Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good to see you guys. Obviously, schedule-wise – to explain what we've been doing – we got back, I think, about 6, 6:30 on Tuesday morning. We gave the guys as much rest as they could get, encouraged them to get as much sleep as they could get over the course of 24-plus hours. [The players] got in here at 12:15 [p.m. today] and went to work, as far as installing and practicing. The coaches came right back and game-planned San Diego between then and now, so we're on our way toward San Diego at 1 o'clock [on Sunday]. As far as roster moves: Darren Waller had a pretty serious hamstring. It was a six-to-eight-week hamstring – and a really serious hamstring – so we decided at this point in time in the season it would be better to hold on to the roster spot. He went to IR [Injured Reserve], and we brought up De'Ondre Wesley, who's an offensive lineman. It gives us our ninth offensive lineman and gives us a little more depth in the offensive line, so we needed to do that."
Coming back from a Monday night that was far away, obviously, you lost a day, because it was a Monday. Do you feel like you almost lost two days because of the length of the trip? (Jamison Hensley) "I haven't done the math on how many days we lost. We've had to do this a few times, where we've been not only on a Monday night, [but it is a] road trip. We have experience with that and a Monday night road trip where we've been a long way away, which presents some challenges. So, we've tried to alter and tailor the schedule to get our guys back [and recovered]."
Because normally on Wednesdays, what time … You said you started at 12:15 [p.m.]. On a normal week, what [time would you start]? (Jamison Hensley) "A normal Wednesday is morning. Actually, we'd be in Tuesday. We work Tuesday afternoon, and then we'd be in Wednesday morning."
John, what were some of the problems you were having with blitzing the other night, and what have you done to correct them, and who's responsible for doing those things? (Mike Preston) "With blitzing? Blitzing … I'm not sure. Blitzing?" (Reporter: "Yes, they … Getting blitzes.") "Against us? Pressure?" (Reporter: "Yes.") "What specific situation are you thinking of? Help me out a little bit." (Reporter: "They blitzed a lot from the corner where your receivers were, tight ends and so forth.") "Are you talking pass or run? What situations?" *(Reporter: "Pass. Passing situations.") *"We got pressure. We got pressure in a four-man rush. We got pressure off the edge. One that comes to mind [where] – I'm thinking of situations off the top of my head – we got pressure one time on a field blitz where they brought four weak from the field. We changed the play, actually, to a boundary run – which is exactly what we wanted to do – but the way they were moving around, we ended up working for the backside, inside 'backer, and the defensive end just flattened it off the backside and got Justin [Forsett] in the backfield. That's a tough one, because of the safety moving. We're accounting for him, because he's there. On the snap – or right before the snap – he moved out. We would have loved to have gotten that blocking scheme back to the defensive end. Other than the other … I can't really … Specific protections – or specific hots – I can't really speak to, but those are things we work on all the time."
John, you guys haven't had a turnover in four games, or forced one, rather. Obviously, that's important and you have a -7 ratio. Without being obvious, does something have to change there for you guys to be successful? (Dave Ginsburg) "Absolutely. The turnover situation is standard operating procedure every single year, every single team. If you're down the way we are, you're not going to have too many wins. It's hard to overcome that. That's one more thing to overcome that has been too much for us to overcome. We actually were down two [turnovers] against Pittsburgh, and we won the game. We need to be on the plus side of that. That's very important. That means we don't turn it over, and that means we have to start getting some turnovers. We have not gotten enough turnovers. We have not gotten enough negative plays on defense. Those are two very critical areas for us."
Is there anything you can do to force a turnover? We talked about this in training camp – more blitzes, or I don't know. Is there anything? (Dave Ginsburg) "There are things we can do. We're blitzing a lot right now, and we want to keep blitzing a lot. There are things that you can do as far as … We work on picking up balls. We work on certain coverages that try to create situations where we fool the quarterback. At the end of the day, we've had a lot of them in our hands; we have to make the play on. [There have been] balls on the ground where we haven't gotten the ball. A lot of times they bounce right back; I think of two punt situations where they bounced right back into the returner's hands. If we play with great effort, if we run to the ball better than anyone else ever has in the history of the game … You find a way to have that kind of a mindset. You hit people as hard as they need to be hit. You strip. You're in position to do all of those things, because you're playing through your responsibility and your techniques, so you're in the right spot [and] good things happen. That's, to me … In any sport, that's what you try to do, and that's what we have to do a better job of."
