WEDNESDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: WEEK 16 at Chargers
Head Coach John Harbaugh
When you look at the tape of the Chargers' defense, what stands out, and what challenges they present? (Jamison Hensley)"Speed, they play really hard, excellent pass rushers, strong front."
RB Gus Edwards hasn't been tackled for a loss at all this season. Does that speak more to his ability to break tackles, his vision? (Ed Lee)"It speaks to all of it. It speaks to his ability, and it speaks to the scheme. It's mostly a downhill scheme with him. I think those two things."
S Eric Weddle has a Pro Bowl. Maybe statistically there's not a whole lot of numbers there, but what do you see from him, that's bigger than the numbers, that he's brought? (Mark Viviano)"If you're asking me to justify it, I don't think I have to. The guy is a heck of a player. The players and the coaches that play against him, and all the guys, they know it, and that's why they voted him in. They know what he brings to the table. He made a bunch of tackles in the last game, openfield tackles, if you want to talk about that. He's a big part of our defense, just as much as anyone else. He runs the show on the back end. He does a great job."
What are the keys to neutralizing a team that has two good edge rushers like the Chargers do?_ (Aaron Kasinitz)_"Running the ball helps [with] edge rushers. We'll probably be doing that during the game. Then you have to block them – you have to block them. [There are] different ways to block them sometimes. We've done that over the years. Our tackles have to do a great job. I'm sure we'll be chipping and things like that – things that we've done all year against good edge rushers."
LB C.J. Mosley's production on the field speaks for itself. Can you talk about him as a mentor, working with some of the young linebackers? (Pete Gilbert) "He's done a great job with those guys. He has the two young guys with him. Patrick [Onwuasor] is a little older, but a very young player. Kenny [Young] is a rookie. C.J. isn't that old himself, but he has that experience. His demeanor belies his age a little bit. He's done a good job with those guys."
I know you think every player on your team should be going to the Pro Bowl. One player that fans have wondered why he didn't make the Pro Bowl was K Justin Tucker. Are you surprised that Tucker didn't get that recognition?_ (Jamison Hensley)_"Very surprised. I think that one is a big-time head-scratcher. Call the people that voted and ask them."
First time you saw the final schedule this year, you're looking at a coast-to-coast game at the end of the season. I suppose you wouldn't know this initially that the other team has a Thursday night game, and you get moved to Saturday. Is that just another set of things you have to deal with, or does it make you wonder how this can happen in the scheduling process? (Peter Schmuck) "Well, the conspiracy part of it would be great for you to write about – if that's where you're going. You're not going to get a quote from me on that, sorry. But, it's one more obstacle. It's one more thing that makes it tougher. So, bring it on."
How have you gone about condensing the work load knowing it's a short week?_ (Tom Pelissero)_"We just condense it. We just change the schedule around a little bit, changed our tempo in some of our practices yesterday and tomorrow. That's all."
When people talk about QB Lamar Jackson they talk about his poise and how nothing's too big for him. Do you feel the same way going into a primetime game, playoff implications, all that entailed? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes. Well said, very well said."(laughter) (Reporter: "Can you say something more than that?")"No. You said it perfectly. I can't beat that!"
CB Marlon Humphrey
On if he felt like he was a Pro Bowl player this year: "I didn't really have an interception until this past Sunday. So, I think it's pretty tough to get in when you don't have any interceptions on your season." (Reporter: "Can you build on this year? Without interceptions, is that the criterion to get a Pro Bowl?")"I don't know if that's the criteria, but I think it's definitely something that gets looked at, definitely pretty highly." (Reporter: "Is it important to you?") "Yes, a major goal of mine is to make the Pro Bowl."
On if this is an important game to S Eric Weddle since it's against his former team:"I would think so. I know teams move on for whatever reasons they have. I'm sure he probably … He started there. I'm sure he probably wanted to finish there, but I guess the team had different feelings. I definitely think it'll be a big game, kind of like his homecoming."
On how much he leaned on S Eric Weddle's experience to help him grow as a player:"I lean on him a lot. He's definitely got the nose [for] football, inside and out. He's someone you can definitely see coaching one day, just because when you're on the field, it's almost as if you have a coach back there. You have a coach that's your safety. He can see things that you cannot always see, and he knows things that you don't always know. Just his brilliance in the game is phenomenal."
