Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
Can you talk about the season that P Sam Koch is having and start the Pro Bowl campaign early? (Ryan Mink) "I'd love to. Should we replay the tape from last year? (laughter) I have it memorized. (laughter) Sam is showing us this year all the things that he showed us last year. He's a unique punter. I said this a year ago, and I'll say it again: He's changing the way the game is going to be played. It's remarkable to me that more have not necessarily followed the lead. Perhaps that's an indication of how difficult it is to do what he's doing, because you don't see much of it – even from the highly-skilled professionals that we see on a weekly basis. Nobody else is doing this. He has shown the value of it if you look at our gross punt and our net punt numbers. He has shown the value of the skills that he has, and yet, we still don't see anybody else doing it. If they could do it, I can assure you they would. He has made it a lot of fun to coach football for those of us around him, because every day we go out there, and he has a new thought [about] something else that we want to try. [He asks,] 'How about from this field position? How about from this wind condition?' And it makes it really interesting. You can imagine that the golf analogies are used quite commonly with football, but this is the same thing. If you think about going out on the golf course when it's windy, it's a lot different. The lies are different. It's a lot different. He makes it a lot of fun to go to practice, because there's something he's thinking about how to use a particular shot on a particular day that it makes it interesting every day."
You've had a couple guys contribute as far as downfield coverage, kick and punt coverage, getting tackles, and WR Darren Waller is one of those guys. What does his loss mean? (Joe Platania) "We're going to miss Darren. He's a young player that when I first saw him in person … I saw his numbers. When I first saw him in person, I go, 'Yes, I like this,' because he's so long. (laughter) He's so fast. He's still – like a lot of wide receivers – he's still learning weekly [that] everything is new to him when playing defensive football, because he has grown up his whole life in a two-point stance and catching balls. But getting off a block and making tackles was something that he really hadn't had a lot experience with, and he was getting really good. It's going to be something we're going to have to overcome. We have other guys who are going to go in there, and they have to play just as well. But Darren has a brilliant future, in my mind. With his size and arm length and his speed and his strength and his willingness to learn, he'll be a good blocker and a good coverage guy. If he gets really good on offense, then we'll have to find somebody else like him."
**Is the key Sunday to kick the ball out of the end zone and out of WR/KR Jacoby Jones' hands? *(Kevin Richardson) *"Every week we line up we try to kick it out of the end zone, so that's not any different. The difference now, I think, is we're getting into November 1; it starts a different kind of football. The weather is going to be 60 degrees instead of 80 degrees. I don't know the gas theory like others, but [there is] the idea that the ball doesn't travel as well. It may not go out of the end zone, and we have to cover it. We know him well. We know Jacoby well, and we love him and respect him, and we're going to do everything we can to try to keep him in check."
I think head coach John Harbaugh said don't give WR/KR Jacoby Jones a crease. (Kevin Richardson)"Don't give him a crease. I've heard that this week from John! (laughter) A couple of times, as a matter of fact."
Without going into whether he has kept the job this week, because I know you wouldn't say that either way, what did you think of the fumble from WR/RS Jeremy Ross and what he showed after that with ball security? (Jon Meoli) "It was unfortunate. It's something we have been working so hard on. He has improved so much, in my view. I was just talking to the guys today, and they have been working after practice every time we have a return practice. The fundamentals fell down. It was simple as that. It's a skill like anything else, and in order to develop good skills, you have to have good practice habits. And he has been working at it. We're going to try to overcome that one mishap, and we don't want to have another one."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
With QB Philip Rivers coming back to town again after last year, how does last year's game play into preparation and motivation if at all? (Jon Meoli)"We played well until the very end. I think the last four minutes is when we really didn't pay well. We played well on defense up until then. We have to compete for 60 minutes. It's actually a good lesson for us for this year. Even though you hated [to lose to San Diego] last year, hopefully you can learn from watching last year's film, and say, 'We have to play a complete game.' [We] can't give up big plays, and we have to play for 60 minutes. One thing about Rivers is he is a very, very competitive player and a great quarterback. That's why they're No. 1 in the league on offense."
