THURSDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: WEEK 14 at CHIEFS
Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
Opening statement:"Good morning, everybody. First of all, I would like to start out … It's Dec. 6, and I want to wish all of you, and your families, a joyous holiday season. It is the season – along with the football season. Does anyone have a question?"
Kansas City has gotten a lot of attention all year for their offense. But do you think it's been underappreciated at how good they are at every aspect of special teams? _(Childs Walker) _"I don't think it's underappreciated by the people who pay attention to special teams. I think everybody that's watched them recognizes the performance by the Kansas City special teams. The thing that's remarkable is they're good at everything. Their return game is good, their coverage has been excellent, their field goal kicker is playing at a very high level, their punter has been doing exceptionally well, [and] they're limiting return yards on punt return like no one else in the league. To answer your question in a word: I don't think it goes underappreciated for those people who watch special teams – certainly not by us, no."
How do you deal with a guy like WR Tyreek Hill? How difficult of a decision is it to try to kick it away from him and maybe sacrifice field position? (Jeff Zrebiec) "If you have any suggestions, I'd be glad to listen." (Reporter: "Well, just trusting your guys to cover. Is that a tough call to make?") "It's something that we face in this league. There are skill players on every team. This particular team has an exceptional returner, but that's not the only thing that they possess. Their guys are doing a great job of blocking, and the scheme is excellent, so all those things put together, it is a great challenge. It is, as you said, a great challenge to our whole punt team. Our gunners have to be at their best, our protection has to be rock-solid, our coverage unit has to be at their best, our punter has to have his best day, and all those things, and we have to tackle him. He's an incredible athlete, as you've all witnessed on his offensive reps. He's one of those guys that I referred to recently that sometimes they don't even need to block for him. Kansas City does, but he can make plays on his own. So, we have to have our best game on our punt team, there's no question about it."
What's the process of making the final call on whatever trick play it is that you want to run? (Aaron Kasinitz)"The final decision is made by the head coach; John [Harbaugh] would make that call. The process of which we come to fakes is a process. We look at a lot of different things. I'm not going to share all that information, but it's … The biggest thing, if you look back at the Atlanta fake, one of the things that I marvel at in this league … I'm around these guys every day, but just watching them practice or in games sometimes, I'm amazed by their athletic abilities. In that particular fake, where Sam Koch threw a ball 20, 30 yards down the field – 30 I think it was – to a wide receiver that's lined up outside the numbers playing gunner on a punt team, that's an example of the skill level of these players. Some of the things you see defensive lineman do that you would never recognize … 'How could a guy that big do that?' I think that's an example of Sam throwing the ball. Sam can throw the ball! There' are a lot of great quarterbacks in this league, but I'm not sure a ball could be thrown over the middle any better than that by a guy from depth like that. It was an incredible play by two incredible athletes; I would chalk it up to that and that alone. I thought that Atlanta defense … It wasn't like they were giving it to us. Those two guys went out and made a play."
Every fake punt has some sort of risk. In terms of the difficulty of that one – the length of the throw, WR/RS Chris Moore made a nice catch – is that possibly the highest-difficulty fake punt you've ever run? (Jeff Zrebiec)"I don't know if I can qualify them. Every one is a little bit different. But I think the execution of that was probably at the highest level I've ever seen. I don't know about the difficulty level going into it, but those guys did a great job. They deserve a lot of credit for that. You can drop a lot of different fakes, but if you don't have guys to execute them it doesn't make any difference. Those guys did a great job – and coach Harbaugh as well, calling it at exactly the right time. All those things kind of came together."
Defensive Coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale
Opening statement regarding CB Brandon Carr being named the Ravens Walter Payton Man of the Year:"Starting off, I would like to congratulate Brandon Carr. 'B-Carr,' what a great honor. There's been talk before about that he's the 'Iron Man' now with his  consecutive starts, but he's the 'Iron Man' also out in the community. The same guy that we get here, who makes plays for us and we can count on all the time, that's who he is as a person. I think everybody in this organization sees it. What a great honor bestowed on him to be nominated for this award, and what a great award it is.
