Special Teams Coordinator Chris Horton
When K Justin Tucker is lining up for that 55-yard field goal, what do you think was the biggest challenge? The field, or the wind, at that point? (Jamison Hensley) "At that point, when we were lining up for that field goal, they both were pretty challenging – the wind, and the field. But just like we talk about every week, you just kind of go out there [and] execute at the highest level with good technique. And thankfully, he got his plant-foot down, he hit a great ball, and it went through the uprights."
What broke down with the blocked kick [extra point attempt] during the game? (Kevin Richardson) "One of those things is … I talk about it every week – and I'd say every rep, for us – the fundamentals have to be on point [and] executed to the highest of the highest of the standard, because it's unlike any other play. If you slip up at all on a special teams play, usually the result ends up being a big play – for example, that blocked PAT [point after touchdown]. So, it just came down to our guys just not executing to the highest standard. That's all it was. We got it fixed, and we were able to go ahead and kick that game-winning field goal. So, it wasn't anything that's of major concern. It was just a small little detail that we got cleaned up later in the game."
I know head coach John Harbaugh said that WR James Proche's II [Reserve/Covid-19 list] situation was a contact tracing. Obviously, he probably won't be able to practice much at all this week. How many reps have you been getting other punt returners all year? How comfortable are you with maybe having to go somewhere else in that area if James somehow isn't cleared? (Jeff Zrebiec) "If it came down to it, and James [Proche] wasn't cleared, we've got the same guys we've had all summer [and] all spring. All those guys are still in play. Those guys are getting just as many reps as James has been getting. So, we're prepared for whatever comes about. Again, whoever we put back there, those guys are going to be ready to go, and they'll secure the ball and catch the ball for us."
I'm sorry to put you on the spot with unfortunate news about [former Ravens] RB Lorenzo Taliaferro – but I know in your previous role when he was there, really a guy that had to earn his keep making some special teams plays. What do you remember most about him and how awful is this news? (Morgan Adsit) "It's not really putting me on the spot. When I came in in 2014, it was the same year Lorenzo [Taliaferro] was drafted. So, I started on the defensive side. But, first of all, I would like to send my deepest condolences to his family. This is, obviously, tragic news. It's sad. The guy had so much life ahead of him, and the one thing I remember the most is … Here's a guy who came in, his physical physique, his body type, [and] when I moved over to special teams, it's kind of how he found his role. The one thing about this guy is he was loved by his teammates, because of how he went out and worked [and] how he handled his business. He was great. He was kind. He always had a smile on his face. When he came to work, he was going to work. It's just unfortunate when you come in and with everything that's going on in the world, you hear that a teammate, a guy you coached, that has passed away. It's just sad – it's tragic."
Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale
With DE Yannick Ngakoue going against the Jaguars, obviously, people are going to be intrigued about that. For the past two months since he's been with the Ravens, what has impressed you the most about what he has done and in working with him? (Jamison Hensley) "I think that you continue to see him just get closer and closer to being a Raven and executing the packages. Just like with all the rushers we have up front … We talked about [it] a little bit last week about the sacks going down. I think Baker [Mayfield] held on to the ball long enough, we just need to finish better at the quarterback. But Yannick [Ngakoue] has done a nice job, especially in passing situations, but he also has gotten a lot better against the run, as well."
When you talk about edge defenders and pass rushers, obviously, a lot of talk is … With the development, we talk about kind of adding to the toolbox and using different tools to get to the quarterback. But in coverage, is there … What goes into improving your coverage skills, like we've seen OLB Tyus Bowser [do]? It seems like he's made at least one play in coverage the past few weeks. (Daniel Oyefusi) "I think with Tyus [Bowser] and Matt Judon, we've talked about in this package before, that this is a positionalist defense; we're going to put the best 11 out there. They're asked to do a lot of different things and several different packages. The value they have is they're tough, they're smart and they're athletic. You saw that with Tyus on that interception, and you've seen it before with Matt Judon, as well. So, those guys do a nice job of getting everybody lined up where they need to be lined up, and executing the defense, first of all. You're seeing Tyus here lately just starting to reap the benefits of becoming the complete player that he has been, and he's been playing really well."
I know you have the punch out in practice. Is there anything in particular you do for coverage to try to improve guys in that aspect and making plays in the field? (Daniel Oyefusi) "I think that it's just you get a routine. You have to go over it, and over it, and over it, during practice and everything else of what routes are coming from your drops, what to look for, the quick game – that's how he [Tyus Bowser] got his pick last game. He knew that Baker [Mayfield] was going to throw it quick. He ran to his spot where he needed to be in the coverage, and he made a great play. I think it's just the routine of doing it every day and just getting better at it and better at it."
