Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
What's your reaction to getting the game ball on Sunday, your group? (Bo Smolka)"The special teams players got the game ball. It was really an honor to be a part of that. I'm very proud of them. They made a difference in that game, and they've played well in other games. It was really an honor to be a part of it, and our players are the ones making that happen. They're playing hard. They're practicing hard, and it's good to see them get that award."
What kind of skill set does RB Raheem Mostert bring to the return game? (Jon Meoli)"Raheem [Mostert] is really fast. You saw him play gunner in kickoff coverage. You'll see that when he's running downfield on kickoff coverage, he's right up there with Anthony Levine [Sr.], one of our faster players. The speed that he brings to the game was noticeable, and that game on Sunday, the rep that he played on gunner where he and Asa [Jackson] tackled Jacoby [Jones], he just ran away from the vice. He got free, and he just hit the gas. Speed kills, I guess, is the expression, and he has it. It's good to have him out there. He has been a very fast learner, too. I'm really impressed by how he has picked up what he do and why we do it. He's been a good student. That's why we were able to play him, and then when we put him in the game, and he made things happen."
Any reaction to K Justin Tucker's dance after the field goal that got quite a bit of attention? (Luke Jones)"I have no reaction whatsoever." *(laughter) (Reporter: "Have you seen it before?") *"I'm not sure what it was, so I'm really not sure if I've seen it before."
Jerry, what's the adjustment for CB/RS Asa Jackson – who, I think, in July – he was going to be a return guy, and now he's playing a different role as kind of the blocker? (Bo Smolka)"That's an interesting question, because Asa Jackson is dying to be the returner again. I shouldn't say 'dying.' That's probably not the right thing. He's anxious to be the returner again, but in the meantime, he's doing everything else at a very high level. You saw him block kicks the last two weeks. His gunner rep with Raheem [Mostert] was an outstanding rep. He blocked great on punt return for us. So, while he's not the returner, he's making the most of every opportunity he has in other areas, and I'm really excited about Asa in that regard."
Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman
Opening statement: "I'll begin by saying I think the victory all began when the guys got back here from Arizona, and we went to work. There was great focus during the week. We didn't practice at full speed. The guys got their energy back and worked hard all week to get the game plan and get things done. Offensively, some of the things that we're going to focus on are, No. 1, anytime – not really focus on – but anytime you lose a player, somebody has to come in and step up, and I think we had that. I think some guys really stepped up for Steve [Smith Sr.] and made plays. Certainly, Joe [Flacco] made the plays – we all saw that – extending plays and making good things happen. John [Urschel] went into the game, and we didn't anticipate we'd have the difficulty snapping the football that we had based on some of the things that we've done, so that was a big red flag for us that we have to do a better job of. That starts with me and making sure that we're ready to go in there at full speed and be able to make the kind of snaps necessary to make the plays. As we look at ourselves offensively, we sold ourselves short on some drives. We had some penalties that took us back, that forced us into field goals against a team that you really have to score touchdowns [against] with the kind of offense that they have. We're going to continue to try to remedy that – the little things that we're doing to stop ourselves and not continue drives. I think there's a big focus on that. On the other side of it, there's a lot of positive and encouraging things that came, certainly, out of the game – the way we played throughout, we finished, the way our guys overcame adversity, and certainly, the way Joe led the way by extending plays to both his right and left and making plays on the run and guys coming up with a catch overall and even overcoming at the end the finishing drive. The last drive, we had to overcome a mistake there, and we did. [We] were able to put our team in a position to kick the field goal. We're making a lot of corrections – No. 1, from the game. This gives us a week to take a deep breath in terms of where we are offensively. We'll look at ourselves closely. We'll self-scout ourselves and tendency ourselves and look at the things we want to continue to move forward with, the things that we want to work on a little bit more and things we're going to get out of the offense that we really haven't used to the amount and time on task that we've put into it. We'll do that, and we'll look around the league, and we'll see what's going on around the league and see what some of the teams that have done very well in certain special situation areas are doing. We'll put that up against what we're doing, and we'll come to some conclusions on how to move forward."
You clearly never want to lose WR Steve Smith Sr., but the timing of this right before the bye week, does that help? Not that you're completely going to revamp the offense, but clearly adjustments need to be made. (Luke Jones)"I think it does. No. 1, it allows us to take a deep breath and really take into consideration the loss of Steve and what he means to our locker room and what he means to our football team, and certainly, offensively. He's a dynamic player and a very productive player. It gives us a chance to think through the process of personnel groupings and how we're going to utilize our guys during the course the game. That certainly is a blessing to have the week to take a deep breath and sort through all that."
