WEDNESDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: WEEK 6 at titans
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"OK, good to see everybody – appreciate you being here. It's a beautiful day, and we're deep in our preparations and really looking forward to practice today. I'm excited to get our guys out there and get to work. What do you have?"
The addition of CB/RS Cyrus Jones … How much does that help you moving forward? (Jamison Hensley) "It helps. I'm excited to have him. It's been kind of a roller coaster for Cyrus the last few weeks. Here, New England, here, back to New England, back here. We had some fun with that, with the guys. You can ask 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] about that. He's a Baltimore guy, he's really excited to be here, and we're excited to have him. We'll see how he works into the game plans."
Is the thought that you'll give him a shot to be the return guy? (Childs Walker)"He's done it before, so he's in the mix. Obviously, the thing about Tim [White] and Janarion [Grant], we could bring those guys up on Saturday if we wanted to. We just have to figure out the roster stuff. We have some other guys who are going to do it. John Brown is going to practice up back there. Of course, Willie [Snead IV] is back there practicing. I guess we'll just kind of find out on Sunday and let them figure out who it's going to be."
How much does the local aspect play? We had CB/RS Cyrus Jones' mother on at A Purple Evening the other night; she was really excited. A guy from the area playing for his hometown team, probably wants to really go out and do the best he can. Does that play into it, bringing a guy that grew up here rooting for the Ravens? (Kirk McEwen) "As far as bringing him in?" (Reporter: "Yes.")"No, no, it doesn't have anything to do with it, but it's nice. It's great. I watched him play in high school. I remember going over there and seeing him play at Unitas Stadium for a game. I talked to the team at halftime. They were playing a team from Colorado; they were down by 17 or 20 points. I gave them the halftime speech. Big rally – they won big! (laughter) Biff [Poggi, former head coach at Gilman School] gave me credit for that. Great, great, great guy, and we're excited to have him."
Are you looking forward to matching, not necessarily one-on-one, but going again with Dean Pees? You know him so well. And, that competition, is it cool, is it fun that you know him so well? Or, would you rather have a guy that you don't know anything about personally? (Pete Gilbert)"I don't think you make a value judgment on it. It's good. It's different. There are a lot of people in the league that you know. I played against my brother [Jim Harbaugh], obviously. I didn't play against him, but we had that matchup. Those matchups happen: Rex [Ryan], Jim Caldwell, Gary Kubiak, you have guys that go out – Teryl Austin – you just have that. It's part of the deal. Dean is part of that, and it will be fun, but it will be all business."
DB/LB Anthony Levine Sr.'s snap counts are up a little bit. What is he doing in the dime package that has been good for you guys? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Anthony Levine has been a big part of our sub packages, as you know, so he's been playing the dime 'backer and other positions. We k rotate those guys in different spots, but that's been out there a lot. Those packages have been on the field a lot. We've been getting a lot of three-wides and other spread-type of formations, so you want to put your personnel out there. We've also been in some third-and-longs. We've gotten people on third-and-long quite a but, so we automatically put dime out there. In the last game, we put dime out there a couple, three or four times, and they ran the ball on third-and-long, especially when they were backed up, but that's OK. He's been playing very well, and [we] probably need to give him a little break on special teams if he's going to be playing that much on defense. We have to figure all of that out."
It's been a little struggle for Tennessee offensively. What have you seen that has been their problem, perhaps, and what can you do to exploit it? _(David Ginsburg) _"We just have to play good defense. Every team has … Tennessee has very good offense. They have very good players. They have a quarterback that's a pass and a run quarterback, creates a problem for you. [They have a] veteran offensive line that gets on people, doesn't make mistakes, sustains blocks really well. [There is the] first-round-pick receiver [Corey Davis] who's playing very well, two very good backs, speedy receiver in Taywan Taylor from Western Kentucky—my dad's old school. We just have to defend the offense that we're going to get and we have to play good defense. We need to get out there and play great defense. That's something that we're planning on doing, and we need to do that."
