*RAVENS WEDNESDAY TRANSCRIPTS: Week 5 at Raiders
*Head Coach John Harbaugh, QB Joe Flacco, NT Michael Pierce, T Ronnie Stanley, OLB Terrell Suggs & WR Mike Wallace
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"I appreciate everyone being here. It is a beautiful day. We are preparing for the Raiders, and it will be nice to get some California weather. What do you have?"
You have three running backs with over 100 yards. Do you like using all of them and feel like that gives you a little variety? (Dave Ginsburg)"Yes, I think it does. That is a good point; that is probably exactly what it is – three guys that have a little bit of different skill sets, and you will see different things throughout for them throughout the gameplan."
QB Joe Flacco has one of the strongest arms in the league. You have speed on the outside with WR Jeremy Maclin, WR Mike Wallace and WR Breshad Perriman. What has been the problem with not getting as many deep shots as you would like? (Jamison Hensley)"We talked about it a little bit on Monday – there is never any one problem. That is something we need to get to. It is important to us. We have speed. We need those guys making big plays for us, and we have not had enough big plays. When we have big plays, everything looks a lot better. We have to open that up a little bit and find a way to throw it over the top of people, and we need more catch-and-run plays."
You talked about the scheme not changing, no matter who the quarterback is. Now that it is official that QB Derek Carr is out, does it not change anything? He did do very well against you guys. (Jerry Coleman)"We will just prepare for the players that we are going to play against. That is what you look at. There are certainly some things that EJ Manuel – when you look back at his career – does differently than Derek Carr. He is definitely going to run the same offense. They are not going to change the offense, there is no question about that. You can see in the Denver game and in the preseason, he runs the offense well. Other things that they may add with him we have to be prepared for, and that is a little bit of a guessing game. We have to figure out what those things are. The nice thing is we know enough about EJ Manuel as a quarterback to know what those things have been in the past, at least."
Everyone knows that the Oakland Raiders have DE Khalil Mack, but DE Mario Edwards Jr., the other defensive end, has three sacks. How important is it to keep an eye on both of those guys? (Ed Lee)"It is very important. I think all of their pass rushers … They have a number of pass rushers. It is not just those guys. '96' [Denico Autry] is a really good pass rusher, too. They have a number of guys that can get to the quarterback. They get good push from their nose guard and from their three-technique. Both of those guys get good push. It is a very good front five; it is a very good front seven."
Understanding that you worry only about your team, have you noticed a similarity with both of these teams that they started out 2-0 and then had two losses that they really didn't want? (David Ginsburg)"I did notice that. I don't know how much you make of that. It is not something that we are going to delve into too much. They have their concerns; we have our concerns. Both teams are going to go in there trying to win the game, and we are going to do what we feel we need to do to try to win the football game."
You obviously know QB Joe Flacco about as well as you could from your relationship going on 10 years. Without getting into anything psychological, how much does his demeanor at a time like this, where he is getting a lot of criticism and the offense has been struggling, help you trust a player like that? (Jeff Zrebiec)"That is an interesting way of looking at that. I have not thought too much about that, which is probably a compliment to Joe. You do not really worry about that with Joe. He is not going to get carried away with what the noise is. It is not something that is going to affect him too much. That is a good thing, especially as a quarterback. He is going to want to just get the job done. He understands it is a long-term type of thing, in terms of how you are evaluated over time. He has been in ups and downs before; he has been doing it 10 years now. He has had the highest moments, and he has had some of the lowest moments, like any player, especially at his position, in this league. I trust him, I believe in him, and we need to roll. We need to get going, we need to start executing – and like we said on Monday – that is all of us. That is always a group effort. Joe takes that on his shoulders. He takes that responsibility, because he is the quarterback, and that is part of what makes him who he is."
The effort it is going to take to bring down a guy like RB Marshawn Lynch. Is it a gang tackle situation? (Jerry Coleman)"Sure it is. Marshawn Lynch is one of the best running backs in the league. He has a very unique style; he is a very violent runner. He is hard to bring down. He never stops turning, and he breaks tackles. They have a big offensive line that pushes. They push the defense, they push the pile, and they push Marshawn if they have to. It is going to be a group effort."
