*WEDNESDAY PODIUM TRANSCRIPTS: Week 16 vs. Colts
Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg, Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg & Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
How stunned were you to not see P Sam Koch on the Pro Bowl roster? (Shawn Stepner)"Sam Koch was the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week; I was excited to see that. He had a great game in Cleveland. Those of you who witnessed [his game] will understand why he got that award. Regarding the Pro Bowl question, I think our specialists should all be in the Pro Bowl. I have a very high opinion of these guys. I think the performances they put out there on a weekly basis speak much more eloquently than I could ever do about their numbers. Their numbers support our feeling about them as well. They're richly deserving of any honor that they get. Having said that, I will also say that I think [Tennessee punter] Brett [Kern] and [Pittsburgh kicker] Chris [Boswell] both had a great year. So, congratulations to them."
What about P Sam Koch's year? He's stood above the rest, hasn't he?* (Shawn Stepner)*"There are different ways of looking at statistics. I say this to the guys in the meeting room quite frequently: I tell them that if you torture the numbers long enough, they'll confess to anything. If you're looking at punt statistics, if you just look at gross punt and say, 'He had a great gross. Look it – he's averaging 49 yards per punt.' Well, that's good, but that's not all there is to punting. As we've seen demonstrated by Sam Koch over the years, he's really mastered the ability to place the ball in the pooch area, place the ball by the sideline, reduce returns, and he has so many other skills we can use him in other ways. The other thing I would add to that is when you're really looking at the top pros, Sam, in my view, and I've said this before – you people have heard me say this – I think he's the greatest holder that has ever played the game. He's outstanding at that. It's something that's largely overlooked, because it seems like such a small skill – just put the ball down. But there's a lot to it, and he's the best at it. Those are things that, in my view, people that are educated and understand football are looking at it from that perspective. They understand how good Sam really is at all those factors."
When you look at Colts K Adam Vinatieri's now long legacy, what stands out to you the most? Do you see similarities in style between him and K Justin Tucker? (Childs Walker)"His longevity has been … I thought he had a great deal of longevity in New England. Then he goes to Indianapolis and starts a whole other career. He's been incredible. We all know how well he's performed in the clutch; we've seen that. What I see from Adam now is he's been able to go into a different area in Indianapolis and still be able to be a highly-accurate field goal kicker. Automatically, people assume that once you reach a certain age, you're not able to kick a 50-yard field goal. Well, that's not the case with Adam. As you can see, he's made 50-yard kicks this year on a regular basis. He's a remarkable man. I quizzed the guys this morning in the [meeting] room. I said, 'How many of you guys are 22 years old?' Three of them raised their hand. I said, 'Well, he's been kicking longer in the NFL than you've been born, than you've lived in this world.' I greatly admire what he does. He's a fine man and a fine pro."
Is there something in particular that makes P Sam Koch excel as a holder? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes, I have said this before, too. He has incredible hand-eye control. He can take a snap anywhere and feel where the laces are. He gets the laces down, he gets them in the exact right angle, exactly in the right spot. He can handle a snap that is slightly wayward. We don't have many of those, thankfully. All of those things go into it – timing … He is very, very good at it. I think you all recognize, too, it has not just been with one kicker. Obviously, he has helped Justin [Tucker] a great deal. Justin's field goal numbers speak for themselves, and when he was here with Matt Stover, he was holding for a Pro Bowl kicker. He has held for Billy Cundiff, a Pro Bowl kicker. He has held for three Pro Bowl kickers. That speaks pretty well of his skills."
The other day John Harbaugh said that P Sam Koch was the most precise punter he had ever seen. Would you agree with that? John Harbaugh couldn't explain what it is, how he does it. Do you have a better explanation for how he can be so precise? (Bo Smolka)"I try to make it a habit of mine not to disagree with the head coach too often, so I'll echo what John [Harbaugh] said about his accuracy. (laughter) I think that he is the most accurate I have ever seen. What does he do? Well, ball control has a lot to do with it. How he makes the ball come backwards instead of roll forward, I still haven't figured that out either. I watch it on a daily basis, and I marvel at his ability to do it. He is good at it. That might be a question for somebody who understands science. That was not my strength."
Can you talk about the growth of WR/RS Chris Moore? (Jordan Schatz)"Yes, I'd love to talk about Chris Moore. I think Chris has done something that we have been trying to do with all of our special teams players. He has grown in his role on offense just like Anthony Levine [Sr.] is a really good example of how he has grown in his role on defense. I have told these guys over the years that the best thing you can do for your role on special teams is be good on your role on offense and defense. Then, you will always be playing. If you go into a special teams game, you say, 'I am going to play 20 plays in an average day.' Well, that is not enough. We need more from you, and Chris Moore, as you saw and how he has demonstrated on his offensive abilities, he is playing great on offense, he is playing fast on special teams, and he is playing a lot on special teams. It is not like … We are not cutting him back a great deal just because he is playing more on offense. He is able to tackle, he is able to return the ball, he is a good gunner cover guy, especially in the pooch area. I think he is making a really good case for next year's Pro Bowl-type wide receiver/special teams guys, because he has all the skills to do that."
