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Transcript: Ravens Wednesday Transcripts

WEDNESDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: WEEK 17 vs. BROWNS

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: “OK, good to see everybody – appreciate you guys being here. We’re excited – started the day, had the day off yesterday. Guys had a good Christmas. Merry Christmas to everybody out there.”

A couple of the guys that are coming out are rookies, and you’ve had big contributions from rookies thus far, and a number of them started. Have they worked themselves along? Is it the coaching staff? Was the talent there all along? Guys like T Orlando Brown Jr., obviously, quarterback, running back, tight ends? (David Ginsburg) “Yes,very talented guys, sure, and they’ve worked really hard and have earned their way into the starting lineup. All of those guys that you’re talking about have maintained their position by playing well. That’s how it works. So, it’s competitive. It’s always competitive, and the rookie class has done a really good job and been very productive for us, so we’re happy with that.”

When you look at the offense the first time around you’re facing Cleveland versus now – I’m not going to say a comparison – but what are some of the things that Cleveland is doing differently to be more successful? (Pete Gilbert) “They’re just executing well. The philosophy is what it is – the downhill running game, they throw a lot of quick-gain spacing slants. They push the ball down the field quite a bit off of play-action and dropback. They have their downhill run game, but they also have their gameplan schemed-up runs. Their misdirection stuff has been effective for them. They’re built around Baker Mayfield, the quarterback. He keeps things alive in the pocket, makes some throws on the run. The receivers are playing well, tight end is playing well, so that’s what they’re doing.”

As you evaluate QB Lamar Jackson’s play throughout the season over your successful run, how would you say he’s handled himself not only on the field, but handled this transition into the starting role? (Harry Hawkings) “He’s handled himself very well. He’s done a very good job. He’s a very even-keeled guy, very competitive, focuses on what’s important, which is football. He keeps it simple, keeps it about the football. I do feel like he’s kind of a ‘gym rat’ that way. You appreciate that about him and just try to keep building and getting better every single day, and that’s really what he thinks about.”

From outward appearance, the offense obviously changed a lot when it went from QB Joe Flacco to QB Lamar Jackson. How much has the offense changed from the first week Lamar started to last week? Has there been a lot of improvement? (Adam Kilgore) “There has. You’re always a work in progress. You can never stay the same. If you stay the same in this league, you’re just … You’re going to get caught up with. You’re getting worse. You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse; we always say that, and it’s true. So, our coaches have been very creative. Our players have done a good job of just assimilating the schemes and techniques and all of that, but we have to stay ahead of people as much as we can, scheme-wise, and try to create advantages for our guys. So, in that sense, it definitely has grown.”

ILB Patrick Onwuasor won AFC Defensive Player of the Week. It seems like your defense has had a lot of different role players. You’re the top-ranked defense without maybe one superstar. What did you attribute that success to? (Aaron Kasinitz) “Congratulations to ‘Peanut’ [Patrick Onwuasor], first of all – AFC Defensive Player of the Week, well-deserved, great to see it. He’s worked so hard and plays with such passion. That’s what you appreciate about him as a player, and really all of our guys along the same lines. I attribute it to that. I think we play team defense, have a lot of really good players. I probably don’t buy into that particular ‘star’ thing; that’s in the eye of the beholder, so to speak. I think we have a lot of stars, but they’re playing as a team. They’re playing as a unit, and that’s really what makes for a good unit, a great defense or anything in football, because football is a team sport.”

Has this been your most challenging year – changing courses mid-season, having people doubt you nationally all along the way and getting results? (Kirk McEwen) “I don’t think it’s really new. I think it’s something that happens in this league pretty much everywhere. It’s certainly been the case here forever, so it’s really nothing new.”

ILB Patrick Onwuasor played awhile at safety, DB for part of the time. What about him made you think that he was going to be able to make the transition to the position he’s now playing? I know that’s going back a couple years, obviously. (Jeff Zrebiec) “You never know for sure. Our scouts and our coaches that evaluated Patrick saw a football player. They saw a guy that would run around, make plays. Something we talk about a lot about around here – Ozzie [Newsome] talks a lot about it – are football players, and [Onwuasor] is a football player. And usually, you can find a spot for a football player. But really, that’s what’s happened.”

