Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg
Can you talk about containing a guy like Joshua Cribbs? (Ed Lee)"Josh has proven in this league over the course of his career that he's a guy that can change a game in a hurry, and I've had a look from both sidelines in that regard. So, I think whenever you play Cleveland, you have to make sure you go in and make sure that he doesn't do that to your team. So, our focus is being sound in our coverage lanes and being good tacklers, and it's going to take a team effort by all involved, including our specialists."
With the kick [to win on Sunday night], was there any doubt in your mind? (Garrett Downing)"Never a question. Others had a better angle than I did."
What were your thoughts after watching it [on film]? (Garrett Downing)"I was really happy we made it. I was really happy for our team, I was really happy for our fans, I was really happy for our city and our organization, because it was a great night and an epic battle. Those two teams really competed, and it comes down at the end to a kicker lining up and making a kick, and it's a remarkable game. So, it was a great sense of accomplishment for our guys and pride for our organization."
After the game, what kind of conversation did you have with Justin Tucker? Did you have to bring him and remind him that there's another game on Thursday? (Bill West)"Actually, right after the game, I didn't see him for quite a while. I didn't see him until after we got together in the locker room. I congratulated him on his kick and just let him enjoy that moment, and then of course, we came to work right away yesterday to start for the next week. I really didn't have to say anything to him about coming down, because he's a very level-headed young man, and he came to work yesterday and we talked about how to get better this week and [when] the next opportunity comes along we've got to deliver."
It seems like Chykie Brown has gotten a pretty big role on coverage units this year. What has he done to play his way into that? (John Eisenberg)"What Chykie has done is he's improved during the course of the time he's been here. It's very rare that you find a young rookie that comes in and is just ready to play NFL special teams, because it's a whole different world, and Chykie took it upon himself during the offseason to get a lot better at his craft and paying attention to the details that it takes to really be good at what he's doing. And your statement about why we're better in coverage, well one of the reasons is the players we've had that carried over into this year have gotten better, and then we added some good players. That's really what's happening."
How has Sam Koch's hangtime on punts and Justin Tucker's ability to kick out of the end zone aided the kick coverage? (Ed Lee)"Certainly, any time you kick the ball out of the end zone, that's a plus when you're facing a guy like Joshua [Cribbs] – just don't give him a chance. So, that'll be our aim again this week, but that's not always going to happen. The weather conditions may have an effect on that, and so we have to practice and we have to prepare like every kick is coming out. [Cribbs will] jump up and catch it with one hand and bring it down from nine yards deep if he has to. He wants the ball in his hands – he's an aggressive returner – so we're going to cover every kick like he's bringing it out. And then with regard to the hang times and punts, that's something that Sam has been working on as long as I've been here, but this offseason he made a real conscious effort to improve his consistency and his hangtimes. I believe in the Philadelphia game it really showed, some of the things that he's done, and we need another performance from him like that to contain this young man."
Are those the two aspects that are usually overlooked in the team's ability to cover downfield? (Ed Lee)"I don't know if they're overlooked; they're certainly not overlooked by us. We value those aspects of the game because it's just common sense. You get a higher punt, you get more time to get there. And all those guys that are working on the line of scrimmage to get off, and those gunners that are on the outside working to get down there, it provides them an extra moment to arrive at the scene. So yeah, it's a big part of our coverage."
Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron
How did you feel about the run-pass balance on Sunday night compared to previous weeks? (Ed Lee)"We're always wanting to be as balanced as we can be, but it's not going to be the same every week. I think we know that. Balance isn't as big of a priority for us as it is for everybody else, I can just tell you that. It's about attacking the defense we're playing. We may throw it every down some game. If we think that's what we need to do to win the game, that's what we're going to do. We ran it 55 times last year against Cleveland, because that's what we needed to do. Balance is, I think, something we'll look at at the end of the year. We want to be balanced over the course of time, but every given week, in all likelihood, we're* *not going to be balanced."
Because of Ray Rice's history against the Browns, are you more inclined … (Ed Lee)"This is a different team, different year. I think everybody knows, every week in this league takes on, almost, a life of its own. Probably the only thing I would add [to] the Ray Rice thing, I think the last four years kind of speak for itself. If we as a staff gave Ray Rice the ball as much as everybody wants us to, he would wind up like the rest of the backs in this league. We're not going to let that happen. I think there's a sweet spot on how much you can use a three-down back in this business over a 20-game-plus season. We think we've found that sweet spot for him. It will vary a little bit from week to week, but you can't find many backs in this league that can last 16, 20 games, much less [for] five seasons. So, I think we've got a good feel for what is best for him and what is best for us."