This is a Colts team that leads the NFL in lowest kick return average allowed. Does that place an emphasis on blocking and opening lanes for your returners? (Ed Lee)"Yes, in fact, they are neck and neck with the Ravens, if I am not mistaken. That is another thing about Justin Tucker. I will throw that out there, too. He is kicking for one of the better kickoff teams in the league, and his placement has really helped us. Just if there are any other future awards that you gentlemen and ladies might vote for, you might want to consider those things. Not that I am lobbying or anything. *(laughter) *I forgot the question now." *(Reporter: "It was about the Colts' kickoff coverage.") *"Yes, they are very diverse. They do a lot of different things, and they kick the ball left and right and middle, and they try to confuse your counts. It is a challenge. We are up for it, and we have a lot of confidence in our kick return team, and it should be a really interesting part of the game on Saturday afternoon."
Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg
Opening statement:"Let's wrap the last game up. The fellas did a pretty job, the line did a nice job. I thought Joe [Flacco] did a really good job. Situationally, Joe is playing very well there, as well. Mike [Wallace] did a nice job, Benjamin [Watson] did a nice job, [Javorius] 'Buck' [Allen] did a nice job when he has had the opportunity, really, all year long. Now, our challenge is a short week at home with Indianapolis coming in. We have talked about this on short weeks before. The preparation will be key and taking care of the bodies – making sure that we are firing on Saturday at four o'clock, right? What is it – 4:15 p.m., 4:30 p.m.? We have to time it up; peak at the right time."
What have you seen in terms of the growth of the younger receivers? I ask you this with the possibility that WR Jeremy Maclin can't go. How confident are you in WR/RS Chris Moore and WR/RS Michael Campanaro and WR Breshad Perriman that there won't be a drop-off?* (Jeff Zrebiec)*"I'm hoping with Jeremy, [it's] day-to-day. Chris Moore has done a fine job, and we have talked about him before. He did a good job the other day, and we can do even more. We left stuff out there, too. We can do even better – better, better, better. It is the same with some of the young players, and 'Camp' [Michael Campanaro] has done a good job all season long as well. We feel comfortable that they can do the job at a high level."
What have you seen from WR/RS Chris Moore, specifically over the last couple of weeks? It looks like he has really embraced being that third receiver. (Shawn Stepner)"Yes, he has some experience built up. We talked about this a couple of weeks ago, I believe. He is a fine, fine special teams player, and in many cases, those types of players end up being excellent position players, as well. We all can do a little bit better here. You guys are bringing Chris [Moore] up, and I remember a couple of plays where we can do a little better there."
How challenging is it for a guy like WR/RS Chris Moore to balance playing on special teams and offense?* (Jordan Schatz)* "Chris Moore is the subject this week? All you guys are writing stories on Chris, huh? Man alive! I am going to have to … Yes, Chris is an excellent special teams player. Balancing it? Shoot, let's go. There is no balancing to it. We need him, let's go. The special teams needs him, let's go. He is young, he is in great shape, he can run forever. That is my viewpoint on it. If he needs a break, we will get him out for a play."
Did you have an anxious moment when QB Joe Flacco took that hit on the goal line? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes. Yes."
What are your thoughts on TE Benjamin Watson and what he has done coming back from the Achilles injury at his age and still being the receiving threat that he has? (Ryan Mink)"Was that a little uncomfortable or what [with the response to the Joe Flacco question]? I thought I answered it. *(laughter) *I answered it in a low tone, I guess. I am low-talking today. *(laughter) *Benjamin, he just had a birthday yesterday or the day before. You have to look it up. Holy smokes, this guy is a unique man! Very unique in many, many ways. The level at which he is playing – it is a huge level to begin with – and at his age, that is a tribute to him, certainly."
Since Week 8, the Ravens are the third-highest scoring team. What do you think has clicked? (Jamison Hensley)"We talked about this before, I thought. The first couple of games, I thought we were really good in the first half. With Joe's [Flacco] situation, I kind of shut it down. The first-half numbers were good; the second-half numbers weren't. Then, all of a sudden we play a really bad game. Then, we get beat up. I will tell you, too – we were playing some of the very best defenses at that time. We were a little beat up, so we went into a couple games trying to figure some things out there, and you have to give it to the players. They didn't flinch. They got better every day, and usually good things happen when you do that. You have to be pretty strong, mentally, as well just to play in this league. Most of it is because of you [the media] and all of their good friends … All of their good friends always tell them the bad stuff. That was supposed to be a joke, it didn't work. Where were we?" *(Reporter: "What was kind of key in getting the offense to click.") *"That is it, there you have it."