A number of players in the organization have reached out imploring fans to be there on Sunday. How important is that, that factor, as you play an important game? (Mark Viviano) “Like I’ve said many times, we have great fans, and they’re always into it when they’re there and excited and fired up and enthusiastic and all that. So, we’re looking forward to it. I’m just looking forward to it and looking forward to the stadium being great and fired up and into it, and certainly the players feed off of that. It’s something that really matters, and we’ve been in some great environments at home. We’ve been in some great environments on the road this year, so yes, it’d be something that we’re looking forward to.”

I know you say winning the division is not the ultimate goal, but it’s the first goal when you start the season. Is there a difference when you start the season and go, “OK guys, we know what our first goal is,” and now are in a situation where you are right where you are, one game away from achieving that goal? (Jamison Hensley) “Yes, there’s a big difference. You put yourself in position to accomplish it, and now you have to go finish and get the job done, which is something that you relish. I do believe, and I think everybody understands, that this is what you sign up for. At the beginning of the season, if we say we control our destiny going into the last game, we can win the division, we’ve all signed up for that. That’s the goal. So, we’re excited about that, and now we get to play a championship game, and let’s go.”

You guys have had some peaks and valleys in terms of red zone offense. What do you have to do to that piece to make sure that it’s stepping up? (Aaron Kasinitz) “We have to finish down there, be more consistent. We can run it in. We’ve had some issues with some plays where we just haven’t quite been clean enough to do that at times. At times we have, obviously. Same thing with throwing the ball – we just keep working on it. That’s what you do. You just keep working, try to improve, try to get better, try to come up with a new idea here and there, but you just keep grinding and try to improve. That’s what we’re working on.”

Going back to Cleveland, DL Myles Garrett has had a huge year. What kind of challenges does he pose, as far as disrupting your offense? (Todd Karpovich) “Myles Garrett is a great point. He’s a potential game-wrecker, very talented guy. All the talent you saw in the draft, you see it when he plays. He’s a big, physical, fast guy that you have to account for on every play, and he’s a guy that we will have an understanding of where he’s at on every play.”

I think in preseason, you said it was a difficult decision to let WR Breshad Perriman go. What will it be like to see him back here on Sunday? (Ed Lee) “Well, before the game it will be nice to say hi to him, and then we’ll defend him. We have a lot of respect for him as a player, what we’ve seen on tape, what we know about him, his talents – speed, deep guy for sure, crossing routes – and those are things that we have to be on the lookout for with him. He’s an opponent, and we’ll be looking forward to doing what we can to basically, just like all the other players, control what he does.”

TE Mark Andrews

On his 68-yard touchdown reception at LAC: “It was awesome. You dream of plays like that, and especially as a rookie, big plays like that scoring is incredible. Lamar [Jackson] threw an incredible ball – right over the linebacker, right in stride, really made my job easy. I really had to beat one guy. The blocking up front was great – great play call. So overall, it was really a team effort on the whole play.”

On how far QB Lamar Jackson has come as a thrower since he first got here: “Everyone talks about him running and whatnot, and like, ‘He’s [not] not a quarterback just because he can run.’ But ever since rookie minicamp, he’s been a guy that can come in, make the throws and put the ball where it needs to be. I think he’s grown a lot, especially as a rookie quarterback. It’s not easy. I can’t imagine being in that position playing quarterback. He’s doing an incredible job. He’s a special, special player.”

On if the rookies have banded together and if he’s proud of the way the rookie class has contributed: “Yeah, there’s no doubt. We came in with a huge rookie class to begin with. I think right away the older guys, and even us, we saw that we can make an impact on this team, and that’s what they brought us in to do. They were close last year; they were one game away [from a playoff berth]. So, they brought us in here to win this last game. That’s what it’s all about: contributing. That’s what us rookies are doing, just trying to learn from the older guys and continue to do what we’re doing.”