There's a lot of talk with the Titans' defensive coordinator. How well do you think defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale has fit so far? Has it pretty much been your vision with how it's played out? I know it's early in the season, but just with his personality and the defense? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"Yes, I think 'Wink' is a really good coach, and all the coaches have done a great job, and we're just in there fighting right now. We're not evaluating. We're not really making all those kind of judgments right now. We're just trying to do the best we can, coach our guys the best way we can. Our guys are trying to learn the best way they can, play the best they can. Everybody's just in that mode. That's what we're focused on."
Going back to WR John Brown taking some... Working at returner a little bit, is that something that he came to you and he wanted to do? (Garrett Downing) _"I don't want to get into all of that. I probably shouldn't have even said anything, because now it's going to be a big story, and it doesn't need to be. But if he's back there returning punts, it'll be exciting, and he'll have to catch it first, just like everybody else, and hold on to it next. Sorry I said anything, to be honest with you." _(laughter)
RB Alex Collins
On what it will take to get more yards-per-carry in the run game:"I think what's most important is that we just stay consistent with what we've been doing and sticking to the gameplan. We watched the film, and it just shows that we're right there at times, and it's one player away, or one little mistake away from big yards or a big gain or possibly a touchdown. That's the most important thing, is that we just trust the gameplan and trust the system and trust what our coaches have been teaching us, and just do it out there on the field and execute."
On if his knee injury limited his ability on Sunday:"I wouldn't necessarily say it limited my ability, because I play through injury or [even] if it's bothering me a little bit. If I can go full-speed or full-go, it may limit me a little bit, but I wouldn't let it hold me back. And, that was just one of those things. They were just wanting to make sure that I would be able to go full-go on Sunday, and it wouldn't bother me, and just protecting it a little bit. It just bothered me a little bit, but not too bad, and that was the case."
On reasons for the higher pass rate than run rate: "It was just more a gameplan-kind-of deal, and we were just trying to get the ball downfield and [do] whatever it takes depending on the drive, or depending on how they were playing us. Cleveland] usually came out run-heavy to try and stop the run, and then we were just trying to get the play-action going and the pass going, so I feel like they both complement each other well. You get the good passing game going, and you open the defense up and create some more lanes for the run. As well as the run, [if] we get the run game going and hopefully get the defense biting on a lot of play action, [it's good for the pass]. It's just about that momentum thing, and they had the momentum before us in that last game."
On if his ball-security process is the same as last season:"Exactly, just pretty much that same process, just being more aware of it. It's just like how I did in that last game, just finishing with the ball with two hands and just being more aware. You get so caught up in running hard and trying to make a play and trying to make something happen that the ball security might slip up every now and then. But [it's about] just knowing that and just falling to the ground. That's another big thing: Guys tend to brace for the ground, and just being more aware of that and just taking the fall and protecting the ball and always having it on your mind just helps a lot."
On if it would help to get more consecutive carries to build momentum: "I think the rhythm comes with the gameplan. It's doing a lot, like I said earlier, with the passing game and the play-action and the run. I just feel like if we just stick to the gameplan, the runs will eventually open up."
On if it's difficult to keep faith and patience with the run game:"It's actually not difficult at all when you want to be successful, and you know that's what it takes, especially as a running back myself. You start wanting to get through the hole. You want to score a touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, but you have to be patient behind the offensive line, and that's just what we look for with the running game, and moving forward is just being patient and trusting the scheme. Our coaches are doing a great job installing these plays, and we just have to execute in practice and just stick to it."
On the Titans' defense: "They have a good front seven. They have a good defensive line, and we know these guys. We played these guys last year, so we're just scheming these guys up and putting new plays to attack these guys and find a way to win the game."
On if he feels like he's close to a big run: "Most definitely, and that's one of the things that we keep preaching, is just to keep sticking with it and just stay with the run game and don't give up on it. Keep pressing and keep hitting it the same way we've been doing, because it's going to open up. We just have to keep being patient and keep working at it and keep practicing our craft."
On if he sees differences in defenses when QB Lamar Jackson is on the field:"Yes, it definitely makes a difference, because he's a playmaker, and anytime a defensive team sees him on the field, they have to have that awareness that he's out there. I feel like with the ball in his hands or not in his hands, he definitely causes that chain reaction. He gets a lot of eyes, and everybody's looking at him trying to figure out what he's doing or what we drew up for him, and it helps us a lot as well. If I'm handing it off to him, or if I'm doing the eye-candy, he's faking it to me, it definitely gives them something else to game-plan about and something else to worry about, and just another way for us to attack a defense."