Can you elaborate a little more on the strategy behind QB Joe Flacco running on the goal line? (Bo Smolka) "Well, the one didn't work, so that was not good strategy, and the other one worked, so it was good strategy. Anytime a play works, it is really good – good call, good plan. When it doesn't work, bad call, [and people say], 'What are they doing?' I understand that, because my kids give me texts after the game – [such as] 'What are you doing?' I will tell you a story. My wife, when I first met her – zero – she knew zero; nothing about the game. Now, we will be in the car or she will text and she will go, 'Why didn't you just sneak it? Why didn't you just throw it to the tight end in the back corner of the end zone?' Yes, OK. Every play we will just do that. Every play.* (laughter) *She knows just enough to be sort of dangerous right now. I am off on a tangent. What other questions do we have?"
How often is she right? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes, she is usually right. She has been through it. She has been through it." (Reporter: "Good answer, coach.") "Yes, yes. Hey, we are almost at Christmas." (laughter)
How critical has the offensive line been to the recent success of the offense? (Ed Lee)"Yes, well, we talked about this before. You guys tend to ask the same questions every now and then. The line – playing together, I know it is a very important thing and playing together for a period of time. You would like to have your starters there the whole season; typically those teams do very, very well. It correlates to winning. We were mixing and matching there for just a little while, and these five have played together. [Matt] Skura got hurt and then came back really well. The fellas have been playing together for many weeks here. I think that has shown. Joe 'D' [D'Alessandris, offensive line coach] has done a great job with the line there. That is a good point."
What can you tell us about WR/RS Chris Moore? (Ryan Mink)"Love it! Hey, Chris Moore, I will say this: [He] is a fantastic athlete, he is tough-minded, he has quickness, he has speed, and he has good hands. He is tough. I would expect him to become a very, very good receiver, period. [Wide receivers coach] Bobby [Engram] has done a great job with him in the past couple of years, fantastic."
I may have asked you this last week, so I apologize in advance. But with a guy like RB Terrance West, do you worry about him getting frustrated not being able to play? (Ed Lee)"Yeah, you asked it last week." (Reporter: "It was [Breshad] Perriman we asked about.") "You asked about him, what happened to him? He [West] has to be ready to go, and he assures me that he is practicing – I can see the practice – and preparing like he is a starter, because at the drop of the hat, boom, he is up, and we are utilizing him in many different ways. Terrance West is a good football player."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
What do you see from the Colts and their explosiveness on offense, particularly with WR T.Y. Hilton? (Ryan Mink) "Hilton is one of the best receivers in the league – has been for a while and still is. Still a dynamic receiver, go-to guy, line him up everywhere, use him in all different ways. The other thing is they have [Kamar] Aiken, who was here. We know a lot about him. He's a good receiver, great blocker as a wide receiver. That tight end [Jack Doyle] has 71 catches, and I think everyone sleeps on him a little bit, and we're not. This guy is a good football player and catches a lot of balls. [Donte] Moncrief … They have some talent. With that running back, with [Frank] Gore, we've seen Gore up [close] and personal a few years back, and he still packs a punch. This guy can still run, has great vision at the line of scrimmage, can change direction, runs with power. [Marlon] Mack is kind of a changeup back for them that can hit it more outside. Both of the them are good receivers out of the backfield. It's like every week, to be honest with you: I don't care about their record, don't care about whether they had problems finishing; I really don't care. They're good enough to beat you."
What about their problem giving up sacks? Is that because they're losing a lot of individual matchups or just a lot of pressure, those types of things? (Mike Preston) "I think it's a combination of a couple things. I think it's one, it's been a little bit with the offensive line. They've had a lot of different guys in there at different times. They've had some injuries up front, which is never good in either line, but especially in the offensive line. I think that the cohesiveness there probably hasn't been as good as they want it to be. The other thing is – it's kind of an interesting stat – they're one of the top teams in the league, as far as [not] turning the ball over. [Jacoby Brissett] hasn't thrown a lot of interceptions. Part of that is, I think he holds on to it and doesn't really want to make a bad throw. I think he's been coached up a little bit to just not necessarily take a chance and to make a throw just to make a throw. Sometimes that can make you hold on to the ball a little longer, and that can create some sacks."
How rewarding was it for you to see three of your starters earn Pro Bowl recognition?* (Jeff Zrebiec)*"Every year, when the Pro Bowl balloting comes out, you hope you get some guys on there. I'm very proud of the three guys that made it, but I'm equally proud of the guys who didn't make it. It's always tough thing every place … I always say 'every place I've been.' I've only been two. There are guys who make it and are very, very deserving. But, there are also some guys that don't [make it], and you're never going to get everybody that you want on there – like every coach in the league. I'm very, very proud of them, very pleased we got some guys on there, but I'm equally proud of the guys that didn't make it."