You said a lot during the offseason – leading up to the season – that the running game was going to be the calling card of this team. It seems like a lot of times game situations have taken you away from being able to do that. Do you still see that as the case that that's the thing you guys do best? (Jon Meoli) "I do. I look at the first 25 plays or so of the Arizona game where we were able to mix the run in and be reasonably productive. And then at the end of the game last week, we had some reasonable production to at least mix the run and the pass and take some of the pass rush out of the game. We're certainly not where we [want to be]. There was a point about four weeks ago when we thought we were moving in the right direction. We had a couple of very, very productive games running the football, and then it diminished. Sometimes that's game situations. I can't be too specific with that, because it's in the past, but we're always working to get better. That will be one of our projects this week is to take a look at what we're doing running the football, time on task in terms of the amount of runs we're using. We don't run a lot of different runs – we're more formation than types – but we're going to take a good, hard look at everything. Certainly, we want to be more productive and get more out of … It's not how many times we run, but it's the production we have when we're running the football, and we want to do better."
**Were the Chargers loading the box to very aggressively take away the run and challenge the wide receivers to beat them? What were they doing? *(Ryan Mink) *"I think there was, certainly, a lot of what I would call run-blitzes that they were running early on. There was a lot of bump-and-run, a lot of physical play outside. Our guys did a good job of winning, and again, Joe extending plays to allow guys to get open. That's certainly part of it, but with each and every team you play, really, their No. 1 priority is always to stop the run and get you in a third-and-long. That never changes, so we have to find a way to counteract that and continue to run the ball and balance our attack as much as we can. Most importantly, we have to convert on third down, and that's a big part of what we did a little better last week. We have to do a little bit better on third-and-the shorter distances to be able to get our percentages up much higher and get to roll over plays. That's where you can run the ball and mix the run and the pass."
Head coach John Harbaugh was asked yesterday about the young tight end group, and he said whether WR Steve Smith Sr. was injured or not they were going to be a bigger part of the offense in the second half. Is that something you see as well? (Jon Meoli)"I think we have to really work toward that. We have some young, talented guys that we're developing and working hard to get better. We certainly see moments of that showing up throughout the game, and we want to do it in a more consistent level. We're going to need the production at that position."
**Do you see WR Chris Givens becoming more comfortable in this offense as far as his grasp of it, and how much does that speed element help maybe that you didn't have at the start of the season? *(Luke Jones) *"You can see the production he had with the time he played during the course of the game. The back-shoulder throw that Joe [Flacco] gave him on a go-route, and then the go-route itself on the audible, was as big a production as we had on two specific plays. We're looking for that. He's a smart young man – really good at picking things up. That was a very good sign for us that Joe felt comfortable choosing him to throw a go-route to the right side of the field and then the back-shoulder throw on the go-route. That's a good sign, and we're optimistic that we can use that as a platform in the second half of the season."
Without WR Steve Smith Sr., do you see QB Joe Flacco having to take it almost to another level without his top receiver for the rest of the season? (Ryan Mink) "I think we all feel that Joe played very well, played winning football. He took care of the football. He made plays when he had to make plays. That's part of what he expects of himself. But I think that when things like this happen, the best way to go is [for] everybody to take it upon themselves to take some of that weight, and everybody carries a little bit more weight across the whole scheme of what we're doing offensively and try to pick up for the loss of Steve as opposed to one individual player trying to take it all on himself. Joe is the quarterback of our football team, and he understands the responsibility and what goes with that. But it's certainly all of our responsibility – coaches and players alike – to make sure that we take on some of that load as well, and that's what we try to do here is try to do it together."
Wide Receivers Coach Bobby Engram
Bobby, you obviously have a pretty young group of receivers. How tough was it for you personally and for your position group to see WR Steve Smith Sr. go down? (Luke Jones) "It's very difficult for the group and this team and this organization to see a guy like Steve go down. You feel for him and this situation, but he's strong, has a lot of support. As far as football goes, we have young guys that are excited and should be looking forward to this opportunity."
I'm not sure if you guys have had your position meeting for the first time today of if it was yesterday, but what was the vibe in the room knowing that you're not going to have WR Steve Smith Sr. back for the rest of the year? (Jon Meoli) "We met briefly and watched the game, and the vibe was great. After a win, it's always pretty good, but [it was also] obviously bittersweet with the injury to Steve. Guys have a ton of respect for him, what he has done on the field and getting to know him over the course of the last year-and-a-half off the field. It was good, but tempered."
