Opening statement:"[I] appreciate everybody being here. We just finished up the post-action work for the game yesterday. We're moving into the preparation for the next game against the [Arizona] Cardinals. We'll combine those two things over the next two days and then try to hit the ground running on Wednesday with a great practice. What questions do you have?"
Why has the Ravens defense been so consistent this season? (Jamison Hensley) "Well, we're doing a good job playing hard. Guys have been physical up front. I think we've done [a] pretty good job in terms of the tackle-to-tackle run game, consistently. We've controlled the perimeter stuff, generally. There's been some plays here and there – some screens. [The Lions] hit some screens yesterday that got some yards. We've kept the ball in the run game pretty much inside lately. The last couple of weeks, nothing's really bounced around us – that's big. We've kept the ball in front of us. [The] deep stuff has been in front of us. There hasn't been too much deep there up until now. We have to continue to keep building on that and keep looking for that. People are going to look for opportunities to get shots and big plays against us. [We] have to keep doing those kinds of things. Generally [we've been a] good, sound, hard-playing defense. I think our guys are doing a good job with that."
How pleased were you with how OLB Odafe Oweh played in the game after missing more than a month with an injury as well as the other outside linebackers? _(Luke Jones) _"[You're] exactly right. To add him in there … He's a guy that was champing at the bit to be right and be healthy. [He] came back, played hard, got a sack, was good against the run. Just another good player – a really good player, obviously. You want him to be [at] full strength. We have some other guys that are working their way back as well. [We're] always pulling for those guys to get back and be healthy and be ready to go."
What have you seen in DT Justin Madubuike's evolution this season to take that next step, and what is he doing differently? (Brian Wacker) "I think he's continued to grow ever since he's been here. He's always had a lot of upside, for sure. You would see the dominant plays here and there. He's just made more of those. He's more consistent making more dominant-type plays, whether it's run or pass. [He's] more explosive [and] more consistent with his technique – all those kind of things that you would expect as a player would grow and get better who works as hard as he does consistently. You'd expect his play to be more consistent, and I think that's what's happened."
Do you look at ILB Patrick Queen and ILB Roquan Smith bumping up their market value on a week-by-week basis as a good problem to have? (Childs Walker) "I'm not really thinking about guys' contracts right now. [I'm] thinking about the next game."
How did the decision to receive when you won the coin toss help ignite the offense, and how often have you chosen to take the ball after winning the toss? (Jerry Coleman) "We've done it from time to time. We've had a game or two where we planned on doing it this year, and we didn't win the [coin] toss. The wind games are ... A lot times the wind games are when you feel like you're going to want the wind in the fourth quarter in a close game. That's something that we've taken into consideration, but probably the added effect in this game was that we started off so hot on offense. The fact we were able to take the ball down the field the way we did was just … And, we were into the wind, so that was a big plus for us. I thought that made it an irrelevant point. You may have noticed in the third quarter, we chose to take the wind in the third quarter instead of waiting until the fourth quarter. We figured we'd want the wind and see if we could extend the lead at that point."
How have you seen the deep passing game evolve? (Noah Trister) "A lot of that stuff really came open a little more. We had some good little ideas there as far as scheme-wise, but if you run the ball well … We had really good protection, and so it gave us time to let some of those routes unfold. Some other games when we had some of those things called, it didn't quite have as much time. All those things go together. That's what you have to have to get the ball downfield."
The poise that QB Lamar Jackson showed in that touchdown pass to WR Nelson Agholor, what can you say about that?_ (Melissa Kim)_ "He really does have good pocket presence. He has a good feel in the pocket; he always has. Sometimes, it's almost too much. Sometimes, he'll really hold on to that that ball, and I think he trusts his guys – his linemen – to hold on for him. He's protecting the ball well in there for the most part in terms of … There's a balance between you want to protect the ball No. 1, no doubt about it, but you also want to extend plays and give guys a chance to become open, and then the ability to move – Lamar [Jackson] is obviously great at moving. And then also, I think he's sensing people around him even outside the pocket and then seeing the receivers downfield – that combination probably showed up yesterday as much as it ever has in terms of the playmaking."
Watching the players all week in practice, did you expect them to come out firing the way that they did all four quarters? (Cordell Woodland) "Yes. You always kind of do, and you're kind of disappointed when it doesn't happen when you practice the way you have. It just hasn't been one week of practice – they've been practicing that way pretty much all along. We haven't really had any practices where I felt like, 'Hey this was not a good practice.' Sometimes, you have to crack the whip a little bit, but with these guys, not really. It hasn't really been that way. They've kind of come out every practice and been ready to go. You just have to keep building on that and getting better. Every practice you should get better as the season goes on because you're better as a team. If you're locked in and focused, it should continue to improve and build on itself."
What are you seeing from CB Arthur Maulet?_ (Ryan Mink)_ "A very productive game by Arthur [Maulet], no question about it. He was all over the field. I felt like, [and] even, I told him this. I said, 'Dude, you're getting a little gassed at the end.' Because you know he's playing special teams, too, and he really was in on a lot of plays – run and pass, blitz, [and] he had a sack. So, he was really productive. [It's] great to see. He's fitting in really well with the defense."
