K Justin Tucker
Opening statement: "Hi, guys. I guess I'll start it off by saying, obviously, the result of last night's game was not what we were looking for in any regard. No matter how deep you get into the postseason, if you don't win the whole thing, it's disappointing. My individual performance last night was also disappointing to me, as well. But at the end of the day, I am really proud of this team [and] this organization [for] the way we battled through a lot of adversity this season. We came together as a team, as a family, and I couldn't be prouder to be associated with such a great group of men and women that make up the Baltimore Ravens. So, with that, I'll open it up for questions."
Many of us weren't there at the game. How bad were the winds? I don't know if you have a wind measuring [system] in your career, but was that the trickiest winds you've faced in your career? (Jamison Hensley) "On the field, the wind was definitely swirling around. It was pretty consistent, and then you'd get a sudden gust that made it quite difficult to kick the ball. I think it was quite apparent that it was difficult to get a ball to go where you wanted it to go – kicking or throwing the ball. Anytime you're putting the ball up in the air and subjecting it to the wind when it's that significant, it's simply just going to have an effect. Sometimes, you don't know what that effect will be. For what it's worth, I do everything that I can in pregame to figure out how the ball will track from the left hash, from the right hash, from certain distances [and] each direction of the field. It was just a really tough wind to figure out. I think what's even more frustrating is that when the ball leaves my foot, typically, I know in that instant whether or not the kick is going to be good. As soon as the ball left my foot on the two misses that I had last night, it was exactly that; I felt like the ball came off my foot really, really well, and the ball just didn't go through. At the end of the day, 'almost' doesn't cut it. Putting points on the board is important and failing to do so certainly had an impact on the game early on last night. So, I'll just leave it at that."
That kind of wind and those conditions, is it even something that you can practice for? Or do you just rely on your past experiences in different conditions and let it fly? (Shawn Stepner) "I think it's one of those things that we do everything we can in Owings Mills outside at practice every single day. We go outside and we work in the weather, whatever the weather may be. As specialists, we make it a point to go outside even when they rest of the team may be inside. Early on in the season, we'll go down to our own stadium to try to experience whatever conditions we may be facing on gamedays throughout the regular season. When you're trying to get a ball to go where you want it to in 15 [or] 20 miles [per] hour winds with gusts even higher, you ultimately just have to rely on technique and leg strength and just try to power the ball exactly where you want it to go. At a certain point, you just have to try to crush the ball and hope it works out well for you – that's basically what we tried to do last night. I've said this time and time again; we make kicks, and every once in a while, I happen to miss one. Last night, I happened to miss two. I frankly wouldn't have changed anything technically that I did on both of those field goal attempts, but that doesn't make me feel any better about not putting those points on the board early in the game, and certainly not better about failing to win the football game."
You've kicked in a lot of difficult conditions and windy conditions. Where would that rank? Was that the toughest wind, because of the unpredictability, that you've kicked in? (Ryan Mink) "I don't know if I'm necessarily interested in ranking how difficult the conditions were last night compared to any other game that we've played, because simply put, that's not important. What's important is finding a way to put the ball through the posts, regardless of the difficulty of the conditions that we're facing. I've said this before, but accountability is key. At the end of the day, my job is to make the kick – no matter what the circumstance. I just didn't do that last night. [I] thankfully kind of got it together and was able to power the ball on a shorter field goal attempt. But still … In a way I'll answer your question; it was very tough to kick a ball in that stadium last night."
Because of your success, the bar was set so high for you to the point where one miss and people are saying, "OK, what's wrong with Justin Tucker?" A more general question, what do you take from the season as a whole? You're a guy that's always working on your craft and trying to get better. How do you approach this offseason from an individual standpoint? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I appreciate you saying that and recognizing that what we do as specialists, we take it very seriously. It is our craft, and we work at it every single day. So, the season as a whole, over the next several weeks [and] months even, it'll be something that I will get a chance to reflect upon. I think, overall, as far as me kicking the ball goes, I think we did a good job consistently putting the ball through the posts when we needed to, for the most part. Our special teams [unit], I think, did an excellent job of stepping up in every single way. We had a kickoff coverage team that you look at the 10 guys – the five guys to the left and right of me kicking the ball – and this may have been the first time that I can remember that every single one of those guys would have been worthy of a double- or a triple-team. Guys were running their tails off [with] high effort, high focus [and] high level of execution. That's not just our kickoff team; that's every facet of our special teams. Guys came in locked in and ready to execute at a high level. I think a lot of credit going to [special teams coordinator] Chris Horton for getting us prepared through the week and [with] the unique circumstances [where] halfway through the season, we had to switch to doing everything like we're doing right now – over Zoom. When you're talking about the game of football and how close we all are and the camaraderie that we develop just by being in the same room together, the pandemic certainly made things difficult from that aspect. But all that considered, Chris, [special teams coach] Randy [Brown], [assistant special teams coach] T.J. [Weist] and 'Harbs' [head coach John Harbaugh] did a great job of getting us ready to go. So, what I would rather reflect upon over my own successes and or failures is how well we came together as a special teams unit [and] how well we came together as a team and battled through adversity throughout the season. This will certainly be a season that I think many of us will reflect upon and recognize as unique [and] difficult, but in a very strange way, highly rewarding."