Bobby, how hard is it to get guys either through or off the street and plug them in and play them immediately? People talk about chemistry and getting accustomed to QB Joe Flacco. How hard is that to accomplish in season? (Brett Hollander) "I think it depends on the individual guy that you bring in here. How much is he willing to study, how well can I get him caught up, what are his strengths, his weaknesses? I think each individual case is different."
Is there going to be more from WR Chris Givens in the coming weeks? It seems like he is developing a good chemistry with QB Joe Flacco. (Garrett Downing) "Yes, and Chris is one of those guys that came in and absorbed the playbook right away, and you saw him on the field. I think the first game he had almost 30 snaps and had a little bit of a setback, but he's getting ready where we're going to need him more. That was a great play – a couple of really big plays – that he made in this past game. The check that we hit him down the field on and the back-shoulder catch was a great adjustment on the ball. Yes, we're going to need him to step up and help us out."
When you look at WR Marlon Brown right now, is that mental, is it pressing? When you see him drop balls consistently, what do you see? (Brett Hollander)"I don't know if I see him dropping consistently. I think he has had a couple of drops, as we all have at this position at times. Marlon has to keep working the fundamentals and get more opportunities. We have confidence in Marlon."
WR Kamar Aiken has had several huge games, but there have been games where he has been shut down, too. Have you stressed at all that those can't happen now that there's not WR Steve Smith Sr. to rely on and he's kind of the guy? (Jon Meoli) "It's not just on Kamar. It's on our entire offense. Obviously, receivers have to pick it up, but it shouldn't fall on any one guy. I think that's our approach in the room, and I know that will be our approach offensively."
How much is losing WR Steve Smith Sr. present a challenge to you in the classroom, losing all his years of experience? You can see it on the field and coaching up some of his teammates, but how much more of a challenge is that for you? (Luke Jones) "That's a great question. I'm not sure. I guess that's to be determined, but I'm looking forward to it. We have a group of guys that has been here now. They've been working, and they've been in the playbook, and they've been through training camp. So, there's not going to be a lot of learning going on. To me, it's about fundamentals, techniques, figuring out what each guy needs to work on to get better that can help him perform better on the field."
You said it's not on one guy, but usually everything in this organization falls on QB Joe Flacco. Everyone gives him credit for being so indiscriminate of where he gives the ball out – he doesn't care who his receiver is, he's going to play. How is he going to help this team with the wide receiver situation? (Jon Meoli) "I think you saw it on Sunday. Joe really stepped up and made some big-time throws. I thought he really moved well when he had to scramble and made some throws on the run. Joe is calm. He's a leader, and he needs to continue to do what he's doing, and it's up to us to help him out and make plays."
Bobby, do you get a sense that the guys in your room want to prove that they can get it done without WR Steve Smith Sr.? (Garrett Downing)"I think anybody in this situation wants to go out and get that opportunity. I don't know if it's so much proving that they can do it without Steve, as here's the situation we've been presented with. To me, at the end of the day, it's about winning games, and that's what our focus will be – work hard, take care of our business and help this team, help this organization win football games."
**Bobby, clearly WR Breshad Perriman was a big part of the offseason plan – first-round pick. As his position coach, how frustrating has this year been for him? He goes down the first day of training camp and still hasn't been able to get back out. *(Luke Jones) *"I've been disappointed for Breshad, because he put in so much work and preparation to give himself that opportunity. It's unfortunate, but that's a part of this business that we take part in. Football, it's a physical sport, and sometimes these things happen. But he has been around [the facility]. He has been in the meetings. His spirits have been good, and we look forward to getting him healthy and getting him back."
What does that tell you about WR Breshad Perriman that he has hasn't really let this get him down at all? (Jon Meoli) "I think it's a growing process. I think he has been a little frustrated. I think he wants to be out there. He wants to compete. He wants to play. But at the same time, he realizes he has to go through this process and get himself healthy."
Defensive Backs Coach Chris Hewitt
With all the turnover you've had in the secondary – bringing CB Shareece Wright in, CB Kyle Arrington in and out, CB Will Davis – how difficult is it to get the consistency you guys have wanted so far? (Jon Meoli)"Well, obviously, it's difficult from the standpoint that you aren't going to be able to build the chemistry that you have with a certain group throughout training camp, throughout OTAs and having the same group out there. You're not going to have that same kind of chemistry where a safety is going to know what a corner is going to do; the corner knows what the safety is going to do. And all that stuff ties in hand in hand. When those guys work together, they know how to play with each other. So, it has been difficult. But I think bringing Shareece [Wright] in … Shareece has done a great job for a guy who comes in against San Francisco – a guy who was thinking he was only going to have to play 20 plays – and has to end up playing pretty much the whole game when Kyle [Arrington] gets hurt. So, I think Shareece has done a great job preparing himself in a four-day period to go out and go play a football game. I think he has done a great job."