The Browns are starting a rookie quarterback and a rookie running back, something you did guys did a few years ago. Do you mind reminiscing about that? It was probably an exciting time for you with two high picks with a lot of talent and wanting to see how they would blossom. (Matt Vensel)"I am sure they drafted him for whatever reasons they drafted him. We had our reasons with Joe and Ray. They are all different. I don't think any scenario fits, necessarily, another scenario. We're thrilled with the development of, obviously, Joe and Ray. I haven't really watched them on offense much at this point. You're always excited to get good, young players."
I know you weren't evaluating quarterbacks to take high in the draft, but did you look at Brandon Weeden at all? (Ryan Mink)"Yeah, you see them all. Obviously, we watch a lot of college football, too. That offense they ran at Oklahoma State was impressive, and he did a great job. I can see why they drafted him."
Can you talk about Jah Reid, and what role do you see him filling when he comes back? (Ryan Mink)"We'll see. What that timetable is, let's kind of wait and see. We might be getting ahead of ourselves a little bit. The guys we're playing with right now are playing really well and getting better. You can see … Again, I marvel at Matt Birk, No. 1 … You can see the improvement in 'K.O.' [Kelechi Osemele], see the improvement in Ramon [Harewood] and Mike [Oher] and the whole unit. So, we're trying to get that unit to improve first, but we're excited about the future for Jah. We'll see when he comes back."
When you have three days to prepare an entire game plan for an opponent, what kind of work hours do you put in? (Dave Ginsburg)"First of all, we have a great advance staff. Our scouts, I have never been around a group like this that gets us ready quicker. [Senior offensive assistant] Craig Ver Steeg does a lot of advance work for us, our coaching staff. All of our offensive coaches, this is the second week this season where we really had to work way in advance. [QBs coach] Jim Caldwell, [WRs coach] Jim Hostler, [RBs coach] Wilbert Montgomery and [TEs coach] Wade Harman, they were working on this game last week, so they are, a lot of times, doing two games in one week. So, we were ahead of schedule before the New England game for this game, and we'll be prepared."
With all of the targets available to Joe Flacco and the heightened expectations for the offense, do you notice your guys concentrating better on catching the ball? I don't remember any drops or anything like that. (Joe Platania)"I don't know if it's related to all of that. I think we have a lot of guys that can catch and a lot of guys that work at catching. There are a lot of analogies in other sports – putting in golf. You can't work on putting enough, I guess, and you can't work on catching enough. If you think that you are not going to work at it and stay great at it, you're probably mistaken. I love the way our guys work at it. I love where Joe is putting the football. Joe is putting the football where they can do something with it on a consistent basis. I think there are a lot of things that factor into that. If we want guys that can catch, get guys that can catch."
Can you talk about the tempo of the first quarter going into the second quarter? It looked like we came out a little bit slow with the tempo. Was it because the defense was giving you difficult looks or just the tempo didn't look like it was picking up quick? (Bill West)"I didn't see either one of those. I think what happens, from your perspective, is when you miss a third down by a foot, you go off the field. There's not a lot of tempo there. Then you come back and miss it by a yard, there's not a lot of tempo there. We came back, Joe got a first down by an inch, there's a lot of tempo there. 'Q' [Anquan Boldin] reaches out, extends the ball, we get a first down, all of the sudden, the perception of what really happens sometimes – and I see it from your perspective – but really the tempos were all the same. But when you are three and out, it doesn't look like a lot of tempo – there's not. Then all of the sudden, we had three 90-plus-yard drives, and it seemed like they had good tempo. True? *(Reporter: "Yes.") *Exact same tempo, but [we made] third-down conversions. So, there was really nothing different."
Talk about the fourth-and-1 how you guys decided to go for it one fourth-and-1 instead of going for the field goal. (Bill West)"I thought it was a great call. I love our mindset. As you know, we did the same thing in the first thing, and we got the first down, went in, scored basically [the score] that helped us win that game. I think that's the mindset we're going to have. Unfortunately, when it doesn't work, there are all sorts of discussions that take place. The bottom line is when it works, it's a great decision. We all know, any calls you make, when they don't work, nobody is thrilled about it. I love the call. I love opportunity. I personally, and I think we as an offense, love the fact that [head coach] John [Harbaugh] has that kind of confidence in us. I think sometimes the message you send can pay dividends in other ways. I think the amount of confidence he has always shown in us, and we turn around, and when we had our chance to deliver late in the game, we did. I think guys respond to that. I appreciated that call. We're disappointed we didn't execute it the way we would have liked, but I think it sends a message about what we're all about."