Closing statement: "To all you guys covering the team, thanks for being flexible yourselves. I know doing Zoom calls from your cars and from your home offices has probably been interesting to say the least. I kind of miss you guys. So, have a great rest of your winter [and] spring. Hopefully, we'll get to catch up soon."
S Chuck Clark
You guys, defensively, had a very strong finish and played very well. With your defensive coordinator, Don "Wink" Martindale, how much has he helped this defense, and how much do you think this defense kind of reflected his personality in how you attacked offenses? (Jamison Hensley) "Our defense and how we played, definitely, very much so, represents his personality and the way we attack offenses. As far as you saying how he's helped us; he's done a good job of putting us all in the position to make plays from different positions, as well; whether it be 'PQ' [Patrick Queen] coming in and being a rookie and getting thrown out there in the fire – no OTAs [organized team activities], abbreviated training camp – being out there in the right spot to make plays; Calais [Campbell] coming in from a new defense – a veteran – and learning our defense and being able to get out there and flow smoothly with us. So, he's done a good job with that."
Obviously, during the season, you guys didn't want to dwell too much on the challenges with COVID-19, and the whole league was dealing with it. But now that the season is over, just how challenging was it going through that, and how different was this season? And looking ahead, how much are you looking forward to getting back to more of a football sense of normalcy? (Luke Jones) "It was very challenging. It was a day-in-and-day-out type of thing. It wasn't something that you could just think about here or there. It was a constant thing that was on our minds in everything that we did, whether we were at the facility or leaving and going home. We couldn't just go home and get gas or go to the store and not think about those things and try to protect our teammates and coaches so that we could get the chance to even play the next game. So, COVID-19 was a big challenge for us, but we did our best as a team to overcome it."
Obviously, you've been with this team for a good while now, and you guys have been right there on the cusp and been in the playoffs the last three years. What do you see as the next step for this team? (Garrett Downing) "The next step for us is just to finish. We've been there; we know what it's like to be there and get in a position and lose. The past three years, we've lost. The defense has been out there on the field, [with the opposing] offense in the victory formation, taking a knee; I think that's the worst feeling, honestly. But it's at this point, getting there and finishing. Like I said, we've been there, we know how it feels to get there, [and] how it feels to win when we get in there. We said it earlier; all the teams are going to go home feeling upset, unless you win that last one."
As you look at your defense – you're one of the leaders of this group – do you think there are areas where you guys need some pieces in the offseason, or are you pretty pleased with how this group is coming together, where you've got a good mix of veterans and young players? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I feel like we've got a good balance right now, but I don't know what's going to go on as far as guys signing elsewhere, guys coming in, draft picks – whatnot. I don't know about all that as far as personnel, right now. If we could have all the guys come back, that would be a perfect world, but it's the game of professional football, and contracts are up here and there, so we'll just see what comes."
Looking forward to this offseason, the fact that you just don't know when facilities will be open and how things are going to progress with the vaccine, how does that change your approach on this offseason? What's your mindset when you think about all that? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Me, personally, that's probably the main focus right now, because we don't know – as far as different guys are in different states; we've got guys in Arizona, California, Texas – what the guidelines are as far as being able to go and work with other guys and trainers and things of that nature. But me, personally, I feel that I can train on my own. I know what to do to make sure that my body feels good, that I'm able to come back and still be in top shape, top performance – be able to play – and I feel like that's the same with all my teammates, as well. It's really a bunch of unknowns. Nobody really knows. We could have a surge in coronavirus cases over the next couple weeks. It changes from day to day, so I really couldn't give you a true answer on that."
WR Marquise Brown
In the regular season, it seems like you guys, continually, as an offense, put up 20, 30, 40 points. In the postseason, things change, where it sometimes is a struggle to get points on the board. What do you think is the solution? What do you think changes, and what do you think needs to change for when you get into the postseason so you're just as dominant as in the regular season, as an offense, in general? (Jamison Hensley) "It's just the little details. We've got to just take that extra step forward to execute every drive. In the playoffs, every drive means something – points. It's about putting up points, field position, changing the field. If you don't put up points, change the field position. So, it's just the little things that you've just got to be on top of. And the best team who plays that day is going to win. There are no re-do's; there is no next game like in the regular season. So, that's really what it is."
