WEDNESDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: WEEK 5 at cleveland
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Good to see everybody, appreciate you being here. Nice day, and we're ready to continue the preparation with Cleveland. Excited about the opportunity, going up there, a division game. We expect the crowd to be very into it. [This is] a very good Cleveland Browns team, a very young team. They've transformed the team over the last couple years, and they're playing very well, so it'll be a big challenge for us."
What have been your impressions of QB Baker Mayfield? (Jamison Hensley) "He's played very well. Just what we thought coming put, he's the same quarterback in the NFL that he was in college. Very accurate, very aggressive, and a lot of juice, a lot of energy, and he's making plays for them."
You just said it, they're a young team. When you watch them on film, does it seem like they've added a lot of dynamic talent over the last couple years? (Childs Walker)"It does. If you look at the numbers, they've added a lot of new players. They have over 30 new players. They drafted really well – a lot of dynamic players. They put a lot of money into the offensive line. The centers and two guards are veteran players. They're not just a young team; they have good veteran players, too, good leadership. They look good."
Your defense hasn't given up a touchdown in the second half – I hope I didn't jinx it there – but is it the adjustments that defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale has made? Are they just in good shape? Do you have any reason behind it? (David Ginsburg) "I'll stick with coincidence. That's what we talked about last week, right? We've just played good football in the second half. We have made adjustments. All of the things that you do as coaches, you game-plan certain ways, you prepare for certain parts of the game and all of that, but it's the guys that have gone out and played really well. That's really what it is. They've executed, they've made plays, turned it over a few times. We've stopped the run. We've just played really good football in the second half. I think the players deserve the credit. They're the ones out there doing it, and they're doing a great job."
The longer that goes on, does it become a source of pride to the players to just keep that streak going? (Shawn Stepner) "I don't think so. Afterwards, maybe at a press conference when you're talking about it, they might appreciate it. But, they don't think about that during the game at all. It's not like, 'Oh, we need to get a stop here.' It's about getting a stop here, and there's just way too much to think about in terms of what's right there in front of you, to play the play at hand, to be thinking about stuff like that. Concentration is the best way to take care of things and do your job well, and they've done a nice job on concentrating from one play to the next and playing well in the second half, and that's been good."
It seems like for the first four games, every phase seems to have contributed to the wins. But, does it feel like, just because of how the team is constructed, that, if any given game, if you need the offense or the defense or special teams to come through, that you're built that way, that any phase could come up and step up? _(Jamison Hensley) _"Yes, you do feel that way. You want to be a balanced team. You want to have a … You want to be strong in every area. You want to be as strong as you can in every area, and that's something that we're building towards right now. That's true for each phase, as you're saying. That's also true for each player. If you look at the players on the field last week, I thought a number of our guys came through and made plays in critical situations, and that's what we really encourage our players to be prepared to do. You don't have to walk around all day being 'the man,' but when it's time to be the man, when you're needed to be the man, we need you to be the man, and a lot of guys did that in this [past] game. You could pick out each one of our players – Willie Snead, Buck Allen, just off the top of my head, 'Crab' [Michael Crabtree] offensively, guys on defense that stepped up and made plays in critical situations. So, if we can keep building on that, that'd be good for us."
We talked about the cornerbacks and the depth there. I know he's been around for a while. Do you view CB Brandon Carr as a potential option inside, too, or would you guys prefer keeping him on the outside? (Jeff Zrebiec) "We do. He plays inside also. In certain coverages, both Marlon [Humphrey] and Jimmy [Smith] can go inside, too. Tavon [Young] can go outside. It's a good situation to have a number of guys healthy that can play corner. We have a lot of confidence in all of our guys, all the way down the roster to the practice squad, so we're excited about that, and it should help us.
On that subject, will you look at … Is CB Jimmy Smith cleared, will he practice, and then will it be a game-time decision? How is that going to work? (David Ginsburg) "He will practice, and we'll just have to see at practice how he looks, how he feels. He hasn't been here for four weeks. He says he's been training. I'm sure he has – went through that yesterday with him a little bit. It will be fun to get out here and watch him play, and we'll know when you know."