"The last game, Atlanta, obviously we're really pleased with our effort, really pleased with our execution. You saw it from all three levels. I think up front, we just really won up front with our defensive line. Brandon Williams, 'Big Baby,' and Michael Pierce were a force inside. 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] – I think he's having a Pro Bowl year. I told the coaching staff … All you guys see him every day. When you see him every day, it's like, 'There's "Sizz."' I've said before [that] you guys see the character of 'Sizz;' we know the leader of 'Sizz.' I was telling the coaching staff that it was an 'oh wow' moment for me. My son called me on the way home after we landed, coming back from Atlanta. He goes, 'Dad, you know the next sack "Sizz" has, he's passing Lawrence Taylor?' I won't tell you what I told my son, because I'm going to keep it clean up here, but I said, 'Wow!' You don't think about that, because we see 'Sizz' all the time, every day. I mean, what a [feat]. I think he's having a tremendous year. I think he's having a Pro Bowl year. It's not only that he had a sack in that game and where he's at on the sacks list. Let's see how he plays the run. He had two tackles for loss in that game, as well, and setting the edge and the leadership he provides [is invaluable]. C.J. [Mosley] has had a really good run the last four weeks. He sets the tone, physically, for us at linebacker and is playing well there. Obviously, Eric Weddle with the big play against Julio [Jones] there on the deep ball that seemed like it got stuck up in the rafters, and he jumped right up there with Julio and broke the pass up. The corners, obviously, played lights out. We were really pleased with that effort. As they say, we're on to Kansas City, and what a great challenge that is with that offense and Andy Reid and [Patrick] Mahomes. It's a lethal combination."
There's a lot of talk externally about the No. 1 offense versus the No. 1 defense. Is that something that you talk to the guys about, that you care about, going into this week? (Garrett Downing)"I don't ever want to say that 'I don't care,' because I think that sounds crappy when you say that as a coach. Of course, we want to do things right, and we want to be the best. We want to have goals. One of our goals is to be the best defense in the National Football League. Do we make a big thing about, 'This is the No. 1 [offense]?' No – we just keep it simple. Keep it simple and say, 'Here's our challenge, and here's what we have to do with this challenge ahead.' Like I've said before, I know where we're at right now. What counts right now is after Week 16, let's see where we're at, then we can have a good time talking about that. Like I said, this is a lethal offense. I mean, they have weapons all over the place. I know John [Harbaugh] said 'arguably the best offense in the league,' and I agree with him. They're No. 1 in yards per play, they're No. 1 in passing yards per play. It's going to be a tough battle for us on Sunday."
What are the keys to stopping a guy like TE Travis Kelce that's different from other guys that you've seen? (Bo Smolka)"I don't think that you stop him. I think you just try to eliminate the big plays – not eliminate but limit the big plays that he makes, because he's playing at such a high level right now. I think you have to keep things changing. You have to keep things rolling on both he and [Tyreek] Hill at receiver, and also with [Patrick] Mahomes in the coverage. I think you just have to keep revolving your coverages around it and how you play it, and just try to give them different looks all the time. If they know what you're in, they will slaughter you. I mean, I wish I could come up with a better analogy of it, but they will slaughter you. That Hill – Tyreek Hill – is the fastest human being I've ever seen wear a helmet. I heard that Jimmy [Smith] yesterday compared Mahomes to [Brett] Favre – which you know, I already said [Baker] Mayfield is Favre. I think Mahomes is [Joe] Montana. I'm talking about the San Francisco [49ers] Montana, not the Kansas City Montana. I think how everything is cyclical and history repeats itself … I think you're seeing that combination between Andy [Reid] and Mahomes of Montana and Bill Walsh. I mean, I really do. So, that's where I see them at."
There's a lot of really young quarterbacks in the league these days, but when you watch QB Patrick Mahomes, do you think he stands out from the pack? (Ryan Mink)"I don't want to say that. I think there are a lot of good quarterbacks. I think as an NFL fan, it's exciting, because there are a lot of good, young quarterbacks coming up. It's a different game. Yes, he stands out right now – and I think that's a credit to who he's playing with and the system that he's playing in. But there are a lot of good, really young quarterbacks that are playing really well right now."
Do you almost have to treat TE Travis Kelce like a great wide receiver because of how productive he is from the slot specifically?_ (Luke Jones)_"Yes, he plays all over the place. You just treat him to wherever he lines up, that's what he is. That's a special skillset that he has."
How cool was it for you to see CB Jimmy Smith get the game ball after the Atlanta game and to see him step up in the way he has recently? (Ryan Mink) "I think that gets into the old Pop Warner parent deal. I'm just so proud, because [of] the adversity that each guy goes through. When I say the adversity of it, [I mean it] is getting their body right to play in a game and have success. You're just really excited for them – just like I was for 'Peanut' [Patrick Onwuasor] on the caused fumble and Tavon [Young] taking it up and scoring with it and 'Sizz' [Suggs] getting a sack and 'Z' [Za'Darius Smith] and the way C.J. [Mosley] is playing right now. You're proud. It's really cool to see Jimmy step up and play the way that he's playing. He's playing like Jimmy. We're in the right place here going in these last four weeks, and I'm excited about it."