On the perception that the run game isn't working when there are instances of it being close, namely the run (called back by a penalty) to set up a potential game-winning field goal against Cleveland:"Exactly, and that's the thing. It's more gameplan and scheme and what works. We're trying to win the ball game at the end of the day, and it's not based off of the stats. It's based off what we need to do at that time to win the game. When you look at the game, it's like, 'Oh, we didn't have a 100-yard rushing game.' But like how you said, that one play could have set up that field goal to win the game. So, it is important, and that's what we just have to keep preaching, that just because we're not seeing the success at the stats, that what we're doing definitely is helping the team. We just have to keep doing what we're doing and getting better at it."
On if he jokes with QB Joe Flacco when he lines up at receiver:"No, because he's just luring defenses to sleep! (laughter) I know he said he was afraid earlier, but he might be catching some passes if they're not paying attention to him, so that's a good thing. Let him keep tricking them over there."
On if he'll stick with the Irish dance touchdown celebration all season: "I'm definitely going to stick with it the whole year, but I may mix it up, do something different or get my teammates involved. But definitely, I just feel like the cause and what I do it for – and my guy Carl [Stubbs, eighth-grade Irish dancer] with the bullying and just trying to be an inspiration for all those guys – a lot of kids out there that like to try new things, maybe they haven't seen the game before, and they turn in, and I'm Irish dancing on the field. It may be something that they might smile or like and just want to try out. So anything I can do to help, I'll definitely keep it going."
QB Joe Flacco
On the challenges the Titans' defense presents: "They're just a solid defense. They have a really good front, and they have guys in the back end that know how to play. They're always in the right spot. They're well-coached – you can tell that on film. They have a lot of really good players. So, they're just a solid, all-around defense."
On if practicing against a Dean Pees' defense for so many years gives Baltimore an advantage: "Compared to other teams, I'm sure it'll be a little bit familiar. But having said that, they have different players. Defensive coordinators do a really good job of game-planning for individual teams and also game-planning in ways that set up to the strengths of their individual players. Even though some of the looks will all look very familiar, there are going to be different guys over there, and we'll see what they want to do against us."
On if it's an advantage to the Titans knowing that defensive coordinator Dean Pees understands what Flacco does and doesn't like to do:"I don't know. I'm sure there's probably parts on both. It goes both ways. I'm sure that we think that we know probably more than we actually know. I'm sure that they think they know more than they actually know. I think you're dealing with prideful people, and everyone tends to think that they have a leg up. But who knows?"
On if it's different going up against a former defensive coordinator compared to a former player: "I'm not going to look too much into it. It is a little interesting, the fact that [Dean Pees] had been here so long and that they do a lot of the stuff that – especially on first and second down – that we're used to seeing. But as a quarterback, that takes you so far. On offense, it's still about execution. All the other guys … We've had moving parts throughout that whole time Dean [was] here. It's not like everyone [has] seen this defense for 10-straight years. It takes the full 11 [players] to execute and really just take it week-by-week. Like I said, I think there's probably a little bit to be said about it, but maybe not as much as you want to think."
On what his approach is to a receiver who is struggling with drops: "It's really just to keep executing and not really change anything. Besides just trying to give him the confidence that I'm still going his way when it calls for it, and I still believe that it's going to be the difference. We're all out there trying to do our part and make plays that are going to change the game. I think sometimes you just have to relax, and let the game come to you. Mike [Crabtree] has great hands. When you see him out here catching – he has one of the surest pair of hands I've ever seen. It's just about relaxing, letting the game come to you, not trying to do too much. It's something that he'll definitely get over." (Reporter: "So is that something that you said to Michael this week?") "Yeah, I try to say it. He came up to me on the plane on the way home. I just smiled and said, 'Listen, I know it's not always going to be this way.' I've always said [that] eventually drops and all that stuff, it hurts you. Like I said, we're a very prideful group, and he's a very prideful person, works really hard at what he does so that's not the issue. If that was the issue, then it might need to be addressed, but that's not it. It's just something that we have to overcome together, really."
