DAILY INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS
Opening statement: "Thanks for coming. We had a chance to look at the tape, and obviously, we were very pleased with the win and very pleased with the 11 wins and pleased with the opportunity to compete in the playoffs. That's been clinched, and that's a big plus for us, and we're excited about that. But, the season is not over yet. The regular season is not over. There's still something to be accomplished in the regular season, which we're going to take a run at and see what happens this weekend. But, all in all, [it was] a good game by our guys, and we're pleased with what happened. As far as the Sergio Kindle situation… I think you guys know what happened. We were disappointed, obviously. It's not something we wanted for Sergio; it was not something he wanted. I had a chance to meet with him this morning. He's very remorseful about it, but he made a big mistake. And he's better than that; he knows that. For now, there is a process that goes in place – both a legal process and an NFL process – so we'll just let the two things take their course and see where it goes."
Intangibly, how would you evaluate the progress QB Joe Flacco has made this season?"You know what I'm going to say, I haven't had a chance to evaluate his year yet – in total. But, I would say he's playing really well. I think he's better than he was last year or the year before as a quarterback, as you would expect. He's always been a good leader, but the more experience you get and the more comfortable you get in the league and with the team, you probably grow in that aspect as well. He's pretty much grown in every aspect of playing the position and leading the team. He's playing well right now. He's one of the better quarterbacks, production-wise, in the league at this point. So hopefully, he'll keep getting better and keep playing better and keep being a big factor in these games."
After watching the game film, did it look like the ball was trapped by Browns WR Brian Robiskie on the trick play?"I don't know. You saw it. Did he trap it? It looked like he trapped it. So, it's probably pretty tough. I thought the game was really well officiated, for one thing. John Parry is one of the best in the business. Based on what you saw initially on TV, I don't think you could have overturned it either. When they showed the second clip, I don't know if they had that clip or not. It was a tough call, and it was close and a heck of a play by them."
What was the thought process behind challenging the play?"As far as the reason for challenging it? It was close enough where we felt like maybe there's an angle that we haven't seen or they haven't shown on TV, or they'll slow it down and there's another angle that we'll get a chance to see that will overturn it. We felt like it was close enough that it was worth taking a shot. We've done that quite a few times this year where we really don't have conclusive evidence, necessarily, but we think the situation in the game [warrants it]. They don't keep track of how many you win or lose; it doesn't really matter. You don't want to exhaust your challenges if you need one later in the game. That's the biggest thing."
Will you send the film of the play into the league for review?"We will send it in and ask for an explanation. But, I think they just didn't have enough to overturn it. If they don't have enough to overturn it conclusively, they're not going to do it, and they really shouldn't. I go all the way back to the Pittsburgh game two years ago here. I'm on record saying they shouldn't have overturned that one because they didn't have enough conclusive evidence to overturn it. So, to me, I think they did the right thing if they didn't have enough to overturn it in their mind."
Do you have any update on LS Morgan Cox following his injury in yesterday's game?"He's got a torn ACL, and he's got a third-degree sprain of his MCL, so he's out for the year. Like we said after the game, that was our fear. What he managed to do – to play through that... Willis McGahee would have been our long snapper, and Willis does a great job, but we'd rather have Morgan Cox or a professional long snapper doing that job. It would have been tough to win the game without him, and for him to gut it out the way he did was probably one of the keys to the victory. So, I'm really proud of his gutsy performance."
How do you think the chemistry that has developed between all of the specialists will be affected in Cox's absence?"It's a factor. It's something that going to be tough. They've really worked together, obviously, since OTAs. They've taken every snap together, so those guys do get an operation, a chemistry, built up. But, we'll bring in a good long snapper and short snapper – somebody that has been a pro and has done it before – and we'll be OK."
Will there be tryouts for the snapper position or do you have someone in mind already?"We're going to have tryouts tomorrow. So, we'll bring in the top four or five guys and take a look at them."
Is there an advantage to having a meaningful game this Sunday to keep momentum heading into the playoffs?"It's a good question. I don't know. It's our thing; it's the situation we face. So, we're playing for something, so we'll play. Heck, it'd be great to have the No. 1 seed all wrapped up and be able to rest some guys, but we're not in that situation. We've got something to play for, and you know there probably are some plusses. I think you continue to play, and you keep momentum going, and you continue to improve. If you can stay healthy, it's a big deal. It should be a plus."
When you specifically evaluate Kindle, do you take any of his previous incidents from college into account, or is this his first mistake under your watch?"We don't really keep track. It's not like a record in the sense of, 'OK, we'll do a clean slate.' I think how you're perceived, your reputation, is based on probably your whole body of work, right? I mean, when you look at somebody and you try to develop trust with a person, it depends on what you know about the person. And he's got a track record for making really poor decisions, and he knows that. That's a problem, and if he wants to achieve the things in football and life – like anybody – you've got to make good decisions and you've got to do the right things. And you've got to earn that trust and that loyalty. So, he's not off to a good start through college or the NFL right now. But he's a good person, he's got a good heart, I believe, and I think he's fully capable of achieving all of his goals. And we'll just have to see how it plays out. Really, it's on his shoulders, right? He's the one who's got to make those choices."