I think you shared on Instagram about a week ago or so that you didn't have any more route limitations in terms of the type of stuff that you could run. Was that a gradual progression for you? Was that just lifted one day? And how did that help your game, in general? (Jonas Shaffer) "I never said that. I honestly don't know what you're talking about." (Reporter: "I think it was one of your trainers who put it on your [Instagram] Story.") "I probably didn't read it." (Reporter: "I guess, do you feel like you're able to run whatever route you want?") "Oh, yes. Yes. Compared to last year, I feel a lot more comfortable out there sticking and moving, and I'm very happy I get another chance, another offseason, to go out and get even more healthy. So, I'm excited about that."
In your mind, what else has to happen with this offense to extend further than what it is? What's missing from this offense, right now, that kept it from going further? (Bo Smolka) "What kept us from going further is just not executing. We've got to execute. We've got to pick up first downs. We've got to convert on third down. We've got to protect our quarterback. We've got to get open for our quarterback. We've got to make the right reads. So, it's a team effort. We've just got to execute, and we just didn't execute."
You played your best football in the second half of the season – two really strong playoff games. How much of that is a confidence booster that you feel like you can take into next year? (Garrett Downing) "I'm going to continue to be better myself. If I finished the playoff game not how I wanted to finish, it wasn't going to hurt my confidence, [and] it wasn't going to build it up. I know the type of player I want to be. I know what I want to do to help this team get to where it wants to be. So, that's enough motivation and confidence that I need."
A lot of people look at this offense and say you ran the ball better than anyone in the league, but the passing game is still kind of where it's growing and evolving. Do you look at it as you and QB Lamar Jackson, this offseason, continuing to build that chemistry to take this offense to the next level moving forward? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, of course. Whenever you're the No. 1 rushing [offense] and the [No. 32] passing [offense], that's not right. That's not balanced. So, we've got to find a way to balance our game. Even with our great rushing attack, we've got to be able to throw the ball, we've got to be able to move the ball through the air, and that's something that we're going to continue to work on and continue to try to implement into the offense more."
I have to ask you, have you been able to communicate with QB Lamar Jackson? How is he doing? And you know him better than anybody on this team; do you feel like how this season ended will be – for a lack of a better word – a motivating factor as you guys head into the offseason work? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, we had a long talk. I'm pretty sure … I know this for a fact; this offseason is going to be, probably, the best offseason, and we're going to go to work. And we're going to come back motivated and ready to go."
That long talk with QB Lamar Jackson, was that today? Yesterday? (Shawn Stepner) "Last night." (Reporter: "And do you know how he's feeling with the concussion, and his spirits?") "I haven't talked to him today, so I don't know how he's feeling today."
You had such a big offseason this past offseason – putting on weight and really refining your body. What are your goals for this upcoming offseason? (Ryan Mink) "This upcoming offseason is … I did a lot of training alone this [past] offseason. I want to train with my teammates. I want my teammates to be involved. I want us to have that chemistry, and stuff [when] we're on the field, we can do, we can add; and that's something I want to do – get all the guys together. And as much work we can do together, is good, if possible."
CB Marlon Humphrey
Your defensive coordinator Don 'Wink' Martindale, you know him very, very well. He has not been mentioned at all as far as head coaching candidates. Does that surprise you at all with what he has done with you guys? (Jamison Hensley) "I think it definitely has surprised me. Last year, I thought he had [gotten] some buzz. I thought with as many opportunities [that were] opening up, there would be some buzz this year. I think kind of it just dealing with … Not just this year, but last year, it seemed like he just had to do a lot with moving pieces around, changing up defenses; this guy moves down, and you kind of form the defense around him. It seemed like there have been a lot of guys been pushing and playing, pulling here and there. It seemed like we haven't really missed a beat when that happened. So, I think what he's been able to do as a play caller and all the different things of just keeping the guys [and] holding each other accountable, I think he has a lot of head coaching tendencies. So, it definitely surprised me that he hasn't gotten more interest."
You mentioned the different guys cycling in. How disappointing is it to have the season end like this with the secondary finally being healthy in quite some time? Obviously, you guys did a great job against QB Josh Allen and that passing game. (Luke Jones) "Yes, it was one of the … It seemed like it hadn't happened a lot – that we were all healthy and able to go. But it definitely sucked to go out like that. I thought we played well, but we definitely left a couple plays out there. You have to give the Bills credit; they have a pretty high-powered offense, a great quarterback and a couple great receivers. So, they played lights out. I thought we matched up well. We just were a few plays short."
