*RAVENS WEDNESDAY TRANSCRIPTS: Week 13 vs. LIONS
*Head Coach John Harbaugh, QB Joe Flacco, C Ryan Jensen, OLB Terrell Suggs & S Eric Weddle
(The transcript of Lions head coach Jim Caldwell and QB Matthew Stafford's calls with Baltimore media are also below.)
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Good to see everybody here. [It's a] beautiful day out in Baltimore. How about this day, huh? Awesome. We're excited; we're getting ready for Detroit. What do you have?"
Lions DT Haloti Ngata isn't playing, but can you talk about your first impressions of him and what he brought to the defense here? (Mike Preston) "I honestly haven't even thought about that. I don't have that answer. I'm sure he's been great. We had Haloti here for all those years. He was awesome here – great leader, physical player. But, he hasn't been playing for a while, so I haven't really seen too much tape with him on it."
What are you seeing from QB Matthew Stafford? He's one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL and one of the starting quarterbacks that haven't been hurt, either.* (Jerry Coleman)*"Matthew Stafford is an excellent player. He's one of the top quarterbacks in football, without question. He throws it the most of any quarterback in football. They throw the ball a lot, and do a great job with it. They have a lot of really good … Every one of their guys is a playmaker. I think they lead the league in big-play passes – in the National Football League. It's spread out pretty evenly. The top guy has 17 [catches], and I think the next guy has 11, and the next seven guys have four to six, so that's quite a spread. He's the leader of it; he directs the whole thing."
What did you hear from [Michigan head coach] Jim Harbaugh, [defensive line coach] Greg Mattison and the Michigan staff about DT Willie Henry coming in, that you may be seeing emerge over time? (Childs Walker)"They liked Willie. I think that they felt like he should have stayed in it another year, in all honesty. He was a developmental guy last year, but you see where this year has really come together for him. He's just done a great a job. But, Jim really liked him – hard worker, he said, great personality. You see his personality, so you know what he's like. But, the year of work that he's put behind him, and the experience he's getting on the field, is really starting to pay off. He just has to keep building on that. You don't take anything for granted, don't think that you've arrived after two or three or four games. Willie is like that. He doesn't take anything for granted, and we expect him to continue to be a factor."
**Has this defense carried on the tradition of Ravens' defenses – meaning being aggressive, forcing turnovers and winning games? *(David Ginsburg) *"I think that we're just trying to win the next game. Those big picture questions are good questions, but I don't have that quote, to be honest with you. It's probably where you're going with it, and it's probably fair. But, we have five-plus games still to play, and how well we play over the rest of the season, I think as a defense, will determine the place in history. That story has yet to be written."
When you see a Lions team like this, that has struggled with the running game, does that play to your defensive strengths? (Ed Lee) "They've been very successful in the passing game. So, we're just going to have to do a great job of defending their offense as it sits. There are things that are good, things that are tough, things that challenge you every single week with different offenses. This one's different than some of the offenses that we've played the last few weeks, for a lot of different reasons – how they're set up, who they have out there and the schemes that they run. So, we're just trying to find a way to slow them down a little bit."
The creativity that has been displayed the past few weeks, offensively … Is that something that comes into play in the meetings and just trying to find a way to get points on the board, whether it be a fake here or going for it on a fourth-down situation? (Jerry Coleman) "You always try to do everything you can do to try to find a way to create plays, to put your guys in position to make plays, create plays, take advantage of whatever you see on tape from your opponent, and to try to do the best you can to put points up or stop your opponent. It's the same every week. You try to find a way to do that, and sometimes it works out."
*On a fake punt, is it a tough balance when you run a play earlier on special teams, to then go back to it? Are you concerned whether the opponent has seen this play on tape? Is that a tough decision to make, to go back to almost the same play? (Jeff Zrebiec) *"Well, it wasn't the same play – that was the beauty of it. So, the last play was a deep route, and Sam [Koch] was good enough to throw the back shoulder on it – it's kind of a deep stop. Then, this one was a stop-and-go; that was the idea on this one. I think they built off one another. That's what made it a good idea. I don't think we'd probably run the same exact play, because they probably would have that defended – like you're saying. You'd try to do something off of it that would play off of what you did before."