On if vs. Cleveland, he had more time to survey the field but was unable to find an open man more so than previous weeks: "I think first of all, our offensive line is doing a really good job. They are really playing well. They're staying on guys, [but] that was a good [defensive] front. I think Cleveland did a good job of playing tight and trying to make us at least throw in tight windows and things like that. A couple of those times that I was surveying, there were plays where we were getting up and getting them snapped quickly, and they were kind of off-balance. It almost kind of ended up hurting us. It seemed they weren't aligned correctly, but they ended up sprinting to places and had guys covered. There's probably a couple throws that I want back, because maybe there was a guy that came open late, and I just wasn't on him at that point in time or just got there a little too late, whatever it might be. It was a combination of us just not executing, not being as sharp as we want to be – and them making the windows just a little bit tighter and making sure we were on top of it as much as we can be. We just weren't consistent enough with our sharpness all day."
On how he addresses the offense's confidence after a loss:"There are so many things we're doing well. I always say that it starts up front, and those guys are really, really playing well. They're playing well together, they're playing physical, really in the right spots, doing what they're supposed to be doing. I think as those guys continue to do that, then everything else falls in place and comes together. When you look at the film, we just weren't as sharp as we want to be. There are still a lot of good things, and obviously, there are things that just weren't as good as they usually are. It starts with me, but as long as we can continue to rely on those guys up front playing that way, I don't think it's going to happen too much. I think we're still a very confident group, ready to move forward."
On the ideal number of passes to throw in a game: "You come up with the gameplan throughout the course of the week and you go out there and you just do it. As a player, that's what you do. Then when you look up at the end of the game – it is what it is. The optimum pass attempts, or run attempts, are really whatever the hell gets you the win. Completions are very important, yards per play and run/pass game are very important – those are things that matter. It's one of those things when you look around the league, especially this year for whatever reason, the first few weeks when you're looking at the stats, a lot of the quarterbacks tend to have a ton of passes. We're probably averaging almost 80 plays a game here, and it seems like we're running a lot of plays, too. So that's also something that goes into it. But yeah, as far as my part in it, and really everybody's part in it, [is] you just go out and execute the gameplan. Sometimes you don't realize until you look up at the end that you've thrown the ball that many times. But in this day and age, I mean, 40 pass attempts is just normal. Those days when you're throwing the ball 25-30 times, they're lovely days, because usually you completed a good amount of them and you're winning the football game. But it's really a determination of the way the game is going more than anything."
On if he's careful when lining up at wide receiver:"From my standpoint, like am I giving them different looks? No, I'm really not. (laughter) I mean, you can see me – I'm out there just standing. I'm really just trying to stay out of the way of everything. That's what I'm told to do; that's what I'm doing. I think I've told a few of you guys, but my wife gave me crap the one day and told me I needed to look more interested out there. But I'm just trying to stay out of it. I'm not comfortable out there. I haven't been out there in a very long time, so I don't need to try to get too creative. I mess around in practice a little bit, but that's about it." (Reporter: "Did you play receiver at any level?") "Yeah, when I first started playing football in seventh or eighth grade, I played wideout."
On if he thinks in any scenario this year he'll have a chance to catch the ball: "I sure hope not. (laughter) Hey – if it needs to be done, it needs to be done. But like I said, I sure hope I don't have to do that."
ILB C.J. Mosley
On if it will be strange facing Titans' defensive coordinator Dean Pees: "I don't know if he will be upstairs or on the sideline, but no. Maybe before the game, [seeing him] in a different color. But no, it's all love. I'm happy he's doing well. I look forward to our offense playing against him and catching up with him after the game."
On how much the defense wants to show-out for defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale: "I mean, that's every week regardless of if we're playing against a former coach or former anybody. All the work he's put in leading up to him getting his new promotion, and all the work he's put in since he's been here … Every week we want to go out and perform for ourselves, and also for our coaches for all the work they've put in during the week."
