people lose, and we did not react well to it. I have had games where we have won, where all we have to do is win, and I have had games where we lost, where all we had to do is win. Been through it all, and it is definitely easiest knowing that we control it from here on out. I think we are a very motivated team, I think we have a lot of pep in our step, and we feel like we are coming on and playing good football, so that is definitely a plus."
On his confidence level in other receivers if WR Jeremy Maclin misses time due to injury:"We have dealt with this stuff all year. I think that is definitely a positive. We have had to rotate guys in and get guys going, and I think Chris [Moore] coming on, just like we just talked about, will definitely help all of that."
On if he feels confidence has played a large part in the recent offensive surge:"There is no doubt. Once you kind of get going and you give guys the confidence, the freedom and the ability to do some of the things we have been doing, things kind of take off from there. You can definitely tell when we are on the field that we are a confident group and we are playing together and having a lot of fun, and all of that stuff helps and goes a long way."
On if he feels that "January Joe" has arrived early:"No. I mean, listen, you don't play that many games in January. I think it is just a late year-type thing. I think this team as a whole is really just starting to hit its stride, and that is really what it is more about."
On if he has a grasp of what a catch is:"Yes, I think I have a pretty good grasp. We were watching that [Steelers-Patriots game] on the plane on the way back to town. Our TVs were kind of going in and out as we landed, and we kind of saw most of that stuff happen. I was arguing with guys that it was not a catch. You try to make it really obvious for them. It is like, 'OK, if you are making a catch when you go to the ground and when the ball hits the ground it completely comes out, I don't think any of us would argue that that is not a catch.' So, when it barely comes out and hits the ground, it is no different than if came completely out. It is just not a catch. I have seen … You see posts all over the place. It is when the ball crosses the line, but it all goes back to if the guy is in legal possession of the ball at the time. In that case, it is a shame, but because of the way the play unfolded, in my opinion and I think in the opinion of the rulebook, he [Jesse James] didn't yet have established possession, and that is the bottom line. You can talk about it all you want and all that. I think they will move on from it pretty quickly. They are still a good football team, but that stuff happens throughout the course of 16 games. Crazy plays like that happen, and you just have to deal with it."
On if he likes the catch rule as it stands: "It is just great … There are all kinds of crazy rules. It is just the nature of the game that we play in today with the all reviews and stuff like that. You can't just have an eyeball test and say, 'That is a catch; that is not. That is; that isn't. That is a catch; that is not.' Because then … I understand wanting to come up with something that is uniform and can establish a catch [or] not a catch every single time. I also understand how when that happens, there are going to be people that don't understand it. I am not on the rules committee, and there are probably other issues that I have a bigger deal with than the catch rule for the amount that it actually comes up."
On if he would like to say what rules he has more of an issue with than the catch:"Yeah, not really. *(laughter) *I do not want to get in trouble. Maybe behind closed doors with some people, [I would say], but, you know."
On how he has felt the last couple of weeks, health-wise:"I don't know. I don't really pay attention to all of that. I have pretty much felt the same all throughout the year. It is obviously progressed a little bit at a time, but I wouldn't say it has been anything earth-shattering from Week 2, 3, 4 and 5 to where we are now."
On how much the offense has improved due to the offensive line coming together: "I think it is a lot of things. I do not know if you want to pinpoint one little thing, but those guys playing well definitely [helps] and us not having to jostle around a bunch of different positions … There are a lot of things – me, just playing more consistent and better. I think that when you multiply that by 11, you start to get better. I also think we have a better feel – I don't know if anyone will admit this – but I think we have a better feel for who we are and what we do well. I think the last handful of weeks we have been definitely pinpointing that and doing some good things with it."
On what it says about the team to be in its current position despite several injuries:"That is the thing. We may not do it pretty, but you definitely can't come after us when it comes to the end result. We have dealt with a lot of stuff this year, and we could be in a better position than we are right now. But the bottom line is we still control our own destiny, and we are an 8-6 football team. A lot of people wish they were in our position, so you can't argue with the fact that we are in position to be a playoff football team, and we are ready to do it."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On what it would mean to him to make the Pro Bowl in his 15th season:"It'd be huge. It'd be huge to show I still get some respect in this league, show I still can play. It'd be huge, but you can't count your eggs before they hatch, and a couple years back I got kind of snubbed. *(laughter) *So, we'll see. We'll see."
On if he feels like this year is as good as he's played in a long time:"Definitely in a long time. Like I said, you can attribute that to me being healthy for the majority of the year, and the team is playing well. Team is playing well, you've got a good feeling in the locker room, all your key guys, and your major guys are healthy. So, it's big. It's big, and you just need to get in [the playoffs]. You just need to get in – you get a chance to get in the second season, play some January football, and some special things can happen for you."