QB Joe Flacco, again on Monday, expressed some concern about the direction of offense. Is that an on-going conversation? Do you have similar concerns as Joe?* (Mark Viviano)* "That depends on your definition of 'direction.' The direction we're trying to go is to be as good as we can be, to try to put as many points as we can put up, play the winningest football that we can play – with our offense, defense and special teams. We want to produce in all three phases. We want to get more out of our offense, and that's an ongoing process. We've been trying to fight for that all year. I think we understand some of the challenges that we've had on offense, and we're trying to fight through those things – different issues with health or whatever it might be – to be as good as we can be the next week out. I want our guys to feel challenged. I want our guys to want to be great, and that's what we're working for."
When you're playing that winning football, and the way the defense is playing, and special teams, does QB Joe Flacco sometimes have to take on that "game manager" role when it comes to winning games? (Jamison Hensley)"I just don't put labels on it. That's for somebody else to do. You just go out and try to play quarterback as well as you can, and he does a great job of that. I believe in Joe, and I think he's our best offensive player. He's the guy that puts it all together for us. We have to build around him, for sure, and that's what we try to do."
After looking at the tape of the game, what did you see, what didn't you see from WR Breshad Perriman, who was back out on the field? (Jerry Coleman) "Too broad of a question, really. Give me a tighter question." (Reporter: "Did he do enough to merit playing again this week, or is that going to be a game-time decision?") "I think it'll be toward end of the week. As the gameplan comes together, we'll figure it out and see where it stands. It's not, 'It's Breshad, for sure,' but it's also the other guys involved. We have some healthy guys up there, and [it's about] who gives us the most in the gameplan."
With both teams coming in at 6-5, does this loom as a must-win game? (Ed Lee) "They're all must-win. Every single game is a must-win, the way we look at it. It's a must-win game – they all are."
Sean McDonough on the broadcast said that coaches here don't think QB Joe Flacco is putting enough time and energy into the deep ball. Is that an unfair criticism? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I didn't hear that quote. I don't know anything about it."
The city is in mourning today because of the fallen officer [detective Sean Suiter]. Any words of encouragement to the city?* (Pete O'Neal)*"To the families … We've been following in the papers – just like all you guys have – and everybody in Baltimore has followed the situation in the city that took place last week with the situation. I don't want to get into the details of it too much here – it's sports and football … But, our hearts go out to families, our hearts go out to the people involved. It's just … We have a lot of respect for police officers and detectives – here and everywhere – but especially in Baltimore, Baltimore County and Baltimore City, because it's a tough job. I know if it was for me, and my dad or my mom was going to work every day, and there's a chance that something like that could happen … I think it would be hard. The sacrifices that are made and the commitment that those people have to creating a society that's more civil – that's something we should take very much care to honor. I'm sure they'll do that today. Thanks for asking."
What was your reaction to P Sam Koch being named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week? (Ed Lee) "I thought it was awesome. It was a good choice. I didn't realize this, but 'Tuck' [Justin Tucker] told me this morning that Sam has never been the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, in his whole career." *(Reporter: "He was named in 2008.") *"Was he? Well, that was before 'Tuck' got here then! I forgot! *(laughter) *But, good for him; he deserved it. It's a great thing."
Do you see any advantage in the fact the Lions haven't played since Thanksgiving and you guys are coming off a short week? Is that a real advantage for them, or because they have to travel, that neutralizes things in any way? (Jerry Coleman) "I don't know – that's a factor. There's always a factor. We've had that; everybody gets in those kinds of situations during the course of the year. They get a little more rest, and that's the nice thing about a Thursday game. I'm sure that'll help them to some degree."
Do you do anything different for a short week? We've talked about during a long week, but is anything different – whether it's practice or recovery-wise? (Jamison Hensley)"We do. We do what we call Alignment, Assignment, Communication, Technique – 'AACT' practice. It's one of our practice formats that we use on Thursday night games, and we'll be using that format this week, once or twice. Yes, that's part of it. You have to get the guys back. Football is tough, and that was a very physical game on Monday Night. We haven't talked too much about the game, but that was a physical game against a really good team that had to win the game, a very physical team. They gave us some really good schemes. They gave us some really challenging schemes on both sides of the ball. The defense set up differently, with No. 90 [Jadeveon Clowney], as you noticed. Their offense gave us some stuff that was really challenging. Hats off to [Houston head coach] Bill O'Brien and their staff. We have to get bandaged and back up and ready to go for Sunday afternoon, for an important game."