Just how proud were you to see that way the defense rebounded from the loss at Pittsburgh, especially from the secondary? (Ryan Mink) "Obviously, pleased. The thing about it was … We knew in the Pittsburgh game, when we came in and really watched the film and really sat down and talked about it – as players and as coaches and as a unit in there – we just did some things that were very uncharacteristic of what we had done in previous weeks, or we did this last week in Cleveland. The biggest thing was and the biggest selling point was: Just do your job. Don't try to do somebody else's. We pressed a little bit in the Pittsburgh game, I think. We did some things that weren't very good. Maybe I did some things, too, that weren't good enough. We all did; it was a collective defeat. We got back to what we were this last game. Guys just tried to do their job and do what was right. We gave up one run play, which we got out of a gap because we had two guys unblocked in the hole. Unfortunately, he cut back and didn't go where we had the two unblocked guys. But that was the biggest thing. We got back to just doing your job, let all 11 guys do their job, and things will work OK – and they did. In the Pittsburgh game, I felt we pressed more when we got ahead than ever when we were behind. I think then it was like, 'OK, we have to keep the lead. And we have to this and we have to do that.' Then all of a sudden, we just did some things that were not good. We missed some checks in the back end that gave up plays. We just did a lot of things in that game. I was very pleased to see us get back to playing like we are very capable of playing."
Do you feel like now, with a couple games under your belt without CB Jimmy Smith, that the group has settled in to their role? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, that's probably true. I really don't want that to be an excuse for the Pittsburgh game though. I really don't. I don't think it was a situation where we were out of whack a little bit because we didn't have Jimmy. I don't think that was the case at all. We played this game a little different, as far as matching up and doing some things, than we did in Pittsburgh. So we learned some things from the Pittsburgh game. At the same time, I think everyone knows what their role is. I don't think it's changed so much, other than the fact that we don't have a rotation like we had before. It's now pretty much, 'you two guys, and if the third guy gets in there because somebody really needs a break' – not because we're really trying to roll them in there."
You lead the league in takeaways. What has been the key behind that? Has it been more instinct by the guys, or is it a mix of game-planning? (Todd Karpovich)"Oh yeah, I'm going to say game-planning. There's no doubt! *(laughter) *You gave me that segue there. I think we've made an emphasis on it ever since OTAs, on interceptions, causing fumbles and doing those things. Probably the biggest reason is, I think we're faster. I think when you're a faster defense you get more turnovers. There are bigger hits, you get to the ball quicker – it's all those kinds of things. I think we play a little more zone sometimes now than what I've played. Hopefully it's about 50/50 'man' and zone. When you play a lot of 'man,' sometimes you don't get as many interceptions because you're not looking back at the ball as much as you are in zone. But, then you may get more sacks when you play 'man,' because the quarterback has to hold on to the ball a little longer. I just think it's a combination of all those things. But I'd say the biggest thing is, I just think we're a faster defense."
The Colts have guys you know very well in Chuck Pagano and Ted Monachino. You're going up against a team with coaches that know you and have worked with you. Does that change your preparation? (Garrett Downing) *"It means I want to beat them more. *(laughter) *And, no. We are who we are; they know who we are. No, it really doesn't. There might be some things a little on the side that you know that they know, that you might try to stay away form. But overall, you're not going to go 14 games into the season and then all of a sudden have a wholesale change somewhere because you think somebody knows you. The truth of it is, most of the coaches around the league study you so much and know you so well – whether they coached with you or not – the only thing they might know is if they hear a call on the sideline, they might know what it is. Other than that, not really." *How would you assess how ILB Patrick Onwuasor has stabilized that inside linebacker position? *(Ed Lee) *"He's grown every week. He's just going to get better and better, and I hope he gets bigger and bigger. We just took a guy, who really had not played the position, and stuck him in there and kind of thought he was going to be a backup – then kind of won the job. I think each week he gets better and better. If I remember right, I think he led the team in tackles last week. I think it goes back to what he asked before. The thing about Patrick is he's fast – he can run. He still has a lot of things to learn, as far as the linebackers, as far as keying, as far as blitzing, things like that – even some of his drops sometimes. But what he does, he does 100 miles per hour, which is what we like. I told you guys a long, long time ago that I told the team: There are three things we always look for in a defensive player: a guy has to be tough, a guy has to be smart, and he has to give effort. None of those things take any athletic ability. Now, if you add athletic ability to that, you have a great player. He's tough, he's smart, and he gives great effort. He's still learning the position. He understands after he makes a mistake that he made a mistake and how to fix it. I think he's helped us in that regard to solidify that spot."