Kindle seemed pretty down about the medical news he received last week. Do you think that factored into this incident, and are you concerned about his state of mind right now?"It wouldn't mean anything to me. That's not an excuse for [his actions]. Yeah, we're always concerned about everybody's state of mind. I think we do a really good job here, medically, with our medical staff. Doctors, we're involved with psychology, we're involved with all those things to try to help all of our employees. I think the Ravens are one of the more forward-thinking organizations in the league that way. So, he's in good hands that way, but in the end, it's his responsibility, and he knows that."
To what do you attribute the large reduction in penalties and penalty yards from last season?"Well, it's always been an emphasis. I think when [Ravens owner] Steve Bisciotti mentioned that he thought it was important, it probably got everybody's attention, it didn't hurt. We appreciate that. (laughter) But to me, it's playing with good technique, it's playing fundamentally sound, it's being in the right position, it's making good decisions under pressure; it's a lot of things. The personal foul penalties are way down, holding penalties are way down, defensive pass interference and defensive holding penalties are way down. Those are the ones that are the big ones. The offensive pre-snap penalties are still a problem, although it was better yesterday, so that was a big plus for us [and] made a big difference. So, that's something we're still working on. You continue to work on all the other stuff. It's still week-to-week, but I'm proud of the guys. I think they've done a good job, and the coaches have done a good job of getting that rectified."
With there still being three possible opponents with which to begin the playoffs, do you begin advance scouting for each of those teams now?"Well, yeah, you have the advance scouts; our pro personnel department has been advancing the games, so they've been to all those team's games. So, we've got that information. And then this week, our coaches will advance based on a percentage basis of the likelihood of who we're going to play. So, you go right at the top and you work your way down and you try to break down as many games as you possibly can to get ready to go. There will be a lot of work put in by our coaches this week on the possibilities for next week. So, you just gather as much information as you possibly can, but the focus, really, is the Cincinnati Bengals. [The advance] work is done behind the scenes. The Cincinnati Bengals work will be the focus of the players and the position coaches, and that's just what we have to focus on."
Is there any scenario on Sunday where if you look up at the scoreboard and the Pittsburgh Steelers have a significant lead, you will pull some players out of the game to rest them and avoid injuries:"I don't know. Not for me, I don't look at it that way. I'm sure we'll be watching the scoreboard to see how the game's going, but we're not pulling anybody out of the game. We're going to try to win the game."
Can you talk about the improvement you've seen from CBs Chris Carr, Lardarius Webb and Josh Wilson? "I think the corners are playing really well. I think the corners are playing a lot better than probably most people would have expected. They were under a lot of heat early in the year. They're just playing, fundamentally, really sound. They're staying on top of routes. They've been in position. Hey, it's a battle out there. You go against great players, and the rules are kind of against you, but I think they've given Ed Reed and Dawan [Landry] a chance to play a little more instinctively, and Ed has made some plays as a result. I'm really pleased with how our secondary is playing. It's going to be a huge challenge this week. Carson Palmer is playing probably as well as he has ever played in the last two weeks – especially yesterday – so we'll get challenged again this week that way."
CB Cary Williams had that big hit on Josh Cribbs yesterday. He also has started to play more and more for your defense. What have you seen from him in terms of his development and emergence late in the season?"Cary is just developing as a player. On special teams, obviously, he's playing really well, and I think that's carrying over into his defensive play. He's really learned the system. He's learned the roles. He's in certain packages. He's learned those roles. He does a nice job in man coverage. He's got some length and some speed. He's a tenacious guy. He's practiced really well, so that's how guys get better."
Off the field, WR Donte' Stallworth was recently voted by the players for the Ed Block Courage Award. Can you talk a little bit about what he has meant to this locker room, just his personality and the way he has ingratiated himself to the team? "We talked about Donte' when he first came here, right? Having a history with him, he's really just a quality person, and he's been through some rough things. He's handled them as well as anybody can be expected to handle them. I know he's always going to have that, but what he's bounced back from… It's not so much… Even the injuries really set him back this year from a football standpoint. He's had to deal with that, because I know he had high hopes for this season, and I still think he's going to be a big factor as we go forward here over the next few weeks. But, I'm just proud of what he has done, and the teammate he has been, and I think the citizen he has been. You know, if you read his Twitter stuff – somebody sends me that every now and then – he says some really neat things, some things I think are pretty kind of profound. He's a solid man, and I'm glad he's on our team."
Do you think the NFL should evaluate re-seeding the postseason once you get to where if you win your division, it guarantees you the postseason, but not necessarily a home game? "Right… I do this year. (laughter) If we were sitting there with the division championship at 9-7, I'd probably be against it. (laughter) I could probably take the Fifth [Amendment] on that, because I don't know. I think as a coach, you're just in a position where all you really care about is your seed, and we probably are a little bit biased this year. I probably would agree this year as it shook out."
