TUESDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: WEEK 16 at CHARGERS
Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
coach John Harbaugh said on Sunday that the mistake CB/RS Cyrus Jones made was so bad that you shrug and move on. Is there anything for you to coach there, or do you take the same approach? (Childs Walker) "I think I'll live with that approach. I think it's a good approach."
You took the delay of game penalty. What happened? What was the situation?_ (Jeff Zrebiec) "That was my fault. We had a number of situations with personnel that were happening at the same time. I failed to recognize that we didn't have a left tackle in the game. So, the guy that was supposed to be in there; I had not informed him of such. Anthony Levine [Sr.] took charge and made sure that we didn't snap the ball with 10 men on the field – that's a coaching mistake."(Reporter: "So you'd rather just take that penalty than blow a timeout.")"Yes, absolutely. In that situation, it's five yards and those timeouts become very valuable. We had enough space where we were going to punt it, and we were OK. So that was a good choice by Anthony. His veteran experience showed up right there." _(Reporter: "Does Nick Boyle's absence affect that?")"There were a number of situations going on simultaneously, and Nick's situation was one of those."
Pro Bowl is announced tonight. What are your thoughts on K Justin Tucker's candidacy and P Sam Koch's as well?_ (Jonas Shaffer)_ "Yes, I'm looking forward to seeing it. I'm really proud of our specialists. I think they've all been great this year. It's not just a performance; they're real pros, they're great teammates, they care about each other, they care about the success of the team – that's the most important thing for them. Every accolade that they get, they justly deserve. I'm really proud of them."
Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale
Opening statement:"OK, obviously [we're] really pleased with Sunday's effort. I thought we did a nice job – especially in the second half – of stepping up and making plays when we needed to. I told 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh] the last seven minutes of the fourth quarter, I thought we played our best defense that we could possibly play, and there were no mistakes – because obviously, the offense had the ball. You guys with me? Stay with me." (laughter)
You had some great quotes on opposing quarterbacks this year. What's your line on QB Philip Rivers? (Childs Walker) "Phew, he's good! Really, I mean, in respect to the game, he's going to go down as one of the greatest. Everybody sees it, everybody knows it. You can't say that he's like somebody else; he's Philip Rivers. I think the young quarterbacks aspire to be like him, the way he has command of the offense. I heard John [Harbaugh] say in his press conference – and I told him I thought it was perfect – the analogy of, 'He tries to get the most out of every play that he calls,' whether it's a run play, whether it's a pass play. He has such a competitive spirit. As a defensive coordinator, it's a lot of fun to go against it, because it's a chess match on every play."
Is it unique this week – the chess match aspect of it – knowing that you have S Eric Weddle, who knows QB Philip Rivers so well, he knows Eric so well, and that whole dynamic between them? (Garrett Downing) "I think that's between those two, because I also have gone against him from the AFC West 10 times, 12 times, 14 times. That's why I have such an affection towards Philip and how he competes as a quarterback. Obviously, they're playing really well, and he has a load of weapons to go with this offense. We have a great challenge this week."
A lot of people look at numbers to determine how a player is playing. What does S Eric Weddle do that makes it easier for you to run your defense in the manner you do, with his leadership and all that? (Jeff Zrebiec) "You said it right there with his leadership. Not only his leadership, but he's the quarterback of the back end. I think that if you ask opposing quarterbacks – I don't know if you're involved in the conference call or what with quarterbacks – I think he gives them an issue with the way he moves around and orchestrates the back end. He helps us disguising different things. I think that's his value. Obviously, being the Pro Bowl safety that he is, that's his value, and he's doing it really well this year, as well."
You came into the season with high hopes for CB Marlon Humphrey. How have you seen him grow as a player from Year 1 to Year 2? (Luke Jones)"I think I said in training camp, I called my shot on that – as quiet as it's kept – he's the best corner we have. He's playing to that level. I think he's just going to continue to grow the more he studies the tape, the more he studies himself, the more he studies the gameplan – which he's done all season. I think you're just going to see bigger and better things from him. He's doing a really nice job. Brandon Carr and Jimmy [Smith] also get kudos with that, because they're helping him along, because they remember when they were second years as corners. It's really a cool thing to see."
There's been a lot of talk about the time of possession offensively helping you guys. From your perspective, is that a thing where this late in the season it helps you being fresher, having fewer reps? (Cliff Brown)"Sure it does. Sure it does, because it goes back to the same thing I was talking about before of how we were rotating 'Big Baby' [Brandon Williams] and Michael Pierce. When we did our study down at the end of the season last year, we thought guys wore out."
I guess as a follow-up, the rotation that you were going to go through, it was done under the expectation on the kind of offense QB Joe Flacco would be leading. But now that you guys have had the ball possession that you've had, the defense has been on for fewer snaps. Is there any consideration of giving more snaps to DT Brandon Williams and DT Michael Pierce? _(Jonas Shaffer) _"Yes, I think you saw that against Tampa. It's time to step up with both those guys. They're playing at such a high level that in the right situations, we're going to put them both out there together. Just like what I talk to Kevin [Byrne, executive vice president of public and community relations] about all the time: They're both starters. In my mind, they're both starters."
Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg
Opening statement:"All right, let's wrap the last ball game up. The guys did a heck of a job. We started the thing off a little slow. We're used to starting off a little bit faster. The O-line played really well, led by Marshal [Yanda] and Ronnie [Stanley], and it was good to have [James] Hurst back; that was his second week back, and he's playing better and better, and [we] spelled them just a little bit – quite a little bit – with [Bradley] Bozeman, and he played really well. Matt Skura sort of directs it – he's done a heck of a job – and our rookie right tackle, Orlando [Brown Jr.], has been playing really well. The backs played really well. [Kenneth] Dixon did a nice job. He's had, I believe, 8 and then 11 carries the past couple weeks, and of course, Gus [Edwards] keeps it rolling. [He's a] hard man to tackle, runs through arm tackles. Receivers did a nice job of blocking and catching the ball. That was a hard deal, there. You had that rain spitting out. It was a little cool, just enough wind – it was harder than it probably appeared. You guys were up drinking the hot chocolate, and I know what goes on up there. (laughter) I think, anyways." (Reporter: "How do you know that?") "I took a tour one time up there. A lot of good food, hot chocolate…
"But anyways, and then the tight ends did a nice job. When Nick [Boyle] went out, Maxx [Williams] came in and did a nice job. The two rookie tight ends do an outstanding job. And I'll tell you what, Lamar [Jackson] has been impressive from the start. Sometimes, it's a little bit more important, and a little more difficult, sometimes, to handle some really good success, and he's done that part really well. It's harder to handle that sometimes than disaster, sometimes – and more important, sometimes … So, that's been impressive. So now, there's a big ball game Saturday in L.A. They've had a long week; we've had a short week. We have to go clear across [the country] – all these things, right? Well, you combat that with preparation, and so the guys have done a great job. It was a heck of a sort of little walk-through practice today, but the fellas were on it."
What do you see from the Chargers, and how big of a challenge will they pose to your offense and QB Lamar Jackson? (Ryan Mink) "Very good defense. The last I checked, I believe they were [ranked] somewhere around eighth total. They do some very, very good things. They have a couple edge rushers. They have some very good men inside. Their secondary is very aggressive, skilled, so certainly, it's going to be quite a challenge, along with an opportunity."
You mentioned TE Nick Boyle going out. I don't know what his status will be by Saturday, but what has he brought to this team, and how do you compensate if he's not able to play? (Bo Smolka) "He brings the attitude. He's a physical, physical guy. And then, he has excellent hands, and [he's] a smart, natural player. But, he brings some physicality and some attitude. Everybody else stepped up when he went out just a little bit, and so that would be our expectation if he's not available, and then we'll see. I certainly hope he's available."
I think you guys have converted more than 50 percent of third downs, or something like that, since QB Lamar Jackson took over. Is that because you're in manageable situations? Is that his playmaking? (Aaron Kasinitz) "It's a combination of a lot of things, and you mentioned a couple of them right there. We've been going forward, typically, and so we've been in a little bit more manageable [situations]. And I will tell you, the run game has been big in that aspect, and Lamar has done a really good job when we've passed the ball in most of those third-down situations, so he's done a really good job situationally, for the most part. There were a couple situations there – and, he's seen things for the first time, a lot of new things for the first time – and so he'll get better and better situationally as we go. But he's done a really good job in third-down situations."
John Harbaugh called the two-minute drive QB Lamar Jackson had at the end of the half "seamless." How would you break down that specific drive? (Bo Smolka) "I'd like to punch it in down there. We were battling the clock, so we were in sort of a semi-trigger situation, where you have no timeouts, and if the thing is in-bounds … And in fact, on the last play, if the ball is in-bounds, you have to run the field goal team on. So, we were battling that just a little bit. We sure would like to pump that thing in, but [Jackson] did a heck of a job. I will tell you, Lamar is getting us in and out of some pretty good things, too. So, he's done a good job that way as well." (Reporter: "Do you mean he's calling audibles at the line? What do you mean?") "Yes, yes, run to pass, pass to [run] – he does some things naturally."
Have you put more and more on his plate, in terms of that, giving him more responsibilities? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, I think we try to take a lot… We all do, we try to take all things into account, but yes, he's done a nice job."
I know the fumbles have come from different reasons, but is there anything you see as correctable in why QB Lamar Jackson has fumbled? (Aaron Kasinitz)"Yes, this is a different league. People work on it. One, look at it – it was an ugly day. I'm telling you that right now, and you saw [Tampa Bay's] first PAT. And then, the snap was right at [Jackson's] left eye, and he was trying to get it down early. [There are] different reasons for every ball that we've put on the ground, and this is a different league, as well, that way. [Defenses] practice it every day. They're paid to create turnovers, our opponents, so all those things [happen]. So, he'll get better and better as he gets some experience that way."