John, I know a day later it doesn't make up for it, but were you OK with the explanation you got from the league on some of the controversial calls? Obviously, the one I'm thinking about is RB Chris Johnson's long run, and also, the G/T John Urschel play. (Jeff Zrebiec) "I was OK with the explanations I got, because they were what I expected to get. We'll see what happens. I'm looking forward to seeing how we are instructed to coach our players around the league based on those few things. I'm sure we'll get a video on Thursday about that, so we'll see how that goes and probably have a better feel for it at that point in time. But so far, it was pretty clear – at least from our standpoint – that it was what we talked about after the game."
At the end of the game, there was discussion about the lack of communication. I guess the electronics went out. The league handles that, right? Do they have to explain to you what happened? I guess second to that, is that something you can practice overcoming? What did you think of how you guys handled it? (Mark Viviano) "I think it was hard, because it was a very loud place at that point in time, so just talking to one another was incredibly challenging. Yelling, even signaling – even realizing that the phones [were out and] that we were struggling to get communication – was really tough. Where we had the most trouble was – when we were actually in the huddle – with the play clock. We ran the play clock all the way down, because you try to make the play clock – because you're in the huddle two or three times – then you realize at that point in time it's not going to get done, and then you have to get a play call in. And out of the huddle, sometimes they're a little more complex than they are when you go to the line, as far as being more than one-word calls. I thought Joe [Flacco] did a very good job when we were not huddling of not having a call, but making a call, because he has a list of two-minute calls that we practice all the time, and he did a great job of getting us in those calls and a great job of executing the calls. He got us down the field quickly, but it would have been quicker. We do a study on that. We look at how long it takes us to clock the ball, how long it takes us to get plays off – different types of play calls – and we compare them to league averages. We've been league average on those last two drives. That's not good enough. We want to be faster than that. I feel OK that it was league average under the circumstances with the phones going in and out and the crowd noise and all that, but we want to be way better than league average in those situations. We get more plays that way in that type of a situation. We'll continue to work on that, but there are things you do, as far as signaling plays and those kinds of things, that we do work on and that we need to be prepared for."
John, to clarify, QB Joe Flacco was making quite a few play calls on the last drive rather than getting signals from Marc Trestman? (Cliff Brown) "Yes, there was a combination of getting a signal, not getting a signal and calling a play that has already been game-planned that he's on the same page as Marc. That's part of what they do as a quarterback and a coach. I thought Joe did a heck of a job of handling it. It was chaotic, and I thought Joe did a great job of handling it."
When you look at the schedule a while back, you probably thought this might be a game that decided some playoff positioning. It is not, but is the incentive the same for both teams in that it's important to win regardless of record as it is? (Dave Ginsburg) "I agree with that last part of it. The first part of it, we're not making any assumptions about anything. We're going to go out there and play as well as we can possibly play, to the highest possible level that we can play. We expect to go out there and play at the highest possible level as well as any team in football. That's our goal every single week. We don't have to put caveats on it like you just did with a question, which is understandable – it's fine – but that's not for us to do. We're going to go out there and get after it. That's our plan."
You face QB Philip Rivers. He has the No. 1 offense and pass offense. Quite a challenge for your team, but one I'm sure you're eager to face. (Dave Ginsburg) "Philip Rivers has done a great job every single year, and he has always been a real challenge for us, like he is for everybody. They have big receivers – big targets – that he goes to. They have a big, physical offensive line. As far as pass protection, [they have] long-armed guys. Obviously, they have a young back who they want to see develop into their bell cow guy, and [Melvin Gordon has] that kind of ability. [They have] two other backs that are good receivers out of the backfield, two really good tight ends that are pass receivers and two other good blockers. They have a good stable of guys that they're working with. But you're right, it revolves around Philip Rivers."