On how QB Lamar Jackson and QB Baker Mayfield compare: “I would say as far as their play, they’re both incredibly good at extending plays, making a special play when there’s nothing. In terms of personality, guys like that have a certain thing about them – the ‘It Factor’ I call it. They’re someone that you want to be around. There’s something about them that makes people gravitate towards them. They both have that. I think that speaks a lot to who they are and what they’re all about.”

On if QB Baker Mayfield wants to come in and rip their hearts out: “No doubt. He’s a killer. He doesn’t mess around. He’s fully intent on ruining our season. We’ll be ready for it.” (Reporter: “Do you know that for a fact? Has he texted you as much?”) “No, just the ‘Merry Christmas’ stuff, but I know Baker. He’s fiery. So, we’ll see.”

On what he has done to keep himself fresh towards the end of the season: “It’s tough. Fortunately for me, I haven’t hit a rookie wall or anything. But I think they do a great job here of knowing how our bodies feel. Just the older guys take the younger guys under their wings and showing them how it’s done – that’s really what it’s all about. It’s getting behind those vets and seeing what they do and how they’ve had long careers. Doing that and getting in the cold tubs, getting treatment whenever you can and taking the rest and opportunity of rest when it’s available.”

On how he would evaluate QB Lamar Jackson’s growth this season: “It’s been great. I said this earlier, just to be thrown into that position, especially coming behind a guy who’s an all-time great Raven like Joe [Flacco], is hard to do. It’s not an easy thing. Just for him to be able to come in win all these games, carry this team, it’s been awesome. It’s been fun to see. I think he’s grown each week, and you’ve been able to see that. He’s such a versatile player, such a special player that makes defenses really hard to game-plan for. Week by week, he’s been getting better.”

On if QB Lamar Jackson a “killer” too: “Yeah, there’s no doubt. It’s a little bit different type of killer. Lamar hates to lose. He’s a guy that’s … You know, you’re down, you can rely on him, he’s going to do everything he can to win – whether it’s running the ball for fourth-and-inches or whatnot. He’s a guy that’s going to make the play. You saw it in the game when we were down – he makes that big play. That’s the type of person he is, and that’s the type of player he is, as well.”

On how QB Lamar Jackson’s personality changes when they’re losing: “He’s one of those guys, he’s almost like a gamer. He practices well, but when it’s a game, he’s in a whole different mindset, whole different person, whole different persona about him. It’s all about winning, and he’s going to do whatever it takes to win.”

On if the veterans talk about how the 2017 season ended to the rookies: “When we got brought in here, it was something that as talked about. It’s been talked about this whole time from players to coaches. It’s something that’s on everyone’s mind. We’re well aware of what happened last year. There are a lot of hungry guys in this locker room. I think that’s an important thing to have, is a bunch of guys working [towards] the same goal, and that’s what we’re doing.”

CB Brandon Carr

On if he is surprised by WR Breshad Perriman’s success in Cleveland after his time in Baltimore: “Not at all. That’s a guy we faced on a day-to-day basis for a few years, so we’re not surprised by the speed he shows on film. It’s just a matter of guys putting it all together. We all are lightbulbs; we click at different times, so it’s just a matter of him maturing and figuring the game out. But he’s playing some good ball right now.”

On the possibility of finishing the regular season as the No. 1 defense while winning the division: “This is what it’s about. This is what we prepare for throughout training camp, offseason – for this moment, to have the opportunity to close out our season the way we want to, control our own destiny. [It’s a] big game for us. We’ve been playing playoff football for about a month-and-a-half now, so that’s nothing new. We’re just excited for an opportunity to come out here and to finish our season the right way.”

On what makes this Ravens defense special: “Just from Year 1 to Year 2, we’ve been gelling. Our chemistry is ... It’s incredible right now, off the field, on the field. Just the carryover from the film study on the board to the field, from practice to the game, the coaching staff, players all on the same page – it’s a perfect storm right now. But we understand just the importance of each and every day. We can’t take it for granted. We have to continue to get better in all of our weak areas that you may not see. We always are trying to clean up and just get better for each and every opponent each and every week – just getting better for the playoffs.”