We were talking with K Justin Tucker, and we asked him about looking back at the season as a whole, and he said that it was different and unique with everything that went on, but in a strange way, it was highly rewarding was what he said. Would you agree with that? When you look back on this 2020 season as a whole, what do you take away from it at the end of the season here? (Shawn Stepner) "I think this season was definitely different. From the testing every day to … At first, we were meeting so far apart at one point, you really couldn't even hear each other. So, Coach [John] Harbaugh had to get a microphone, and it was a lot of just crazy stuff. I think this just goes not for our team, but for all the guys in the League; there was a chance where you could've opted out for the safety of your family. All the guys that did play, it really is a testament to those guys, because a lot of people have high-risk people in their household. Even the guys that opted out, it was just a decision you made, and what you felt was best for your family. So, there was really no wrong decision. Kudos to the guys. I thought the NFL did a great job of having different protocols. Like the world is realizing with learning more about COVID[-19], we had to adjust. The world has had to adjust with different things and seeing things that do work and don't work, and it's been the same thing with the NFL. At one point, they thought that we could meet, and they were like, 'Space it out more' and then it went to, 'We should all be virtual.' So, it was very flexible in the league. So, hats off to the League and to us. I think even though the Ravens we do a lot of fun stuff, one thing I really miss is … Our team meetings are pretty fun. [Coach] Harbaugh comes in … Even after a loss, it's good to be around the guys. I did miss that this year, but even virtually, we were able to have some fun. [Justin] Tucker always does his plays of the week, singing thing. It was still [nice] to do it and have some fun via Zoom. It was alright, but this season was … I'm happy that hopefully, it won't be like this again. But it was beauty in the struggle, I'll say that. If I had to describe it, it was beauty in the struggle."
We talked to OLB Matthew Judon last night, and he kind of mentioned he didn't know what his future would hold and thanked the organization. What has he personally meant to you? I know that you have a close bond with a lot of your teammates, but it seems like him especially. What has he meant to this defense the past [five] years? (Aaron Kasinitz) "He's meant a lot to this defense. I think anytime you see a play, you're always going to see some guy running full speed giving his all with a lot of hustle. I think he's been a big voice to the defense, for sure. [He's] one of our top leaders, I think. It's a … You think you know [that] guys like him come around often, but I don't think they do. So, it's … Hopefully, we can figure it out, and he can stay with us. But he's meant a lot to me – him and his family. I'm pretty close with his wife, BreighAnn, and his children, Leo and Aniyah. So, it's definitely a relationship I see being lifelong. I'm hoping it can be a football relationship that can be on the same team for a while, too."
I know how competitive you guys are and how badly you guys want to win a championship. Do you feel like this year was a step in the right direction? Do you feel like you guys are really close? Also, what are your thoughts on what you guys need to finally get over the hump? (Cliff Brown) "I was sitting on the sideline talking to one of the guys. I was sitting there, and I was like, 'Even though we lost, this feels a lot better than last year's loss to the Titans in the Divisional Round.' When you look at it on the bright side, the biggest thing you want to do is get into the playoffs. I think that's the biggest thing, to get into the playoffs. To get to the Divisional Round twice, it's something to look at in a bright direction. I think we were really close. I thought we had the team to do it. I think we're just … Football is just so crazy; it's just a couple plays that can really make a big difference, and it'll go from there. Two years in the Divisional Round, [we're] one step away from the AFC [Championship] … I think we have a lot to build on. I know we have a lot of guys under contract that'll be back with us next year. So, as far as what we need going forward, I would say that if I knew the answer to that, I would be getting paid a lot of money – I'd be a GM and a player. (laughter) I usually let those decisions be up to [executive vice president and general manager Eric] DeCosta. I know one thing; I trust in him and [executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] and all of the guys we have. I know no matter what time of the year [and] how the season is going, they're always looking at different guys that can help us win ball games. So, I think … I know we have a lot of guys just ready to go that are still hungry for it. I think we have a lot to build on next year. I know we have the quarterback, the guy we need – that's a big key piece. I think that [if] we've got that, we can build off some pieces around that."