What is the level of concern with the number of penalties you guys have had? (Ed Lee)"I am not overly concerned with it. The offense … You have to break it up a little bit. The offensive penalties have been down. The holding penalties got cleaned up. The pre-snap penalties are pretty well cleaned up. We have to keep doing that. We can't all of a sudden come out and have a bunch of offensive penalties that set us back. The penalties that disappointed us the most this week were the punt return penalties. Those are big penalties. When you have a punt return penalty that costs you not just the 10-yard hold, but it is from the point of catch, you lose the return yards as well. I think we had a 24-yard penalty on a punt return that backed us up to the 21-yard line. Those are the things that we are looking at immediately that we have to clean up."
I know you are a huge Tom Petty fan. Can you give us your favorite song? (Kevin Richardson) "Favorite Tom Petty song? 'Running Down a Dream.' I love it; it is inspiring. Tom Petty, I saw him in concert up in Michigan at Pine Knob when I was in high school. We were on the grass, of course. We got there a little late. My brother was running late, as usual, so we came in for 'American Girl.' That was OK. I had a great time. [Petty was a] great guy [and had] great quotes, great perspective on life. Thank you for bringing that up. I have a feeling we are going to have a little Tom Petty out here today [at practice]. We will try to get it early while you are guys are here. How about that? A little tribute. We will do it." (Reporter: "'Free Fallin.'") *"'Free Fallin!' The other one – I'll you the other one – 'I Won't Back Down.'" *(Reporter: "When I hear that, I think of you.") "Do you? I'll you what: Let's make that the theme song this week for the Ravens."
When you are on practice squad IR, does that mean you are out for the season? Is that how that works? (Jeff Zrebiec)"No. That is an injury settlement situation. It is an injury settlement, and Ozzie [Newsome] will work that out. I do not know the details; that is in Ozzie's territory. But he [Ricky Ortiz] could come back, is my understanding. Don't hold me to it."
QB Joe Flacco
On how his steady demeanor helps him through team highs and lows:"It definitely helps as individuals, going through it before and having dealt with it. When you're in the league as long as we have been, you're used to having to stare this kind of stuff in the face and react to it. Hopefully, it makes us, as a team, better. Hopefully, it puts us under a microscope, or at least makes it feel that way, and hopefully we react to it in a positive way. But, I think every team that you're on is different, and you have to handle different guys differently. We're a new team this year. So, it's yet to be seen how we're going to respond to the way we've played the past couple games."
On if this has been the most difficult stretch of two games in his career:"I mean, there's no doubt about it. We're professionals, and we take a lot of pride in what we do. We want to be the best, and to go out there and struggle the way we have is definitely not easy, but it's part of being in this league – dealing with adversity and still being able to get yourself up and get yourself through it."
On if there were any positives out of Sunday's game film:"You just have to go out there and play. There are always positives and negatives. Listen, I'm going to put it on me every time as the quarterback of this football team. That's what it's all about. Yes, when you look at the film, you're only a few plays away – that's every single game. We have to play better early in games, so that we don't put ourselves in a position to try to do too much and make so much happen that you kind of just completely take yourself out of it. I think if we continue to do what we've been doing, the run game, and we get some things shored up here and there … We were having a couple chances with some big plays in probably all of our games – we're not having a ton of chances; but we're having a couple chances – and we're not making them. So, that's why when you go back and look at the film, it's probably four plays here or there, and it can be a different ballgame. We're just not making those plays right now, and that's just a part of it."
On what areas he thinks need improvement:"I think we're running the ball really well. I think if we take away those negative runs ... If we're not going to get the 10 yards we've been getting, if we can stop ourselves from getting -3, -4, -5 [yards] – we're good. I think I've been a little bit quick to get the ball out of my hands, at times. I think if I just hang in there and trust the process, trust the pocket … I might have to step up and make some plays here and there. I think when some of those big plays are presented to us – they're there, they've been pretty easy; you can make them in your sleep – and we haven't made them. I think the combination of those three things can definitely go a long way."
On if he has to avoid trying to do too much:"You have to avoid trying to do too much when you put yourself in big holes. But at the same time, at some point you have to start trying to make plays and push the ball up the field and do certain things that are going to turn the game around and back in your favor. I think that's where it falls back on us, just playing better early on in games and being able to let the game come to us. That's when we're going to be our most successful, and that's why playing a full 60 minutes is huge and not getting behind the eight ball is huge."
On if him not trusting the pocket is injury-related or due to a makeshift offensive line:"It has nothing to do with injuries and all that. I think it's just me rushing myself in the pocket, for whatever reason. I think the big thing is that I'm aware of it and just have to make those changes and go into the game ready to roll."
