Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
Dean, it's kind of an obvious question, but how difficult was it for you guys to watch that tape? Guys kept talking about so many uncharacteristic things they did against the Raiders. (Jeff Zrebiec) "It was hard to watch that tape – for the players and for us as coaches. And when it all comes down to it, we … In the first game against Denver, we played with a lot of energy. We had very, very few missed tackles. We had very few penalties, and we had very few [issues] – and no big plays. In this last game, we did not play with energy. When you don't play with energy, you end up with six penalties, numerous missed tackles and several big plays, and that was the whole bottom line. For whatever reason, we didn't play with energy. The players are responsible for that and so are the coaches. It's up to us to get them to play with energy and play at a high level, and it's up to them as players to produce at a high level. It's all of us. It was a team effort in both the first game and a team effort in the second game, so we're all responsible for both."
When that happens, what do you as a coach do the following week to get them to play with energy? (Ryan Mink) "Sometimes we have to take the role of leaders, sometimes as coaches, and we have to do some things and just expedite the process a little bit and get them to play harder. Sometimes it's changing a little bit of the scheme, but it's not that. If it was changing the scheme, we wouldn't have played well in the first game. It's more about within the scheme. You can always let yourselves as coaches [ask], 'Did we do too much? Did we do too little? Did we do this? Did we do that?' We're always critiquing ourselves on the calls and our scheme. But the bottom line is you just have to go out and … The old saying for years and years and years [has been], 'You play like you practice,' and sometimes, maybe, we didn't practice as well last week as we should have."
Dean, third down [for the Ravens' defense] is, I think, like [ranked] No. 29 [in the league]. Obviously, it's two weeks. The rankings are what they are at this point. Not a whole lot in them, but still, not very good getting off of the field on third downs at the end of the Denver game and last week as well. Is there a theme involved with that, or is it just individual plays that they did things specifically well? (Pete Gilbert)"No, I think in the Denver game they did do some things that were pretty difficult for us. In this last game, I think it was all on us. We just didn't play very well. Like I said, I don't think … When you play with high energy and you play man coverage, you play tight man coverage. When you don't, then you don't play great tight coverage. It's just that simple. [It is the] same way with zone. It doesn't matter, even if you're in a zone coverage. When you're playing with a lot of energy, you break with the ball and you tackle and you do all those things. We had, several times – and same thing really, not in the Denver game, but in this last game – we had the guy on third-and-10, and we stopped it five yards, and we missed a tackle, and the guy gains 10 or 11 [yards]. We weren't breaking on the ball like we did in the first game [to] get them to throw the ball as a checkdown on third down-and-9 [yards]. And then we don't get up there, and we don't get it tackled. To me, it was just kind of the intensity of what we played, and it wasn't good. We're all responsible, and we have to make it better. [It is the] same way on third down."
Dean, missed tackles. I guess in the past – a few years ago – you would be able to go out here and actually practice some tackling. Is it more difficult these days when you would like to, maybe, practice a little of tackling and you're limited by rules? (Jamison Hensley) "Because of the pads situation and [CBA restrictions]? A little bit, but it has always been though, even for the last … Even 10 years ago, you did very few, little live tackling at this level, because you're playing … When you talk about four preseason games and 16 games, [that is] 20 games [that are] physical. You can't go out there and just beat the crap out of them all the time during the week, because you still have to play on Sunday, and you can't get those guys [hurt]. I think that's part of it, but the biggest thing in tackling is the speed in which you get there. If I'm trying to tackle you from this far away [at a longer distance], it's a lot different than if I'm trying to tackle you from this far away [at a shorter distance]. That's the truth. If you're late getting there, and you're not reacting, and you're really not running, and you're really not all-out, then it's going to be harder. That guy has a lot of space to tackle a guy. It's not hard to tackle a guy when I'm this far away [at a short distance]. To me, that's the part of tackling. It's not so much … If you watch, it's not so much … When you watch the film, [you are able to say], 'OK, we have a guy in our grasp, and all of a sudden he spun out.' It's more the guy has space to make a move on you and make you look bad. When you play zone [coverage] – when you play man [coverage] – you can't have that space. If you have that space, the offensive guy is going to win more than the defensive guy. And that was the case. In the first week, it wasn't the case. This last week, it was the case. It's not a matter of, 'OK, are we good, or are we bad?' We have to improve. We have to play like we played in the first week all the time. Every day, every practice, every game – that's the intensity we have to play with, and if we don't, it's our fault as coaches."
Dean, what have you seen from OLB Jason Babin to get him to a point where he's ready to contribute to the defense? (Luke Jones) "He didn't learn the defense, and it's hard to throw him in there last week when he just got there. You'd hate to put him in there and be in a situation where you call a defense, and he doesn't know what to do. That's not fair to him. I think he's … [Linebackers] coach [Ted] Monachino has spent time with him. He has been in all the meetings now for a week. He's a smart guy. He has been around football a lot. He's certainly getting there with our scheme, I think."