What was your assessment of S Chuck Clark filling in for S Tony Jefferson?_ (Bo Smolka)_ "I thought Chuck did a nice job. What started good for him was that open-field tackle. I mean, he stapled that kid to the ground. I haven't seen an open-field tackle like that all year. I was really happy for Chuck and expanding his roll and what he did on Sunday. I thought he did a nice job."
Last week you talked about not necessarily wanting to double WR Julio Jones because Atlanta had a lot of other weapons. Does that help you in preparing for this game, seeing what you guys could do without having too much focus on one guy? Kansas City obviously has a lot of different guys._ (Brent Harris)_"Every game is different and how you attack it. The best way that I can explain it to you is [that] you just have to keep the wheels spinning and make sure that we communicate and play with great eyes and coverage. We can't let Mahomes turn this in to a backyard football game. That's where … He's really good on rhythm, statistically as the quarterback rating. But he's even better when he turns it in to a backyard football game, gets out of the pocket and scrambles around. So that's going to be our mission."
Did you see much difference in looking at tape without RB Kareem Hunt as opposed to film with him? (Brent Harris) "It was really only one game. I just keep seeing [No.] 10 [Tyreek Hill] and say, 'Whewf!' and Mahomes with his throws. One of the tapes that you look at is that Rams game that everybody was raving about on Monday Night. I mean, I can see why they're raving about it. It was a great football game, and they played really well on offense." (Reporter: "Eric Weddle, I think, talked about the game and said it was disgusting from a defensive perspective.") "It really is. I'm just trying to be a little bit more positive than Eric. It is disgusting."
Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg
Opening statement, on the Ravens naming CB Brandon Carr their Walter Payton Man of the Year: "I'll tell you what, that's a heck of a deal there, Brandon Carr. Heck of a man, heck of a player.
"Let's wrap the last ball game up. Heck of a job by the line. Heck of a job by … We have a pretty good mix – young guys, the middle guys, the veterans – so pretty good mix, been rolling well, done some outstanding, outstanding things. Geez, I think we're highly-ranked scoring early on the first drive, first drive of the half – excuse me, first drive of the game, first drive coming out second half. First-quarter scoring is very good. Some of the situations we've had … We're high in third downs. So, the guys have been doing a good job that way. We do have to keep the ball off the ground, so that's certainly an emphasis every day, and it will continue to be emphasized. And then, heck of a deal. The numbers sort of get skewed. For the second time, I believe, Lamar [Jackson] has been in a two-minute situation, and we got three out of that, and threw it, I believe, seven out of eight times, if I remember right, right at the end of the half, and then ran it, I believe, 14-straight times at the end of the game setting up the field goal to go up by two scores. And then, the four-minute [situations] – heck of a job in four-minute, so we're doing well there.
"Let's get to this next game. At Kansas City, crowd noise – that's first. It's worked out pretty well. Lamar had a little bit of crowd noise [in Atlanta]. You know that big train thing on third downs [in Atlanta]? We had to deal with that. And I suspect, I told the fellas, it's going to be like that the whole game. So, our snap count, our cadence, our communication, all of that is very, very important. They have some excellent defensive players. I know their numbers aren't all that good, but they have a couple of pass-rushers. They have some men that can run. They have some men that can cover. They just had a few penalties here and there on those types of things."
You and head coach Andy Reid go way back. I'm curious, is there anything that you've taken from him that you've been able to apply specifically with this offense? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Many things. Andy and I, I believe, we've worked together at four different places, and I think it's probably more than a decade-and-a-half together. Oh, absolutely, yes, [I've learned] a lot of things from Andy. A heck of a football coach. Good friend, as well."
Do you prefer playing against friends or competing against strangers or guys you don't know as well? (Bo Smolka)"There aren't many strangers in this league. My wife tells me I don't have very many friends, but really, I do. (laughter) I have some out there that we compete against. But, I really don't think about it much, because you're so busy game-planning and all of those things. But yes, you go against a lot of friends, yes."