On that note, just how encouraging is it that you have the whole secondary coming back and CB Tavon Young coming off of injury? How encouraging is that? Second question, I saw you tweeted that you're rooting for the Buffalo Bills the rest of the way. Could you just explain why you feel that way? (Ryan Mink) "It feels good that the … I think the secondary is really key to winning ball games and knowing that I think just about everybody is coming back, like you said, is great. I can't wait to be on the field again with Tavon Young. I'm really excited about that. I know he'll come off the injury nice and strong. So, I'm really excited to be on the field with him. Jimmy [Smith] got signed back. It's crazy that … Jimmy's strengths, I think his numbers speak for itself when he's on the field [that] how many yards gained are really low when he's out there. 'MP' [Marcus Peters], you can never forget about him, and DeShon [Elliott] and Chuck [Clark]. Me and DeShon were talking yesterday or the day before, and we were both like, 'Man, let's go to All-Pro next year.' I feel like even though DeShon is in his third year, this kind of was his rookie year – he really was just getting his feet wet. And then, to the Bills, I told a lot of the [Bills'] players on the field … I was just like, 'Man, you guys have to go … Whether it's the Chiefs or the Browns, you guys have to at least,' I was assuming it was going to be the Chiefs, but I was like, 'Man, I really want you guys to beat the Chiefs,' because I felt like the Bills are a pretty classy organization. The players seemed all pretty classy and do things the right way, it seems like. I just would rather the team that took me out to win it all. I think they're a pretty good team, [and] they have a pretty good shot to do it. It seems like, shoot, I think I saw [Bradley] Bozeman tweet that they donated to his charity and donated to Lamar's [Jackson] charity. They're supposed to be sending me some buffalo wings, some authentic buffalo wings, apparently. So, we'll see what those are about. I did not know that wings came from Buffalo, which kind of makes sense, of course. So, yes – I'm rooting for them, for sure, to win it all."
As you're going into your fifth season, you talked a little bit about potential changes on the defense. You never know how free agency and things like that are going to go. Do you feel, at this point in your career, any added responsibility as a leader to help kind of lead the defense over the course of an offseason and going into the next year? (Garrett Downing) "Yes, I think that's a role that I could definitely pick up a little more – being more of a vocal leader for the team. I think this … I'm not sure how the Corona[virus] will affect the offseason, but I would love to, at least, at some point … I've already announced to a lot of the guys [that] I'm pulling up on everybody this offseason. I think bonding is something that's really big for any team. A lot of these successful teams I've been on, even going back to 'Bama [University of Alabama], we've really had a really great bond. I remember times at 'Bama when we were in the locker room an hour after practice just talking, just dancing and just hanging with the guys. I think having a good bond is something that's really key, and I think that's what the Ravens have. I think we already have a pretty good bond. So, I think this offseason, even before we get back altogether, it's going to be essential to get with some guys and train with some guys for a week here [and] just kind of get ahead of the game a little bit. So, I can definitely help with some things with that, but also, just being vocal. A couple times I was able to talk to the team, whether it was a couple times virtual, but I think doing things the right way, a lot of guys respect that – that's something I've come to know. It inspired me yesterday, one of my teammates told me … It's been tough, with Corona[virus] and COVID[-19] and all of that, to really be cool with and sometimes, guys get a little [unmotivated]. One of my teammates told me there was a time during training camp where he was kind of down, and he said that my energy is what kept him going. That was a heart-touching for me, for a guy to tell me that. I think that if I just keep doing what I'm doing, just doing things the right way, I think a lot of guys respect that."
You mentioned CB Tavon Young. Do you have a sense for just where he is in his recovery? I know you're not a natural slot cornerback, but with how you've grown there and maybe you'll move to outside cornerback when he returns, just what has that whole experience been for you and how has it helped your game? (Jonas Shaffer) "I've been seeing Tavon [Young]. He's been walking around. I'm not really [sure] how far he's come along, but I think he's right on stride. I know [head certified athletic trainer] Ron [Medlin] with our medical staff and [assistant certified athletic trainer] Collin [Francis] and all of the guys will definitely have him in his best condition. So, I trust in them to do a good job with that. Picking up the slot position has been interesting. I think I've said before, it's something I never thought I would play. But I think last year, they asked me if I could do it, and I've always been a big … Even if I'm not comfortable doing something, I'll try to do it, especially for the team. If they feel like that's the best option, then I'll make that sacrifice to do it. It's something I picked up. I've tried to become a natural at it. I'll keep kind of chopping at that [and] trying if I have to move there. Hopefully, Tavon comes back, and I won't have to be there anymore. But if so, it's whichever way my number is called, I'll come up to the task."
Closing statement: "I want to say thank you to [the media]. I know when you guys signed up for this, you didn't think you would be doing interviews virtually and all of this stuff. So, I appreciate you guys sticking with us all year. And shoot, let's … Hopefully, we'll go do the thing next year. Hopefully, I'll get to see your faces not through a screen, and you guys won't be in your homes all cozied up either. I look forward to seeing you guys next year."
G/C Patrick Mekari
Last night, with the snaps, did wind play a part in it? What was kind of the main factor in some of the snaps not being as accurate as usual? (Jamison Hensley) "Give the Bills fans credit; they got loud at times, and they got to a point that it was hard for us to hear the cadence, so we had to change to a silent count mid-game, and that's just something that I have to practice more [and] get more of a feel for. So, of course, I take full responsibility for that, and I will fix that."