On how QB Baker Mayfield is different from the first matchup earlier in the season: “He’s in a groove right now. He’s very confident in the pocket, outside the pocket. You see him still extending plays with his legs, finding open receivers, pushing the ball down the field. He looks the same, man. We’re just excited for the opportunity to face these guys again and finish it off the right way.”

On having defensive contributions spread amongst many players: “We’re just deep on our side of the ball. We have a lot of guys that contribute on special teams and guys that go out there and give max effort. We have to reward them on the defensive side of the ball, so guys are chomping at the bit to get their number called. When they get their couple plays, each and every week, they go out there and maximize their opportunity. And, guys have been having great success this year. Guys are just [having the] ‘next man up’ mentality, or, ‘You do your job, whatever your responsibility is with this team. We’ll take care of you on the other side of the ball.’ That’s what’s just been happening throughout the year.”

On the significance of OLB Terrell Suggs’ football I.Q.: “It’s huge. Everyone always assumes football players are all about the physicality – running, jumping and those things – but it’s the mental part of the game that allows a lot of these guys to become the elite players that they are. He’s one of those guys that does his thing on the field, but throughout the week, what people don’t see is he’s constantly in his film study, in his notebook, with the coaches, just brainstorming different ideas and just talking football. He’s always in his own with us, just keeping us right, keeping us ready for every situation, scenario out there on the field, off the field. But, he’s a guy that, for the young guys that just want to learn about football and see a special player, they see him on a day-to-day basis, man. He’s a student of the game.”

On OLB Terrell Suggs’ longevity: “I would say that’s a blessing. We all want to have Pro Bowls and Super Bowls and things, but the main thing [is] we want to walk away from this game intact still. And, he’s a guy that’s out there busting his tail each and every week, giving it his all, selling out for the team, playing through injuries. I think he does a great job off the field and throughout the week getting himself prepared for the grind of the season, for the grind of each and every game, taking care of his body and doing what it takes to be a pro.”

On if there is extra motivation to make the playoffs after last season’s result: “We all have our own motivation. I only have a few playoff games in my 11 years, so I have a lot of added motivation with that. But definitely, last year doesn’t sit well with us. We had a prime opportunity to extend our season, and we failed at it. We didn’t finish the job, so that’s why this year, the art of finish is big for us. Just finding ways to win this game by any means necessary, emptying your tank, giving it your all, and then we’ll reload for next week once we get there.”

On if he gains any lessons from last season’s finale: “Finish.”

On if QB Baker Mayfield’s ability to get out of the pocket is a bigger concern: “Yes, he does a lot of damage outside the pocket with his legs. [He’s a] shorter quarterback, so I think it may be harder for him to see within the packet, so it may be easier for him to be outside the pocket doing damage. It’s going to be up to us. It’s 11 guys on the back end with coverage, on the front with smart pass rush, just trying to corral this guy and bring him down.”

On how he balances looking at Browns film from before they made a change at offensive coordinator: “This type of game, last game of the season, we’re playing for postseason. These guys are playing just to try to knock us out. It’s a division opponent, big game. Everything is on the table. We’re ready for it all. Whatever you have, trick plays, whatever you may think you can cook up for us, we should be prepared for it. It’s one of those types of games.”

QB Lamar Jackson

On the bond with his rookie teammates and if he’s proud with how the rookies have contributed this season: “Oh yes, definitely, ever since rookie [minicamp], OTAs, we started out by following each other on social media, trading numbers around and stuff like that. Just to bond here – we’re always with each other, almost 24/7. We’re rookies, so the vets, they already had their guys with each other and stuff like that, so we already knew each other just coming from college and stuff like that.”

On what it’ll be like having another rookie QB starter in Bake Mayfield on the field: “It don’t really feel like anything. It’s just like any other quarterback when I’m going out there, that’s all.”

