RAVENS THURSDAY QUOTES: PLAYOFF BYE WEEK
QB Joe Flacco
On whether he will watch any of the Wild Card Playoff games this weekend: "Yeah, we've got playoff games. I'll probably watch them. You usually end up watching them even on your normal bye week, at least for a little bit. So, [they] should be pretty interesting games, and we'll be able to figure out who we play, possibly on Saturday, if not, on Sunday. So, it'll be fun."
On how much pride he takes on having never missed a start through four seasons in Baltimore: "I didn't really think about it, but I think one of the things about being a good quarterback in this league is to show up every week and put your team in a chance to win and be that guy that's there every week for your team. And I take a lot of pride into it. Hopefully I can continue to keep it up. But I definitely [think about it] – like I said, not much – but I do realize that I've done that."
On whether he takes pride in the fact that he never really complains about missed calls or getting hit and just gets up and moves on to the next play: "Hey, anything you can do to get a couple calls … It's just really not my personality. But, if we can get a couple calls, I'd be all right for maybe taking a little acting class and getting in his face a little bit every now and then." (laughter)
On whether he sees the playoffs as a new opportunity to show everybody who he is as a quarterback: "It's tough to really think about the results, like what's going to happen if you do go out and win this game, win the next game, win the Super Bowl. It's tough to really think about what people are going to make of it if that happens. It's our job – it's my job as a quarterback – to take it one game at a time, and like I said, put our team in the best chance to win a game, or give us the ball with a chance to win the game at the end of the game. And I think that's all I can do every week, is come in here and do that and play my best. I think when it's all said and done, yeah, playoffs are a big part of what makes great players, but if we were to think of what would happen if we lose, what would happen if we won, then it would make me [and] it would make our team go out there and play more tentative, because we would be thinking about the results, the fallout of what could possibly happen. And we don't need to be thinking about that; we need to be thinking on the task ahead, and that's winning the football game."
On whether there is anything that feels different about playoff preparation this year from the previous three seasons: "There's definitely a little bit of difference to it, just because these are the top teams. You prepare probably like this … I don't think you prepare any differently, because if you did that, you'd basically be saying you weren't preparing hard enough during the regular season. So, I don't really think that's any different. I think the intensity, when you get into the stadium, it just feels [different] – from the fans aspect and all the things like that, and you know what's on the line. You know if you don't win, you're going home. And I think that just adds … It makes it a little bit more real and instant, and you're going to feel what happens whether you've won or lost right afterwards. Whereas in the regular season, you always have next week to prepare for, in the playoffs you don't have that. So, you've got to go out there, and it probably adds a little bit extra intensity."
On it being his first bye week and what it's like not knowing who he'll be playing against: "Once we do find out who we're going to play, it's not like we have a short week to get ready for them. We have the whole week, and the good thing about what we've done is we've played … We haven't played Denver, and out of the three [possible opponents], that's the only team we haven't played. We've played Houston this year, we see Pittsburgh every year, and I think that will definitely help us. But yeah, you watch a little bit here, watch a little bit there. I'm sure in your own mind you think about who's probably going to win, or who you think is going to win. So, you take it for what it is, you prepare, you get healthy, and once we do see who we're playing, that's when you really start to kick it up."
On how his chemistry with TE Dennis Pitta has developed this year: "Dennis, obviously he didn't play too much for us last year and wasn't too big a part of the passing game. He had to step up this year and play well. He and I get along great off the field, and I'm sure that definitely has something to do with it, in terms of the chemistry we have on the field. But the bottom line is he's a good player. So it's not tough to get him the ball, because he's doing the right kinds of things to get himself open. When a guy is open, it's my job to just hit him. I kind of say that with good players all the time. It's not tough to build that chemistry with guys when they're out there on the field doing the right thing, because you should, technically, if everyone is doing their job right, you should be able to just plug guys in there and everyone will be in the same spot. As a quarterback, as long as you're going in the right spot with the ball, then you should have that chemistry. I think he's a guy who goes out there and does everything the way it should be done."