One thing you and Andy Reid and a lot of coaches do is evolve. You have to evolve with the way the game is changing. Can you talk about what you see, in terms of Andy evolving and your own evolution and how you've kind of changed your offenses? (Ryan Mink) "It's getting too much info out there, but you try to stay ahead of the curve, much like you were saying, trying to stay ahead of the curve, and you sort of pride yourself on that just a little bit in all aspects of the game: offense, defense, special teams. So yes, and I know he tries to do that. Yes, those are all good points, and I haven't thought about some of those points until now. So, what other points do you have?"
How about the theory that people are tossing out there that QB Joe Flacco and QB Lamar Jackson can almost split the game once Joe is healthy enough to play? (Ryan Mink)"We certainly could, certainly could. A little update on Joe's progress … Well, first of all, all three of those quarterbacks that we have are great supporters of each other. Pretty good, now. All three of them have done well. The other thing that I missed now, Robert Griffin III went in cold and drove us on a scoring drive. I believe we got three out of that thing, so he did a heck of a job in the last game. So, they're all really good supporters of each other. Joe is doing just a little bit more every day, and so that's a good thing, and I check with him every morning, and he's getting mad at me for checking with him, because it's doing … Well, you need to ask him, but apparently, it's doing pretty well."
So much has been made about the running game and how productive you guys have been there. It's been about 2-1 ratio in the past three weeks. What have you seen in the passing game? What have you liked about it, and what needs to get better in these final few games? (Luke Jones) "First of all, Greg [Roman, assistant head coach/tight ends coach] has done just an excellent job that way. He kind of spearheads that, and 'Joe D' [Joe D'Alessandris, offensive line coach] and Thomas [Hammock, running backs coach]. Everybody is sort of involved in that. The quarterback position is involved in that as well. Yes, through it, sometimes the numbers get just a little skewed. We run it 14 times at the end of the game, and I believe the first drive, we were five passes, five runs. However, there were a couple situations in there, so you have to sort of dig deep in what's real in all those things. But yes, as long as we're going forward, which we have been, that's a good thing with this type of style. As long as you're going forward, you're in good shape." (Reporter: "When you have passed, though, what have you liked about the passing game, and what are some things that you need to do better in that regard?")"Yes, we need to hook up, just a little bit, one or two of those. It probably looks a little bit unique, both the run and the pass, but it's based on some of the things Lamar [Jackson] has done since he got here. So, that's a good thing. You've seen more play-action and movement just a little bit just because of his strengths. So yes, and a little bit more every week, a little bit more situationally, a little bit more every week. That's where we're at."
In the first nine games when QB Joe Flacco was the starter, you obviously used both quarterbacks at different times. Regardless of who the starter is when Joe is healthy, do you think that there still could be that opportunity? (Garrett Downing) "Certainly, could be. Certainly, could be."
Now that QB Lamar Jackson has three starts under his belt, do you find him being more vocal, maybe more opinionated about what he should run, that sort of thing? (Aaron Kasinitz)"I will tell you this, regarding that question: Sometimes when a man has an opportunity, sort of takes the bull by the horns and runs with it – and that's sort of what Lamar has done – he's done an excellent job that way. I think that's what you're getting to. His leadership qualities sort of come naturally. And sometimes, when you're not in that role, sometimes it's not seen, because it's not needed." (Reporter: "When you're game-planning, is he maybe more prone now to points some things out?") "Yes, we meet. There's a time every week that we meet, and yes, I would say that's true as we continue. Yes, good point. I haven't thought about that much, because it happens sort of naturally, but yes. You're right on that."
QB Lamar Jackson always talks about how he remembers the bad plays more so than he does the good plays. Do you see that in a lot of quarterbacks? (Ryan Mink) "I think we all do, because very confident people, I think, just in general, expect the greatness, and when it doesn't [happen], then you remember that, and then you do your very best not to do that again. I hope I explained that well enough for you."
QB Lamar Jackson seems to brush off mistakes well. It doesn't affect his confidence. But, when he misses a throw, how do you handle that with him? Do you say anything? Do you not? (Cliff Brown) "Yes. In fact, with a very young, talented, skilled quarterback, like they mostly are in this league, I was sort of waiting for the first time that it happened. Others beat me to the punch – players, coaches – so that's sort of the mojo that we have going right now. That was crystal clear."
