WEDNESDAY PODIUM AVAILABILITY: WEEK 6 VS. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, [it's] good to see everybody. I appreciate you guys being here. We're preparing for the Chargers [on] a short week. We have a short week schedule that we operate on. The guys have been focused. They're looking ahead, and they're ready for a big challenge against a great football team. What questions do you have?"
Historically, since, I think, 2016, you've only lost once in a short week. Do you think just having guys used to the preparation … Why do you think that in short weeks you guys pace yourself so well? (Jamison Hensley) "For me to sit up here and give you a reason, it would just be speculation. I really don't know, other than we've played well. I do believe we have the right kind of guys in terms of our guys recover, they work on it [and] they get to work on the gameplan. We do a pretty good job of pacing the practices out and try to get the guys to the game as energetic as they can be. Beyond that, you just have to go play the game. They players have to play well and find a way to win the game."
Along those lines, I think QB Lamar Jackson has also played pretty dang well on those short weeks. Is that just an adjustment for knowing how to pace yourself in terms of the work week and what you should prioritize and what you shouldn't? (Jonas Shaffer) "Probably. You know what the guys will say, 'We should always have short weeks. Why are we spending so much time with this stuff?' (Reporter: "Wednesday walkthrough.") (laughter) "Exactly, that's what they'll say. Thanks for basically putting that in their mind, I appreciate it." (laughter)
Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert had a play last week against the Browns where he kind of went to his right and threw across his body 30 yards downfield. What have you seen from his arm strength with the kind of way he's been doing that? (Todd Karpovich) "Incredible. [He has] incredible arm strength. Then you look at the analytics, and according to the analytics, he throws the second fastest football in the National Football League based on what I saw in the data. So, he has tremendous arm strength. I've never seen him throw in-person yet; this will be a first for me, personally. I'm looking forward to it, kind of, sort of, I guess. But he's a very talented guy." (Reporter: "Do you know who is No. 1 [in throwing speed]?") "I don't know who is No. 1. Darn it. I'm sure you can find that though." (laughter)
QB Lamar Jackson is the AFC Offensive Player of the Week again. He's had that eight times now. What I thought was so interesting particularly this week is that there wasn't really the threat of the run at that point; it was pocket passing. The growth and the evolution of that in that regard, watching it in that moment on that stage, how important and impressive was that? (Pete Gilbert) "It was impressive, and it was important. … Once again, the big picture analysis that you ask me every week, the same question … (laughter) But it was a great performance by Lamar [Jackson] and by everybody – by the offensive players, by the offensive coaches, by the defensive players and [defensive] coaches to get the stops when we needed to get them [and] by the field goal block unit. I'm going to say by the fans, too, because the fans, even when we were struggling, the fans didn't get down on us. They didn't. They stuck with the players, and they were behind the team the whole way. All that stuff, it really does have meaning. To what degree? You just have to guess, I guess. But now we're onto the Chargers. We have a big game coming up, and all of our focus is on that."
Over 30 pass attempts the last two weeks for QB Lamar Jackson. How important is it the way he's maintained his efficiency with higher quality attempts? (Noah Trister) "Yes, you want … Obviously, you can throw the ball a ton of times and not complete them, or complete them for very few yards – you see that a lot. When you throw it a lot, you want it to be, as you said, high volume, I think that's a good way to say it – both in terms of mainly production and completion. So, that's the idea, yes. That's a good thing."
This team has been a part of some really crazy finishes these last few games. How would you rank them in terms of wildness? (Ryan McFadden) (laughter) "I just said that after the game – the next one is going to be the best one. That's what we came up with." (Reporter: "Even though they're must-watch TV, they have to be pretty stressful on the sidelines, right?") "Yes, they're pretty stressful. (laughter) … I'll tell you; they all are stressful. It's a stressful league. It's a tough league. It's hard to win. Everybody in this league throws everything that they have into finding a way to win the game. Every team is super talented. Every team is extremely well-coached. This team we're going to play is extremely well-coached with great talent. Just every one of these is like playing for the National Championship, it really is. It's like the College Football National Championship every week – that's how you feel in the game. So, to your point, I think you're right."