On if he likes having three running backs:"Yes, we're doing a good job there. Having multiple running backs is huge, because in this league, you can't have a guy that's … You very rarely have a guy for 16 weeks that's going to be able to carry the ball and carry the full load of the team. The fact that we can have a couple guys that get in there and do it should be big for us coming down the stretch."
On if ball security is a practicable skill:"Yes, there's no doubt about it. There are definitely ways to hold the football. It's just part of the IQ, probably part of common sense sometimes about when you're fighting too long, when you know the play is over and you have to get down. For instance, on the one naked [bootleg play] that we have, just in terms of throwing a pick, they have guys coming upfield and in my face. You just have to throw it away in the dirt. And, all of a sudden, you try to do too much, you turn and look at Ben [Watson], and [Ryan] Shazier is not really looking at him, and you try to fit a ball in there, when I really should have just thrown it in the dirt. That's all stuff you can work on. With Alex [Collins], it is the same thing – just the way you hold the football, when fighting for extra yards is a good thing, and when you just have to call it quits and get what you got."
On if the quarterback position has gotten harder: "I don't know. I wouldn't say that. I think we just talk about it more, so you're under the microscope more. You see more things, people know more about the game, there are more people talking, all that stuff. You just talk about it more and more. The bottom line is, our league has become more of a passing league, and you would tend to think it's become more quarterback-friendly. But, it's just the fact that it's what we talk about, it's a big part of the game – it's what people see."
On if travel affects a player's performance:"It's just part of the game, to be honest with you. You don't think too much about it when you're a player – you just go out there and play. I think most of it is just having a good football team and a team that's playing confidently. All those other factors – whether they're an issue or not – doesn't really matter to us. It does us a disservice to even start talking about it, because then you're just putting something in our heads, [and] that's the last thing you want."
On if he would like to play more no-huddle offense early in the game:"No, I'm not necessarily all about up-tempo, no-huddle. I definitely think we play well when we're playing … When I say, 'play fast,' I just mean mentally-free. I want our linemen to go out there and play physical; I want our receivers to go out there and be able to run fast, snatch balls out of the air; you don't want them thinking about too much. I think that's just a general statement about football. Probably everyone plays best when their head is free and they can go out there and let it all loose. Offensively, I don't think we've been doing that. I think our confidence level can be higher, and I think the way we've played the last couple weeks can definitely creep in and hurt that. We have to do the best we can to make sure we continue to believe in who we are as players and who we are as a football team, so that we can go out there and play free and play the game come Sunday. The time to work out all the kinks and stuff is during the week, getting the gameplan nailed down, and all those things. But, once Sunday comes around, the team that usually wins is the team that can go out there and just let it loose. We have to do a better job of doing that."
On how critical it is to have enough time in the pocket to make his reads: "It's always a big thing, but at the same time, the defense is paid to get after the quarterback. We're going to face a good front this week. They have one of the best players in the league, on the defensive side of the ball, that's going to be coming after the passer. As a quarterback, you're going to be dealing with guys clawing at you here and there and coming after you. It's your job to stand in the pocket, or get out of it, and make a play. That's what this league comes down to, is the ability to do that when times are tough. Anybody can sit back there and do it when it's easy, but there are going to be a handful of situations every game where [the opponent] is getting paid, too. When you really make your money, when you make your points, when you prove that you're a good offense, is when you're doing it against tough situations."
NT Michael Pierce
On DT Willie Henry and DT Carl Davis having to step up:"I think they've done a great job. We saw Willie; he got a couple good hits on Ben [Roethlisberger], got a lot of pressure, especially in our pass rush [as a] third-down guy. He's been amazing. Carl has been doing well; he's settling in now. We expect a big game out of both of those guys this week."
On what he misses about having DT Brandon Williams on the line:"He's our tone-setter. That's something that I've been focusing on, especially last week. I had to come out there, get the guys ready to go and just be a primary playmaker for this defense, like I spoke on even before the season – even with Brandon here. He's our leader, he's our tone-setter, but now, it's on me to do that until he gets back."
On after watching tape, are the mistakes correctable: "Yes, we looked at film – even Sunday night after the game. Everything is correctable. [Brandon Williams] is one of the best nose tackles in the game, so just not having his presence there is challenging. But, everything that we did is correctable from our fit. Just staying patient with that guy [Le'Veon Bell] – he's amazing. We just have to stay patient, especially with Marshawn Lynch. He's a different kind of back. We have to play assignment football, and that's what it comes down to at the end of the day."