On his relationship with QB Baker Mayfield during the pre-draft process: “Well actually, when I won the Heisman, Baker was actually nominated, too, that same year. We pretty much had a bond from there. He came in my room after I won and stuff like that, and the next year we were bonding again. So, it’s been pretty cool – just the draft process and stuff.”

On if he reflects on how far he’s come from college until now: “To be honest, I really don’t think about it. I just try to focus on what’s going on now. I’m trying to better myself before this game Sunday. So, I don’t really think about it too much. But now since you put it in my head, I probably would.”

On if he’s a better player than the guy who played for Louisville one year ago: “Absolutely. I wish some of the traits I have now, I had then. I probably wouldn’t have thrown those four interceptions in that bowl game.”

On if he ever pictured himself leading a team into a game with playoff implications: “Not at all, not at all. I do think about that – man, I wish I knew stuff then that I know now, like when I was a kid, certain ages. Not even with life, just playing football. I wish I had the same scenarios going on in my mind then.”

On if he feels more confident throwing the ball: “Yes, there’s still room for improvement. I still have to work. There are a lot of things I still should have hit, but yeah, I’m a lot more comfortable now than I was before.”

On what he attributes his success to coming from behind: “I don’t like playing from behind. I like staying in the lead. I like staying in front, probably more touchdowns instead of just one. But I hate losing, so when I see an opponent score a touchdown, I feel like we’re losing or lost the game. So, I have to go and just contribute right away.”

On what it’s like seeing kids get his jersey for Christmas on social media: “That’s pretty cool! I was a kid before, getting jerseys and stuff like that, being happy. For kids just to look up to me as an idol, and receiving my jersey with so much expression on their faces like, that’s cool! I retweet it every time I catch it. I retweet it, like it, probably comment back. So yeah, that’s pretty cool.” (Reporter: “Whose jersey did you receive as a child?”) “It was a basketball jersey. I had Tracy McGrady’s jersey. That was pretty cool to me.”

On the process of growing into the starting quarterback: “Same thing, same scenarios, same statement in my mind: Our team. Nothing has changed. I’m just growing each and every week. It’s still our team, like I said before, because I’m not out there blocking. I’m just doing my part.”

On if he has felt he has competed with QB Baker Mayfield before even though they’ve never faced each other on a football field: “No, not at all. He’s just playing a part for his team. He’s just doing his thing, and I just do mine – that’s all. We all want to win at the end of the day. So definitely, you can say that.”

CB Jimmy Smith

On how different the Browns’ offense is now compared to earlier in the season: “It’s the same playmakers, probably with less of a leash on them. Obviously, Baker Mayfield has made a lot of plays, scrambling plays. They have a good receiving corps, good running game as well. Our hands are going to be full. Plus, it’s their championship game, so they might pull out all the stops for this one.”

On if he’s surprised to see what WR Breshad Perriman has been able to do with the Browns: “I don’t know. I’ve battled Breshad his entire career here. I know exactly what he likes to do, what he’s good at, and obviously, he’s putting it on display over there.”

On how underappreciated OLB Terrell Suggs’ football knowledge is: “Based on who he is, his physical presence is always felt. I don’t think people realize or understand how smart the guy really is – going out picking off screen passes, calling out runs on the line of scrimmage. He’s been in the game for 16 years, so hopefully he’s picked up some things along the way. He’s a tremendously smart player. We give Eric Weddle all the credit for being how smart he is being a safety, but ‘T-Sizzle’ is right on that level.”

On if they’ve talked about how last season ended for motivation this year: “No, no. We don’t even bring it up. It’s past.”

On if the ability to finish the season as the league’s top-ranked defense is motivating: “That’s the goal, and we have one more game to conclude that goal. So, if we do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll be there. We’ll enter that.”

On how big of an impact it makes when you have multiple playmakers on the defense: “That’s just a hats-off to our defensive players. It’s not that one person is not standing out; it’s just that collectively, we are better. Not just one person is shining, but I mean, if you look at one person’s game, some people are shining – there’s no question about that. But as a collective whole, we’re even better.”