When you guys were redesigning the receiving corps in the offseason, was there a real emphasis not on just accumulating good players, but on getting guys who would really fit together and kind of give you threats on every part of the field? (Childs Walker)"Yes, that was part of it. Ozzie [Newsome] did a great job with that. You can't always control that. What's available, and the circumstances of getting guys signed, and all those different crazy things that happened in the offseason with contracts and things, are usually out of your control to a big degree, but I thought it fell together really well. Ozzie had … His process was really good, and he just put it together really well. Those guys were fits from the beginning. A number of you guys wrote about that, how they seemed to fit together, and that was all true."
Following up on that, the result of which, after four games, it's not a full, huge sample size but certainly enough to look at. QB Joe Flacco is on pace for 5,000 yards, 32 touchdowns and 8 picks, which would be the best year of his career. Is it satisfying to see you had this plan, and at least through four games, it has certainly evolved to where you want it to be? (Pete Gilbert) "That's exactly the point, in perspective. Through four games, it's a quarter of the season. You could say we're on schedule, but we're never satisfied. We have a lot of work to do. You're only as good as your next opportunity, and we have a big opportunity in Cleveland, and that's what our focus is."
How do you approach the challenge of preparing for a quarterback who only has a game-and-a-half of NFL experience? Do you dig back into the Oklahoma tape? _(Aaron Kasinitz) _"Oh yeah, we've looked at all of that. We've seen the Oklahoma tape, and we look at every bit of information we can get on any player, especially a quarterback."
Going off of that, do you approach TE Mark Andrews at all this week, just because he was in the huddle with QB Baker Mayfield in college? (Jordan Schatz) "We do, Orlando [Brown Jr.] as well, but there's really not that much that those guys can tell you. You kind of talk about it, but I can't really say we've gotten any great information that way, to be honest with you. Honestly,I thought we'd get more." (laughter
What about Hard Knocks? Did you go back and watch that, too? (Pete Gilbert) "I never watch Hard Knocks. Nope, nope. Not a fan, not interested. Couldn't care less about Hard Knocks, just for the record." (laughter) (Reporter: "So you're not lobbying for it here?") "No, not lobbying for it."
On a similar track, can you ask QB Robert Griffin III for tips about Cleveland's offense? (Ed Lee) "Yes, but it's different now, because Hue [Jackson] was running the show completely. There's still a lot of Hue in the offense, for sure – very creative. We played against Hue so much, I feel like we have a good feel for him. But Robert, as we go through the meetings and stuff like that, can add one thing or another, based on what he sees on tape when we're talking about it. He doesn't sit in our defensive meetings, but we do communicate as much as we can with all the players, all the information we can get, but I just don't think you should make too much out of that. They're really a different offense than they've ever been before with a lot of different influences with Baker Mayfield. And obviously, Todd Haley is a whole new flavor to the whole thing. You just really go by what you see on tape, and you work off of that."
Are you seeing any Pittsburgh in the Cleveland offense? And also, what do you emphasize to rookie quarterbacks? You had QB Joe Flacco and now you have QB Lamar Jackson. (Mike Preston)"As far as the coaching the quarterback part of it? The Todd Haley part of it, yes. Todd is the offensive coordinator, and I would say that he's the foundation of the offense. What he's put in is so much of his influence there, it's basically, that's what the offense is, with other elements. Hue [Jackson] has had a big influence. They have other coaches on their staff – Al Saunders – and you kind of know coaches and what they bring to the table. It's a team effort, but I definitely think it's a Todd Haley offense. The second part of that is, what do you talk to the rookie quarterbacks about? I don't say too much to them, because I'm not a quarterback coach. I'm the head coach. For me, I just kind of try to build a relationship with them and get to know them, and if I see something that has merit, especially from a defensive perspective or just a football perspective, I'll try to talk to them about it and have a good relationship with them. But our guys … Marty [Mornhinweg] does a great job with that; James [Urban] does a great job with that. It would be a great question for those guys, but to me, like any other position, it's about fundamentals. You try to teach them the fundamentals of the game. The quarterback position, just like any position, has fundamentals that need to be drilled and worked on, and young quarterbacks have further to go than anybody. Hey, Joe [Flacco] is still working on his fundamentals, right? How to read plays out is very specific. There's a lot to it. Every play is a little bit different. Every defense is different. That's the thing about football. There are so many levels to it. Chess is two-dimensional. Football is every-dimensional – however many dimensions there are, football is involved, even down to the psychology of it. So, it's an ongoing process, but it'd be a great question for Marty, or if you get a chance to interview James, he could probably give you more details on that."