*As far as turnovers, this is something you emphasized through all OTAs, training camp. How surprised are you that you have four right now? *(Jamison Hensley) *"I'm disappointed that we are. I'm not surprised, because we haven't played aggressive enough at times to get the ball turned over. You get turnovers when you play really aggressive and not sometimes on your heels, and I think that's what we've done sometimes. That's why we've given up some big plays. I think we have to … If we start playing more aggressive and getting after things, then more turnovers will come. In OTAs, you can emphasize it all you want; you're not hitting anybody is the truth. Drills and all that stuff is great, but like I was telling them, the best drill is team – when you're actually going against somebody and not doing a drill. Drill always looks great. Everybody can do a drill. Everybody can't play. The best pass defense to practice is out here in seven-on-seven when there's no rush, and you have to cover everybody all the time, [and it is] not some simulated drill. That's live ball. We haven't created them. It's our fault. It's not whatever. We're the ones that have to create them. We have to be more aggressive in the way that we play. And that doesn't necessarily mean more aggressive [with] more pressures and stuff like that. I don't know how we could … We're pressuring 50 percent of the time right now. I don't know how we could go much more than that. I guess you could, but I couldn't sleep at night. *(laughter) But anyhow, we have to be more aggressive in everything that we do."
Is there a thought to that going hand-in-hand with not wanting to give up big plays that maybe in the back of their minds are not being as aggressive and not having those opportunities and to create turnovers? (Luke Jones) "You'd think that, and I suppose part of that's true. But I guess the way I would look at it from my standpoint is if that were true, then we wouldn't be giving up any big plays. I think we sometimes play cautious. I think, sometimes, playing cautious … Some if it's inexperience. Some of it's different guys at different spots. It's a lot of different things. But I think when you're not aggressive, you give up big plays, too, because you're playing tentative, and then all of a sudden the guy runs by you or whatever the case might be. We have to keep fighting it and fighting it and getting better and better and working harder at it. These guys work really hard in practice. I have absolutely … I don't think any of us have any complaints [about] the way we prepare and the way we do it. We have to take it to the field, and we need some success to feel good about ourselves. That's half the battle is feeling good about yourself. You have a tendency to play more aggressive when you really feel confident, and the only way you get confident is to do it, and that's what we need to do. We have to keep fighting it."
*Do you get a sense that if you get one [turnover], it will snowball, and maybe is it vice versa, that it's contagious – getting them or not getting them? (Pete Gilbert) *"Absolutely. I really feel like if we can get this thing rolled over that we can get on a roll. We're not a bad defensive football team. We're not. We give up big plays; that makes us bad. I'm saying both, but we should be about a 320-, 325-a-game [yards allowed] defense the way I look at it, which I don't know where that would put us, but it sure wouldn't be 25th. But it's the big plays like last week [with] the two big runs. That's 88 yards in those two runs, and all of a sudden you're giving up 330 to Arizona, who has been averaging well over 400. But we didn't [give up 400 yards]. I can say that all I want to, but until we do it, we're not a good defense until we quit giving up big plays. We're playing well at times is what I would say, but we have to play a complete game."
*OLB Courtney Upshaw was presented as one of the guys who was going to fill in for OLB Terrell Suggs, and he has had a bigger pass rush role this year, but it seems like with no sacks he's … He said he's focusing more on the run stopping than he did in the past. How have you seen his play this year? (Jon Meoli) *"We're asking him to do a lot of things. I think the other thing is it's hard to live up to [Terrell] Suggs' production and reputation. I think what happens is sometimes when a guy comes in for a guy like [that], everybody expects … He wasn't the same player when we drafted him. We knew what we were drafting – a run-stopper, No. 1 – and, yes [a player for] pass rush. We have a role for him along with Pernell [McPhee] last year that was his role, and now all of a sudden that role has changed, and he has had to do it for us. But [it is] not necessarily, maybe, the best role that I could really put him in if we had Suggs still here. In this defense, he has had to do some things and play a lot more snaps and do that kind of thing. Yes, we'd like to have more production. He'd like to have more production. But I'm not disappointed at all in the way Country Upshaw is playing."