On whether Pitta drops more passes at practice: "It's rare for any of our guys to drop a pass at practice. If we dropped passes in practice, we'd go out in a game, and you'd probably see 20 dropped balls in a game. So, when we're out here, we're trying to be perfect. I'd say it's rare for anyone on the team to drop a pass."
On how WR Anquan Boldin has looked in practice over the past few days: "He got right back into it. He looks real healthy. He looks ready to go. I can't tell you how he feels; I'm not him. But, he looks really good. I think he'll provide that spark for us. I'm sure he'd be ready to go if we had to play this week, but I think this bye definitely helps that out."
LB Jarret Johnson
On what offenses are doing to negate the Ravens' pass rush: "We're used to that. We're used to a lot of quick stuff, getting to the huddle, running it out before we can get lined up in our stuff. Some teams delay, run the clock all the way down, go max-protect. But the big thing for us is teams that are able to run the ball and then [take] shots over our head. That's what we preach constantly, is stopping the run and preventing the shot."
On what OLB Terrell Suggs has brought to the defense through his personality: "You can't say enough about Terrell Suggs. He's everything you want as a player. He's a pass rusher, he plays great against the run, he's a smart player, he understands the game. He communicates really well, but in the locker room is probably his best side. The way he interacts with guys, his personality, you can't say enough about the guy."
On if he will watch the games this weekend or if he will get away: "Yeah, I'll watch them. I get a little sick of football this time of year. College, all the bowl games, I can't stand watching them and stuff. [It's] playoff time; you better believe I will be watching it."
On watching the Alabama-LSU National Championship game on Monday night: "Yeah, I might watch that college game. (laughing) (Reporter: "Do you think the Tide might win?") Yeah, I think so. I think they're the better team."
On the toughness of the AFC North: "We always think our division is the strongest, and then you get three teams in. You see we've had a lot of great teams and a lot of really good records, and we've only won the division twice [before this season]. So, it's always a battle in the AFC North. It's just a testament. It's good to see three of our guys in there. It's a testament to how tough our division is."
On how much this defense wants to win a championship to put a stamp on a Super Bowl: "What drives us to win a Super Bowl really has nothing to do with it. We have a ton of respect for those guys [the 2000 Ravens] and what they were able to accomplish. As good as they were as a defense, [they] set the bar that we are always shooting at, but our championship run is not affected or anything by the 2000 team. We definitely want to have our own championship. We want our own ring. We only have one guy who was on that team. We want our own ring."
On the drive to win a Super Bowl for himself and the other veterans: "You don't want to be the team that just has an 18-game season every year. You don't want to be the team that is just satisfied with making the playoffs and then goes home early. We appreciate the fact of what we were able to accomplish. We understand that you don't get this opportunity many times. You look at a guy like Dan Marino, Hall of Famer, he went to the [Super Bowl] one time. Every year, you can't take for granted the fact that you are in the playoffs. You have to take advantage of that, because you don't know if you are ever going to make it again."
On if he remembers what the bye week was like in 2006: "I feel more confident about the way we are preparing this week. That year, we were 13-3, we had a record-setting – statistically-wise – defense, and we took like seven days off. We went home. We didn't see each other for a long time. Was that the reason we lost? I don't know. Probably not, but I like what we're doing out here. We had two really good days of working out, got two good lifts, and just being able to be around each other and then get a break, get these next three days off [is important]. You never lose your routine, and you don't get out of whack."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On how much his sense of humor helps the team through the season: "I don't know, man. I am just me; I just try to be myself. I guess some guys think I'm funny, at least some on this team. They like my singing. I think if it doesn't work out after football, with the film, I might just go ahead and start singing. I'm really good at the Meatloaf and Celine Dion and such. I think I have a talent and should go for it."
On whether his personality is a way to keep guys loose during an important time of the year: "You just have to have fun and enjoy what you're doing. I blinked up and I was like, 'Man, I'm in my ninth year.' But I feel good. I feel healthy. It's just like you just said, these times are really kind of priceless. You're in the playoffs. You're the only football left still playing, and everyone is watching you. It's flattering to have this stage, when we've worked so hard all year and we kind of achieved it. So, it's a good deal. I'm just going to enjoy it, enjoy the ride."