Is there something that stands out about QB Philip Rivers when you watch him and when you see him on tape right now? (Jamison Hensley) "The first thing that jumps out to me is his handle of the offense. He has skills, certainly, but the thing that jumps out at you [is] he's basically running an offense where he's calling all the plays. He's lining up, he's motioning to the guy to try to determine zone [coverage], man [coverage] – determine what coverage it is – how many guys in the box, and then he basically calls a play. That's what you see certain guys do. Tom Brady does a lot of that. Peyton Manning has done a lot of that. [Rives] has been that kind of a quarterback for a long time, and that's how they're set up. He does a great job with that."
Is it nice not going to an airport this week and travel? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes. It will be good. It will be positive, yes."
John, do you guys need to take all the time that you have for a decision on TE Dennis Pitta. Is that something you want to take advantage of? You have, I guess, 20-day window. Is that going to be a situation where there are some hurdles still to go, so you guys are probably going to have to take all the time you have before making a decision? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I really don't know. It's up to Dennis. You guys saw him out here today in the pre-part of the practice when you guys were watching, so you got to see him move a little bit. But it really is up to Dennis at this point."
Any additional precautions on special teams with WR/KR Jacoby Jones on the other side now? Are you trying to avoid a home run? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, don't give him a crease! Do not give Jacoby Jones a crease. He knows how to hit it. He's fast, and I expect him to be bringing it out from 99.999 yards deep. He'll be rolling, so we better be rolling."
*Looking at their defense, you have a background as a DBs coach. CB Jason Verrett is a young corner. He said he's looking forward to the matchup with WR Steve Smith Sr. What are some of the things that you've seen from Jason Verrett that stand out to you? *(Turron Davenport) *"It's good to know that he is going to be matching Steve [Smith Sr.]. We did expect that, but we appreciate confirmation on that. *(laughter) Unless, of course, it's a smoke screen, but that would be expectation. (laughter) He's a really good athlete. He's a 5-10, 5-11 guy that runs under 4.4, and he has really good feet, body control, ball skills. That's what makes a good corner. He's a competitor, so it'll be a heck of a matchup to watch."
I know you probably haven't gotten a WR Breshad Perriman question in about three weeks. Is there any update on his status? (Jeff Zrebiec) "No, but I believe from what I'm hearing – and I talk to him every day – it does seem like there's progress being made. What does that mean? I don't know, and I'd hate to walk out there on that limb and say something about it, but I'm still hopeful. [We] have our fingers crossed. He hasn't been put on IR, yet, so that means we still have a shot."
QB Joe Flacco
On the incentive to win entering Week 8 given the Ravens' record:"This is our profession, so there's always incentive to go out there and play for brothers, your teammates, and have a sense of pride in what you're doing. At the end of the day, when you take the field on Sunday, your record is not in your head. You're trying to play well and do everybody and everything on that jersey the right way. That's what it comes down to when you're out there on the battlefield."
On the opportunity to mount momentum with a home stretch midway through the season:"Yes, we're close. It's tough to say that when you're 1-6 and not winning football games, obviously, but it will be good to be here at home; and we've got to go play well. We're still going to be playing teams that are tough, and we've got to come out and we've got to play well and continue to get better and better each week. I'm sure our fans are not particularly happy with our record and our position, but we've got to go out there, and we've got to play our best and go win a football game and another one and another one and another one. But it starts with the first one."
On if this has been one of the most frustrating stretches for him:"Well, it's just frustrating because you're not winning the game. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how it happens. It's frustrating. You go home, and you think about it. You think about it in the locker room, on the plane, on the bus, when you're at home. It's just the nature of what we do. We want to win football games, and we want the opportunity to win football games. When you're not able to do it, when you're not able to pull it through, then yes, you're going to think about it, and it's going to be frustrating. It's not going to be the easiest thing to deal with, but that's why we're the guys that do it. You have to be able to stand up to it and move on [and] gain something out of it, get better."
On if he questions himself more after failed late-game efforts to win close games:"No. No, we're going out there, and we're executing at a good level for a lot of the things. It's just little details, like I've said before, and I'm never going to question myself or question the guys around me. We're just going to look at each other and we're going to look in the mirror, and we're going to tell ourselves – I'm going to tell myself and tell everybody else – that we have to get better; I have to get better. But I'm not going to start questioning myself or anybody."