On if he has been a part of a more confident defense: “I’ve been on some confident defenses here. But I feel like this is our best one. Me being an older guy at this time, me really being more involved in the defense, [I’m] watching the young guys from last year, and we’re really all combining to make the defense what it is this year. Confidence-wise, it’s probably one of our better groups, yeah.”

On if he’s surprised the rookie quarterbacks can quickly become successful leaders in the NFL: “No. I think when they’re coming out of college, they don’t even know the difference. They just come right in and play and act the same way when they left college. Until they get a few years in the league and things happen, that’s when things start to change for young quarterbacks and younger players.”

OLB Terrell Suggs

On how it feels knowing the Ravens control their own fate: “It really don’t feel like anything. We’ve been here a couple times before – kind of just want to get it done this time.”

On if the idea is to not be asked about that anymore: “We don’t worry about it. The game is played on Sunday, and we’ll play the game on Sunday.”

On if one of the keys will be to keep QB Baker Mayfield in the pocket versus having him scramble: “One of the keys will be to play good, playoff football. Only the worthy will reach the grail. If you play good football, you’ll reap the rewards. So, we have to play good, all-around good football. It’s on every man.”

On what it would mean to win the division and earn a home playoff game: “That’d be great. That’d be great considering that we haven’t won the division in some time now. It’d be good to get another banner up there in the rafters, and get the division won – that’s really it.”

On how he can feel the momentum building in the locker room as of late, especially after the November bye week: “We’re just playing football, man. Like I said, we had the time to get away, decompress and go back to square one, and we did that. We’ll take one game at a time and play some football.”

On how off-the-field preparations have been a key to his longevity: “Well, I had some good mentors coming in. I think that was just by the grace of God, a lot of prayer, my coaches and the trainers keeping me healthy. A lot goes into it, not just film study.”

On his reaction to becoming the Ravens’ all-time leader in games played on Sunday: “What if I die today?” (laughter) “You know what I’m saying? The pitcher and the no-hitter man! It’s a long time between here and Sunday. That would be flattering, that’d be honoring, but you know – I could slip and fall, and that’s not good. We’ll talk about those bridges once we cross them.”

On if the fans have been slow to warm up to the season compared to past years: “I don’t know. I think when the games started, I kind of get tunnel vision. So, I really haven’t noticed. I don’t know. We’d like to have all of Charm City, all of Baltimore, Ravens fans in the building come Sunday.”

On if he has thought about his future with his upcoming free agency at the end of the season: “No. I mean, there’s a lot of things that’s always a possibility, but you can’t really harp on the negative. It possibly could [be my last Ravens game Sunday], but it hasn’t crossed my mind like, ‘Oh my God!’ We have business to handle, and we’ll handle that. Like I said just with that last question, we’ll cross every bridge when it’s time to come there.”

On what’s different about Cleveland since the last time they played: “A trap question, huh? Nothing. They’re playing really good football, playing inspiring football, and they look like they’re having a lot of fun over there. They’re winning games.”

On how long he thought we would play when he first entered the league in 2003: “I never thought about it that long. You never want to cap yourself, but if you would’ve told me, a 20-year-old kid coming into the league, ‘Yo, you at least got 16 [seasons].’ That would’ve blown me away. I would’ve never known how long. I’m just glad the great Lord has blessed me to play this long.” (Reporter: “How will you know when it’s over?”) “You’ll just know. I don’t feel that itch – ain’t no hair standing up on the back of my neck. You’ll just know.”

On how many injuries he’s played through: “I don’t know, that’s part of the game. Come on, it’s Ravens football! We’re going to end on that.”