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has talked a lot about the big plays kind of being at the top of the list of things the defense wants to improve. From a secondary standpoint, has there been a common thread, [such as] miscommunication? I know head coach John Harbaugh and Dean have talked a lot about technique. What is your overall assessment of some of the big plays that have been given up? (Luke Jones)"[We] can't have them, don't want them, don't need them. We've got to do a much better job of teaching those guys to have their eyes in the right place, making sure we're on the right landmarks and playing with that proper technique. That falls on me. That's my job to make sure that happens. We've given up a couple big plays in the last couple games, and we don't want it to become a common thread. But those guys are working hard to make sure that doesn't happen. What happens is, as a guy in the secondary, [when] you start giving up big plays, you start playing a little bit back on your heels and not *to *give up the big plays. And we've just got to get that aggressive mentality back into us and continue to play with great technique. But we're working on that, and [we will] continue to keep on working on that. We'll get it to the standpoint where we're a great secondary."
From a secondary standpoint, what do you see as a priority over the bye? (Garrett Downing)"The bye is – during this time right now is – to make sure that we're getting better with all those things we just talked about: making sure we're great with our eyes, landmarks and techniques. We're finding all those things when you go back and you look at everything that we've done over the first eight weeks. We've got to find out what we do well and what we don't do very well. Whatever we're doing good, we're going to continue to keep doing more of that, and whatever we're not doing very good at, it's time to throw it out. So, that's what we're working on right now and just continuing to keep on getting better over this bye week and taking a look at some young guys and make sure those guys are getting better and making sure the veteran players are getting better as well. [We are] trying to find that balance."
This has been a team that hasn't had an interception in five-and-a-half games almost. Is that something you can coach better? How can you change that? (Bo Smolka) "I don't know anything that could change that. The ball hasn't bounced our way. We haven't had the opportunities where the ball has come to us and come to our hands. We haven't had the opportunities, and the last thing that you want to do in the secondary is try to press to go make plays. The plays are going to come to you. What we do out here in practice is to make sure that when a play comes, we have to make them. We'll continue to keep pressing on that point [and] we're continuing to make plays in practice. What happens in practice will show up in the games."
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has said it and CB Jimmy Smith has said it, that when you play in the secondary, your one mistake is magnified even if you make one mistake. How difficult is it for you to balance telling the guys when they do make improvements versus you still had the 70-yard catch to WR Malcom Floyd. How do you balance the encouragement? (Jon Meoli)"You can't worry about the 70-yard catch in the flat, and you can't worry about the 70-yard touchdown. You have to move on to the next play. That's kind of that fine balance that you have to have playing in the secondary. You have to have a short-term memory. Those guys get paid, too. They make plays. Like you were talking about with Jimmy, yes, he's giving up a couple of plays, but the guy – if you watch the entire film – the guy has been dominating people. He has had some dominating plays. Has he had dominating games? No, but he has had dominating plays. The thing about him is look at what Jimmy has done. Two of the big plays have come on Jimmy. He has been the one that's letting them make the plays. I think he's continuing to keep on getting better as a player. He'll be the first to tell you that he wants to be better, and he has put a lot of weight on his shoulders and a lot of stress on himself to become that leader or that big-time playmaker that we need. He's doing a great job. I'm not pressing too much on Jimmy. Jimmy is doing a great job."
CB/RS Lardarius Webb's experience and versatility, how important is that to what you guys would like to do in the second half? How important is it that he stays healthy and be a part of things moving forward? (Cliff Brown) "We'll see how things shake out. As far as his versatility is concerned, he's a guy that can play inside, he can play corner, you can move him back and play some safety. There are a lot of things that Lardarius can do, and we'll continue to find out ways to use him and utilize his skill set."
Linebackers Coach Ted Monachino
Opening statement:"Good afternoon, everybody – huge win for our team on Sunday, and we got a chance to look at the tape yesterday with our eyes forward. [We are] looking forward to getting better in the bye week, looking forward to Jacksonville and going strong into the second half of the season. We are determined and we're focused on several things, but improving as a football team is No. 1 this week. We've got one more great day to move down the road further tomorrow, and I'm sure that our team will do that."
Ted, what have you seen from OLB Za'Darius Smith? In what ways has he grown over the course of the season? (Ryan Mink)"Za'Darius [Smith] is becoming more and more of a man for all seasons. He does more things now than he did six weeks ago. He can help us in coverage. He can help us in the under coverage. He can help us with the pass rush. He's becoming a better run player every week. What we've got to continue to do is keep pushing his reps up so we can get guys off the field and get them a break when they need it. But I see improvement in a lot of different ways, on a lot of different fronts, with Za'Darius."