On if he feels that the offense has to play perfectly with a lack of big plays on offense and few turnovers forced on defense:"There is very little room for error, yes. You can't go out there and make mistakes, and you have to take advantage of every single drive. And because we're scoring the long way right now, that makes it even more difficult and puts more pressure on you to be on top of every single play. Every single play has huge weight in our game right now, and yes, that definitely makes it a little bit tougher. But it's just where we're at right now. We have to adapt and become better because of that, and we have to make those plays; and we haven't been able to."
On the issues that resulted from Arizona's blitzes:"I don't think we really had any issues with what they were bringing. They were hitting things quickly and happened to get to us. Yes, they were coming after us on our early downs and just happened to get on edges of people and find things. And then on third down, they had a couple looks that could be issues, but I don't really think they were at the end of the day. We should have been able to probably stand in there and get some things done with them."
On the headset communication issues against the Cardinals and what he can do to simplify things during a game:"That's something you've got to talk about with the coaches and things like that, but it wasn't so much throughout the course of the game. It was just in that last drive right there. We were just kind of out of control. We were fortunate to get down to where we did, and then, at the end of the day, you have to be able to overcome those things and put the ball in the end zone, which we did for a little bit. But we couldn't put the ball in the end zone, obviously. It's just tough. When you're out there and when you're going 100 miles an hour and the bullets are flying, you've got to be able to react quickly. And when you look at it, we just probably weren't quite quick enough. We had a penalty. The clock was running down on a couple other times, and it's not like we have a timeout to spare. We have to snap the ball and get the play off. I think we were just rushed and things were hectic, and I don't know the exact reason for that. But that's how it was."
On what allowed the blitz from S Tyrann Mathieu to be successful:"It was just a tough look, I guess, for our backs. They have a guy up on the 'A' gap on the right side of the center, our line is sliding that way, and Justin is over here. He's got both edges to look at. So, it makes it tough for him to be exactly where we need him on time. When he's hitting it as hard as he is – and I'm being [left] unprotected – it's really a good design by them, and it's a good play by him [Tyrann Mathieu] to hit it as hard as he was. When you have that, it's just tough. It's about reacting and playing the game and making a play, and sometimes they make a play. You have to deal with that, but you can't let it happen over and over again."
On the biggest key to finishing off games:"Well, yes, that's what I mean. We had the Denver game, where we had the opportunity in the end zone. We threw a pick, and we had this game, where we got all the way down there. The other games are a little bit different situations. Yes, we had opportunities to put the game away, but at times we either took the lead or tied the game up. You get the ball back with – San Francisco game – you get the ball back with a minute. It's tough to look at that game and say we didn't do what we wanted to do. We just didn't have enough time. We didn't leave ourselves enough time. We didn't play well enough throughout the course of the game. Overall, it's just the ability to [make a play] when the opportunity presents itself to you. We just haven't made the play. We've had a couple opportunities, and even there at the end of the day, you have two chances there. You have the chance that we took, and you should have one more. And they're going to come after you, and it's going to be one-on-one somewhere. We've got to make sure that we're a little bit better than we were."
On if he expects the home crowd to be just as supportive given the circumstances:"This is a great city, and I haven't had any other experience than that while being here. Obviously, throughout the course of games when you're not playing well and things like that, you can feel people get upset. It's just part of how it is. But in terms of a consistent basis and a game-to-game basis, I don't know anything else but Baltimore coming out and supporting their teams. So, I would definitely be surprised. But at the end of the day, these people and this city are entitled good football. And when you're not getting it, you can understand."
On if he ever gets into a flow and wants to be able to make the play calls during a game:"Well, listen, it's tough. When you have a huge play sheet and you're selecting from a million plays, it's tough to call a game in two-minute situations when you're not getting anything. You don't have a huge menu to select from out of two-minute, and as long as you know you're going to call stuff from the beginning of the play on, then it's not that tough. The hard part comes in when you're expecting something and you're not getting in anything, or you're not sure what you're getting and then you've got to make a call on the fly. And, like I said, we were able to overcome it for 70 yards. [We] just couldn't get the last little bit."