I know it depends every week and you're rotating based on different packages, but what are you seeing out of the inside linebackers? (Luke Jones) "I see a lot of things. Do you want a grade? Do you want me to go through each play? What can I say? I think they can certainly play better, there's no doubt about that. I think that's what you're asking me in a nice way, and I appreciate that. (laughter) But we need more, there's no doubt about that."
CB Tavon Young's reaction, I know he's had some neck injuries in the past. Is that what he maybe reacted to with the way he was pushed to the ground? Are you sending that play to the league for review? (David Andrade) "Yes; I think they already had it anyway, but we'll send it in. I haven't heard anything back at this point, but the biggest … The only thing you can control is what you do and your response. In that moment, Tavon [Young] … He texted me that night, and Tavon understands completely that no matter what they do to you in that situation, as bad as it was, you cannot retaliate, because the retaliation often times gets penalized. It really jeopardizes us at that point. But he understands that more than anybody. I'm very confident that it won't happen again with Tavon – hopefully not with any of our other guys, either."
Is there anything serious with WR Sammy Watkins? We saw he wasn't at practice. (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, Sammy [Watkins] has a hamstring [injury]. So, we'll just see how long it takes for him to get back."
When you have a defensive line that has a lot of veteran talent with DT Brandon Williams and DE Calais Campbell, how do you go about coaching them who have seen so much, as opposed to kind of a younger crew? How do you get them to improve? (Kyle Barber) "That's a good question. I don't think you're so much going to get them to improve as you are just trying to get them the most out of where they're at in their career. Calais Campbell knows how to play D-line. [Run game coordinator/defensive line coach] Anthony Weaver works with Calais differently than he works with [Justin] Madubuike. He's working with him in terms of ... It's high-level stuff in terms of his own … He knows Calais. He's watched hours of tape on Calais. He knows how he plays when he's at his best. So, he can say, 'Hey, left hand placement, right hand placement, knee bend – how square are you? Did you read it this way? Were there any tips?' It's pretty high level for those guys. Where for a younger guy like Justin, it's going to be more about fundamental technique and more of the basics. So, you definitely coach them differently."
Coming into the season, people were saying that the league was figuring out QB Lamar Jackson, and just Monday night, he has over 500 yards of total offense himself. I know you see him every day, but are you still being amazed at what he's able to do? Did you see him go to another level in that Monday night game? (Cordell Woodland) "Yes, he definitely went to another level in that game. That level was pretty impressive, I would say. It was awesome to watch, but I'm not surprised. I don't think any … Probably none of you guys are surprised, either; you've been watching him and covering him. So, you know sometimes the national media doesn't see all that stuff, just like all the fans don't. I do believe our fans … Even when we get behind, our fans are pretty confident that Lamar [Jackson] has a chance to get us back in it. But the next game is the next game."
You mentioned the Chargers being well-coached. What have you seen from head coach Brandon Staley, an Ohio guy, and what he's been putting together out there? (Ryan Mink) "Obviously, he's a very good coach. [He's had] a lot of success in the time he's been in the league, defensively. They're a very well-coached team. They're very talented [and] very well-coached. They do a good job in terms of in-game decision making, so it's a big challenge for us."
We didn't get a chance to ask you about G Ben Cleveland. Is that short-term? Could he be back after his IR stint? Or is that something that could linger for a while? (Jeff Zrebiec) "That's a short-term IR [injured reserve]. So, that's a three-week IR at this point."
QB Lamar Jackson
On earning AFC Offensive Player of the Week: "Yes, it's pretty cool. It's always cool to win an award, but it's a team effort at the end of the day, for sure."