BROWNS CONFERENCE CALL TRANSCRIPT

(with Baltimore Media)

Head Coach Gregg Williams

The Ravens, especially since QB Lamar Jackson took over, have developed a reputation of being a team that’s really difficult to play and difficult to prepare for, and not like most other teams in the league. Is that what you’ve found, and would you say that’s a fair characterization? (Adam Kilgore) “I think John Harbaugh and that staff have done a very good job of how they have adapted what they’re doing schematically, philosophy-wise, to the skill set not only of Lamar, but all the players there, and they’ve done a very good job. I think they’ve done an outstanding job coaching. In our coaching world, there’s a lot of respect out there on what a good job they have done, and there’s a little bit of a different style of play. But, and I told some of our guys, it reminds me of some of the old days in the league and how people controlled the line of scrimmage and the run game, and then obviously, we have some of the spread stuff that colleges are doing, too. But, I think they’ve done a very good job of how they’re running the ball, and we have to do a good job on how we play defense.”

Given the way that the Ravens are playing, and given the way that you guys are playing, does this matchup not really resemble the one we saw in Week 5? (Childs Walker) “That was a tough game all the way down to the wire in overtime. The styles of play, there are still some similarities, but there will be some differences in this game just because of the players that are playing on both sides of the ball, and then what has been morphed into a little bit offensively about what they’re doing. But, defensively, they’ve been so dominant there in Baltimore, and their special teams are dominant, and then offensively, they’ve been doing a great job controlling the line of scrimmage. We’re going to have to make sure that we’re all ready to roll on all three phases.”

A lot of people, when they see QB Lamar Jackson, they make the comparison to QB Michael Vick. As someone who went against Michael Vick as well, and Lamar, do you think that’s a fair comparison? (Jamison Hensley) “There are some things out there, but I’ve gone against lots of different quarterbacks even this year that are running some of the same style of plays and stuff. There are quarterbacks in our league, and he has done a very good job doing what they want done.”

Given how many young players that you guys have who have played so well this season and especially recently, does that just create a lot of excitement around the team and the city? (Childs Walker) “Yes, I think it’s natural that they’ve been playing well. They’ve played hard here for a couple years that they’ve been together, but it’s always better when you win, and people are a lot happier that way. I think you feel like you’re putting in the time and energy, and you feel great about coming away with the win. Our guys have done a very good job of blocking out a lot of different things, and I’ve been really proud of how hard they’ve played and how fast they’ve grown.”

What do you feel is the biggest challenge – and when you’re looking at film and trying to get a defense to go against QB Lamar Jackson, what do you feel is the biggest challenge in that? (Jamison Hensley) “We have to play the line of scrimmage solid, and then we have to play the space plays. They do a good job of creating the space plays. I think [assistant head coach/tight ends coach] Greg Roman, that staff, Marty [Mornhinweg, offensive coordinator] and those guys, they do a really good job of their formation creations and stuff to try to run the play they always wanted to run but try to get your eyes to be all different directions and not recognize what they’re trying to do. And, I think they do a really good job with that. And then, they’re very physical, and we have to match the physicality of play.”

It seems like the focus on the outside sort of associates offensive creativity or complexity with the passing game. How complex and intricate is some of the running game stuff that the Ravens are doing, as far as blocking schemes and motions and pulls and all that kind of thing? (Adam Kilgore) “I think it’s very well-done, and right, wrong or indifferent is however you’re trying to advance the ball. And the thing that they’re doing is giving their team and that personnel package of people the best chance to advance the ball. And, defensively, we have to surround the ball, surround the formation, get it figured out. But, football is football and ‘find ball, see ball, get ball,’ and we have to do what we have to do to try to get the ball down and create some plays for our offense, and our defense has to do a good job of getting the ball back for our offense. And special teams, I think [the Ravens] have done a great job on special teams there for years, and they’re continuing to do that. We have to do a super job playing the total game of field position, fewer number of possessions in the game, play our special situations very well, and both teams have been doing that pretty well.”

If you had to point to the area where QB Baker Mayfield has made the most progress over the course of the season, what would that be? (Childs Walker) “I think he’s a good, young quarterback, and I think you’ll continue to see him grow from year to year to year. But, the biggest thing is that he’s shown everybody he belongs now, and I think the facets of his game, all areas of his game, have been very good. The longer you play, the faster you figure things out, and it’s harder to disguise, or it’s harder to surprise, quarterbacks with more time on task. And the best quarterbacks in the league already have the defense figured out before the ball is snapped. He’s done a very good job with that, and this will be a difficult task this week. This is a dominant defense. We’re going to have to understand all of those things, and he’s done a good job so far, and then this week will be another test.”