Defensively, would you do anything differently when you're facing a rookie quarterback compared to last week when you were facing a 14-year veteran like QB Ben Roethlisberger? (Jamison Hensley) "Oh yes. Absolutely. There's a difference. Ben has seen it all, so that chess game is way more detailed. There's more of, 'Yes, but he knows that, and he knows that we know that he knows that we know, but we know that he knows,' going on. And then there's the rookie. He might not know. But, Baker Mayfield is pretty advanced. He's not, I don't think, a rookie in the true sense. He seems like he has a really good feel for the game."
Coming out of the draft, was he a quarterback that you looked at and you really liked what you saw in college? _(Ryan Mink) _"Oh yes, he's a guy … You couldn't help but like what you saw in college. That was really true with all five of those [first-round] guys. All five of those guys, you felt like really had a great chance to make it, and it looks like they're all making it, so it was a good class."
How satisfying was the play with TE Maxx Williams up on the line [at Pittsburgh]? You don't really do stuff like that. Everybody nationally was talking about it. It's interesting. _(Kirk McEwen) _"Yes, it was great. It was a huge play in the game. They played 'Renegade.' It was a key third-down conversion. It was big in the game. We've been practicing that for about a year now. There are some intricacies to it. We had to have … The tight end had to be back deep enough where he was [not on the line]. It's not like a wide receiver or a normal tight end wing, where they talk about a blade of grass. They want it to be clear-cut, because they don't want it to deceive the defense. They don't want it to be an unfair advantage for the offense, so we had to make sure Maxx was far back enough where he wasn't breaking the belt, the front belt, of the center, and he did a good job of that, because his front hand was behind the heels of the center. I just thought it was executed perfectly and beautifully, and really, that's what it boils down to with plays like that. It's how you execute them. They're great ideas when they work. They're really bad ideas when they don't."
WR Michael Crabtree
On QB Joe Flacco's confidence and how fun it's been to watch him:"It's been exciting – especially as a receiver. The whole offense as a whole, I think we are just now getting started."
On if he thought his production would be what it is:"It's the first quarter of the season – four games, still have 12 more. So, we still have more to see."
On the difference of making a contested catch to dropping an open pass:"It's football, man. You're going to drop some. My main objective is to catch all of them. Like I said, it's early right now. I'm out there just playing. Whatever it may be, I'll just take it, man, and run with it."
On how much potential he has seen out of the offense:"It's hard, because I'm out there playing. I'm not a coach or somebody on the side watching. It's really just every day for me, trying to get better and doing my job and helping the guys around me. [If] we can do that, I think we can flourish."
On what he saw Sunday night and what he expects Sunday from an AFC North team like Cleveland: "I'm new to the rivalry and conference play. I'm looking at it a little different, because it's just a game to me. But the guys that [are] in the building – they've been going to war for years. I'm just taking it as a game and trying to do the best I can, as a receiver and [for] the receiving group. That's all we focus on is doing our job."
On what makes WR John Brown special: "It's 'Smokey' Brown. He's a football player – go deep, run the intermediate routes, the quick game – he can do it all. Like I said, good group of guys." (Reporter: "What's he like personality-wise?")"'Smoke' is cool, man. 'Smoke' is cool. You know, he has personality. He might not show it to you guys – I'm probably the same way – but he's a funny guy."
On the story behind the chain on his locker:"'Tuck' [Justin Tucker] put that on my locker during camp, so I just kept it there. Tucker has got a million jokes, so he belongs on somebody's TV or in Hollywood or something. (laughter)Right now, he's in the football locker room, so I'm just laughing at him. He's a good dude." (Reporter: "Are those jokes funny?") "Majority of them." (laughter)
On if the wide receivers complement each other:"What do you think? What do you see?" (Reporter: "It looks like it does.")"Well, yeah, every day at practice, I'd say. I can't control what you think, but I just know we go out there every day and we work hard, and we try to be the best that we can be."