On how it feels to finish the season with two home games for the first time in his career:"Oh, man. That's awesome. That's awesome. You don't have to go on the road for the last two, so that's huge. And especially the position that we've put ourselves in, that helps us a lot. You've got to win two games to get into the playoffs, and they're two home games. So, that's pretty huge. It definitely feels good not to have to get on a plane this week."
On talking after the game about "putting on blinders" going forward, and if that's a message he needs to deliver in the locker room:"I think the team is already on the same page. We know what's at stake … S-T-E-A-K. *(laughter). *It was me [from a previous text joke head coach John Harbaugh revealed last week]. *(laughter) *We know what we're playing for, but we can't get ahead of ourselves. We've got a big one on Saturday, and that's the most important thing."
On his review of the new "Star Wars" movie:"I'd rather really not say publicly. For a big 'Star Wars' guy, it just … I'm just not too happy with it, but that's another side conversation."
On how much it reduces the pressure on the defense to have the offense scoring some points of late:"It never reduces pressure. If the offense scores 38 points, it doesn't matter if you give up 39. So, you've got to continue to play phenomenal defense. Like I said before, we knew what they [the offense] were capable of, we just have to be consistent – special teams, offense and defensively – as a team. We've got to play consistent football. Let's hope all our phases are working come Saturday."
WR Mike Wallace
On how he would define a catch in the NFL: "The referee says 'first down,' the dude does [the arm motion]; it's a first down. (laughter) That's what I would rule a catch, because I don't think anyone knows the rules anymore. We just go off whatever [the officials] say. If they say it's a catch, it's a catch. If not, that's not going to change anything anyway."
On if every time he catches it, it's a catch:"Of course! There's no other way. If I catch it, and they say it's incomplete, they're wrong. They're still going to go off the [replay], but they're going to be wrong – nine times out of 10. If I say it's a catch, it's a catch. (laughter) *You could trust me. I'll call it; I'm a straight-shooter. I'm going to call it how it is." *(laughter)
On if he thinks the rule should be changed: "I honestly thought it was better before. It was fine before they even came up with or made the rule. I think – however many years they had it before I was born – up until six years ago, whenever they changed it, I thought it was fine before. Tweaking it again? They're probably just going to keep messing it up. So, I think they should just leave it alone, live with the results. Just make sure you try to get up with the ball, just try not to let it move. I know it's tough. It's a lot easier said than done. On the plane, [the Pittsburgh-Patriots controversial incomplete pass call] was a big discussion when the plane was landing. Joe [Flacco] was adamant about it: 'It's not a catch.' Other people were like, 'Man, that's a catch. The ball broke the plane first, [so] it's a catch.' Joe was just … He's probably going to be a referee when he finishes. He was on it. (laughter) He knew it wasn't a catch. I thought it was a catch, just because he crossed the plane. I didn't think he caught it and went straight to the ground. I thought he moved and then … Whatever. Long story short, I thought it was a catch. I was wrong, OK, alright. Whatever they do, they do. We just roll [with it]; we just play."
On how much easier it is to focus knowing that if they win the next two games, then they're in the playoffs: "It's a lot easier. You're just playing football. You're not watching it and saying, 'Oh, I hope they lose,' because you don't play football hoping somebody else loses – unless it's a divisional opponent. You just watch football. Obviously, when playoffs are on the line, you're going to be like, 'I hope they lose. I hope this team loses.' It's much easier; you're just playing. We know we have the team to win these next two games. We're confident in what we're doing. We're just playing."
On what's the biggest challenge to players, like WR Chris Moore and WR Breshad Perriman, with inconsistent playing times, who are asked to step into a larger role:"I think you just don't get too far down in the dumps on it. You just have to continue to be you every day. It's going to be hard. I don't care who you are. It's going to be a tough situation if you're not active and used to playing all the time. You just have to keep grinding every day and not let anyone else's perception of you, or the situation, change about yourself and who you are. I feel like you take it and use it as ammo. Some people will, but some people will go down with it. If it's me? I'm a fighter. I'm going to be like, 'Alright, if you don't think I can do this or do that,' I'm going to take it and prove people wrong then – try and use it as fuel. That's the only way you can really go about it if you want to come out of that. I think they both have done a great job."