On if S Eric Weddle's midseason critique of his performance serves as motivation: "I don't think it really … I feel like I'm more self-motivated than someone else motivating me. But definitely, the things he's said about my game are things I've already known. It's not really much critiquing me; it's just telling something I already know."
On how defenders approach an emotional quarterback like QB Philip Rivers:"I've heard some of the guys talking that he's a pretty emotional guy – he'll say some things. I haven't really … I guess I'm not too close to many quarterbacks, so I never really heard a quarterback talk that much. I hear he does a lot of chirping. He has a lot of confidence in his game, and rightfully so – he's a great player. Most great players, just about all of them, definitely have high confidence."
On what he sees from the Chargers' offense on tape: "I see a lot of weapons. Keenan Allen, I'm sure he'll be back this week. Mike Williams … They have speed, they have shape, they have it all. They have a quarterback that really … He doesn't really want to check it down right quick. He'll take the hit if he has to to let a route develop. So, he's not really a big scrambler guy, but he'll definitely sit in that pocket and wait for routes to fully develop."
On if he had a lot of college battles with WR Mike Williams: "Definitely had some college battles with Mike, me and 'Ant' [Anthony Averett]. He's definitely a jump-ball guy. Even when he's covered, he's not really covered, just because of how big he is. He can box guys out really well. You have to try to get your work done early with him. When the ball goes up, you have to try to win the 50/50 [battles]."
On how much the time in the film room has been beneficial to taking the next step:"It's been big. I've learned a little better on how to watch film. Watching film isn't always good if you don't know what to watch. I've recently tried to take the approach that 'Dub' [Eric Weddle] does a little bit. He watches it mainly by formations [to see] what you're going to get out of the formations. But for me, it's been trying to know a little bit what you think is going to happen before it comes, instead of just … I mainly just watched how receivers get off, play against certain guys and things like that. You kind of watch more for the big picture, instead of just singling out a certain guy."
On the confidence it gives the defense this week knowing their performance against Kansas City:"It definitely gives us confidence. We felt Kansas City was a very tough group to match up with, especially with Tyreek Hill. But I think the Chargers might have more guys. I felt the Chiefs had some – two, three – receivers, but I feel like the Chargers don't have any bad receivers. It'll definitely be tough to match up with them. But I think we have a good group of guys that can match up well with them."
On if he allows himself to think about the stakes of this game: "You think you need to win every game. So, this is really no different. We've been feeling that since we've got back off the bye week – that every game is going to be a playoff-type game. It's definitely big going into this one – Saturday night, primetime game. It'll definitely be huge to get this victory."
QB Lamar Jackson
On the challenges the Chargers' defense presents:"The speed. I feel like that's going to be the fastest team we face all season. We're just preparing right now."
On if the Chargers' defense is the toughest he has faced as a starter:"Every team in the league is tough. It's not like college, where some teams might be ranked lower than the other. Every team is good. You never know what you're going to face until you're out there."
On how he sees the Chargers' speed manifest itself:"All of them to the ball – all 11 to the ball at all times. They're flying around, making plays, making turnovers. They're a good defense."
On if this game feels like a playoff game:"Every game is a playoff game. We're trying to win them all. Chargers right now, that's the team we're facing, so we just have to prepare very well."
On the slow start against Tampa Bay:"The rain! The rain slowed us down, man! Come on! Yes, but like you said, we started off slow. We just go out there together; we focus and just start moving the ball."
On where his poise comes from:"You have to stay focused at quarterback when you're trying to win the game. You can't get out of whack or get frustrated out there. Your guys are depending on you, so that's probably where it comes from, that we want to win."
On going against Chargers QB Philip Rivers:"The defense is playing against him!" (laughter)(Reporter: "He's kind of known as a trash-talker. What about you? Do you like to get into that sort of thing?") "No, I just play football. Talk, I just … I don't know. I don't really care. They're going to talk trash. That's what defense is for – talk trash, hit you, do whatever it takes to get you out of the game. My job is to stay focused, so I don't let it get to me."