It seemed like Buffalo was able to get a lot of pressure on QB Lamar Jackson, especially when he was dropping back to pass. What made them so effective with their rush last night? (Todd Karpovich) "I just think that they have a good defense. They played good on defense. They play hard, they play sound football. So, it just goes back to we had to do our job better. We played a good football team, and we just have to execute better on all levels. So, again, pressure on the quarterback falls on the offensive line, so we'll 'eat' that, and we have to grow from there. But they're a hell of a defense, and they played a great game."
Can you just talk about the difficulty of having to go to a silent count midway through the game and what kind of unique challenges that poses? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, it's tough. The snapping mechanics on that snap are different than a normal cadence or normal shotgun snap. So, again, that's just something I have to practice more during the week and get more of a feel for it. Again, I take full responsibility for that, of course. There is no one else who's at fault, and I will be better at that."
I know there were a limited number of fans at the game than normal. Was it louder than what you're used to dealing with, or was it just the fact of the matter that you've played in empty stadiums all year, and this was an adjustment that you didn't have to make earlier in the year because of no fans? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, it's a little bit of an adjustment. We knew there were going to be fans, and they did a great job of making noise, and that's just something that, again, I have to practice more and feel for more. But their fans got loud. Especially when we were in the red zone or we were backed up, they got loud, and we heard them. So, again, it's just an adjustment that we had to make, and I have to be better with the adjustment."
Can you talk about the team chemistry you guys had this year, and also what you think that means for the team moving forward to be able to bounce back from a disappointment like yesterday? (Cliff Brown) "Yes, we've got a young, hungry team that's hungry for success, that wants to get better every step of the way. And we faced a lot of trials and a lot of obstacles this year, but the one thing about this team is that we just kept pressing. We have a lot of smart, tough men in that locker room, and we play for one another. We're a family in there, and the one thing that brings people closer together more than anything, I feel, is suffering. So, I know every year that we face these hard times, we come back stronger than ever, and I'm excited to get to work in the offseason, and I'm excited for next year already. We're hungry, and we're young, and we're ready to go."
When you look at the numbers in the regular season, you're putting up 30, 40 points, and you look at the yards. And in the past few postseason games, it has been a struggle to even get to 20 points. Is there an explanation for that, or is there a different feel for that? The numbers just seem so drastically different from the regular season to the postseason. (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, when it comes down to it, we just had to execute better. There are a lot of things we could have done better on all levels. It falls on us. We just had to execute better, and when the time comes, when the moment comes, we've got to capitalize on it; and clearly, we didn't do that last night."
G/C Bradley Bozeman
What do you think needs to happen for the offense to really take everything that it has done in the regular season and apply it to the postseason? Because it looks like you put up good numbers – 20, 30, 40 points – in the regular season, and it has had trouble carrying over to the postseason. What do you think is the biggest problem in that? (Jamison Hensley) "Kind of like I talked about last week; it's about minimizing the mistakes and the pre-snap penalties and just all the things that we don't typically do. We did things we typically don't do in this past game. We're continuing to strive to be great in the postseason, and unfortunately, last night just wasn't our night."
My question is regarding QB Lamar Jackson. If you have talked to him today, how is he feeling? And if you haven't talked to him today, can you share anything from last night, from after the game, if you came across him? (Shawn Stepner) "Yes, I talked to Lamar [Jackson] last night. I didn't get a chance to talk to him today. He was upset. He was pissed off that we didn't get the win, we didn't do the things we needed to execute and get it done – that's the entire group; the offensive line, the running backs, the quarterbacks. The whole offense, we didn't do the things we needed to do last night to get the win. It's very unfortunate. We practiced all week and prepared and got ready. We just didn't execute and didn't get it done last night. Lamar, I think he's good. We had a good conversation last night. We're just going to move forward and see what happens. We can't change the past. And we're just going to continue to build on what we've done in the past and just continue to get better every week."
We just got off a Zoom with G/C Patrick Mekari, and he was talking a little bit about the crowd noise. Did that have an impact on you guys, even though there weren't a whole lot of people there? And what sort of challenge is that? I know snapping was kind of an issue at times last night. What do you attribute that to? Was that crowd noise a lot of it? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Which part?" (Reporter: "Just the penalties and the snaps.") "The crowd was like it was at full capacity. I couldn't hear the snap count, couldn't hear, really, anything going on. Even at guard, I was having trouble hearing the snap count. Lamar [Jackson] was trying to be loud, and it was as loud as max capacity, in my opinion. And the Bills Mafia, I guess they came together, and they cheered their butts off last night, and it was hard to hear. But we just have to do a better job preparing and going into those situations, and having the tools necessary that we needed to, to get the job done and get the snap count and the pre-snap penalties taken care of."