That AACT practice … Does that include hitting? No pads? Or how does that go?* (Jerry Coleman)*"That's right – it's more of a mental technique. It's just what it says. It's exactly what it is, actually. *(laughter) *There's no 'H' in there for 'hitting.' If we had hitting, we'd put an 'H' in there."
QB Joe Flacco
On what he sees from Detroit's defense on tape: "They want to let their defensive linemen get after the passer, and they have a few good guys back there in the secondary with [Glover] Quin and [Darius] Slay. Those guys can play pretty well, so they are a good group."
On if there is a part of him that wishes he could play against former Ravens and current Lions DT Haloti Ngata (who's on Injured Reserve]:"I don't know about that. (laughter) *I saw him play here for many years, and I remember my first minicamp here and what he was doing, so I don't necessarily know if I wish for that." *(laughter)
On if he practices sliding with his knee brace:"I don't practice sliding with it, because that would probably just happen … I would risk hurting myself. In the heat of the moment, you are just sliding how you slide, and if your brace gets caught, it gets caught. I have slid a couple times with it this year, and it has not been the smoothest thing in the world, but it has not broke on me like it did the other night. It just is what it is."
On his response if the Baltimore Orioles offered to help teach him to slide: "Yes, sure. Hey, if you slide on dirt, I'm sure it won't get caught." (laughter)
On if there is a different feel about what is ahead while in the playoff hunt at this point in the season: "I don't know. I think it is tough to say there is not a different feel. Once it gets late in the year, it just becomes more realistic as to who has a chance to get in and who doesn't. Even though they all matter the same, we have five left, and we know we are in the hunt. It just seems like it is so here right now, and we have to make it happen right now. It is always like that, in reality, but the feel of it is definitely a little bit different just because we are coming down to the end, and we know how much it really means."
On if there is a sense inside the locker room that the team is starting to get hot:"Yes. We were excited after that game on Monday. We knew how big it was, and they are all like that. We definitely have a team that is capable of doing some special things, and we just have to try to ride that out and keep playing smart football and allowing the game to come to us."
On if it is an ongoing conversation about the offense:"What do you think we do here every day and every week? We are working on getting better, and that is really all we can do. You look at the first half of that game, and we put up 17 points. You hope that we can carry that through the second half and do the same thing and have a good game, but the bottom line is that is the way the game went and the way we played it, and it was a winning performance. Now, we will come back in today and yesterday and work on getting better this next week. That is all we can do, and I think we are doing a great job of focusing on that. We are going to make it happen. We have a little bit to go – it is not anything crazy – but we definitely have the guys that can make some plays and get us rolling. We are going to try to make it happen."
On if he looks at how quickly the offense turned around in 2012 and if that gives him confidence for this season:"I do not know if you look back at that year. I look back at other years, and we know we can make it happen. 2012 is a misconception, because we were a 9-2 football team and we went on a losing skid there at the end of the year, but I would not say that we ever dealt with so many issues that we can look back at that season and see how we came over it. Each one is different; each season is different. You always have something to deal with – injures [or] whatever it may be. Right now, we are just keeping our head down, and like I said, it may not look pretty moving forward, but we are going to do what we have to do to win football games and put ourselves in a good position at the end of the games to win them."
On if he feels he has to take on a "game manager" role at certain times:"Yes, that is the way it is sometimes. Like I said, you do what you have to do to win football games, especially in the second half when we get up on teams and our defense is turning the ball over. You get to a point in the game, where it is like, 'Alright, we have this game won, unless we do something crazy.' And we have been able to do it.' Obviously, we are a 6-5 football team, so we have not been able to do it to the point where we have been quite consistent enough, but there have been some games where that is what we have had to do, and we have done a good job doing it. The misconception is that some of those games are easy to play in. They really end up being the tough games to play in, because you have to be so good. One turnover by us and one less turnover by them, and that game the other night … It is a completely different game. Yes, it might not have looked pretty, but there are definitely things that guys are doing out there that are good for our team that are getting overlooked. The way we started that game and the way [Jadeveon] Clowney was kind of playing and the reaction for our offensive linemen to kind of buckle down and play the rest of the game the way they did was pretty cool. It was a lot of good things going on."