You mentioned the numerical ranking of the Chargers' defense. Do you think it's fair to say that this is the best defense QB Lamar Jackson will have faced as a starter? (Jonas Shaffer) "It's hard to compare, because teams change. They really do. In fact, that last defense [Tampa Bay], they were playing lights-out coming into our game – eight turnovers in the last three games, boom, boom, boom. You look at the stats for either, in Tampa, the last eight games or the last three games, they were doing some really good things defensively. So, teams change, and sometimes it's due to injury. Sometimes, they get some fellas back. Sometimes, they adjust schematically just a little bit. Sometimes, those turnovers are a little bit cyclic, but yes, this is a good defense, really good – certainly a Top 8 defense, and situationally, they do some things very, very well."
On RB Gus Edwards, a lot of people said he's the perfect complement to QB Lamar Jackson – inside, outside, power running. Does that balance sell Edwards short at all? Do you see them as kind of a perfect complement to one another, or is Edwards good with any quarterback? (Bo Smolka) "Oh, yes. Gus is a talented young man. There's no question about that. I do think it's a pretty good combination, as well. I think both of those things are true. Gus is a strong, physical, talented, smart [player], takes care of the ball typically. He has a lot of great qualities, so I'm sure glad that he's on our team."
S Tony Jefferson
On if he can sense the significance of the game against the Chargers for S Eric Weddle:"Oh, yes. Eric has been watching the Chargers on film since OTAs. I've caught him a few times in meetings looking at Philip Rivers and what they do. Obviously, he was there for a long time. He has much respect for that organization, I do know that. It's definitely a big game for him."
On what it will take for the team to make the playoffs:"It's just going to take a good amount of Raven football. Let's just go out there; let's execute. Let's not get too caught up in the noise and what's going on and all the different scenarios that we see every day, what could happen. Let's focus on winning, and I think if we play how we play, the cards will fall our way."
On if the upcoming Chargers game seems like a playoff game:"I guess you could say the playoffs have started, but let's just go out there and play football. It is what it is. Like I said, let's not get caught up in all the noise around it. Let's just go out there and play football like we know how to play it."
On how much the team relishes earning its way back into the playoff hunt:"What did 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh] say? 'Good. Good!' Let's do it. Let's do it. [I'm] not worried [about outside noise and adversity]. Let's go."
L.A. CHARGERS CONFERENCE CALL
(with Baltimore Media)
Head Coach Anthony Lynn
Can you talk about the challenge for preparing for what people call "a different Ravens' offense?" _(Jamison Hensley) _"Yeah, it's just night and day from the Ravens' offense when Joe [Flacco] was quarterback to now. So, it's challenging, because you don't see it every week. You have to play 11-on-11. You have to play with good discipline, sound football and win your one-on-ones. It's definitely challenging, because you don't see it every week."
What has impressed you the most about QB Lamar Jackson? (Jamison Hensley) "You know, his versatility. He can … I know he's beating people with his legs right now, and he has no choice as to [how] they choose to use him with his legs. But I watched him in college, and he threw for over 9,000 yards in college. The young man can throw the football, and he can develop into a pocket passer in this league. He has that type of skillset and that type of versatility. Just the fact that someone can move around like that and throw it – he's a threat."
How dangerous is the combination of QB Lamar Jackson and RB Gus Edwards? (Ed Lee)"Gus is running hard right now. He's very decisive, hitting the holes, physical, creating plays after contact. They have a good thing going. They are a good complement to one another, because Lamar makes you protect the perimeter and Gus, when the defense gets soft in the middle, Gus attacks it down the line in the middle. It's a good complement to one another and what they're doing and how they're used in the scheme. I've worked with [assistant head coach/tight ends] Greg Roman before. A lot of the stuff I've seen before, I've used. So, they're executing very well."
How's RB Melvin Gordon III coming along? Do you expect him to play Saturday? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Absolutely. He practiced today, and he'll get better and better. He looked good."
Do you expect WR Keenan Allen to be a game-time decision?_ (Jeff Zrebiec)_"Keenan could be a game-time decision. It just depends on how sore his hip is."
How much does the return of RB Melvin Gordon III change your offense?_ (Ed Lee)_"It doesn't really change our offense. When Melvin was out, we didn't stop doing what we do. Our young backs – they stepped up. I thought they did a good job."
You've had a few extra days playing on Thursday night. How did you schedule this weekend? What's the value of getting that little extra time this late in the season?_ (Aaron Kasinitz)_"We had such a short week. It was kind of a Catch-22: coming off of a tough game against Cincinnati, we had a real short week to prepare for Kansas City. So, with the extra days I gave the guys rest. Hopefully they stayed off their feet and got some good rest, but we started back on Monday, and we'll go straight through. But yes, I didn't keep those guys around on the weekend."
Can the extra days be an advantage?_ (Ed Lee)_"It can be, especially when you're going up against an offense that you don't see every week. I don't know if there are any advantages. We had a shorter week, and that definitely wasn't an advantage. Now I just think it all evens out at some point. But, we'll see."