A few years ago when you were managing Joe Flacco as a rookie, did you have to resist the urge, as he had success early, on to give him too much? Do you have to wrestle that as a coordinator to not throw too much at him when things are going well? (Matt Vensel)"Every guy is different. I know you guys have heard me say that a lot. This is the truth of the matter: There is nothing we have done since Joe has gotten here that has been related to what he can or can't do. You draft quarterbacks high because they are smart, talented, good, [and] you know you can win with them. We drafted Joe for all of those reasons, but there are other people that are involved with the quarterback. Not every group of offensive linemen or receivers or tight ends can always match what a quarterback can do. When we've done varying things here, it hasn't really had anything to do with Joe. Maybe it's done with a new guy or young receivers like last year. I think four of our top five receivers were rookies. It's really the collective group. Now, we're getting a group that's been together. We can kind of do whatever we want from a mental standpoint, because Joe has always been able to do it. Joe has always been smart. That's why we drafted him."
How has Michael Oher been at left tackle? (Ed Lee)"Great. He is a franchise left tackle, or whatever all those terms are, a guy you can count on in the running game, pass protection. He matches up well with everybody in this league. Is he perfect? No. There is not one in this league. There may have been one here before [former Ravens T Jonathan Ogden]. We may have seen the best of all time with Jonathan. We've got a great left tackle and one of the finest athletes I have ever seen as an offensive linemen and one of, if not the, the hardest workers I've ever been around [in Oher]."
With Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson flip-flopping on the depth chart at tight end, do their roles change at all? (Ed Lee)"Does it seem like their roles have changed? I hadn't actually thought of that, because really, what we do with guys is we highlight their strengths. If there is a weakness they have or something, we just try to improve that. We don't just stick a guy in a role. That's never been our philosophy. We're going to highlight everything a guy does well. The good news is we have two guys that do a lot of things really well. We're playing them both 40, 45 plays a game each. Why? Because it's a long season, and we were trying to keep both of those guys as fresh as we can. We're mixing them in different packages. Obviously, they are out there at the same time a lot. Their roles are blockers, receivers, playmakers, and they are still getting better."
Cam, with the chemistry after three games on the offensive line, what have you seen from Ramon Harewood and Kelechi Osemele? (Brett Hyman)"Just getting better. I don't know that you ever get comfortable in your first year playing, like 'K.O.' [Osemele], or really, in Ramon's first year; I know it's his third year in the league. I don't think they'll ever be comfortable at any point in time this year, probably the next two or three years. If you talk to offensive linemen, veteran guys, they say it's not until about that fourth or fifth year that you really get comfortable in what you are doing. We're just looking for growth, we're looking for guys being physical, being aggressive. We've told them, 'Don't even think about making a mistake. If you make a mistake, we have you covered. That's part of the process. Just be aggressive.' If you have a question, ask. A lot of little things we're talking to those guys about. We don't want them overanalyzing anything. We've got two young, talented guys. As long as they are aggressive, we can deal with anything else."
Have they done better than you thought they may? (Brett Hyman)"Not really. We really don't have time to just experiment. This isn't a rebuilding-type program around here where you just kind of experiment a little bit sometimes with personnel. We basically demand a lot of them in practice. We expect them to play like they practice, and that's it. They've played like they've practice, and that's the important thing. If they weren't practicing at the level that we think we could deal with, then we wouldn't play them. I haven't seen any fall-off from either guy from the practice field to the playing field. As long as they can do that, then we are going to be successful. I don't see any reason why they would start to decline at this point."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
With Ed Reed, what did you see from him as a tackler the other night in terms of making big hits? (Aaron Wilson)"Obviously, he did a really good job. One of the things that we talked about with this group - with New England - is run after catch, and they had that one big play on the wheel route there early in the game, which that wasn't a missed tackle. But in the past, when you watch a lot of film on these guys – [Wes] Welker, [Julian] Edelman, [Deion] Branch, all of them – they are all smaller guys, but real quick guys. Guys have the tendency to want to try to just blow them up and end up missing them. The biggest thing that we really tried to talk about last week is just tackle them, just get them on the ground. That's the biggest thing with these guys, the run after catch, and I thought Ed really prepared that way all week – as all the guys did – but I really thought he did a good job in the game."
**In particular, what makes Ed [Reed] a good tackler? *(Aaron Wilson) *"[He] keeps his head up and his eyes open. That's the whole key to tackling half the time. Somebody asked me about 'Webby' [Lardarius Webb], what makes him a good tackler on blitzes and stuff. It's the same thing; it's no secret. You can't hit what you can't see. The other thing is just keeping your head up and being able to wrap up. Anytime you drop your head, your knees lock. Just if you stand right here and you drop your head, your knees have a tendency to go back. Same way in football, and you end up in a bad football position. You can't change direction, and you can't tackle."