On his confidence in the offensive line: "I'm very confident. Those guys have been doing a great job. Since the first game, they hit the ground running, they've been straining, they've been blocking their tail off, and they've been getting better each and every week. So, I'm very comfortable."
On choosing to pass when he had running lanes, and if he's trying to showcase his passing ability: "I was really trying to win – that's all it was. The line just gave excellent protection, and I just saw the lane, saw my guys coming open. Those guys were doing a great job at getting open, and I just had to deliver the ball to the playmakers, and they did the rest."
On practicing with one fewer day of preparation for a game: "It's just a quick turnaround. We love football here. We'd be ready to play our next opponent anyways. It's just a quick turnaround. Just get dialed into the next opponent – that's it. There's nothing to it."
On the game slowing down for him: "Yes, just ever since I came in the league, it's been getting slower and slower each and every year. This year, I feel like it's been getting slower earlier throughout the year, and hopefully, it keeps getting slower. Yes."
On if his performance on Monday night did anything for him mentally: "Just keep staying focused, keep trying to get better each and every day. Stay dialed in and keep taking it a play at a time and a game at a time."
On if he proved anything to himself following his performance on Monday night: "No, I've been believing in myself. The Ravens organization has been believing in me. We've just got to keep it going. I really haven't seen my peak yet. It's still early in the season. We've just got to keep staying focused."
On ranking the Ravens' crazy finishes so far this season: "No, there's no ranking. They're all equal because they're all crazy. It has all been exciting games to the fans; not me, because I've been wanting to get the win with a comfortable lead and just chill, but we've been having to finish fourth quarters. It's been tough, and we've just got to keep it going."
On how he's progressing in practice with WR Rashod Bateman: "Things always look good in practice; I've got to see it in the game, once we're actually out there. I can't really tell you off [the] bat right now."
On Chargers' QB Justin Herbert: "I really haven't watched those guys like that, but I do see him on Instagram and stuff like that, flashing around, doing his thing. He's a very talented quarterback, and he's been doing his thing. Hopefully, it slows down a little bit when we're playing against him; we don't want to hype him up too bad this week. But he's definitely been balling out – balling out of control."
On if winning these close games will make them battle tested and pay dividends down the stretch: "Definitely battle tested, but I'm so locked in trying to get the victory, [that I'm] really not like, 'Oh, we're in another tough game,' or stuff like that. You've just got to come out on top. We've got to come out with the victory, and we have been doing that so far."
On his 86% completion percentage Monday night, and if he can do that in Madden, and the possibility of him maybe joining the "Madden 99" Club: "I can do that in Madden. (laughter) Man, we should have been in the [Madden] 99 Club. I don't know what's up with Madden. We're not even talking about that one. We don't even talk about that." (laughter)
On if he thinks his critics will ever stop talking about his ability to pass: "No, I don't know if they're going to stop talking about it. I don't really know. But all I know is my focus is on winning, and like I said before, [to] keep getting better. I never care [about] what they're saying."
On if he is going to take the time to learn the Baltimore dances from social media: (laughter) "No! Man, I knew you were going to [ask] … No, I cannot dance. I cannot dance. I cannot do those dances. I tried them. Me and Marquise [Brown] were trying to do the little (dances); it didn't work. It's not working. It looks horrible. It doesn't like 'buddy' who did it in the video, so I'm not going to embarrass myself. (laughter) Flock Nation, though. Flock Nation." (thumbs up)
On defenses trying to stop the Ravens' running game: "We're getting all types of looks. Our guys pulling; they're running right at the pull. They're hugging the guards; they're doing all types of stuff. It's just playing ball. We're also playing ball, too. I'm not going to say they're stopping us. We just find other ways to beat teams and find other ways to have success – that's all."
On drawing a roughing the passer call: "Ref [Land] Clark – Mr. Clark. Mr. Clark, I appreciate that call. I remember his name. (laughter) I appreciate that. I appreciate that. That was a pretty dope call. And it was fair too, because he [Darius Leonard] did hit me in the face. It wasn't like it was a B.S. call – nothing like that. But it was dope to get one. It was definitely dope."