We asked head coach John Harbaugh this late Monday about what it was like there with the corners going down and kind of having to piece that together. What about from your perspective? How challenging was that? How frantic was that last four or five minutes when guys seemed to be dropping like flies? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I think frantic is the right word, in some ways. You're sitting there and you're saying, 'OK. What can I run?' And what it did do is it just made us very vanilla for a lot of reasons. Because as a play-caller, you have to say, 'OK. I have this guy playing here, so I can't call this, this or this. How about we call that?' It limits you on what you actually can call, and that came back and bit us down there in the red zone. It's one of those things that happens. It's one of those series of events that we talk about all the time. Thankfully, we made enough plays to come out with the win in a shootout like that. My wife told me, Laura said … She goes, 'It reminds me of when we're ever sitting at home watching a game and there's a shootout like that. I was thinking the [Los Angeles] Rams and [Kansas City] Chiefs last year.' And I always tell her, 'I laugh at nothing.' Because everybody says, 'Great game. Great game.' Well, it's not really a great game if you're a defensive coordinator with all the things that happened in the series of events. But like I said, thankfully, we made enough plays to win the game."
We talked to DE Calais Campbell yesterday. He said he's still dealing with the calf injury, and even some lingering effects from the coronavirus. I'm curious, considering he's such a veteran, are you able to sort of trust him a little bit to determine his own health? Is that different than maybe if it was a young guy going through that sort of thing? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Yes, I think so. Because he's a veteran, I think you can [trust him]. So, like I told him today, we need to get him out there to practice too, because of what he's gone through. Calves [injuries] are harder to come back from than anything else, for the most part, I believe, because unless you feel that strain … He thought he was able to go in Cleveland, that's why he went. It's just one of those things. I think that COVID-19 affected him more than the calf did, but [head certified athletic trainer] Ron Medlin does a great job of preparing him. Whether or not he can go? Again, we'll see. But he wants to go, I know that."
We talked about the corners in that game. There's the aftereffect that the corners are still a little banged up for you right now. How do you feel about the situation with your cornerbacks right now going into this game? (Jamison Hensley) "I think we're going to get some guys back healthy, and some others, let's wait and see. We bought our insurance in bigger guys for that Cleveland game, and the unthinkable happened. So, we'll see what happens coming up here for Jacksonville. I think some of them are getting healthy, and some of them are still probably going to be game-time decisions."
It seemed like DT Justin Madubuike had probably his best game of his career there on Monday. We all know what the veterans there inside can do. How important are they going to be to just the overall pass rush picture and how well you guys are building toward the end of the season here? (Jonas Shaffer) "Are you asking me how important [Justin] Madubuike is going to be?" (Reporter: "Just the interior pass rush.") "I think that they're going to be really important, especially rushing this week, because this guy [Gardner Minshew II] – he's a gunslinger. They call him the 'jorts' [jean shorts] guy, long hair – I kind of like him. [He has] a lot of swag. But he likes to hold onto the ball and extend the plays, just like Baker [Mayfield]. The pass rush guys inside, they have to be able to move that pocket [and] collapse that pocket on him and get him off the spot. So, I think they're all going to be very important. But to answer your question – well, I don't know if it was a question or a statement – but I thought that was Justin's best game, as well. And that's the right time to have that, at the end of the year. He's another one that came back from the Reserve/COVID-19 [list]. [We] didn't think he was ready to go the week prior. Obviously, he was ready to go against Cleveland. He's done nothing but practice well yesterday, and I'm looking for a lot better stuff from him."
You mentioned you like Gardner Minshew II's hair. What are the pros and cons of a mullet? (Ryan Mink) "Well, first of all, mullets are back. You know that. We've brought it back. (laughter) I'm not going to get into that."
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman
Opening statement: "How's everybody doing in the frozen tundra of Baltimore? We're getting ready to play Jacksonville. Their defense – they play extremely hard, they've got a lot of different looks, they're pretty multiple. The biggest thing that jumps off is how hard they play every down. So, we're really focusing on ourselves and our improvement, as well as the challenges that they present, and there are many. So, we're hard at work at it. We've got a big day today – big short-yardage, goal-line, third down emphasis – and we hope to have a great day. We just got done with a really extensive walk-through. Any questions?"