On whether he prefers this bye week schedule to the bye week schedule they had five years ago: "I like the routine. I like that we all stayed around. We're not taking the noose off; they say never take the noose off a mule, because it's not going back on there. I like that we still all stayed in football and kind of stayed grounded in football. We get a chance to refocus and actually see what it is we're playing for, and that's awesome. But five years ago, I was a young man. What was I, 25, 24? I definitely shot out to the West Coast. Took a five-hour flight, probably went to Vegas. I don't remember. Whereas now, I'm more mature, I'm kind of a vet, sort of. We know what's at stake, we know what we're playing for, and we're just taking it all in."
On Ray Lewis finishing his 16th season and what he has meant to the team: "If you've got the opportunity to play seven years in this league, you're very fortunate. If you have the ability to play 16 years at the high level that he's playing … People don't understand that he's in his 16th year and he's still outplaying the majority of the guys half his age. Like I said, it's a different persona when 52 [Ray Lewis] is not in the middle, when 52 is not making the calls, when 52 is not lining us up. He's definitely the leader. There's nobody that has put more blood, sweat and tears into building this Ravens organization than Ray Lewis. He's the general; he always will be the general. I love the man like a big brother, and I always will. What he means to this team, there's not a word in the dictionary that can actually describe it. He is the backbone, the heart and soul of this team."
On how he has improved this year: "Where have I improved? My jokes got funnier. (laughter) My voice matured. I don't care what you all say; I became a lot better looking. Where have I gotten better? I don't know. I think just anticipation of my game, just enjoying it and not really getting caught up into everything that doesn't matter but the overall goal."
On whether he would be disappointed if he did not win Defensive Player of the Year: "It's always something that is good to be considered [for]. It's also good to win. Like I said, I've won some awards in the past – you know, high school and college. But at no level of my football career have I ever won a championship. I mean it would be a nice; it would definitely be an honor to win. But, I would be more disappointed if we fall short. It'd be nice, but whoever wins it, everybody pretty much made their own case when they played and with their numbers, regardless of team record. I stand and play in this league and that speaks for itself. Like I said, I would like to have it, but it doesn't define my season whether I win it or not."
On his infatuation with TE Dennis Pitta: "Mr. Dependable. I mean, you're in a tight jam … Anytime you need a play, you can rely on him. I think people are taking it away from Ed Dickson; Ed Dickson is a hell of a tight end. I've seen the growth of Ed Dickson. I'm just a Dennis Pitta fan. He's kind of the black sheep, kind of. We've all got these … We've got a lot of personality on this team. Here you've got this blue collar guy, he's not really flamboyant, he's not really, 'Hey, give me the ball.' He just shows up to work, throw him the ball, he catches it, he's happy. You tell him to block, he blocks. He's just one of those guys you want on your team. He can get along with everybody. Whether you're playing Lil Wayne or Garth Brooks, he'll have fun with it. (laughter) He's just one of those guys [who] everybody likes him. I love Dennis Pitta. He's my candidate for MVP. We had some big games where we went to Pitta, and I was like, 'OK, where are we going to go?' And here comes 88 [Pitta] catching the ball in between two defenders. But I beg you, not to discourage Ed Dickson. Ed Dickson has been huge for us all year. He's made some incredible catches for us. He blocks, just like Dennis does. Just the growth of both of those tight ends together, they kind of feed off each other. So, it's actually made our offense very dangerous. We've got [Torrey Smith] with the deep ball. We've got Anquan Boldin, the best hands in the game. We've finally got that offense that we've all been craving for."
On where he would rank Joe Flacco with the other quarterbacks in the league: "We've got some good ones. There are some good ones in there, but I'll put … Me, personally, because I'm biased, I'm on this team, I'll put him in the top. I'm not going to say which number because of the way you guys twist and turn things. But I will put him in the top. I think his play is kind of going to play out, and Joe will show you all where he's at. We're only going to go as far as he takes us, and I think there's no grey area in that. We're going to ride Joe all the way to Indianapolis."