QB Joe Flacco
On if this is the most complete team he has been a part of:"We're only four games in. Obviously, we like some of the stuff we're doing. We can get better at a lot of stuff, like always. But it's tough to compare to 10 years' worth of football teams. We've had a lot of good teams in here that have sustained good years throughout 16-games-plus. It's tough to compare a team that's only been going at it for four weeks, and kind of talk us up more than we should. It's early in the year. We're playing well, but we're still making some mistakes. We have the potential to be a good football team – we just have to continue to make it."
On if his passing game is closer to where he wants it to be: "We have the capability of doing so much and making and getting a lot of chunk yardage. We're still leaving some stuff out there, which I think is a positive if you look at it, because we have the potential to just be even more than what we've been the last few weeks, and that's exciting. I think guys … Nobody works like the guys that are on our team. The character of us and the way we fight through things – it's all positives. I think we're doing some really good things, and I think we're still leaving some stuff out there. So, I'd just like to see us get a little bit more consistent across the board."
On if there's a philosophical change behind the offense or are the components working better:"I think philosophy-wise, you tend to be … Coaches tend to cater towards what kinds of players we have. I think it's a mixture of both of those things. Seeing what we're capable of doing and adjusting to that, me and Marty [Mornhinweg, offensive coordinator] another year under our [belt], another year with me and him feeling each other out and working with each other – I think a lot of things go into it. We added some good pieces. I always talk about it, and it sounds cliché, but having a fully-intact offensive line – guys that are healthy and guys that are playing really well – it just makes all the difference in the world in terms of how you operate as an offense."
On how being able to throw a deep ball changes the rest of the field for him:"Just the ability for you to do that, it makes it easier to move the ball as an offense. When you get those chunks, you don't have to convert so many third downs – so it obviously does that. But yeah, it opens up other things and it forces people to cover things in a certain way. I think we have guys that are really good in doing those things. Whether it's our tight ends or whether it's Mike [Crabtree] or Willie [Snead IV], some of those guys can stretch the field in their own right. It's definitely exciting to push the ball down the field that way, just because of all the things that it creates and the guys we have to take advantage of those opportunities."
On potentially having rookie TE Hayden Hurst available on Sunday:"I think we have a well-rounded group of tight ends. Maxx [Williams] and Nick [Boyle] can really do a lot of everything, but they're just such physical players. When they do get the ball in their hands, they're very tough to bring down. Mark [Andrews] has done a great job stepping in, and the addition of Hayden – obviously the kind of player he is – is going to help us out. But the variation we can have with those guys, the looks that we can create, is just going to make us even more multiple and tougher to defend, is the idea. I think it's going to help us out a lot."
On what brother, Towson QB Tom Flacco, did to draw a penalty after leaping into the end zone: "I wouldn't even know that he got a penalty besides the fact that I talked to my dad. I think he was going, from what he said, he was going to spin the ball or something. I don't know. I didn't talk to him about it. I haven't even seen the play, so I really don't know. It's the first game I haven't been able to watch, because we've been on the road."
On the Browns leading the league in takeaways: "They have a lot of guys that play really hard and really run to the football. You think of takeaways, and as a quarterback you think interceptions and things like that. But these guys really run to the football and they tackle the ball and they do a good job of [surrounding]. Because they run to the ball so well, when balls do come out, they have a lot of guys around it and they're able to corral it and get on it themselves. I think that's a big thing, and they created a decent amount of turnovers Week 1. Anytime you have a big game, and it's only a few weeks in, that also goes into it."
On if the Browns have done a good job of adding guys the Ravens will have to game-plan for: "They're a good football team. The good thing for us is they've always played us really tough. We've played a lot of games with them that have come down to the wire. They have a lot of good … Going along with all the stuff that they do very well, they have a lot of good personnel over there and a lot of guys that can really play football. It should be a tough test for us, for sure."