On the importance of bouncing back after a loss and stopping the run:"That's the only thing I'm working on this week – just getting our fits down, getting our timing down with our linebackers, just keeping those guys like C.J. Mosley clean; he had a great game. We can definitely do a better job of keeping our guys clean and letting them be able to run and make plays. Marshawn [Lynch] is a great back; everybody knows him. He's hard to take down. That's something we'll be focusing on for sure."
On if there are conversations amongst the defense about living up to its potential:"We're not living up to our personal standards. So, first and foremost, that's what we have to do. We have to go out here and be who we are. 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] talks about it every time. Every game we want to come out here and be who we are; be who the Ravens brought us in to be. We haven't lived up to that these past two weeks. So, I'm eager to get to Sunday and get to proving again."
On if there are defensive changes to facing QB EJ Manuel: "I'm not exactly sure. I'm a defensive lineman, so the way we rush EJ Manuel versus Derek Carr may be a little different. He's really mobile, but Derek Carr was, as well. That might be more of a secondary question. We just have to get after the quarterback. We only had one sack last week, and we have to get that total at least doubled. So, we're working on it."
T Ronnie Stanley
On if there's a different blocking scheme for each running back:"It's pretty much, 'play call – guy runs.' We don't really care who's running the ball; we're going to block the play the same way."
On if it's positive to have three different types of running backs:"I think it is. It gives the defense more to worry about and more to think about during the week."
On his emotions regarding the shooting in his hometown of Las Vegas:"It's been rough – waking up and seeing that. That's the first thing I saw when I woke up. Just trying to check in on my family, loved ones and close friends back home, it was kind of overwhelming. It was just another reminder of there's a world outside of football, there's a world outside of everything we have going on in our lives – to continue to keep focusing on the big picture." (Reporter: "Is everyone OK that you know?") "Yes, everyone is OK that I know of, personally, in my life."
On what worries him about the Raiders' pass rush: "Nothing worries me. I would say that they have elite pass rushers on the edge – Khalil Mack and [Bruce] Irvin. They've been dominant on the edge for years now. That's something that we just need to work on and watch film and be prepared to face those guys."
On the importance of protecting QB Joe Flacco:"It's very important to keep your quarterback up on any team. It's an important thing; that's the only way he's going to get the ball out."
On what the offensive line has to do to improve:"A little bit has to do with communication. A lot of the things would be easily fixed with communication. Just being on the same page, chemistry-wise, just knowing that the guy next to you is going to be where he's supposed to be, and you can trust that he's going to be there – a little bit of that stuff. We're going to continue to keep improving."
On what works for the running game:"I think we've given teams various different looks, different schemes, that they have to plan around. When they see us for the first time, it's a tough thing to defend."
On the challenges of not having RG Marshal Yanda:"It's definitely been a challenge. Losing a guy like that on any team is going to be a huge challenge. But, we've continued to take forward steps and progress. We've made huge leaps in communication and realizing that we have to keep pushing forward. We know that Marshal is a huge part to our offense and our team, in general. But, we need to keep improving and getting ourselves better."
On how he appreciates QB Joe Flacco's calm demeanor amidst criticism:"Joe knows what he's doing. He's a veteran in this league. I'm going to stand behind Joe no matter what. That's my quarterback. That's just the way that is."
On if he thinks he will be blocking Raiders DE Khalil Mack:"He flips side to side, so usually, he's where the three-technique is. But, he's on either side, so I could see a big portion of him."
On what it means to him to finish important games after sustaining in in-game injury:"It's very important to me to finish games. I just want to be there for my team and not be 'that guy,' per say. If I can play, I'm going to play – that's the bottom line."
On what he meant by the O-line having "better communication": "It's kind of just a collective thing. The offensive line is one unit; we all have to be on the same page. From what the right tackle says, I have to understand from what he says. It's a whole collective."
On if he has gotten a sense from T Austin Howard, a former Raider, on the importance of this game:"Yes, he's playing his former team. Obviously, he has a little extra chip on his shoulder going into this game. We definitely get the intensity that this game is going to bring and [how] physical that it's going to become."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On the pass rush being inconsistent:"That's a shot, right? That's like a direct shot, right? I think it is a collective thing. If we play good defense on first and second down, we will get a lot more sacks. In the weeks prior – the past two weeks – they have been able to sustain their run, and these past two teams have not needed to throw deep passes or go deep down the field. I think we just have to be better as a defense as a whole, and the pass rush will continue to be the pass rush."