On Monday night, when QB Lamar Jackson went to the locker room, did you have any feeling whether he was coming back or not? (Jamison Hensley) "No, I had no idea. I knew cramping was an issue. We were moving forward with Trace [McSorley] at that point – that was pretty simple. It got complicated there right before the fourth down."
Can you take us through that? Were you calling a play for WR Willie Snead IV to be the quarterback, and then, you saw QB Lamar Jackson running from the locker room? How did that all go down, and who was keeping you informed on all that? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It kind of went down, from my perspective, about the same as it did from yours. We were ready to go ahead with Willie [Snead IV], and then all of a sudden, I got word that he [Lamar Jackson] was back out there, and we were ready to roll. So, kind of had to shift gears. I definitely wasn't going to call the same play with Willie in there, although, if you ask Willie, he'd say, 'Why not?' But yes, it all worked out that made it work on the field. I've been doing this for a little while now, and that was definitely … Just when you think you've seen it all."
With the play-call, were you thinking that QB Lamar Jackson was going to run for the first down? Was it just get outside the pocket and maybe make a play downfield? How much of that was Lamar ad-libbing the play versus the intention of the call? (Ryan Mink) "Well, that particular play has a lot of options to it. We definitely wanted to give him a bunch of options in that situation. The reason he was able to vacate the pocket was because of, really, the choice the defense made with their call and how that unfolded. Once he got out of the pocket, I thought he'd run for it, but a very strange set of circumstances took place, where the defender covering the back and peel-rushing on the back was a defensive end. And very rarely do you see a defensive end peel on a back and actually rub, kind of, the corner that's covering a post route. So, it kind of worked out in our favor that way, and he [Lamar Jackson] had vision down the field. He was really, really alert and aware of all his options on that play, and he was able to see Marquise [Brown] and hit him. So, there are a lot of different ways that thing could have unfolded."
You guys have rushed for 525 yards over the last two weeks, and knowing how much that's your DNA offensively, and the challenges you've had with injuries on the offensive line, just how pleased are you to see the progress in that area, and what do you attribute that to? (Luke Jones) "Very simply, our DNA is based on results. If we're effectively doing something, then we're going to keep doing it, probably, to a large extent. And I've got to credit the players, the guys out there who are preparing. We don't have the simplest run game in the world; there's a lot of moving parts week in and week out. We try to mix it up and build things off of other things – that type of thing. So, that requires the players to be engaged, fully. It's not like we're just running the same stuff, although, we definitely will run some things when people have trouble with them. But it really comes down to the players. Their attitude is where it starts; their commitment and their physicality and effort on the field, as well as talent, too. Guys with the ball in their hands have been doing a really good job of breaking tackles, reading plays out correctly, and guys have been working well. Also – and this is a pretty stock cliché – but when you're running the football in the National Football League, if you're not running it, you're a blocker. The quarterback can be a blocker with how he carries out his fakes by occupying a defender. The receivers are doing a great job, very unheralded job of blocking. And I'm seeing those guys really, really grow in that area from last year to this year. So, it's a combination of all those things."
With WRs Marquise Brown, James Proche II and Miles Boykin possibly out, because they're on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, are you OK with your depth at receiver going into this game? Or do you have any concerns there? (Todd Karpovich) "Hopefully, they're able to go. It's a unique situation and a unique year, and we've been in a few unique situations this year, for sure. It's our job, everybody – next man up – to get prepared, to go perform at the standard and level that we want, and it's that simple, really. Whether they can play or not, not in our control. So, we can control what we can control, and that's what we're doing right now. So, in a nutshell, yes, we're ready to roll however things unfold – we have to be."
Can you talk about RB Mark Ingram II's attitude after getting one offensive snap? What was his attitude like in the game and this week dealing with that? And do you see more work for him going forward? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, Mark [Ingram II] is an extremely valuable leader on our team. And just because he didn't get a lot of snaps, doesn't mean he won't get a lot of snaps. He's a very productive player in this league. At certain things he does, he's right at the top of the league, so he's very valuable to us. Things just unfolded the way they did, and it's an opportunity for him to continue to stay fresh and get ready for a late-season push. But, yes, Mark, as far as his attitude, he's nothing but a professional. He's a leader, and he does that by example and with his words. So, I'm really pleased with the opportunity to have Mark as a leader."