On if it is tough as a quarterback, because he would like to be more aggressive:"It is tough, because you know that at any given moment something could change, and you are going to have to rise up and make that play and do those things. But you are not really thinking about that in the game. You are thinking about the flow of the game and just moving the sticks and seeing what you can do as an offense to keep that ball in your hands and keep going. Whatever that is, whatever we have to do in order for that to happen, that is what we are going to do. My job as a quarterback is to do that. Whatever kind of situation we are in as a team – up by seven or up by three – it is to hold on to that lead and hold on to the ball and give ourselves and give our defense and give the whole defense the best chance of moving forward, whether that is kicking a field goal or scoring a touchdown, whatever it may be."
On P Sam Koch being named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week: "Obviously, you have seen Sam out here. He can throw. He is a good athlete. I told him he had the best anticipation on a throw that I have ever seen on that one. I am not sure if he knew exactly what he was doing or if he just said, 'Screw it, I am going to throw it up.' It was a really good pass, and Chris [Moore] did a great job of getting to the ball, too."
On if P Sam Koch could be a decent third-string quarterback if needed: "He definitely has the ability to throw the football. Whether he has any idea as to what is going on back there, who knows?"* (laughter)*
On if he feels the offense needs to become more difficult to prepare for: "I think there is always a little of that when you get into the kind of games we are in and you get into the second halves of football games and you are playing with a decent-sized lead and your defense is playing the way you do. It is natural to become a little bit predictable, because everybody knows that we are going to kind of line up in four-minute offense and do what we can do to win this football game. That is really what a lot of it has come down to, is just the situations we have put into as a football team and as an offense. We have either been up by a lot when we have won and ran the game out or had a victory [formation] and teams have been turning the ball over and we have been able to run the game out. I think it is just kind of the situations we have been put in and we have been able to do it a little bit more times than not."
On if he has learned anything from adding to his family with more children: "You learn you are not as patient as you believe you are. They will definitely test you every day. It is all good. It helps you out in a lot of things and definitely teaches you a little bit about yourself and all that."
On if he is willing to answer in 10 years on how feels about having children:"I'm sure you can [ask me]. I am not sure what my response will be, but hopefully it will be a good one."
C Ryan Jensen
On seeing former Ravens teammate/roommate and current Detroit T Rick Wagner on the opposite sideline: "It'll be kind of cool. Obviously, being drafted with him – and I actually lived with him for two-and-a-half, three years – it'll be cool to see him and be able to play up against him."
On if he has communicated with T Rick Wagner: "Yes, I mean, we've always kind of communicated together. We were friends for three or four years, and still friends to the day. It'll be nice to see him." (Reporter: "This time he becomes your opponent. Does that change your feelings on him?") "I guess, yes. Before the game and all that, he's the 'enemy' – per se. But, after the game, we'll be able to catch up a little bit."
On if he feels there's momentum with a two-game win streak: "Yes, definitely. It's that time of year when we have to start stacking games together, and definitely winning two games in a row gives some momentum and the ball rolling for us."
On if the offense is looking for the opportunity to contribute to a win: "Yes, definitely. That's the way this league rolls sometimes – all three phases are clicking, one phase is clicking more than the other. The offense – yes, we're eventually going to have to be that phase that carries the team, just like the defense has carried us a couple games this year, [and] the special teams have done the same thing."
On the kind of player DT Willie Henry is: "He's a good player. He's explosive, definitely has come into his own, definitely getting more physical at the point of attack and stuff like that. He's really stepped his game up."
On the growth he has seen from G Matt Skura: "Matt has definitely come a long way, and he's doing great right now. He's playing very physical and good, sound football."
On if he takes it as a compliment when opposing players comment on his physical playing style:"I'll take that as a compliment. The way I play football, I try to play a physical type of football. Guys who I play against don't appreciate it during the game – but, I've had multiple guys come up to me after games and say that they hate the way I play, because I'm playing against them."
On if the Ravens' run game will take advantage of the absence of Detroit DT Haloti Ngata: "I think we're just going to go in with the gameplan and attack them in the ways we think we can take advantage."