On throwing more off his back foot, if it's a fair criticism and if he needs to make corrections:"I would say there were times where, yes, I've been on my back foot where I wish I could stand in there strong and do a better job. And I probably could stand in there and do a better job, but at the same time, there are probably … It goes both ways. You feel a little [pressure], and you want to be able to get the throw off and buy enough time to get the throw off. There's a fine line between standing in there and being able to throw the ball versus standing in there because you were backing up because you didn't buy time – you weren't able to throw the ball. So yes, when you look back at film, there are a handful of throws – not all of them, but there are a handful of throws – where, yes, I wish I was more planted and threw a stronger ball. But I would say that is somewhat fair."
TE Crockett Gillmore
On if they are feeling the need to play perfect now on offense when marching down the field:"Our aspirations, the way we practice, we're striving for perfection every day. I don't feel there's any more sense of urgency from the beginning of the season to now. You're always chasing that goal. Obviously, it's football, and it's never going to happen [every time]. But your expectations and what we need to do [doesn't change]. If that's what we need to do to win, then we're going to have to pull it out that way."
On how much the team is looking forward to having a stretch of games at home and a bye week on the horizon:"It'll be huge to be back at M&T [Bank Stadium] with our crowd and let people deal with that. This will be, really, my first full game here, so I'm excited. The Ravens are a dominant team across the country, but at home, I think the numbers have shown with coach [John] Harbaugh and what he's done. So, we're very excited to be back."
On the challenges of playing a Monday night game out west, and if his body feels fully recovered from that trip:"We got our treatment yesterday and then we slept all day. That's all you can really do, is get your body back. We're getting ready to be home, and I think we're ready to go."
On how long he slept for:"I slept until right before meetings." (laughter)
On falling short in a lot of close games, and what QB Joe Flacco is like in the huddle when the game is coming down to the wire:"I don't think we've really had a bad game. I think this team, we carry ourselves well and we've done well. But like I said, we're all playing football; it's not going to be perfect. Really, it's next-play mentality. That's what the whole team has. It's really just, 'Make the next one.' And that's the kind of mentality you've got to have playing football, and if you don't, you're not going to be around very long."
On if he's seen any changes in QB Joe Flacco:"No. And you never will."
DT Brandon Williams
On how much he's looking forward to having the next three games at home:"Oh man, it's amazing. We're excited to come home and finally play in front of our fans, who are definitely going to be excited and loud this weekend. We're definitely excited for that – just to be at home, in our atmosphere, loud fans, crazy crowd and just getting after it, playing Raven football."
On how much some of the younger players are looking up to the veteran players to deal with the struggles of this season so far:"No one likes losing – that goes for the older guys and younger guys. It's mostly just keeping positive, keeping the negative comments away and just going at it in a positive manner, as in taking what you can from the past game, getting better at it and moving forward. There's no excuses, no pointing fingers, just getting your job done, doing your 1/11 to the best of your ability and continuing on to next Sunday."
On if he can talk about the food drive:"Another reason I'm here is to talk about the food drive. It's going to start this Sunday when we play against the Chargers. Our goal is to get 20,000 pounds of food, which is also going with our 20th year of being in Baltimore and being the Ravens. Also, at the game, there are volunteers at the gates who are going to take monetary donations and also canned foods to help out. It's near and dear to me, because I know how it feels to be that kid in high school who comes home after a long day at school or practice and open the fridge and there be nothing. So, either I'd have to go to a friend's house, or some days just kind of make something up myself and just try to work with what I've got. But it's definitely near and dear to my heart, so I encourage everyone to get out there and definitely give back, because there are people who have something and don't think they have anything, but there's also people who are worse off than you. Anything can help – a can, two cans, whatever, a dollar, anything. We're definitely looking for that. Also, on Twitter, we're doing #FeedTheFlock, to get out there and put the word out there and also [to help] do your part in the community. We're also doing our part here, doing an in-home [challenge] – I guess you could say a little duel, a little match – to see who can bring in the most money or bring in the most canned food, just to help the process along and help the cause."
On who he thinks is going to win the food drive challenge between the Ravens' staff and players:"Me. *(laughter) *I've got my heart in this thing, because I know how it feels. I'm definitely going to be going to the nearest Giant and getting some canned food, or whatever I can grab, and just bringing it on in – trash bag loads. I'm ready and pumped to get this underway."