With the fumble between the Lamar Jackson-to-Justice Hill exchange and each one they've had this year, has there been a different problem with each one or is this something that they need to work on? (Childs Walker) "It's been a different problem with each one, and it is a thing they need to work on. And you continue to do that, and we have a ball-handling offense. We have a lot of ball handling in our offense, more than most teams, so it's probably going to show up more than other teams, but that just means we have to be that much better at it and that much more aware of it. We want perfection in that area, and that's why he was so upset; we all were. I was just as upset because that's not something that we want to have. We want to be perfect in that area."
Who should get the most credit for bringing in the veteran players like OLB Jadeveon Clowney and OLB Kyle Van Noy?_ (Bo Smolka) "It's a team effort; it's always a team effort. Everybody deserves credit. Everybody deserves blame. That's your guys' area, that's what you do so well – assign blame and credit, give credit where credit is due." _(Laughter) "Eric [DeCosta's] done a great job. The scouts for sure are the ones that do that. They're the personnel guys. I say it all the time, and I'll say it again, I think we have the best in the business here, and it's all of it. It's contract stuff that I'm getting asked about contracts and getting asked about who we're looking at in June for the players and stuff like that. I'm just thinking about the Cardinals right now. So, I'm trying to keep it simple."
The guys on the team expressed how they weren't satisfied with the win. What does that say about where the team is mentally and emotionally right now? (Melissa Kim) "It says they're right where they should be, because how many games did, we play so far? Seven? Alright, seven, so that means we have 10 more in the regular season. So, we have a lot of work to do."
What did you guys see from WR Zay Flowers that allowed him to be so open in the first series yesterday? (Brian Wacker) "It's just a function of you never know what's going to happen. You never know who's going to be open. There are certain things that happened on each play. If we had the tape, we could probably go through it on each play and see why it may have happened, what coverage it was – different things happen on different plays."
WR Zay Flowers has seven straight games with at least 50 scrimmage yards. The only other guy to do that is WR Ja'Marr Chase since 1970. How would you describe his grasp of the offense for a guy who is seven games into his career?_ (Brian Wacker)_ "I would say for seven games in, yes, to your point, it's probably as good as it can be. [Zay Flowers] is really diligent. He's very smart, and yet, he's not anywhere near where he's going to be, in terms of understanding the offense. He's still learning. He's still figuring out where to line up; you saw it yesterday a few times. He's still learning the nuances of the routes. [Wide receivers coach] Greg [Lewis] does a great job with him. Greg Lewis and [assistant wide receivers coach] Keith Williams both do a great job with those guys, with all that. He's doing great, but he's going to get a lot better, and he needs to get better. I promise you, he's very determined to keep getting better. He's not thinking about that kind of a stat, which is very cool, but right now, he's just thinking about the Cardinals [game]."
When you watch the tape of the game again, what most impressed you about the offensive line? (Bo Smolka) "I thought the pass protection [was good]. That was a really good pass rushing group. They are [a] very physical group that was going to try to … Basically, it's a knock-back pass rush, try to constrict the pocket by closing the pocket on the quarterback [approach]. They had done it against everybody that they had played really well, and they really weren't able to do it, nearly as much, with our offensive line, so that was a big plus for us."
Other than buying time, did anything stand out to you from QB Lamar Jackson's passing game when you rewatched the film?_ (Jamison Hensley)_ "Yes. It all stood out. It's just a combination of things. It was the pass protection; that was a big part of it. I thought the guys ran routes super fast. When you look at the route running, you'll say, 'OK, someone came open, like maybe Zay [Flowers], or Odell [Beckham Jr.] or 'Bate' [Rashod Bateman] came open in a crossing route.' Well, usually, a lot of those times, I remember Zay running a post [route] out of there, or Mark [Andrews] running a rail [route], so [when] those routes are run with speed, that drains the coverage, and [so] here comes the crossing route across. Those are designs that you hope happen, but for those to happen, the guys who aren't getting the ball have to be running their routes really fast and really effectively to do that. That's not just … The ball could go to them, too, if the coverage doesn't drain out, [or] if the coverage jumps the crossing route. So, everybody just going full speed [and] as hard as they can, just trying to do things as right as they can [on] every play, just kind of adds up over time. Then, guys hopefully get open, and then the protection needs to hold up, and Lamar [Jackson] needs to see it. One time he came all the way back, and he hit 'Bate' to the right on a deep in [and] stop route. It was the fifth read in the progression. He A. had time to do it [and] B. he had the wherewithal [and] the understanding. He's good enough to get to his fifth read. That's pretty great."
In terms of QB Lamar Jackson's passing, it looked like there were a couple of times he was going to run but put the ball up in the air, one to RB Gus Edwards and one to WR Odell Beckham Jr. How much is his running ability the element that sets that whole thing up?_ (Garrett Downing) (sarcastically)_ "I've been working [really] hard with [Lamar Jackson] on that, myself, personally, with his running and then throwing late and seeing guys, so I'm really glad … I'm taking a lot of pride in that, myself, as a coach." (laughter) "No. That's just Lamar. That's Lamar. Being Lamar, it's just some of his innate talents. How he sees the game is pretty special."