On if this game is a must-win: "I think at this point in the season, it's that stretch where we're fighting for a playoff spot right now. So, to say that any game, 'Oh, you don't really have to win this game.' … So, I think it's really a winning situation."
On if he felt the Monday Night game was one of the more physical games this team has played:"Yes, definitely. It was a pretty physical football game up front in the trenches. There were a lot of pads cracking in the game. It was definitely a physical game."
On how valuable T Ronnie Stanley is:"Left tackle is a very important position on the line. Getting him back for the last game … I know we had that little scare, but thankfully he was OK and able to come back in the game. It's definitely a big key for the line."
On who was the neater roommate, himself or Rick Wagner:"I'd say Rick, probably. It's kind of funny, because he pretty much always kept it this way. He had everything that he owned in a duffle bag. (laughter)That's just the way Rick was; he didn't have a lot of stuff. We always joked around that if he ever had to move somewhere, all he had to do was pack a duffle bag and he had all his stuff."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On the expectations of going against QB Matthew Stafford:"They have a very explosive offense. He is a very elite quarterback; you can tell by his paycheck. He has bread. After the game, hopefully he will invest in some 'Team Sizzle Films.' They have a really explosive offense. We could really use our fans' help this week [with] a little crowd noise, so it will be hard for them to communicate. We are going to need the city to come out and help us get this one."
On if he and his teammates have noticed more empty seats in M&T Bank Stadium:"No, I have not noticed. I thought it was pretty loud up in there [on Monday night]. I thought it was pretty loud. I did not notice, but like I said, we could use their help this week."
On if he is disappointed that his former teammate, Detroit Lions DT Haloti Ngata, will not play: "Yes. I am kind of glad he is not playing. I don't want him to be hurt or anything like that, but everyone knows the force that '92' is. They still have guys over there that can play on their defense. I think they have five defensive touchdowns or something like that. Hopefully, he makes the trip and I get to see him."
On if he can comment on how well the defense feels: "We feel good. I am going to keep mentioning it, though – we have to be consistent. We have to be an elite defense every time we take the field. We had some penalties last week that we kind of need to address and get corrected and make sure those kinds of things don't hinder us going forward."
On if there is less margin for error going against the Lions:"Like I said, we are coming into December football. You do not want to shoot yourselves in the foot. You want to do the good things you do. You want to exceed on those, and the things that you don't do so well, you kind of want to limit those. We need to be playing championship playoff football from here on out."
S Eric Weddle
On how much he is looking forward to playing Lions QB Matthew Stafford:"Matt is one of the best in the league. It is going to be a tough challenge. We are excited about it, obviously. Every week presents challenges, offensively, schematics, players, etc. But, Stafford is one of the best. He can make all the throws. He commands the offense, checks at the line, presents different challenges that we have seen in the past, but every week is a tough game regardless of who is playing quarterback. We have to go out and play great, and that is what we plan on doing."
On what he sees from Detroit's wide receivers, specifically WRs Marvin Jones Jr. and WR Golden Tate:"Yes, explosive wideouts. Marvin is a playmaker up the field; he is dynamic catching the ball in the air. Golden has been making plays since I can remember with the ball in his hands. He has good route-running, but he makes plays with the ball in his hand. He turns into a running back/rhinoceros and just runs through guys and spins out of tackles and is a huge playmaker. Those two guys, we have our hands full with them. We just have to make life tough on them, play our technique and our fundamentals. When the ball is in the air, we have to make plays just as much as they do."
On what has struck him about DT Willie Henry: "Willie, last year he did not do much, and he came back in the offseason and worked his tail off. He really got into good shape, got strong. I'm sure he would attest to [director of performance] Steve [Saunders] and the strength staff. But, he has just been a force for us – not only in passing situations, but against the run – and really a guy that we are relying on to come in and give valuable reps for us and be a playmaker. It is just great. As an older guy, you see young guys take the initiative and put through the effort in the offseason to really make an effort to be a good player in this league. It is awesome to see, and we expect him [to play well] each week, from what he has shown and what he has done. He is getting better and better, and he is a guy that can wreck havoc in there."