On if he would be surprised to hear that he drew his first roughing the passer call since December 2019: "That's crazy. But like I said, it was fair. I'm glad I got the call, too. It's all good."
DT Brandon Williams
On how he would describe QB Lamar Jackson's performance Monday night:"Magical – that's the only way I can describe it. To see what he does on the field day-in and day-out, every Sunday, it's spectacular – I'm not going to lie. There's no other way to say it."
On if he remembers a stretch of games during his career similar to the Ravens' first five matchups:"Not like this – there's nothing like this. Obviously, it's 2021, and there's nothing like 2021. But the Vikings game [Week 14, 2013] when [former Raven] Marlon Brown caught the game-winning touchdown, and the score was going back and forth, back and forth the whole fourth quarter; that was a crazy one. The Ravens have proven to be battle tested in their history, and now with the last four games we've had. We just continue to go out there, keep proving ourselves and getting better."
On how he goes about improving as a player now that he has a plethora of knowledge and experience:"You've always got something to improve. There is no way you can ever be comfortable in this league. Every year, you've got new people coming up, you've got fresh faces, new talent, so you've always got to stay on your toes, stay on your game. For me, it's just staying on my grind, continue doing the basic things perfectly and continue with the conditioning and keeping up with these guys – the young guys."
On the tackling issues the last few games:"Just being able to calm ourselves down. Sometimes we just get too crazy and just start running like a chicken with their head cut off, and then we just don't really settle down and actually get the play down. So, it's just up to us to just calm ourselves down and just play the football we've been playing. Obviously, you've seen in other games where we've done it, so it's possible; we've just got to get back to it."
On the challenges presented by the Chargers' offense:"I would say they've got a lot of good talent – a lot of good talent. Obviously, they're winning. They're doing a lot of good things right. The quarterback [Justin Herbert] is playing amazing, their running back [Austin Ekeler] is doing great things. For us, we've just got to play our game, play Raven Football, play the right way – the way we played it in Denver and not [like] last week or any other week. We've just got to keep building on the good, positive building blocks, and anything else, we've just got to keep building up as we go."
On how much stopping the run has been a point of emphasis this week:"It's always a point of emphasis. We always … It's the standard. It's the bar we set. The guys who paved the way before us, they set that bar high, and we plan to keep it there and push it further. So, when it comes to stopping the run, first and foremost, I look at myself and look outward from there. But most of all, [I] put it on my shoulders and make sure I'm doing everything I need to do during the week, and I'm getting the guys going – and everybody near me – to just continue to keep grinding and continue to get great [at their] craft."
On if he's at all surprised at how many big plays OLB Odafe Oweh has made this early in his career:"Not at all, not at all. We saw it as soon as he got here; I mean, he was just flying around. The dude runs a 4.3 [40-yard dash] – as big as he is. He's just a monster to be messed with, so him making all these plays, it's just really what we expect of him, and we only expect him to get better."
On if he has any reaction to the situation that's come to light involving Jon Gruden, and if that's a topic of discussion among the players at all:"We're in Baltimore, so not really. I'm praying for him and his family. I hope everything is going well. But we've got games to win, and we've got things to worry about in Baltimore."
On what's impressed him about DE Calais Campbell so far this season:"The fact that he's continued grinding. Year-in and year-out, that guy is still top tier. He's continuously focusing on his craft, focusing on the study of the plays, focusing on just bringing guys along with him, just bringing that energy, and bringing that vet stature into the D-Line room. He's just doing it continually, and I'm just amazed."
On if he's encouraging DE Calais Campbell, who has said that he's taking it year-by-year, to keep playing after this season:"That's a decision that's personal. So, however he feels … I'd love to have him as long as I can, but that's personal for him and his family, him and his wife. So, I wish I could have him, but ball out while you're still here."