On if the trash talk has diminished over the last few games:"No, they're going to talk trash every game. It doesn't really matter what team it is; they're going to talk trash. My job is, like I said before, to stay focused."
On playing in primetime:"It's cool. I'm worried about playing a team and trying to win. I'm not worried about primetime. Primetime is after the game with a 'W.' That's primetime."
On if how much scoreboard-watching the team will be doing with other games this weekend:"We'll be watching a lot of scoreboards, just ours though. _(laughter) Ours and the Chargers'. We have to have the most points at the end of the game, so that's what I'm going to focus on. I don't really care what other teams are doing. We're trying to win."
On if he has reflected on how much has happened with him in the past year:"I really don't sit back and focus on last year and this year. I'm trying to win games. Coach trusted me, the organization trusted me, to help those guys out, so that's my focus is on right now, is trying to win those games. I don't really care about last year or what I was doing around that time."
On how he feels physically:"I feel good. My trainers do a good job. They make sure I'm OK. I ice whatever I feel like is sore, but other than that, I'm good. I'm 100 [percent]."
On how controlling the clock on offense is a benefit to the defense:"We just try to score points, and if it just happens, so be it. We have the ball a lot. I don't know. I don't really look at the time management or the possession we have. I'm just trying to punch the ball in the end zone and go from there. I don't know. I don't really think about that. But the defense goes back out there, when they do get a chance to go back out there on the field, they produce. So, I think it's pretty good for us."
On if he feels as though he's on the field for a long period of time during more time-consuming drives:"Not really. I'm like, 'We need to score while we're out here. I don't want to kick a field goal. With all the work we're putting in, we need to score.'"
On if he compares his own speed to the speed of the Chargers' defense: "No, no, I don't look at it like that. I look at it like, 'I have to be on my A-game.' That's about it. We just have to, whatever they give us, take advantage of."
On if a run-heavy and time-consuming gameplan is a good one to face the Chargers, as it kept the Ravens in the game against the Chiefs:"I didn't go into [the Kansas City] game thinking of that. I went into that game thinking, 'We'd better win.' Same thing with this one; I'm trying to win the game, that's all. I don't really look at time of possession and stuff like that." (Reporter: "But, is that a good formula for it?") "I guess so. It's helping us, so I would say yes."
On how he approaches different challenges each week:"I just play my game. My team, we put in so much work throughout the week. We just try to go out there and win the game, and that's all. Just play football."
K Justin Tucker
On his reaction to being named a Pro Bowl first alternate after his successful season:"I feel like I hit the ball consistently well this year. It's something that I aim to continue to do. But what are you going to do? The only thing you can do is just keep trying to be the best football player that you can be, so that's what I'm going to do. I'm a little bit disappointed, but more than anything, I'm disappointed for Sam [Koch]. I think Sam had an excellent year kicking the ball. When you talk about one of the guys who is at the top of his game, he works diligently at his craft each and every day. I get to see it firsthand, so I know what he's all about. But when you have to compare with these votes – that's essentially what you're doing, you're comparing one guy to the next – I don't think there is a comparison. I think Sam stands above the rest in every single way. You look at the conditions that we've had to play in this entire season. I don't think anybody's handled it better than Morgan [Cox] and Sam. So, for Sam I'm disappointed, and I think that's just a shame that Sam wasn't the first guy."
On if his reaction was similar to the meme of a photo of him looking confused:"Yes, I suppose I was a little bit surprised, but all of that is somewhat in good fun. It just is what it is. Like I said a moment ago, the only thing you can do is just what we've been doing, and that's focusing on kicking the ball straight. And we've done a really good job of that, for the most part, and we're just going to aim to continue to do so."
S Eric Weddle
On his friendship with Chargers QB Philip Rivers, and on how he knew that the friendship would endure after Weddle signed with the Ravens:"It was never a question. I cherish and am very serious and sincere with the friendships I make, so nothing is going to get in the way of that. Obviously, we spent a lot of years together and still talk and reminisce, and I'm happy and proud of how he's played this year, and their team. I'm like an extended big brother to a lot of those guys, and to see them play the way they are is what we envisioned back in the day. But all that aside, we have a great challenge ahead of us, exciting second-to-the-last game of the season. Everything is right there for us to go get, and what better way than to go across the country and play one of the best teams, if not the best, playing right now in the league to earn our way into the playoffs? That's what I'm excited about. The past is in the past. I have no discomfort, hatred, whatever. That was almost four years ago, really, in my timeline, and they've moved. They're basically a different team to me, and I wish them well. I'm excited to lead my team and try to get a win."