On if he feels like the team is starting to get hot:"I don't know so much about that. I think we are just so focused on this game. We have already moved past that Monday night game and the game before that. With the short week, this is a huge game for them and us. It is going to be a playoff atmosphere. It is 'win or go home' for both of us. We are just trying to scratch, claw and get a win by any means. Are we playing our best ball? No. But sometimes, it is just the team that wants it the most that gets the win in these games because they are so important and pivotal to try and get to the playoffs. I don't know if we are getting on a roll. I am just happy that we got the win last week and that we get a chance this week. We just have to go out and play great."
On if there is a sense that the next couple games will define what the defense becomes: "I think it will define our team. I don't look at it as one side or the other. If we don't play well in all three phases, we are not going to have a chance to win. As well as our defense has played over the last weeks, we are going to need special teams and offense to make this stretch run and get into the playoffs. For us as a defense, we just have to control what we can control, and that is relying on each other and playing the best we can one play at a time. When the game is on the line, we need to go win it. I said this after the game: 'There will be a game – whether it is this week, next week – where the season is on the line and our offense is going to bail us out.' I really believe that. I am not too worried about what is going on with their side of the ball. I believe they are going to score a bunch of points and bail us out when we need them."
On if his beard is as thick as it gets: "I was going to say, 'What do you guys think?' It looks pretty amazing right?* (laughter) *It is coming in. It is coming along great."
*DETROIT LIONS CONFERENCE CALLS
*(with Baltimore media)
Head Coach Jim Caldwell
QB Matthew Stafford said that questions about his ankle are better suited to you. Do you feel good about his status? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Generally, anything dealing with injuries, we let the injury report speak for itself. We will see how that goes. We put it out after practice, so we will see how he does."
We know your history with the Ravens and QB Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh. Does this game carry a nostalgic element for you? (Jeff Zrebiec)"I have been back since [last coaching with the Ravens]. We had a preseason game there last year; I think it was the third game of the preseason. I have been back, so I have had a chance to kind of go through it seeing a lot of different people and those kinds of things. I see the guys a lot at the Combine and on the road during the time we are out evaluating prospects and things of that nature in preparation for the draft. It is not like I have been alienated from the place or the guys that were there. There are a lot of great memories, and a few guys are here on the staff – one guy here – [defensive coordinator] Teryl Austin and myself. Obviously, Haloti [Ngata] on the team is certainly familiar with them."
It was five years ago when you took over and you helped QB Joe Flacco go on that run and become Super Bowl XLVII MVP. What do you remember the most about Flacco and what he really excelled at during that playoff stretch and Super Bowl run? (Jamison Hensley)"You are taking me back a little while. Those things are really over and done with. I will just tell you that those were great times for us, but Joe is always a winner. Joe just knows how to win games. Obviously, he has a lot of physical tools to go along with it, so he is a smart guy. He does not make many mistakes."
Are you surprised with how QB Joe Flacco has struggled so much the past couple years? (Jeff Zrebiec)"When I look at it, more than anything else overall with how they function, it is one of the better teams in the league. They do a tremendous job in all phases. They don't make many mistakes. They force you into mistakes. It is a great defense and a great staff. I just think they create all kinds of problems for you."
Protecting the ball is always important, but against the Ravens who lead the NFL in takeaways, do you stress it a little bit more this week, and what have you seen out of that defense that makes it so good? (David Ginsburg)"They obviously get their hands on a lot of balls, either stripping it from guys that are going to run with it or knocking it loose or interceptions. It is a very talented bunch; they put pressure on your quarterback making him throw a little bit before he wants to or a little bit higher than he wants to. They have guys back there that have really good ball skills, and they give you all kinds of problems. Obviously, with [Terrell] Suggs coming off the edge and with [Matthew] Judon coming off the edge, they can create some problems with you."
You mention DT Haloti Ngata. How much has the run defense missed him? (Ed Lee)"There is only one Haloti Ngata – big, strong guy that is very physical on the interior, so you are not going to necessarily find a guy exactly like him to replace him. But, I think we have guys that are capable and have to step up a little bit more and do the job for us."
How has DT Haloti Ngata's rehab gone, and has he talked about retirement? (Ed Lee) "He has not to me at this point in time, but he is coming along in terms of his rehab."
It is tough to play in Baltimore more so than maybe a few other stadiums? (David Ginsburg)"Yes. There are a lot of tough places to play, but I do not think there have been too many places any tougher. It is noisy, it is a very knowledgeable fanbase, and it creates some issues for you."