On what he remembers most about Dean Pees as the Ravens' defensive coordinator:"Just his work ethic, him being the first person here and the last person out, just everything that he's been through that he can bring to the table for the young guys coming in – and for vets. [He was] always trying to put guys in the right position and doing his best as a coach. One thing he didn't do: He never steered us in the wrong direction. He always stayed upfront with us and told us the right things. He was on our side when we didn't perform as well, and he stayed on our side when we did."
On his reaction to Pees' retirement announcement then signing to be Tennessee's defensive coordinator:"It is what it is. At that time, he felt that it was the right thing to do for his family, but he's a coach. He's been coaching his whole life – his son is a coach. That's in his DNA. You can't fault him for wanting to keep doing his job. Like I said, I'm happy for him, at the end of the day."
On if defensive coordinator Don Martindale is the same as he was when he was a linebackers coach and if that's a reason why players have embraced him: "Nothing has really changed. As far as his approach, and the way he acts, he still wears his Jordans and stuff around the facility. Besides him having a new [title] – like being over the whole defense – that's probably the only thing that's changed pretty much."
On how to view a game where the defense was stout but gave up several game-changing plays:"You just have to learn from the mistakes. At the end-of-the-half drive, in the two-minute [situation], and at the end of the game, that's what we did. We had some communication issues, and on a few of the drops we didn't have good eyes. So coach said it best, 'We had great effort in the game, but you want to finish the game.' At the end of the day, that's what we didn't do." (Reporter: "Can we go back? You said, 'communication issues.' We asked you about that, and I think you were asked specifically about that third-and-8 play – that game-winning drive. Is that the play you were talking about?")"No, that wasn't it. It was the big play that got [Cleveland] in their territory. We just didn't get their whole call to everybody." (Reporter: "The one where [Jarvis] Landry caught the ball and no one was on him?") "Yes, sir, that play. That big third-and-long, we were in Cover 1, so he just made a good catch and throw on that one."
On Titans QB Marcus Mariota: "He's a little different than [Baker] Mayfield. When he scrambles he can definitely make the pass, but he's definitely going to look to run more than not. He's good at getting out of the pocket, avoiding the sack. So for us, [we need to] try our best to just keep him in the pocket, and when he does get out, just have a good plaster defense. If they do catch the ball, try to run it down."
On if the defense has been stressing turnovers: "Not really stressing, because he had eight pass breakups [last game]. I mean, sometimes they fall in your lap, sometimes you have to go make a great play. We've been in the right positions, we've just haven't had a lot of plays where we can get the ball off the quarterback or get the easy interceptions. If you keep doing your job and making the right reads and right drops, then those plays are going to come. We always emphasize in practice, because that's one of our goals on defense is to lead the league in turnovers. If you emphasize in practice, it will come in a game."
On if he feels like his knee is back at full strength: "During the season, you're never going to be 100 percent. For the most part it's pretty good. The last two weeks, it didn't really affect me during the game. [I'm] just going to keep doing my normal treatment and make sure I don't have any setbacks or things like that."
On the mindset it takes to win on the road in the NFL: "You just have to have a resiliency. Everything isn't going to go your way, especially on the road. You're not going to get all the calls you want. The plays that always work in practice, they might not work in the game on the road. But at the end of the day, you just have to keep fighting and stick together. Two weeks ago, we were getting all the praises for a big win on the road, and last week we lost in overtime. We have to make sure as a team, we stay level-headed and make sure we have each other's back and go out with the same intensity that we're going to try to win every game."
On if QB Marcus Mariota's yards-per-attempt average puts more pressure on the linebacker corps: "No."
On how LB Anthony Levine Sr. fits in the modern defense and what he has done to step his game up this season:"It shows a lot of credit to our guys that don't start, that they can come in, have the same position and same defense, but put guys at different positions. We can have three or four guys play the same position, but we just make it a different package. It all depends what the offense brings to the table. If there's a tight end that's going to run his routes, then we'll have a DB that can play dime so he can be in the box and still cover and still play the run. It just shows the type of guys that we have that can do different things and not be limited, just because they're not starting."
On his thoughts on RB Derrick Henry and having to hit a former Alabama teammate:"I still owe him from last year, because they had a big third-down conversion at the end of the game. I tried to knock down the stiff arm, and he broke the tackle on me. I have to make sure that this time I don't let him get a big play. But it's always fun watching former teammates, especially going against them on the offensive side, because you don't really get to play against them as hard as you can [in practice]. It's always a good thing seeing your former teammates in the league."