On what his reaction was to QB EJ Manuel getting the start for Oakland:"It was no reaction. Derek Carr is Derek Carr. He has definitely come into his own, but EJ Manuel has also been an NFL quarterback, and I think the last time we played him, they beat us. Say what you want, but they beat us. I think they are still going to try to win the game. It is going to be two teams coming off losses, and both teams are itching for a win."
On what the key is to stopping the run: "Just getting back to being ourselves. Like I said, some teams, they have been better than us at executing. We've got 'Beast Mode' [Marshawn Lynch] this week. You definitely don't want to [attempt to] get back on track with this guy. [But when] it is tough on everybody else, it is just right for us. The NFL season is long. It's long. The first two weeks, you all thought we were the best. I knew this day was coming. I told you all this day was going to come when you all were going to turn on us, but it is fine. We expected it. (laughter) We just have to get back to doing what we do."
On what he tells his teammates in terms of improving on defense:"I tell them, 'Don't be an idiot.' *(laughter) *Don't be an idiot. It is basically like I said. You all think it is more difficult than what it really is. [I tell them], 'Hey man, you just have to execute the defense.' We have been playing this defense for a long time – me for 15 years. You just have to get back to being yourself. We had a tremendous amount of success the first two weeks, and the last two weeks, we have been trying to chase that and mirror that, and we kind of have gotten away from ourselves a little bit. When we get back to being Ravens and playing Raven style defense, I think we will be fine."
On how he thinks the young outside linebackers are doing: "How do you think they are doing? You asked the question for a reason. This [guy] thinks he is slick. *(laughter) *I think we are doing good. I think we are doing really good. You have to understand, we are 2-2. Naturally, we lost the last two, so of course we are going to feel like we are 0-4. I don't think we are as terrible as you all are making us out to be, but we are definitely trying to get better. We are trying to get better every week. I think we are doing fine. What do you think now?" *(laughter) (Reporter: "I think you are doing fine.") *Thank you."
WR Mike Wallace
On the offense taking advantage of opportunities:"We just have to make those big plays. I have to make the catch on the sideline on the deep pass. Joe [Flacco] has to make some of those throws. Breshad [Perriman] has to make that catch. It is just everybody has something [to improve on]. Except for Benjamin Watson, he played great. *(laughter) *I think besides Benjamin Watson, everybody on our offense feels that they have something to improve on from last game."
On if he is hoping to see the pass game pick up early on this week: "Yes. We just have to get it going. Like you said, whether it be early and just getting the ball in our hands and letting us run with it or taking shots and being aggressive downfield. If we want to be a successful team, the wide receivers have to make plays, the tight ends have to make plays – everybody. Just getting that going early … When you have some special players, you just have to get the ball in our hands early, and we can get the flow of the game going and just kind of get the juices going on offense. We have kind of been out of rhythm; we just never had a good rhythm going. I think during the game, we were already losing when we started to get a rhythm, and we threw an interception. When you start moving the ball, you start getting confidence and things like that. That is all we have to do – come out, get some confidence early, get that thing moving, and we will be fine. I think the offense will be fine once we get it going, but we just have to get it going."
On if he is still anxious to have a breakout game or if he is taking it easy: "You can't take it easy. Early we were, but when you fall to 2-2, you have to get things going. You can't wait till Week 14, Week 15 or Week 16. The time is now, and hopefully we can get it going this week."
On if QB Joe Flacco's even-keeled approach is helpful for when the team is getting criticized by media:"Yes. Honestly, the good thing about me is I don't remember the last time I really watched football. If I am not watching our film, I am playing video games. A lot of people say, 'I don't read it or hear it.' I really don't hear it, because I never even look at it. I am pretty sure Joe has a lot going on at his house to where he is not paying attention to it either. When you can stay out of it, it kind of makes it easier for you. But just him being cool and calm and collected going through everything, that helps us. That helps everybody else on the offense to stay calm and collected as well. But we all have a sense of urgency. We all know that it is time to go, and we can't wait forever."
On if it is frustrating because the components of getting big plays with his speed and QB Joe Flacco's arm are there:"Most definitely, it is frustrating. When you have a guy who has one of the strongest arms in the NFL, and we have one of the fastest receiving corps in the NFL, you would think we would have big plays. But a lot more goes into it than just that. At the same time, we have to get it going no matter what the problem is. Nobody cares about our problems. We just have to find a way. We hit some after practice today. We will continue to do it during the week, and hopefully it can carry over into the game."