You spent time with Ravens special teams coordinator/associate head coach Jerry Rosburg. How would you describe what you saw from him during your time here? (Ed Lee)"The thing is that you have to be ready for anything at every point in time. They are very well-coached, they have a variety of different things they do extremely well, and they are excellent in placekicking and punting and all the little nuances that you have to certainly be aware of. He is not afraid to gamble. They are good, as good as they come."
Are there certain attributes of the special teams that you think the special teams reflect on Jerry Rosburg's character? (Ed Lee)"I think it is just overall great play. John [Harbaugh] obviously has a background in that, too. With the two of those guys and the guys that are working with him, they do as good a job as anybody in that area."
Some of the struggles in the run game have been noted. How important is it to establish a run game on Sunday? (Ed Lee)"It is at any point in time for us, because of the fact that in this league, and particularly there with the noise, you don't want their edge rushers to pin their ears back and get after you. Otherwise, you are in for a long day. It is important to establish a respectable running game."**
QB Matthew Stafford
On being 6-5 and the team's vibes about a potential playoff push:"Obviously, we would have loved to win every game we played in, but it doesn't happen that way sometimes. We're just taking it week-to-week. We have a big opportunity – five games left, taking it one game at a time. Obviously, it's a big one this week, on the road against a really good football team."
On his health:"I'm feeling OK. You guys can figure all that stuff out when coach [Jim Caldwell] lets the [injury] report come out."
On the importance of WR Marvin Jones Jr. to the offense:"Marvin has done a nice job. We're at our best [when] we're spreading the ball around, having a bunch of guys catch it. Marvin has made some big-time plays for us, made some great 50/50 catches, and has done a nice job in competitive catch situations. We've been giving him opportunities; he's been coming down with them. So, that's a positive for our offense."
On Baltimore's pass rush:"It's really good. [Terrell] Suggs is still playing at a high level, but they're doing a nice job with a bunch of other guys, too. [Matthew] Judon is doing a nice job of rushing the passer, and really all their guys are. They have unique blitz packages to get to the quarterback with a four-man rush, and they get there with blitz, as well. It's all tied in. They have good cover guys in the background that are giving their guys time to get there, and there's guys waiting up front every once in a while, too quick. When you have a defense that's playing as high a level as the Ravens are, it's obviously a big challenge for us."
On how critical it will be to have time in the pocket to find receivers downfield: "I think it's critical in every game. Every time you go out there and play, our guys on the outside do everything they can to win as quickly and efficiently as possible. Our guys up front are fighting tooth and nail to give me as much time as possible. That's the name of the game on offense – protecting the passer in the passing game and guys from the outside winning. It's all tied in together."
On if he has admired QB Joe Flacco's career and demeanor over the years:"No question. Obviously, he's an extremely talented guy, had some great success as a player and as a team. He's been fun to watch from afar. He's extremely talented, can throw the heck out of the ball, and really fun to watch on tape. As long as you're winning, everybody doesn't really care how [you do it]. If you don't win, obviously people will ask questions. They're doing a nice job of winning over there."
On T Rick Wagner:"He's been great. He's a really steady personality. He's a guy that shows up every week ready to play. He's brought a whole bunch of experience, physicality and veteran savvy to our offensive line."
On if there's pressure on him to spark the offense since there has not been a 100-yard rusher in a while:"I think every quarterback in this league is expected to go out there and play at a high level – and I'm no different. That's the way I view it. I just go out there and try to play at as good a level as I possibly can. Whatever happens with that stuff doesn't bother me. I just go out there and play. I think everybody on our team is fighting tooth and nail to make every play a huge success – whether it's a run or a pass."
On how instrumental head coach Jim Caldwell has been:"He's been great. Ever since he's been here, he and I have had a good relationship. I think he and [offensive coordinator] Jim Bob [Cooter] have a good relationship, which in turn, affects my life quite a bit – considering Jim Bob has done a great job of dialing up some good plays for us and helping us put some points on the board. [Caldwell] is a quarterback guy, and we're lucky to have him."
On if this is a must-win game for both teams: "I think you get to this time of year, and all of the expectations and pressures are ramped up. That's what makes it fun, and the reason you play this game is to be in the hunt going down the stretch."