On if he doesn't like not wearing the helmet speaker: "No, I can catch my breath when a long drive is going. Like I said, it just shows you again how the defense trusts each other and how 'Wink' [Martindale] trusts whoever has the mic. When [Eric] Weddle gets the call, he relays it, and I'm still doing a lot of the talking up front and he can get back and do his thing. Whether I get it this week coming up or not, I mean, it won't' make a big difference."
S Eric Weddle
On how going against Dean Pees is a factor in the matchup with the Titans:"I'm just worried about the Tennessee offense, quite honestly. They know each other. It'll be back and forth. There are going to be changes. I don't think it's going to be looked at as much [internally] as the outside really looks into it."
On if there's extra motivation to play well for defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale:"It's not on our focus, quite honestly. We just want to get a win and get to 4-2. That's our whole focus, our agenda – playing good football as a team. You never want to have back-to-back losses throughout a season, so it's going to be a tough test for us, but we're ready. We got a great start yesterday, and [we'll] continue throughout the week."
On QB Marcus Mariota: "He's had the little, whatever his arm injury [was], but he can make all the throws. He's obviously dangerous in the openfield, extending plays, moving the chains. He's actually done a lot more running with the ball than last year when we played against him. Knowing that, we just have to always be on-call with our assignments and playing good team defense and eliminate the big plays. Obviously, [it's about] the same thing every week, week-in week-out. But he does present some challenges offensively, because he's so athletic, so explosive in the openfield with running the ball, that you don't want him ruining the game for you, especially on third down."
On what he likes most about defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale: "I think the communication. He's very open [with] game-planning. Obviously, we're playing well as a defense, but it takes everyone. It takes the assistant coaches. It takes the players buying in. It's just a complete team effort. It's not just one guy. Obviously, he's leading us, but by his leadership and the assistant coaches, we're all doing and believing in the same goal. I just think we're prepared for a lot of situations that come up, and it shows in critical situations. [We] come out with red zone, two-minute, up tempo … We've played really well in those situations."
On what he appreciated most about Dean Pees as the Ravens' defensive coordinator:"Along the same lines, they're very similar. We'd have our weekly meetings – myself and C.J. [Mosley], some of the older guys – to go over the gameplan. He was very open if I ever had anything that came up with what I thought with schemes or blitzes or the way we ran coverages or things like that. So, he was an amazing man, great coach – nothing but great things my two years with him. It was tough to see him go. And then obviously, seeing him go back into coaching, we were all happy for him, because we know how much he loves coaching. But he's with them now. We appreciate what he did here, but we're doing our thing now, and he's doing his."
On what he's seen from CB/RS Cyrus Jones: "I know he came in and worked hard his previous stint with us. He obviously has ability as a corner. I know we brought him in to return, and he just needs to hold on to the rock, and we'll love him. It will be good." (laughter)
G Marshal Yanda
On facing former defensive coordinator Dean Pees:"I feel like that happens a good amount in the NFL, whether it's players or coaches – moving teams and switching positions. We have a lot of respect for Dean Pees around here. Obviously, Dean was a great coordinator for us, and we're looking forward to playing him on Sunday. It just is what it is. You try not to overhype it too much."
On if he sees similarities in the Titans' defense: "Yes, for sure. We're watching the tape and putting the gameplan in and executing that, and we'll be ready to roll on Sunday."
On how you set the tone for the week after a loss:"You do it. Wednesday comes, and it's all on to the Titans. Win, lose, or draw the game before – we're putting our best foot forward. We just concentrate on putting that game behind us, win or loss, and just focus on a one-game season. What's the task at hand? This task at hand is the Titans and just everybody working hard every single day to have a good performance on Sunday. There's not a lot of thought that goes into it. These are one-game seasons no matter what – road game, home game, one-game seasons. We move on."
On what it's going to take for the run game to get going:"Just execution. That sounds simple, but execution at a high level, all 11 guys doing their job – that's what it takes. That's what it takes in the passing game; that's what it takes in the run game as well. There's not a special recipe or a way to get it done. We just have guys getting on their guys and executing the play to the best of their ability. Those runs are going to come. We feel like nobody's panicking. We have the guys that can do it and the scheme that can do it where everyone is going to put their head down and keep going."