Have you been able to talk to T Ronnie Stanley much over text or anything like that to see how he's feeling? And just generally, are you excited to get to work with him and play next to him again in a couple months? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Yes, absolutely. Ronnie [Stanley] is doing well. He's just continuing to progress every day. The guy has got a great attitude, [and] he's in good spirits [as he] continues to get ready. And absolutely, we're ready for Ronnie to be back on the field and to be back and contribute to our offensive line. He's a great player and a great competitor, and I can't say enough good things about Ronnie."
Was it louder than you guys were expecting? And you guys have a lot of young offensive linemen and guys who stepped up this year. How much confidence do you have in those guys moving forward into next season? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, it was definitely one of the louder events of this year, for sure. I just want to say to our offensive line; our offensive line has done an amazing job. Our room has done an amazing job being ready, staying locked in [and] taking advantage of the opportunities that are presented to them. We had a lot of young guys step up this year and continue to grow and really contribute this year. Tyre Phillips was dealt a lot of adversity this year and continued to battle through and do a great job. Pat [Mekari] has played every position on the offensive line. Trystan [Colon-Castillo] came in and played in big games when we needed him. Ben Powers stepped up to the plate this year and absolutely balled out. Orlando [Brown Jr.] went from right [tackle] to left [tackle] and had an amazing year – had a Pro Bowl-level year. I know there are more people there who I'm missing, but everyone on our offensive line has stayed ready and stayed ready to go, and I really can't say enough about that – just to battle through adversity. Ronnie [Stanley] goes down early in the season, and just our guys' ability to adapt and to get in there and play their butts off, and to be ready for the opportunity and really make a name for themselves. So, I really can't say enough about our offensive line room. The way that they have handled this year, the way that they have continued to battle week in and week out, day in and day out, has been just very inspiring, to say the least."
FB/DL Patrick Ricard
Have you had any conversations with QB Lamar Jackson? What was it like … Could you sense how he was doing or his spirits or anything like that? (Jamison Hensley) "After the game, being in the locker room, everybody kind of has their way of going about a game like that – going around the locker room and saying hello to guys and just seeing how they're doing. There were a lot of guys around Lamar [Jackson]. I didn't really get an opportunity to really talk to him, but the sense was that he was upset. He got injured. I'm not exactly even sure what fully happened with Lamar, but it seems like he's OK and is doing alright right now. I saw him on the plane; he looked like he was doing alright. Of course, he's upset; he's a guy who holds himself to an extremely high standard. If he feels like there's anything that he might have done or let the team down in any way, he's going to feel that. I think a lot of guys were around him and letting him know that we have [his] back no matter what. I dapped him up a little bit. I didn't really say too much to him, because he's one of those guys where you don't want to say too much and get … I don't like to get in people's heads at all and say too much to anybody; I just kind of let them do what they do. But I have his back no matter what, for anything that happens."
You've been on the team now all three of the years that you all have made the playoffs and then fallen a little bit short. What do you see as kind of the biggest factor in terms of you guys trying to take that next step? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I mean, you can try to pinpoint anything, but there's a lot of things that are going on in the losses that we've had in the playoffs. Me personally, I just feel for the organization, the fans and everyone involved that supports us [and] roots for us. We've gone … Since I've been here, this is my fourth season; the first year, we didn't make [the playoffs]. Second year, [we were] one-and-done in the playoffs. Last year, [we had the] first round Bye, a great season and a disappointing loss. This year, we had ups and downs in the season, everyone counted us out towards the middle of the year, and we had this ride to make the playoffs. We had a great game against the Titans, and then we fall short again. I don't want to try to pinpoint what went wrong. There are multiple things that happened in all of those games. In this past game, I just feel for the City of Baltimore and everyone who supports us, because they root for us like crazy. I know it, and for us to fall short, I just feel for them. It's disappointing. Now, it's time for everyone on this team, the coaches and all the players, to self-reflect and try to get better, try to have a great offseason and come back this next season and just try to get over this hurdle and make it to the AFC Championship [game] and make it to the Super Bowl."