Over the past two years, we've seen WR Marquise Brown really catch the ball with his hands, but lately, we've seen him let the ball get into his body, and he's had a number of drops. Is that a concern you guys have? And how do you correct something like that? (Kevin Richardson) "Yes, Marquise [Brown] is a very good catcher of the football, normally. So, I think it's really simple; it's just basic fundamentals and focus through the catch. He's got tremendous tracking skills – we saw that on the touchdown against the Cowboys. And it's just a great learning opportunity for a young player. [If] we make those catches in that game, that game is not quite as interesting. And it's just a great opportunity for him to experience that in real time [and] learn from it. Fortunately, for him, he's a very natural catcher, and it's going to be easily correctable. Some guys aren't quite as natural, and it's a little bit of a harder process. But we're counting on him to do that, and we're with him every step of the way."
In the past two games, it seems like the offense has really gotten itself into a rhythm again. Would you agree? And do you think there's been a reason over the past two games that maybe something has clicked? (Jamison Hensley) "I definitely think we're going in the direction we want to go. Through all the stuff we've been through prior, with the COVID-19 stuff and whatnot, that was unbelievable – going into the Pittsburgh game and what that entailed. So, I think, when a lot of guys got back healthy for the Dallas game, it was a real chance to kind of hit the reset button and really have an appreciation for the opportunity we have every day, and that's something we want to build on. But I'm definitely feeling it. I was feeling it before the Dallas game, and I'm feeling it moving forward. So, that's a good thing."
What's the benefit to rotating linemen like you've been doing at right tackle? Is that something that you might do going forward, or would you rather get five guys who you plan to play the whole game? (Aaron Kasinitz) "There are some benefits. Every situation is different. I'll just use last year as an example; I think we were pretty healthy the whole year, and we were able to just let five guys stay out there – five fairly experienced guys. And whether you're experienced in our system or you're just a young player, I think there are opportunities at times for guys to play like a lot of other positions do – and they're not playing every snap – and then be able to kind of catch their breath, reflect on it and then get ready to go back in. And also, it gives you the opportunity to keep guys fresher. So, it's a cost-benefit thing you've got to consider. I remember doing it here with [Marshal] Yanda and Ben Grubbs when they were rookies – back in the day. So, it's something that can be really effective in the development of a player, where they don't have to go out there and play every snap, but they get good experience, and we get better production throughout the course of the game when it's all added up."
DE Yannick Ngakoue
How much have you been looking forward to this matchup going against the Jaguars? How special, or unique is it, to go against that team with DE Calais Campbell, since you guys were there together just as recently as last year? (Shawn Stepner) "I'm just treating it as another game. We need the rest of these wins to get to where we're trying to get to. At the end of the day, I had my time with Jacksonville – that's not a secret. At the end of the day, I'm just going to treat it like another game, another Sunday. The fact that I've been playing with Calais [Campbell] since I've been traded here has been special to me; being able to rush with a guy who knows how I rush and things like that, not just for this particular game."
Having been here for a few games now, what's the biggest adjustment for you in this defense? Are you being used fundamentally any differently than you were in Minnesota or Jacksonville? (Daniel Oyefusi) "They run it different everywhere. Every defense is different. This defense is predicated differently from how Minnesota ran it, and how Jacksonville ran it. Here, it's a mentality that we have to get after the quarterback by any means necessary. We love to blitz here, and we also love to rush with four. So, it's always going to be an adjustment; not just with defensive terminology and the way the defense is ran, but also just being used to being in a new area, a new spot and things like that."
It's no secret that they brought you in here to sack the quarterback. What do you think you need to do on your end to fulfill that? (Kevin Richardson) "Continue to do what I'm doing every day – practicing hard, studying and continuing to rush violently and winning violently. This game is about inches. So, I just have to continue to keep working my craft."
You know him well, QB Gardner Minshew II. Each week, you kind of don't know which version you're going to get. How challenging is it to prepare for a quarterback like him that can extend plays and kind of run wild, sometimes, and find success? (Morgan Adsit) "[We] just treat it the same as last week. He's very similar to Baker [Mayfield], as far as the movement in the pocket. So, we just have to make sure we have disciplined rush lanes and get to the quarterback."
Defensive coordinator Don Martindale was just talking about how he feels like there's been some very good rushes, it's just a matter of finishing now – not specifically for you, he was just talking about the defense as a whole. Do you agree with that opinion that you've been so close on so many of these and that, kind of, you're just inches away from making a bunch of huge plays? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, absolutely. Sometimes, that's how the game is, but they come in bunches when they roll in. So, you just have to continue to have a mindset of, 'I can't give up. I won't stop. I'll keep rushing, regardless.'"