On if the Ravens are a passing offense this year:"To be honest, I don't look at it that way. I don't look at it run or pass. I'm happy to be back. I'm happy to be playing football. Obviously, it's good being back out there, and you don't want to worry about that stuff because it doesn't really matter on Sunday, whether it's a run or a pass or if we're a pass offense. The play that's called on Sunday is the one where you have to execute to the best of your ability. [The outside talk] is just a distraction to a younger player and a distraction for any player. We're going to roll with the plays that are called. That's Marty [Mornhinweg, offensive coordinator] and Greg's [Roman, assistant head coach/TEs] calls, and we're just going to roll. I try not to worry about that stuff. I really don't think about it."
TENNESSEE TITANS CONFERENCE CALL
(with Baltimore Media)
Head Coach Mike Vrabel
Can you just talk about the impact defensive coordinator Dean Pees has made on the defense? (Jamison Hensley) "Dean has always been a great coach. He was a coach of mine. I admired what he did from afar in Baltimore, and when the opportunity presented itself, I tried to take advantage of it. The guys really like him. Replacing Dick LeBeau anywhere is not an easy thing to do, and I was very aware of that, but I felt like we needed a change, and Dean has been everything that I had hoped for."
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees had retired here in Baltimore. What was the process of you reaching out to him and gauging his interest for the job before you hired him? (Aaron Kasinitz)"I called John [Harbaugh], and I called Ozzie [Newsome], and I said, 'I would like to contact Dean. I understand that he's still coming to work over there. I know that he's retired, but with your blessing, I'd like to at least give him a call and ask him and see if he could help me out over here, be a part of what we're trying to get started here in Tennessee.' That was the first thing I did. They thanked me for the call, and they said, 'That would be fine.' They appreciated the call, and so I felt like, hey, at least as a new coach, I was doing things the right way. (laughter) [It was] just off my gut, just trying to do the right thing and call. And then, I contacted Dean, and he had to take some time, and then we visited some more and took a couple days to kind of look at things, and then ultimately he made a decision."
To you, does this look like a typical Ravens defense? What are your impressions of the group you're going to be facing Sunday? (Jeff Zrebiec)"It's as advertised. 'Wink' [Martindale] has a great group to work with. He does a good job with them. Listen, these guys are big, they're long, they're instinctive, they're productive. They have veterans that still produce at a high level, they have young players that are getting better every week, long corners, stout inside, long – they bat a million balls down – 40 PBUs, 15 called holding penalties, No. 1 in the league in pass defense. I don't have enough time to talk to you about the defense. It's really good."
Is T Taylor Lewan's status something that you think will go right down until the end of the week? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I think so. I would probably anticipate this thing, hopefully, improving. But then we'll have to see where he's at at the end of the week and if he's able to practice."
Where is QB Marcus Mariota at and how happy are you with his progress? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"Marcus was full [participation]. He's not on the injury report. So, he's continuing to get better and develop within our offense – this new offense, working with Matt [LaFleur, offensive coordinator] and the receivers and everybody. We just talked to the entire team about trying to be more consistent in what we do – whether that be run defense, whether that be running the football, throwing the football, third down, just more consistent. We had 26 runs of three yards or less last week, and seven for 71 yards. So apparently on 26 runs you're really good at run defense and then on seven you stink. So, we just have to be more consistent. There are some plays that look really good, and there are some that we need to improve. There are some coaching things that I and my staff do a good job at, and there are some things that we have to improve."
How much has that bothered you, the opposition it's gained in the run game?*_(Jeff Zrebiec) _*"Yeah, I don't think that … You have to be able to stop the run, and I don't know if that … It kind of hurt us at the end of the game. You have to just not allow them to control the football game. They can run the ball 43 times, because they're in control of the game – it's a close game, 43 times for a 3.3-yard average – but because of where the game was and it was tight and it was a one-score game, it was a field goal game, the whole time, they were able to do those things. If you can get a lead, then those 43 runs now become 23."