What’s the key to RB Nick Chubb being more productive these recent stretch of games versus earlier in the season? (Ed Lee) “I think he’s done a very good job of pressing the point of attack. I think he protects the ball very well, and again, it’s just more time on task and getting a feeling for the timing of the NFL game, and the timing of the schemes and the blocks and how we go about doing it. I think our offensive line has improved, improved, improved week by week, and typical, really good offensive lines, by the end of the year, they’re playing at their highest level. It takes a lot of time for the feel of combination blocks and gap blocks and man blocks and all those things that go on. When you start the start of the year out every year, there’s less contact than there used to be in training camps and everything, and it just takes a while for that thing to start fitting up. I think Nick has grown with our offensive line, and I think [offensive coordinator] Freddie Kitchens and his staff have done a good job of highlighting the things that he’s good at doing.”

Given the shift in Baltimore’s offense, is film from the matchup earlier in the season helpful to your defense to prepare? (Claire Kramer) “All that is. The matchup of a person, regardless of what the scheme is, is actually the ability level of the receiver, an offensive lineman, a fullback, a tight end. Those things don’t change. Once you get into actual playing, and the feel of the game, and the contact, and the feel of a block or the feel of things, all that kind of stuff will come on task during the game. But yes, each person should have a feel – a better feel – of the guy they’re going against, because they played against him once already.”

WR Breshad Perriman was drafted by the Ravens, and you guys ended up picking him up. How have you seen him develop? (Gabi DiPaula) “He’s done a very good job coming in here in a short amount of time, and his work ethic has been outstanding – how hard and how much he prepares in the meeting room before he ever goes out on the field. And then, he has practiced so hard, and he’s gained the confidence and trust of his coaches, and he’s gained the confidence and trust of his teammates, and most importantly, he’s gained the confidence and the trust of his quarterback. So, all that is earned, and he’s done a very good job of earning that trust.”

It’s obvious what the game means for Baltimore this week – if they win, they go to the playoffs. Being around Cleveland, what’s kind of your feel for what spoiling the Ravens’ season would mean to that city and the fanbase, given the history between the franchises? (Adam Kilgore) “The history is what it is, and I was back in the old AFC Central all those years. I was at the Houston Oilers during all of that time, so I understand that and have played against both the franchises quite a bit. But, our job right now is that every single time we go out to play, we go out to win, and one of the things we’ve talked about here is that we treat this like our playoff game. We wish we had more, but that goes back to we should have played better in some games earlier in the year. But right now, this is the only game we can control, and let’s go out and play this game like it’s our playoff game, and let’s make sure that people understand how hard we’re going to play each and every time. It’ll be a stepping stone into the next season, but we have to play this week. It’s the most important part of it – nothing else. Don’t look back, don’t look ahead. Play this week as well as you can.”

A broad, league-wide question here: You’ve been around for a long time. Do you notice more and more teams are comfortable and willing to run trick plays or gadget plays to the point where that’s just become a pretty standard part of a team’s offense? (Adam Kilgore) “With more of the spread-open offenses, I think that’s part of some things to try to slow down good defenses. Here, this is something that I’ve used my whole coaching career, is that when defensively, an offense has to use a trick play or some type of a gimmick play, they do that as a complement, because all the other stuff they’re trying to do hasn’t been very good. So, how do they get you to slow down? How do they get you and trick your eyes? You’re going to have to do something to slow down. Now, if they could just line up and hand it off and run it right down your throat, or line up and pass it to whoever they wanted to, then all that other stuff isn’t needed. So, we understand, defensively, those kinds of things are going to come up. And then now, can we be disciplined enough in our defensive understanding of how we play those space pays, or gimmick plays – and we call them gimmick plays – that come up that an offense uses to try to slow us down? It’s just part of our league right now, and we have to do it week-in and week-out.”

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