Ted, it's always a next-man-up mentality, but how challenging has it been without OLB Terrell Suggs on the field, obviously, with the production, but even in the classroom with just the mental side of the game, too? (Luke Jones)"It's difficult, but these guys are professionals. And they've approached their work in the right way from the day they arrived here back in the spring, until we lost Terrell [Suggs] and beyond that. It's difficult, because from an emotion standpoint, he brings a lot to the room. From an experience and from a tempo standpoint, he brings a lot to the room. But we've just got a different group of guys now – not better or worse, different. And our approach in the classroom is that way. We've decided that we're going to build guys into what we need them to do role-wise and down-by-down, and that's where we are."
You've known OLB Terrell Suggs for as long as anybody around here. What was his reaction around when the injury happened and how have you seen him start to fight through it? (Jon Meoli)"You're right, I've known Terrell [Suggs] for a long time – all of it as his position coach, not as his family member, not as his parent. I think his comments to me after the injury were exactly what you would expect him to say to a position coach. He was very frustrated and disappointed. But he was focused, and he was determined, and he was enthusiastic about coming back again and coming back stronger than he was, even last time. I know that right now he's in the rehabilitation process. He's in the recovery process, even more than the rehab process. So, there will be a time when he reaches the rehab process, but right now, he has to take great care of that wound. He has to take great care of the lower leg, and when he gets to the point where he can get some range of motion, then that's what he'll start to focus on."
Have you been communicating with him throughout? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Absolutely. Yes, like I said, my relationship with him [Terrell Suggs] is such that I do communicate with him, because I am his position coach. I don't talk with him every day, every other day [or] three times a week. But, I do stay up to date on where he is and what he's doing in his process [of] recovery. I know this: Every time I talk to him, I can't get him off the phone. He misses being around his teammates. He wants to be here with us, but he is in a phase right now with that lower leg that he can't be. So, I do talk with him, and he's in a good place mentally. And I know he misses us and wants to be here with and fighting with his brothers."
How do you think OLB Elvis Dumervil has handled the increased role? During his first couple years in Baltimore, defensive coordinator Dean Pees was able to keep him on a little bit more of a pitch count, but he has become much more of a three-down linebacker because of the injury situation. (Luke Jones)"I think that's a great point. He [Elvis Dumervil] has [been more of a three-down player this year], but I do believe the majority of his career, he has been that [type of linebacker]. So, it's not a complete departure from anything he's used to. I think that Elvis, as a run defender, is improving. I think Elvis as a first- and second-down guy with some opportunity in the pass rush, I think that helps. We all recognize the fact that 55 reps is different than 35 reps for a guy that's a pass rusher, especially a high-effort pass rusher. We've got to continue to find ways to get Elvis singled, and when we can, he has to take advantage of those opportunities."
Coach, would it be fair or unfair to say that pass coverage from you guys hasn't been as, I don't know, good as you want it to be? And if that is true, what is it you guys feel like you want to try to tighten up? (Cliff Brown)"Being a guy that coaches in the front, I believe the best pass defense is a good pass rush, and those things work together. And right now, we're not getting it done on either end. I know that our secondary guys would cover a lot better if we could get the ball out of the quarterbacks hand much faster, and that's what our mission has been from the beginning. We've got to continue to create plays to overload protections and work on individual protectors in ways that they have a hard time handling. But I think that I would take – as a front guy, a guy that coaches in the pass rush – I look at that as my issue. My issue is to get the ball out of the quarterback's hand. My issue is to make sure that our secondary doesn't have to cover as long as they've had to cover. And that's where we have to go from here."
There was a lot of talk about OLB Courtney Upshaw once OLB Terrell Suggs went out, and he still doesn't have a sack. Is he still the same player that you guys have needed him to be the last couple years, even with the increased role? (Jon Meoli)"Absolutely. I think that, in the run game, you'll see that Courtney [Upshaw] is dominant on the edge of the run game. He would love to have more production as a pass rusher. We would all love for him to have more production as a pass rusher. Again, we've got combination of rush and coverage. We've got to find a way to tie those two things together better than what we have. He has had many effective rushes. He has hit the quarterback. He has pushed the quarterback off the spot. He has forced incompletions with pass rush. We just haven't had many productive rushes out of Courtney yet, and we're going to continue to grind with him. Like I said earlier about Za'Darius [Smith], we'll keep ramping his reps up and see if we can get him some work outside as well."