DE Chris Canty's return seems … He got in the back making some plays, and he looked very fresh. How important was it to get him back, and is that, maybe as we talked about, he can be the contagious guy to make …* (Pete Gilbert)* "I hope so. I think it was great getting him back. It's not only getting him back. When you look at our defensive line and look at the youth, it's nice having a guy that's a veteran in there, because the rest of those guys are very young. It's not only his role on the field – which is evident – but it's also his role in the classroom and on the sideline and all those things that pay off, too. Whenever you lose veteran players, young guys are still looking for somebody to help them a little bit. When those guys are out, that's harder on them, but I think that's what Chris also gives us is a lot of leadership there on the D-line."
QB Philip Rivers seems like one of those quarterbacks who has more control over his offense than most guys. Does that make it harder to fool him or catch him off guard or disguise things? (Cliff Brown) "I think he's in complete control of his offense to be honest with you. You can talk about Peyton [Manning], and you can talk about [Tom] Brady, but I don't know that anybody controls the offense more than Rivers does. He does a lot. As he goes, I think their offense goes. Obviously, they're throwing the ball very, very well. He is a hard guy to fool. The thing about it is he's really, really a competitive guy. Brady is a lot more competitive than sometimes he appears to be in a shirt and tie. Rivers is a very, very competitive guy, so he always wants to have that last word. That makes it ever harder, because he's really going to do everything he can. We have to do a great job if we're disguising, to disguise. Sometimes, you can't. Sometimes you have to line up, and you have to play them. You aren't going to be perfect every time. Sometimes you have to play. You have to outplay the guy across from you."
Dean, on the flipside with QB Philip Rivers, is he a guy – because of that competitiveness, the volatile nature of him – is he a guy that if you can get to him you can shake him up more so than maybe anybody else? (Peter Schmuck) "I don't really see that too much. I really don't. I see a guy that's … Let me use a guy on our team that I think is like that – Steve Smith Sr. I used to tell our guys when we'd play Carolina, 'Don't make him mad. All you're going to do is make him play harder, and you're not going to like the results. Just leave him alone. Let him spin the ball and walk away.' I really think Rivers is a lot like that. I think the more you try to get in his face – the more you try to do any of that – I think he actually loves it. I think he thrives on it a little bit. I really have a ton of respect for him. I think he's a guy who will get in the defense's face, which I don't like. But I really have tremendous amount of respect for his competitiveness and how he plays."
CB Jimmy Smith is a guy who has high expectations, hasn't wanted to use coming off of the injury as an excuse. What have you seen from him so far this year? (Luke Jones) "Tentative. I think he has been tentative and not really letting it go. Whether that's the injury, whether it's not, I don't [know]. Only he can tell you that. But I haven't seen him quite be the ... What do I want to say? Productive player. It's more a lot of confidence in going up there and [to] really be aggressive. It's basically at the line of scrimmage, because he's a big guy, and when he gets his hands on you, he does a great job. I think sometimes he has been a little tentative, and I think he'll say that, too. Maybe it is the injury; I can't tell you. But we keep practicing, and I know he's working hard at it. It's not like he's not preparing and all that; he is. They all are."
How do you get CB Jimmy Smith out of that? What do you say to him? (Ryan Mink) "Keep playing. You have to go out there, and you have to practice it the same way. You can't be tentative in practice no matter who you're going up against on the scout team over there. You have to do it. I really do think it's like anything else. The only way you build confidence is you have good things happen to you in a football game. Once that happens, it's a lot easier."
Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman
Open statement:"I think what I'll do is I'll just start with an assessment of the last drive [at Arizona] to kind of give you some information on that from a coaching standpoint – from this coach's standpoint. We [went] into our last drive with one tight end, three wides and a back in the game. During that time, there were, I think, two instances where my beeper didn't go off or I didn't get the communication to Joe [Flacco]. I thought Joe did a really good job of getting things done. We didn't really lose much time in the transition because of Joe's ability to get us into a play and move the football. So, I thought that went really well. We got down there to about the 4-yard line. At that point in time, the clock was stopped, and I decided to flip personnel. [We] had a good play that I thought would work in that situation. I was a couple of ticks late, I think, getting it in. We came out of the huddle, and it was just not what we would want it to be, quite frankly, and that starts with me. Flipping the personnel, I think, diminished the value of what was a really good drive up to that point. In the last play of the game, I think Joe made a decision. He had a blitz, he knew he had to get rid of the ball, he had a great matchup, and we just didn't get it done. We weren't able to live for another down. That's how I see it – a really good execution under a very hectic situation. Flipping personnel at the end, which is something that – as I look back – I wish I would have just left the personnel in and got them in the huddle. I think that would have helped us dramatically, and, as I said, I think we had the right play in at the end and the right matchup. We just didn't get it done."