On how the offense has become one of the top-scoring offenses in the last couple of weeks: "I think we've been a little bit more healthy. We lost some guys early in the year. We were scrambling around, trying to put things together and patch it up. You have big plans with what you have heading into the offseason. You have Marshal [Yanda], you have Alex [Lewis], you have Dennis [Pitta], you have all these guys, and then it's gone before we even get to the season. You lose five of those guys – I don't care what team you have – it's going to be hard to bounce back right away. It takes time. You don't just find an 88-catch tight end just sitting on the street like that. He's just not sitting around, so you have to go find other guys and try to figure out how to make a good gameplan so you can get those guys involved, but not get away from what you wanted to do as much before those other guys got injured. It just takes a while to get everybody meshing. I think we've done a good job of just staying the course and not letting outside people like [the media] – but not you Jamison [Hensley]; you're my dog (laughter) – tell us 'you're not that good' and this, that. You just have to believe in yourself. If you have confidence, then your training, your coaching and the things you do all the time, you're going to be fine no matter what. It's a game of waves. Sometimes you're going to be up, sometimes you're going to be down, but you just have to be you and stay the course – no matter what it is."
On if he hears about the criticism of the offense a lot over the course of the season: "Oh yes, every week probably for the first 12 weeks. That's all you hear. 'We're holding the team back.' 'I don't know if we could go to the playoffs with this type of offense.' You hear it, but you keep playing. Nobody is in the meetings with us, nobody is in the locker rooms with us. People are watching the game. You can't fault people for watching the game, seeing it from their point of view. At the same time, we know what's really going on. There are a lot of different things that go into football. It's not just one person like, 'Ugh, this guy didn't have a good game.' It may not be that. It might be a whole different gameplan or something that the defense is doing that's taking certain things away that you had going on. People – they're just watching football; we're actually playing. I'm not saying … I'm pretty sure if you watch it, you know it to some degree, but the TV copy doesn't show everything that's on the field. That's why every guy is always stepping up for another guy. They're always having their back, because they know what's really going on. They know it might not be this guy's fault – it's something bigger than that you might not want to say, but just keep it together and help out your teammates."
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS CONFERENCE CALL
(with Baltimore media)
Head Coach Chuck Pagano
I know it's been a while, but playing the Ravens and coming back to Baltimore, is that still a special thing for you? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Yes, absolutely – nothing but fond memories, obviously, and a great four years there. Me and my family loved it there; loved working for John [Harbaugh] and with Ozzie [Newsome]. Steve [Bisciotti] was phenomenal. We had a great experience and are forever grateful to coach Harbaugh for giving me the opportunity to be on his first staff back in 2008. I certainly would not be where I am at today without that opportunity and to have the opportunity to be around so many great people and great players."
What have you seen in the progress from QB Jacoby Brissett and his development so far? (Ed Lee)"Jacoby has done a great job since he has been here. You can see him getting better every single week. He was thrust into some very difficult circumstances, obviously, and thrust into the starting lineup real early with little time on task. He is a smart guy. He has talent, he is big, he is strong, and he is tough. He is learning every week. He is able to grasp more and more every week and is more comfortable, obviously, today, than a month ago with his surroundings and his personnel. He is making great decisions, he is taking care of the football, and he is managing things for us well. He is growing; he is a young player. He has huge upside."
I know you are never one to make excuses, but how challenging has it been with the rash of injuries you guys face and just piecing together enough healthy guys to go out there every Saturday or Sunday? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Like you said, we will never make any [excuses]. Everybody gets hit. I know the Ravens had their fair share [of injuries], and it is part of the game. You hate it, and it is the ugly part of the game. We have lost some key players, no more important than your quarterback. When you don't have that guy for your entire season, it makes it extremely difficult. But hey, it is what it is. We have another opportunity to play a great football team and a great organization. We are going to take full advantage of it. I am not happy with where we are at, obviously, from a record standpoint. Again, there have been extraordinary events that we have been through this year. It is part of the league, and we all understand what we signed up for as coaches and players. Again, [I'm] grateful that we have another opportunity to go out and compete."
You mention opportunities. Back in Week 2, Ravens G Marshal Yanda went down lost for the season with a fractured ankle, yet the offensive line has played pretty well. Are you surprised that they have played as well as they have this far? (Ed Lee)"I have great respect for Marshal. Obviously, he was there when I was there, and he is a great player. You look at that offensive line, and they are doing a great job. Obviously, they are extremely well-coached and they have good players across the board. They are big, they are strong, they are physical, they are athletic. They can move people off of the line of scrimmage. They are doing a great job of protecting Joe [Flacco], and again, they are running the ball extremely well. That is an impressive unit, and we have all the respect in the world [for them]. It is easy to put on the film, and they get your attention in a hurry. Again, they are extremely well-coached, they play hard, and they are tough. They are nasty. They are what you want in an offensive line. Our defensive front is excited about the opportunity, but it is going to be a huge challenge."