Did you get any resolution on OLB Tyus Bowser after last week when he was talking to doctors?_ (Jeff Zrebiec) _"No. [There is] no resolution yet. [There is] no resolution yet."
Was RB Keaton Mitchell the only guy to get injured yesterday? Was that a severe hamstring injury? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, he was [the only guy], and it's not a severe hamstring [injury]. It will be week to week. It could ... [There's] an outside chance for this week. [It's] more possible for next week."
Your players almost unanimously expressed that they were unhappy with parts of their performance in their pursuit to perfection. When you look at the tape, what areas can you point to that you want to work on this week? (Kyle Barber) "The list is there. It really doesn't need to be publicized. We're working on stuff. It's football stuff. Everybody kind of has their thing, too. There's big-picture stuff. I have probably two really big ones that I'm thinking about right now, one on each side of the ball. Then, with that, there's kind of a filtering of things all the way across the board. It really is something that is just part of the process every week, though. The fact that our guys are bought into that and conscious of that on a day-to-day basis really makes me feel like they have a chance to really be successful. When you have a group of guys, players [or] people that think that way, and they're thinking [with a] growth mindset, they're thinking that way in terms of like, 'We can get better. I need to get better' [and are] embracing the imperfection, so to speak, that's a good thing."
You've coached QB Lamar Jackson for several years now. I know nothing surprises you when you watch him out there. But thinking back to that touchdown pass to WR Nelson Agholor – that play felt like it was going on forever – what were your emotions during that play? (Cordell Woodland) "The same as yours, probably, and all the fans. I'm like, 'I can't believe [Lamar Jackson] got flushed out of the pocket. Why wasn't the first route open? Or maybe the route wasn't run the right way somewhere,' and I'm mad. And then I'm thinking, 'Well Lamar is getting away,' and I'm thinking, 'Find somebody. Somebody get open.' And then the ball goes up, it's a touchdown, and I scream for joy – inside; I don't want anybody to see that. But it's the same. I will say this; in the red zone, especially – really everywhere – [from] a defensive perspective, the extended play is real. It's something that you have to actually prepare to stop. And the teams that do it better are the teams that are tougher to defend. So, the ability to defend those is big. The ability to extend plays and make plays after the first play doesn't quite work the way you want it to is a massive part of football. So, that's what happened on that play. It was an extended play; Lamar and Nelson [Agholor] did a great job with it. So, that's what you really … That's part of the … It's part of the planned-unplanned offense. So, it's planned to be unplanned sometimes, and then you hope your guys can make the most of it."
After your trip to London last week, now you're going out the other way to Arizona. Is travel fatigue real? And do you do anything different between now and the time you head to Arizona, because you know you're going to another time zone again? (Jamison Hensley) "It's all a state of mind. It's all a state of mind. It's real if you make it real. But we're going to go out there on Friday – like we always do on those west coast trips – and our guys will be ready to roll Sunday."
How about if you need to get the guys amped up to play a team that has just one win on the year? (Jerry Coleman) "Yes, I shouldn't have to [get them amped up]. All you've got to do is watch the tape, and you see how physical [the Cardinals] are, how tough they are, how competitive they are of a team. And if we haven't learned that by … If we have anybody on our team that doesn't understand how the NFL works, I'd be really disappointed. That's something that would really be a disappointment, and I don't think I'm going to be disappointed that way."
What do you see has been the improvement in your pass rush and allowed the team to lead the league in sacks? Have you been surprised by the play of OLB Kyle Van Noy? (Kyle Richardson) "Right, all good questions. [With] Kyle Van Noy, [I'm] not surprised, [because] I've seen it for so many years. [I'm] impressed. You get to be a little older, and they start saying you can't do it anymore, and Kyle does take that personally, by the way, and it's probably part of what fuels him; the same thing with 'J.D.' [Jadeveon] Clowney. To see those guys do that is really cool. But then you've got the young guys who people are questioning whether they can play, and they've got something to prove. I always appreciate players and coaches that feel like they have something to prove. And it all goes hand in hand, in terms of the sacks. Coverage is part of that; opportunity is part of that. Sometimes offense helps. [If] the offense gets the lead, [it] forces them to throw the ball more, and you get more opportunities. All those things kind of go together."
Yesterday after the game, you said that, that kind of win creates a vision of what your team can be. How important is it going forward for coaches to talk about yesterday's game or players to draw on yesterday's game, knowing how successful they can be on a single-game basis going forward? (Shawn Stepner) "Right. Well, it is important, because success does breed success. And confidence is kind of like, real confidence is based on having proven to yourself that you can actually do it. It's one thing to believe in yourself and know that the potential is there; it's another thing to get out there and sink a shot and know that you can. Once you … If you've ever been on the free throw line with the game on the line, like in sixth or seventh, eighth grade – whatever – and you had to make a shot, when you make it, you feel a little bit better about yourself, don't you? You know you can, because you did. So, that kind of is true for everything, and it's even true for NFL players at the highest level."