On encouraging fans to bring food and other donations to the stadium on Sunday:"Anything helps for those people hurting way worse than we are, so anything helps. Like I said, a can, two cans, a few dollars, just anything. Reach out in your hearts and wallets to give anything you can. #FeedTheFlock – I'll be posting on Twitter throughout the week, just to remind you guys."
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS CONFERENCE CALL
Head Coach Mike McCoy
On getting WR Jacoby Jones more involved with the offense and where he can best contribute:"We always look week-in and week-out at how you attack a certain team and how you play a certain opponent. So, you put those plans together and have plans for each individual player. We're always going to look into that every week on how we can use certain players."
On the Ravens' homefield advantage and if he views M&T Bank Stadium as a hostile environment:"[It is] a great environment. From the very first time I went there in my Carolina days, they've got great energy, great fan support. It's a loud place, so you've got to do your best with the silent count, offensively, obviously. But it's a great environment on Sunday afternoon."
On the challenges presented by cross-country road games:"We're on an early schedule as it is here, starting [early]. So, we've been used to it. We've been on the same schedule traveling east since the first day we were here three years ago. I think our players have done an outstanding job of adjusting to the time changes and everything, and I think part of it helps that – the way we run our practices and start early in the mornings."
On if he is surprised by either teams' record entering Week 8:"I think both football teams, you look at the record enough, obviously, you thought your record was going to be different. But you know what? I know Coach [John Harbaugh] there and myself, we're trying to win this weekend. You can't worry about the past; you've got to move on to this week. So, that's what it's about all about. You go week to week in this business. This is the most important game of the year right now. You've got to put the past behind you. I'm sure that's exactly what they're talking about there, too."
On the added challenge of playing a team that hopes to make this game a turning point in their season:"It's like every other game. Every Sunday, you're going to try to win. You're trying to be 1-0 at the end of the week, and I think that's every football team. So, regardless of where it is in your schedule, you understand the importance of it and what you've got to do to try to win that weekend. You can't ... I know as our approach, we can't control anybody else. We've got to out there and play our best game to date this weekend. That's the way we're going to look at it, and I think that's the way most teams do look at that."
On having reliable, franchise quarterbacks such as QBs Philip Rivers and Joe Flacco:"There's nothing like having one of the elite quarterbacks on your football team that has been successful for a long time, won a lot of football games. [They are] great leaders, do it all for their football team. They do everything for the organization you ask them to do, and they're great leaders of the organization. So, we're both very fortunate to have players like that."
WR/KR Jacoby Jones
On if it was a surprise that he would not be returning to Baltimore to play in 2015:"I don't know. It's a business. I wasn't really paying attention. I was just going through my daily routine every day."
On if it is surprising to see the Ravens at 1-6 and the Chargers at 2-5:"The league is crazy this year. A lot of teams are playing ball. It's not like it's blowout games. It's games we lose by seven points, three points, a field goal here and there. You've got to finish the game."
On if he has followed the Ravens this season aside from film study:"I caught the Monday night game [and] Thursday night, but other than that, no, not really."
On how it will feel to return to M&T Bank Stadium:"It'll be cool. [It will] be great to see old fans, old friends. But, I'm coming there for [a win]. It's a job; it is. So, I'm coming to get a win."
On if he'd like to "break one" for a TD in his old home:"Duh, that would be lovely." *(laughter) (Reporter: "Is that something you've thought about in your mind leading up to this game, maybe? Is that something of revenge in your mind?") *"No, it's nothing like that. Every week I think about breaking a return, so it's not really about revenge or [anything] like that. I'm just coming to do my job."
On San Diego's passing attack against an injury-stricken Baltimore secondary:"It's everybody as a team. And after I saw what I saw, I'm pretty sure they've got guys that will step up and make plays. Philip [Rivers] is a conductor. He conducts the offense well. He knows what he's doing to put guys in the right spots."
On if he is frustrated with the struggling San Diego return game:"No, it's not frustrating. It's all about timing and connecting, getting the right kick. Everybody seems to be kicking away from us, kick us certain kicks, so you've got to be patient."
On if he could have still made an impact for Baltimore this season:"I don't know. I don't really look at it like that anymore, but I'm a Charger now."
On if he misses Baltimore at all:"Yes, of course. I thought they had great fans, great people, good food. I've got friends that I keep in contact with, so [it is] a good place."