**It looked like Cary [Williams] was struggling in the secondary on the coverage and stuff like that. Can you talk on that? *(Bill West) *"What probably everybody needs to do is watch a little more [Tom] Brady film and find out that there are a lot of corners that struggle. There are some back shoulders fades there, some stop things that they do exceptionally, exceptionally well – as good as any team I've seen in football. I witnessed it for six years, and I had some pretty good corners up there with Asante Samuel and some of those, and I've seen them look exactly the same way. It's hard; you feel like the guy is picking on you. I think it's just a matter of he's … The thing about Tom is he sees a certain coverage, it's hard to disguise stuff with him, because he is smart, and he does a good job of knowing where to go with the ball, and if you happen to be the corner that's playing that position, you are going to picked on. I don't think it's as much Cary as they did a good job. Can we do better? Yeah, he knows he can do better. I give them some credit on that, too."
*What have you seen from [Brandon] Weeden and [Trent] Richardson, and what do they do particularly well? (Matt Vensel) *"Richardson is everything that everybody talked about in the draft and coming out of Alabama. The guy is physical, he's strong. He's never going backwards. He's always falling forwards. You get in a short-yardage situation, he's really exceptional. He's everything, I think, that everybody thought he would be coming out. He is an exceptional, exceptional back. He's going to be something to deal with for probably a long, long time. Weeden's the same way. He has a strong arm. I think he's a smart guy. He's a big guy, can see the field real well. I think it's just a matter with him is experience of getting playing time and stuff like that and learning the offense and that sort of thing. When he makes a mistake, he just makes maybe a bad read or something. If he has his read down and he's got his feet set, he can throw the ball pretty good."
Going back to the early question, is there any consideration to giving Jimmy Smith the start? (Ed Lee) "That's been a competition from Day One. That's always been a consideration every game, and every game we kind of go through it during the week. And, those two guys know it, that we just kind of rotate things through the week, and whoever we feel is having a better week, that guy could end up being the starter. And like I said, way back when somebody asked me that coming out of training camp, they are all kind of starters in our eyes because we play so much nickel defense that they both end up in there. That's always a consideration, no matter how it was the week before."
Through the first three games last year, the defense had nine sacks. This year you guys have eight sacks. Do you feel validated considering some of the concerns that people have brought up concerning the pass/rush and that sort of thing because of the absence of Terrell Suggs? (Ed Lee) "I don't think validated would be the word that I would use. It is what it is. We kind of … I feel like the guys have worked hard at it. We've done some pressure, which has helped us a little bit, but I think most of our sacks have probably not always come out of the pressure thing. I just feel like, it is what it is. I don't really feel like it's a validation thing so much."
What do you think differentiates Jameel McClain and Dannell Ellerbe in what they bring to the table? (Garrett Downing) "They both bring almost the same thing. I think 'El' [Ellerbe] might be just a little bit better in the coverage aspect. Jameel is a very, very good run linebacker, but he does a good job in the pass defense, too. I really think they are equal guys in a lot of ways, and that's why, hopefully, we can keep rotating them and spelling them a little bit, having given each a guy a role on defense, I think, really kind of helps us."
**It seems like Ellerbe got a little more reps this week. Was that more of a factor of … *(Garrett Downing) *"We were in sub more. We were in nickel defense more. So right now, what's happening is Ellerbe is playing in the sub package. 'Mac'[McClain] is playing more in the regular Raven package. We played a little bit more sub against New England than we have maybe in the past games."
And, that's just because they spread it out so much? (Garrett Downing) "It's because of the personnel that they were in. I think one of the things that came up this week, everybody talked about us pressuring at the end of the game, I don't think people realized that we pressured nine out of the first 14 plays of the game. You have a tendency to not see that. The thing that happened was I really felt like Tom [Brady] kind of had a beat early on our pressures and we got burned. That wheel route we were in a pressure, and we got burned on it, and I felt like he had a pretty good … I've been around him long enough to know when he gets a feel; that's not a good sign. So, I got out of it. [I] probably stayed out of it too long. I was kind of disappointed on the way I called the two-minute deal, but we got back into it later, gave him some different looks and pressured, and a lot of that was out of the sub stuff."
**Huge stop the last series with the defense. They were able to get to Tom Brady. Did you change something up? Was that a different scheme? *(Bill West) *"It was a different look. It was a similar pressure, but it was a different look than what we had given him early in the game. Like I said, I thought he had … I can tell by the look in his eyes sometimes having gone against him enough, he … After we sacked him, the very first third down on a pressure, he came back and got us pretty good on the next couple of pressures. Like I said, the big wheel route was on a pressure. I just had a feeling that he had a good beat on what … We were showing something, whatever it was, and he had it. He had that look about him. I can tell when he stands in the pocket and he stomps his feet and he stands tall; he's a very confident guy. What we did at the end is we kind of gave him pressures, but we gave them out of a different look, brought something different."