Just along that, QB Joe Flacco kind of talked about simplifying things. Is that really a function of communication difficulties and the noise and the headsets going out? (Garrett Downing)"Yes, I think the simplification comes in the flipping of the personnel on the last play, because we're about as simple as you can get moving down the field. We stay in the right personnel. We generally just go to a strong formation to the field. That's our normal routine, and we handled that well. And we got the clock … We moved the clock. We were under the time constraints and did a good job with that. So, I think part of that was simply, as I said, getting to a different personnel grouping, I think, diminished the value of the drive."
The overall production – either in the team results or the players' – but the overall production seems to be there. How do you assess this offense as you're entering the bye at the half-way point of the season? (Jon Meoli)"That's a tough one. I think that it's tough, and it's not tough. I think some of it is just being ourselves. We've had opportunities to make plays [and] haven't made them. We've had penalties at certain times, and we can clean that up. We have to clean that up. You saw it in the drive with [John] Urschel – the penalty on Urschel – but we completed the next pass, and we had offsetting penalties which took us back again. We were on the 22-[yard line] going the other way, and we weren't able to get it in. In fact, we backed up 20 yards and had to punt. So, those are things [with] our level of consistency. We've had good drives, productive drives, but on the other side of it, we've had a lot of three-and-outs. We have not been consistent offensively, and that's something we're shooting to do. [What we're] shooting for is to be more consistent drive-in and drive-out. We've had a lot of long drives, a lot of good drives, but we haven't been consistent in the continuity of our drives and getting the number of plays we need to run to find more explosive plays and get more good plays out of our offense. So, that's where we're working on, trying to get done."
Marc, how much tougher does it make it to have offensive success when you aren't hitting those big, chunk plays, when you oftentimes have to march 10, 12 plays in a drive to find the end zone? (Ryan Mink)"Offensively, the game is really about taking care of the football and how many explosive plays you have during the course of the game, and the games that we've had good success yardage-wise and scoring-wise, those explosive plays show up. It's evident to all of us that when we don't get that, we don't get the production, because we're not in the red zone as much as we need to be."
Marc, there was a lot of talk early in the season about QB Joe Flacco and you and four offensive coordinators in four years and all that. Is that process still ongoing? Are you guys there? Are you guys on the same page completely, or does that, in your experience, take more time than the first seven games? (Peter Schmuck)"I think Joe [Flacco] has really done a magnificent job of working hard with me and Marty [Mornhinweg], being new coaches in the room. I think he has really been outstanding in that regard, and I don't think the process ever stops; it's a growing process. You just look around the league, and you know the way offenses are developed. You see the more developed offenses and where they are relative to their staffs. And some are doing a great job early. There's no doubt about it, but I think we're always ongoing. But I think we're ascending. I don't think we're leveling off. I think as the weeks go on, we clean things up, we get to know each other better and the communication is very good. And we're just going to keep working on that in a positive fashion."
How did you pick G/C John Urschel as the guy who would end up catching a pass out of all your other options that you could have turned to, and could you see him getting another pass his way? (Ryan Mink)"John [Urschel] put an equation on the board that none of us knew the answer to. *(laughter) *So, he made a mathematical decision that he was the best guy for the job, and since we couldn't understand it, we just threw him out there and let him make the play. That's all I can say."
With so many options, not only a guy like WR Steve Smith Sr., TE Crockett Gillmore is emerging, RB Justin Forsett has improved. Those are the proven guys. Is it difficult mixing up and getting those guys in good positions consistently to make the plays they have versus giving defenses different looks and not getting predictable? (Jon Meoli) "I think what you're asking is, 'Is it – because they're the three guys – is it difficult to always find ways to get them the ball?'" *(Reporter: "Yes.") *"I don't think of it that way. I think it's challenging every week to paint a picture in a game plan format that enables everybody to feel like they're involved in what we're trying to get done, and obviously, you lean on those guys. They're the guys that have done it and been there, but you also have to force defenses to defend an entire field, vertically and horizontally. And if you lock into one or two guys, I think that hurts the overall effect of the offense. So, we have to keep pushing the young guys and the new guys to get better and make the most of their opportunities when they get a chance. When they do that, we're going to see tremendous results and productivity with our entire offense. It's going to help our football team dramatically."