Given his background here, CB Rashaan Melvin's emergence has sort of opened some eyes around these parts. I know he has been banged up. Is he possibly an option for you this Saturday, and what has kind of been the difference in him taking this next step and being a very good corner for the year? (Jeff Zrebiec)"He has done a great job. It has been fun to watch his maturation and his growth. He is just a really good teammate and a top competitor and a guy that comes to work every single day to get better. He competes really hard in everything he does. He puts the time in, and you can see his growth and his productivity. He was having a phenomenal year, and unfortunately, he got the hand injury. He is day-to-day; he is progressing well. We would love to get him back out there, but it is just kind of a wait and see how the week goes and if he is able to get back out. He is a long corner, he has length, he has ball skills, he is good at the line of scrimmage, and when he gets his hands on you, he makes it difficult on wide receivers to run routes and get away from him. So, he has done a great job, and he has earned the respect of not only this organization and our locker room, but the respect around the league as a top guy."
Your team has had trouble this year protecting halftime leads. Is there anything you can put your finger on as to what is the cause? (Ed Lee) "Yes, obviously, we have talked about it ad nauseam, and that is something that we are searching and scratching our head, trying to figure out. We were at a point where a few weeks back, we were in eight games that were one-score games, and we were 3-5 in those. We had an opportunity at Buffalo, and we had an opportunity in this last game. It is just a 60-minute game, and whether you are playing with seasoned veterans or with young guys, you can't turn the ball over late, which has been one of the factors in why that happens. You can't penalize yourself. You can't give up big plays on defense, and we have done all of those things. Good football teams, they know how to finish, they know how to play every play. We have a good group, we just have to find a different way each week to figure out a way to not blow these leads, but to give them up. It is part of the growing process, and the maturation process of this football team. We have a bunch of great competitors and good character guys on this team and in this locker room and guys that like to fight. We are grateful we have another opportunity. Hopefully, if we play well early in this ball game and you don't fall behind, you have a chance. We are going to fight to play 60 minutes and do the things necessary to close out a game."
We write and talk a lot about K Justin Tucker around here. What is it like to be around K Adam Vinatieri, who is performing at an amazingly high level even this late in his career? (Jeff Zrebiec)"It is amazing. I just feel honored and privileged like everybody else in the building and this locker room and staff to have a front row seat to watch him play and work. He comes in here every single day, and you wouldn't know that he is at where he is at in his career. The years that he has logged, the numbers that he has amassed … He just continues to be brilliant at what he does. He is a rare talent, and he is a great teammate. Just his work ethic and his passion for the game, it is off the charts. Unless you see it first-hand, you really can't have an appreciation for how hard this guy works. He has done a great job, because we had a new holder this year and a new punter. He has been a great mentor, and obviously somebody that those guys are very, very fortunate to have in their room with them, helping them navigate through their first year in the league and things like that. Justin [Tucker] is a great, great talent, and what a leg he has. Good person, good player, good teammate, but what a rare talent, rare leg he has as well. It will be fun to watch these two operate on Saturday."
If your team were to win on Saturday, you would possibly derail the Ravens' playoff hopes. Can that be a motivation for your guys to play the role of "spoiler" for the Ravens? (Ed Lee)"We just want to win. There's nothing like winning – you understand that. Everybody has their 'why' – their reason why. We've had a tough season and a lot of disappointing losses. Never discouraged; we're disappointed, but never discouraged. Again, we're really looking forward to this opportunity. We know it's going to be a huge challenge. John [Harbaugh] and that staff have those guys playing at a high level right now, with a ton of confidence. We know exactly, first-hand, how that team is built. It's going to be a huge challenge. I'd love to be able to find a way to get a win – not so much to knock somebody out and be a spoiler – just to see the fruits of your labor come to fruition. The reason we sacrifice and do what we do is for those five minutes. It's those five minutes in the locker room when you come off the field victorious and you have that moment to share. It's so hard to win eight games, let alone a bunch of games in this league and make the playoffs. I just want to see these guys smile."
You and defensive coordinator Ted Monachino know OLB Terrell Suggs really well. Does it surprise you at all that he's still playing this way at this stage of his career? (Jeff Zrebiec)"He's amazing. He's amazing. You expect something different every time you turn on the film, years go by, and nothing changes. He's a rare talent – first-ballot Hall of Famer. I don't have to tell you guys that. We both feel very fortunate and blessed to have had the opportunity to be around him and watch him work and go to battle alongside him. Now we're on the opposite sideline, but he's a great player. He's a great teammate. What a great kid, a great person and all that stuff. It will be good to see all those guys, but we have to figure out a way where we don't allow him to wreck the game, because when you look up 'game-wrecker' in the dictionary, they have a picture of 'T-Sizz' in there."