Just in terms of the pass rush, is it too simple to say the first game without OLB Terrell Suggs, that's the big reason why there wasn't much pressure or was it [that] Oakland was getting the ball out quick? What do you kind of attribute to that? (Garrett Downing) "Oakland was getting the ball out quick, but so did [Peyton] Manning. We knew going into both those games they were going to get the ball out quick. There isn't going to be any difference this week, either. Part of it was pass rush, but the other part of that is they work hand-in-hand. Because what happens is if you're playing zone [coverage] – or even if you're playing man [coverage] – if the quarterback … If you can't get him to hold the ball at all, I don't care what pass rush you have, it's not going to get there. You can manufacture pressures. OK, then you manufacture pressures, now you're putting the secondary even more on an island, because they're out there now one-on-one. I felt like in that last game, I didn't really feel like I could … Because I didn't feel we were playing with energy, that's the worst time to pressure, because it means you're not going to get there, and you're really not playing aggressive in the back end. I pressured a whole lot less in this last game than I did in the first game, and that was not my intent."
With the secondary, you traded for CB Will Davis and also have CB Rashaan Melvin coming back. Are those guys that you could see push for playing time? (Garrett Downing)"[They] have to. That's why they're here. That's why they're on the 53-man roster. If they weren't on the 53-man roster, you would never think of that. You're here to compete and get a job, either beat somebody out, give us depth, or whatever. [General manager and executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] and [head coach] John [Harbaugh] and [owner] Steve [Bisciotti] wouldn't have gone after Will Davis if we didn't think he could compete for a job, and we wouldn't have Rashaan here if we didn't think he could compete for a job."
Looking at Cincinnati, is it the same Cincinnati you've seen the last several years? A lot of the same players for sure. Do they look the same on tape? (Pete Gilbert) "Yes, there's a lot of continuity. [They are] playing at a high level. They have great skill. And that offensive line has been together – it seems like – forever. It seems like we just keep seeing the same guys over and over. They have the same [offensive] coordinator in Hue [Jackson]. They're playing at a very high level, and they have excellent, excellent talent – as good as anybody in the league."
Dean, how much of a challenge is it going to be with TE Tyler Eifert for your inside linebackers. RB Giovani Bernard is very good out of the backfield. They seem to have a lot of guys. (Jeff Zrebiec) "They have five guys when they want to. They can get five good ones out there in the pass route. It's always a challenge. It just happens to be this week it's probably even more of a challenge, just because of the running backs that they have. [Giovani] Bernard, he's a very fast, quick guy. He's a very explosive guy. He's a guy that can take it the distance on any one play. We know that about him, so we just have to do a good job of [containing him]. It's going to be a tremendous challenge."
Dean, as angry as you are about the performance [in Oakland], you don't feel any worse about the long-term prospects of the defense, it's an aberration? (Jeff Zrebiec)"No. I've been around a long time. [In] 2003, [the Patriots] opened up the season at New England with a 31-0 slashing by Buffalo, who we never lost to again. [They] went on that year to go 17-2 and win the Super Bowl. One game never defines you – good or bad. It didn't define us after Denver. It won't define us after Oakland."
Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman
WR Breshad Perriman was out there today – any thoughts? Obviously, nice to have him out there practicing. I don't know how much he was able to do for you guys, but that's a step in the right direction. (Pete Gilbert)"We're excited to see him. He had a helmet on and was working back into it. And we're hopeful he'll be back as soon as possible. It is, really, day-to-day, and it will be up to the doctors and the trainers to make that decision when he comes out."
Do you think he's in shape enough to – cardiovascularly – to be able to [play]? When he is fully … (Pete Gilbert)"I couldn't [speculate]. I know he has been working in there. There are ways to get your cardio in without doing the excessive running, but that's a day-to-day process between him and the guys getting him back to health, good health."
QB Joe Flacco has thrown more interceptions against the Bengals than any other team. That's probably not a surprise because it is a division opponent. Do you ever buy into the fact that there are some teams that might have a certain player's number? (Jamison Hensley)"I just buy into … We try to come out here every day and get better and try to improve at our jobs. So, I don't read into it or get into any of that stuff. We're just – every day – you're just trying to get better. And then you go to Sunday, and you're trying to be at your best."
Marc, last week the topic at this time was down-the-field shots. Were you pleased with how that worked out in the previous game? (Jeff Zrebiec)"You're not pleased, because we didn't convert the times that we needed to convert, and we didn't get things done. That's what you look at. We thought we stretched the field, and we try to do that each and every week if we can, both horizontally and vertically. We didn't do enough of it to … We didn't get enough done, offensively, to score enough to win, and that's really what we're focused on, is trying to get better at the things we didn't do as well as we did and continue to improve on things where we're doing pretty good at."
Even though you didn't hit on as many shots as you may have wanted, is that kind of what you want the offense to look like in terms of taking the shots? (Garrett Downing)"I think that every week you have to kind of measure the game as it comes to you. Some weeks you're going to do things that … You get things done because you think you can, and other times you try to go about it in other ways. And it is a continuity football game, anyway. It is not just about offense; it is about all three sides, and you're trying to do what's best for the team while still calling the plays. So, I just look at it as a week-to-week thing, and obviously as an offense, you want to score, No. 1, and you want to score every time you get the ball. That's a big part of it. You're not going to do that every time, but you're trying. Then you try to get at it any way you can to try to find weaknesses to get it done, and you try to probe and do things both in the running game and passing game to try to get that done."