I was just wondering if you had a chance at all last night to chat with RB J.K. Dobbins. I know it had to be kind of tough the way he finished the season, but then to have the couple drops last night kind of end his rookie year that way. What do you see from him and how he'll build off of this? And did you have a chance to talk to him? (Ryan Mink) "After the game, when the clock hit zero, all the guys started to go out to the middle of the field. I was sitting next to Mark Andrews and just talking to him, and I look over to my right and I see J.K. [Dobbins] just sitting there with his head down by himself. I go over to him and I'm like, 'Hey, man. Listen, you had a phenomenal year. Your rookie year was amazing. You're going to have a great career. Let this hurt. This is supposed to hurt. Let it hurt.' I just said, 'Just work your butt off this offseason [and] get better. Just learn from everything you learned this year. You're a special player, man. You're going to have a great career. Just let this one hurt and just try to move on from it.' I mean, for him to start this year and kind of have … The touches were kind of spread across our offense and he was getting his touches here and there. But once he really started to get more touches in the game [and] started to get more confidence, we all started to see who J.K. Dobbins was. I think moving forward now for him, I think he has his foundation of, 'OK. I can be a great running back in this league, because I know that it's in me.' I think that if he has a great offseason and just learns from everything, he's just going to start taking off and just get better and better. I'm excited. I'm excited to block for him and be that duo together. So, [I'm] very excited for him – that's for sure."
This year was obviously pretty crazy for you guys, for the League and for everybody involved. When you look back on it, what's going to stand out to you? Is there anything in particular that you're really going to remember about this season? And as you go to the offseason, how do you look at that with just really more uncertainty on the horizon? (Andrew Gillis) "Looking at [last] offseason, we didn't even know if we were going to have an NFL season. So, I think that just overcoming all those obstacles we had; we didn't have OTAs this offseason, we had to do everything on Zoom, I had to make a gym in my basement to do my workouts and go drive to a local field just to run – it was insane. Everyone had their obstacles. The country – the whole world is in a pandemic, so everyone is dealing with things. For us to have a COVID[-19] outbreak in the middle of the season the way we did and overcome that, and have Zoom meetings at our houses … So many players and coaches had to sacrifice so much and be away from their families. I know a lot of guys haven't seen their families all season, because that was just part of the protocols; you just had to be away from a lot of people. [There] were a lot of sacrifices, a lot of craziness and a lot of uncertainties. I think now … People were getting their nose swabbed every single day for the last six months. So, it's been a crazy year, man. [It's been] one that no one saw coming, and I think the way the Ravens handled it was phenomenal. The way we did our offseason program … The outbreak was obviously unfortunate, but no one saw that coming. It's a crazy virus. It spreads like crazy. We all thought we were doing a great job with it. But at the end of the day, it's been a crazy year – that's for sure. This is a year to remember for everybody, regardless of what's going on. But I'm excited for this offseason to get better, and hopefully, we won't have another one of these crazy years again."
Every time a game like this happens, offensive coordinator Greg Roman attracts the critics. What would you say to the critics in defense of Greg Roman after that game? (Bo Smolka) "You have to look at the body of work that he's put in all year. We've had multiple injuries on our offensive line. We've had players [get] COVID[-19] and we were still competing with guys out. He's able to [work] with the players that are there and make the most of them, and really mold an offense around those guys and try to make the most of it and have a great gameplan. [In] the [Buffalo Bills] game, there are certain plays that just didn't go our way at all. It kind of changed the shape of the game and the way you have to call the game. You can't let one game, regardless of what happens, critique who you are; it has to be the whole season. For me for instance, I fumbled the ball my one carry that I had this year. You could say, 'OK, Pat had a terrible year,' but that was one play. For a coach, that's one game. They coach many games throughout the whole year. 'G-Ro' [offensive coordinator Greg Roman] is my guy. I wouldn't be here without him. I wouldn't be in the position that I am without him. I think he's a phenomenal coach. Hopefully, he's my coach for a long time."
Are you going to miss the nasal swabs [for daily COVID-19 testing] every day? (Jamison Hensley) "So, I, unfortunately, was one of those guys who tested positive for COVID-19 – on Thanksgiving. I had a great Thanksgiving, if anyone wanted to know. I haven't tested for COVID-19 since Thanksgiving, so it has been nice for me in that aspect. I haven't been cotton swabbed in the last two months now."
Usually, after a tough loss, you get together, have a team meeting and you kind of commiserate a little bit. How different was it this year? Was there a different kind of closure this year, just because I know a lot of it is more virtual than not? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, we usually get together as a team in the same room and just feel that energy of what just happened and kind of, the ride of the season, and get to see each other in person with all the players [and] all the coaches, [and] you meet with coaches one on one. We didn't get to do any of that. What we did was, we had a virtual team meeting. All the coaches talked, some players chimed in, then we broke off as offense and defense. And then, the tight ends – that's who I meet with – we're meeting tomorrow on Zoom. So, like I said, it's a different year. But yes, those meetings are always very difficult [and] kind of emotional for some players and coaches, but they're always needed. You always need to self-reflect. You kind of explain the year we had, the game we had, and just say, 'Time to move on. Let's get ready for the next season and prepare for the next offseason.'"