It seems like you and QB Lamar Jackson have had a pretty good relationship just going back and forth. He says that you're a really funny guy. (Kyle Andrews) "He said I am? (laughter) I guess … Sometimes, I have to work on just personally not being sarcastic very much. I try hard not to be, and I have sort of, I think, a dry sense of humor, so maybe he gets it, that dry sense of humor. Some don't. He gets it. I will tell you this: [Quarterbacks coach] James Urban spends more time with him than anybody else, and he has done a great job with all of the quarterbacks. And I go back to Robert Griffin … Ultimately, it's the player that gets himself prepared, but James has done a great job with Lamar's preparation. Listen, I'm having a blast, I'll just tell you that. I'm having a blast. I thought Joe [Flacco] at certain points of the season was playing some of his best football. He got hurt early in the [last] Pittsburgh game; he beat Pittsburgh [in Week 4]. He had some big wins, there. And then, Lamar, what a great opportunity for Lamar. And then, Robert gets in and plays well. It's been a good thing. Our line is playing well. Our tight ends … We have a couple young tight ends, and we have a couple young offensive linemen that are playing well. Our receivers really … The numbers aren't there, let's say, in the last three games. They're not there, but they are playing really well with the things that are expected. We put a couple on the ground last week, but they are playing well. Backs, we have the rookie back [Gus Edwards]. All of the backs have done a really, really good job."
Ravens Walter Payton Man of the Year Award Presentation
Heather Darney, Director of Community Relations/Executive Director, Ravens Foundation
"On behalf of the Baltimore Ravens, it is my pleasure to bring awareness, however we can, to the amazing work that Brandon Carr is doing not only on the field, but certainly off of the field, as well. Brandon has been a true pioneer for us in the Baltimore community, especially this season. He has been leading the way with regards to literacy awareness and education. He's been working with us on our criminal justice reform and social justice grants. He has been helping cancer patients in need and just, most importantly, being there to bring a smile to so many of our community members' faces. It is our honor this year to award Brandon with the 2018 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. As the Ravens' team recipient, Brandon will be receiving a $25,000 donation to a charity of his choice in addition to a $25,000 donation that will be made to the United Way's Character Playbook initiative here in Baltimore. On behalf of the Ravens, congratulations, Brandon!"
CB Brandon Carr
On what receiving the award means to him:"Man, I'm trying to keep myself composed right now. Honestly, I just feel like I'm blessed to be able to play this game, have this platform, but also, just the opportunity to build, or do, something that I love to do, and that's just be in the community. That's just from a very young age, seeing my parents not only take care of us, but do their part in the community, whether it was my dad being the coach, father figure, mentor, exposing my friends to universities, different cities on the road, to my mother teaching for 33 years out of three sisters that moved to Michigan with the same dream to help the community out. I just feel like I'm just being powered by a greater force right now, and my ultimate goal when my mom passed [from breast cancer] was just to continue to live out her legacy. And, her legacy was just to be in education, be in schools with the kids, inspire, encourage them any way that she could. So, I'm humbled right now. This is a very inspiring moment to continue on with the efforts, and like I've always said, it's not about me. This journey has not been about Brandon. It's not been my stage. It's been an opportunity for me to just bring a lot of like-minded organizations and people together for one purpose and one cause, and that's just to make this world a better place."
On how this season's award is different than the first time he was given the award:"The [Carr Cares Foundation] has definitely evolved and grown since then. My passion has gotten greater for the foundation and things that come within it. And, it's my third [NFL playing] city, but I'm always just overwhelmed by the reception that I get from just the community when I enter the doors of the city, and Baltimore has been a great place to move around and to help those who may need help and just to meet a lot of great people with the same passion. Like I said, it's just a great opportunity to not only highlight the foundation but the people within this community that are also behind this award."
On his work with breast cancer patients after coping with the death of his mother due to the disease: "It's been a long journey. I've been trying to balance all of that while still trying to be a professional in this world. It's been a bit of a whirlwind, but I had a strong support system behind me. Ultimately, that's what it came down to. The same support system that I needed to cope and deal with breast cancer and the illness within our family is the same comfort and support that these women need as well, and I had to just sort of tell myself, 'Stop being selfish. Stop thinking about yourself. Go ahead and face it.' And once I finally walked into the room and started being around those women, man, it brought back so many great memories between just the conversations, just memories of how strong and beautiful and powerful these women really are. It reminded me of my mom, just hearing her stories and her struggle but the faith that they had behind the fight that they were going through, and they know that they are protected. They know that they are already taken care of by a higher power, and that's just the same memories and the same stories that I heard many times over and over from my aunts to my mom. It was just very powerful and encouraging to continue on to help those with just little things that go a long way."