Contract extension… Do you deserve one? "We've probably got a lot of guys that deserve contact extensions on this team, right? Players. That is so far from my mind right now, and people just kind of say, 'How can that be?' Because there's no time for that, and the organization – talking to Steve [Bisciotti] and Dick [Cass] and Ozzie [Newsome] – that's on the backburner. It was on the backburner… We agreed that would be on the backburner until after the season way back a long time ago. So, we'll just figure it out when the time comes. Right now, we've got too much work to do. But thanks for asking." (laughter)
Reporter interjects: "[I'm] pulling for you."
"[I] appreciate it. Spread the word." (laughter)
We know how much Reed means to this secondary, but what goes through your mind when he laterals, and how did you feel yesterday? "There's a clip in the [Patriots] game – I think the playoff game last year, I think it is – where I'm like, 'No, no! Yes, yes! Great job!' It just depends on how it works out. That's how I feel about it. [It was] the same thing in the Carolina game. I was a big 'no' until he flipped it and [Dawan Landry] ended up scoring a touchdown. Sometimes with a player like that, you do have to trust their judgment a little bit. When Ed steps up after the fact and says it was not a good decision, then I can accept that because he's earned that. I think he knows how important it is not to turn the ball over once you get a turnover. To me, if he would have kept up the left sideline… Hey, I'm coaching Ed Reed on how to score touchdowns off interceptions now. (laughter) He's the best ever at it, right? If he would have stayed up the left sideline, I think he would have scored. So, that was my advice. That, and stay a little further away from the heater." (laughter)
How close was TE Todd Heap, and what did you see from him when you evaluated him pre-game? "We just decided to play it safe probably more than anything. It was just… He probably could have played, but then we would have been risking, I think, more than we wanted to. We felt like we had two tight ends that could play. The young guys have done a nice job. But then we lose Dennis [Pitta] on the very first kickoff in a concussion situation, so we ended up a little bit light there. But I'd say [Heap] has a great chance for this week."
How is LB Tavares Gooden doing after dislocating his shoulder in the Browns game?"Pretty sore. I think he's going to be OK. We'll just have to see how it responds, but our trainers are pretty confident he'll be OK."
Is there any concern over Pitta because he got his second concussion?"I'm not really sure of the science on it, exactly, but we'll just sit tight. The thing we learned to do with concussions, I think, is just to assume that they're out until they're back. You just can't count on those guys. We had Oniel Cousins and Tony Moll [out with concussions] in training camp, it seemed like forever, and other guys come back the next day. David Reed's another guy who's in that boat right now. We'll just have to see how he does, too. So, [we'll] keep our fingers crossed for both those guys."
What is the status of S Tom Zbikowski, who has been out with a back injury?"I'm not real optimistic for this week, but we're not going to do anything as far as IR. We think he's got a good chance to get back for the playoffs. He was running around today a little bit. So again, we'll keep our fingers crossed, but I'm hopeful for the first round of the playoffs."
What do you think about the Bengals now compared to when you played them in Week 2? And, what do you think about the legacy you've established in Baltimore with three-straight playoff appearances?"As far as the Bengals, I think that they are really good. Surprised, right? *(laughter) *Watch them on tape the last two games, you watch them play… I had a chance just watching this last game that they played yesterday; they were lighting it up. Their defense is playing at a really high level. To me, they're the Bengals right now that we expected them to be all year. I don't know about the rest of the season; we didn't watch them since [we played them in] Week 2, but they're playing at an incredibly high level. They're going to be incredibly motivated to come in here and make a statement. I think that they've got a lot of statements they want to make, and they've had a lot of success against us the last three times – in a lot of ways. They've gotten after us pretty good three times in a row, so that's motivation for us, too. It's going to be a heck of a game. As far as the other thing, [I] defer to the other question [about his contract extension] – that's where the thoughts are right now. There's a time, probably, to look at all that. Anything that we've accomplished the last three years, the truth of the matter is, it's what the team has accomplished. That's the way it is. It's the team, the team, the team. It is. Those are the guys out there playing – the players, the coaches, the decisions that get made, the organization… [I] talked a little bit about that last night. I think we have an organization that basically envelopes the team and the coaches extremely well. That's what gives you a chance to be successful over a long period of time. So, if we can do that – if we can be a great team, top to bottom, organizationally, coaches, players – then we'll see how many championships we can win. You get yourself in position to win them, then you have a chance to win them. You've got to get yourself in position to win them first. We haven't won one here in those three years, so let's try to get that done first. But, we are in position to do it again this year, and that's a good thing."
How did you feel when LB Brendon Ayanbadejo presented you with the game ball?"I just wish he'd put a shirt on before he did it. *(laughter) *But if you've got a build like Brendon Ayanbadejo, you don't put a shirt on, right? Can we all agree with that? None of us in here can make that claim. *(laughter) *But, it was really pretty special. I just think we have a really good relationship – a real good player-coach [relationship]. I'm talking about all of our coaches and all of our players, and our players-to-players and coaches-to-coaches. We've got something really meaningful and really special. That stuff is always meaningful. I told the players that every one of those coaches is getting one of those game balls, and I think they agreed with that, so it was good.