What are you impressions of FB Kyle Juszczyk? It seems like you try to get him the ball early in games, (Jamison Hensley)"Yes, part of the thing is, we'd like to have him involved throughout the games, but at times, we've been in positions where we've had to go to more of a spread set and throwing the football and things like that. It hasn't been every week, but it certainly has been a number of times. We certainly do want him involved in the mix of personnel groupings and plays that we have, and so, that's why you see him out there. We think he's a very good football player, and he brings added value to our offense."
There was a lost five seconds at the end of the game there. The pre-snap count was at 18 seconds. The clock ran to 13, and they never put that five seconds back on. What kind of a challenge did that add to what you were trying to get accomplished there at the end? (Pete Gilbert)"You've got to measure how many plays you might have at the end, and certainly, not knowing that at the time and not seeing that at the time, would certainly be part of your considerations on what you could and could not do. You're certainly going to get yourself in another opportunity."
ILB C.J. Mosley
On how the defense can create more turnovers: Sometimes [it is about] being in the right position at the right time. Sometimes you get lucky. But what we have to do is stick with our technique and execute our plays, because at the end of the day, that's how you're going to win games – being in the right spot and doing your job."
On how the defense has not created turnovers recently, like his return for a touchdown after a forced fumble: "When you're losing like that, you don't really think about those kinds of plays. But at that time, it was a good play. [It was my] first touchdown, so yes, you get into that. But like I said, if we make plays and are in the right position, those kinds of turnovers happen. For us, we have to keep doing what we're doing, get off the field on third down, stop the run and be consistent on defense, and that time will come."
On whether the defense has played with a lack of aggressiveness: "You can say it was aggression. You can say technique or play-calling. You can point to a lot of things when you're losing, but what we do on the defense and as a unit and as a team is we keep our heads up, because we know what kind of team we are. We practice like we haven't lost a game, and I think that's the main thing. Guys keep the morale up, and we keep each other going, because it's just the middle of the season, and we have a long way to go. We have to make sure that we believe in each other and believe in our coaches."
On how difficult it has been to lose six games so far this season: "At any level, whether you're 5 years old playing in a league or playing in the NFL, you don't want to lose any games. But that's the nature of the NFL. You're going to lose some games, so it's just something you have to deal with. Like I just said, we're looking forward. We're not thinking about the losses, dwelling in the past, because it's the middle of the season, and we still can turn our season around and make it better than what it is. We have to keep executing our job and playing our game."
On what he has seen from QB Philip Rivers on film: "He's calling everything. If you watch the games or are watching him on film, he's making all the checks and making all the calls. For us, the main thing is going to be about disguising, because if he finds out what you're in, he's going to pick you off or set up the right play. He has some great wide receivers, great tight ends and great backs, so he has a great supporting cast around him. For us, it's all about talking to each other, communicating and playing good football."
On how optimistic he is about getting wins at home the rest of the season: "It's like a blessing in disguise. We had a tough start to the season being away [with] four games on the West Coast. You can put all the excuses in there, but we're not going to do that. We have a great advantage for these home games coming up, so we have to take full advantage of it, play our type of football on the Ravens' defense, [have the] offense get things going and the special teams keep grinding and making big plays. Once we get out there [and] the units are going good, we hope it's going to start a spark."
On how different it is to see a quarterback like QB Philip Rivers who is not afraid to get in a defender's face: "That's something you really don't see, so hopefully that's going to become a negative for him. Last year playing against him, that was my first time seeing a quarterback [like him]. He threw a pick to 'Buck' [Daryl Smith], and he walked up to 'Buck' and was talking smack to him. (laughter) That was a little funny, but it's the nature of the game. Guys are going to be competitive, and when we see that, hopefully we keep hitting them in the mouth and keep making plays on them for the game coming up."