On if he and Chargers QB Philip Rivers speak consistently, and if they've spoken this week:"We talk. We've texted a few times. We keep in touch throughout the season, and he texted me right after the [Tampa Bay] game. He was like 'All right, great win. Now, we can begin. Now, let's get after it.' We've texted a few times after that. I congratulated him on the Pro Bowl and told him how great they look on film and vice versa. It's been good talk. He's one of the best men I've ever been around and look up to in a lot of ways, so I'm grateful that I can say he's one of my friends, one of my brothers."
On his reaction to being selected to the Pro Bowl:"It's always an exciting moment to get voted in by your peers and coaches that you go against. It shows what they think of you and the challenge you are to scheme up against. I know what I bring to this team and how I've played. Obviously, I haven't made as many big plays as I'd like to, but a lot of what I do shows up in other areas. So, it's always a huge honor. I couldn't have done it without my teammates and coaches, and you never take it for granted, because you don't know how many chances or opportunities you'll get to get that honor. So, it's always amazing and special."
On S Tony Jefferson saying that he had caught Weddle watching Chargers film during OTAs:"I don't know, I don't know. _(laughter) Listen, we have to win, and I've known, obviously, that we would be playing them. And since it's towards the end of the season, I've had some extra time to watch them. But so much has changed from last year's film, just watching the team from afar, that it's kind of irrelevant. It was much more … I'm not watching OTA clips of what I'm doing, backpedaling and stuff, so it was more so just having fun with it. But, it's going to be a fun game. I'm going to have a lot of family and a lot of Ravens fans out there supporting us, and everything is right there for us. That's the exciting part, not so much going against my old team. It's about what's in front of us and our goals that we want to achieve."
On the unique environment of the StubHub Center, and if he has ever played and NFL game at a venue like it:"No, I've never even been there, quite honestly. I know it's 'intimate,' they say, and smaller, but when you get between the lines, you're not really focused on how big the stadium is or how loud it is. You get in your element, and you're zoned in on the play. So, we're champing at the bit to get out there and get on the field against these guys, for sure."
On if he has had to get better at the mental part of the game as he has gotten older:"If you're not trying to expand your game, then you'll be out of this league pretty quickly. Every year, it's a different element. This year has been different of … I've been the playmaker my whole career, and just not having many opportunities or chances [this year] to make those plays … But I'm still finding ways to affect the game and help my defense affect the opponent's offense by my looks, by my checks, my disguises and getting my teammates in the best position possible to be successful. We're the No. 1 defense for a reason, and that's our challenge this week, is to go out and act like it, play like it and give ourselves a chance to win. You're always trying to improve. Obviously, when you get up there in age, you have to take care of yourself much more. But I still have kept the same routine for the last eight, nine years. I work out every day. I get in the cold tub, sauna, and that's about it. I stay as far away from that training room as possible. It's bad juju." (laughter)
On if he's ever literally played chess with Chargers QB Philip Rivers:"No. (laughter) Definitely not." _(Reporter: "And, when you guys talk football, are you bouncing ideas off of each other? What does it look like when you two are kind of matching wits and talking football?") "Right now? Or back in the day?" _(Reporter: "Back in the day.") _Back in the day, it was after every series of going against each other that we'd come to the sideline and say, 'What did you see here? What were you doing? Why did you do this?' And then, during the season, we'd literally talk after every practice in the sauna or the cold tub about what he was doing, 'Hey, you get this check, you get this nickel, he's shaded inside. I get the shade to me to bring this pressure, so I'm going to check this route, and we're going to beat them.' This was everyday conversation. Then, he'd ask me what I saw, what the opponent is doing. It was just great dialogue, and we were there for each other through some low times. We didn't have many guys to talk to to keep us going throughout those seasons. I remember like yesterday, going against each other. It's going to be fun. It's going to be a fun battle, but it's about our team against the Chargers, not so much me versus them."