On how fun his hot start has been and why he can continue the pace: "Hey – it's always good to start on a roll, especially with new guys. Winning is the most important thing, but I believe doing the things that we're doing and creating the kind of numbers we are on offense, it creates more of a team atmosphere, and everybody's in it, everybody's carrying their weight. It just creates more of a confidence as a team and really more camaraderie in a lot of things. Yeah, winning is the most important thing, but there are things that go into that, that also create a winning environment, and I think playing well on both sides of the ball is a big part of that."
On if it's contagious when young players make key plays: "I think there's definitely a huge element of that. When you get used to being a confident group and guys that – even though they aren't getting a ton of reps – when they get used to watching a certain guy do it a certain way and seeing it happen over and over again on film and out at practice, the expectations of everybody really start to rise. I think that's a big part of it."
On if there's someone he wants to throw the ball to no matter where they are on the field:"I know going into every situation that no matter where the ball ends up, it's going to be a guy that I want to throw the ball to. I think the guys are just doing a really good job of creating good throwing environments, and they're just getting open quickly, doing such a good job up at the line of scrimmage and getting releases and all the different things you have to do to get open. That's awesome to see as a quarterback."
On how quickly the rapport with WR John Brown developed: "You could see that he was special from an early point. But I would say in the first week of training camp, when we were able to really start getting some of the stuff that we were going to be doing during the year. When were in pads, against a good defense in our own – you could really start to see some of the things that make him special. He's really smooth, he has really good ball skills, and he does a lot of things really well that help him out."
S Tony Jefferson
On if he thought he scored a touchdown on the fumble recovery at Pittsburgh: "I did think I scored. Looking back at it, obviously there was some contact between that. Overall, I got the ball back to our offense. They were fortunate enough to get some points, and those are the types of plays you need – especially at Heinz Field."
On if he needs a scouting report on Browns QB Baker Mayfield, being an Oklahoma alum himself: "It's funny – he actually texted me the other day. We were going back and forth, having fun a little bit. It's going to be exciting going against an OU legend. But, [we have to] get after it."
On if the Browns are more dynamic this year: "Absolutely. Look at their receiving corps and what they've done. They've been talented there throughout the years. Jarvis Landry brings a new element to that team. We've faced Jarvis a lot, and what he can do after the catch and how he gets the ball is very important. As defenders, you always have to keep an eye out for that guy. He demands attention. They've been moving the rock, obviously. I think they're what, Top 3 in run [offense] so far? It's going to be a definite challenge for the defense. Like I always say, we're going to have to be on our Ps and Qs."
On what QB Baker Mayfield said in his text:"He said, 'Hey, just watching this film, watching you guys hold.'(laughter)They didn't call it, so..."
On what has been the secret to the defense's success: "I just think we're doing a good job of executing. We've worked hard throughout the week, every week, with the gameplan, and what we want to attack and what we want to do. Obviously, with the talent that we have, we can move guys around, change our fronts and do all that type of stuff. It's not easy for offenses, especially when the defense is rolling. As long as we're executing and we're playing Ravens football, we're hard to beat."
On if second-half adjustments by defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale lead to second-half success:"'Wink' is doing an awesome job. He's already, for me, one of the better defensive coordinators I've been around. He has much respect; he demands a room. The guys in there – we take heed to what he says. We've got much respect for him and what he does for this defense."
On how difficult it is to prepare for two effective running backs: "Watching [Nick] Chubb on film is remarkable. From the preseason, he changed his number like three times. He's an awesome player. Carlos Hyde – I've played against him a few times over in San Francisco. [He's] a hard runner. Duke Johnson, he's going to come in and do his thing in the passing game as well as the run game. Probably one of the deepest running back corps we'll face all year. It's going to be a challenge for us. We just have to stay on our gaps and play Ravens defense."
On how big the start of the season has been for him personally:"Personally, my goal going into this season was help out with the turnover margin for this defense, makes some plays, be the playmaker I know I am. I probably could have a few more – obviously [there are] some plays out there that I wish I could have back – but it's all about the team and doing what I can to get us to where we need to be."
On CB Brandon Carr's significance to the team:"I think he has like 7,642 starts in a row, (laughter) so we call him 'The Iron Man.' Obviously, he's a guy that, if you're walking around the facility, he's always doing some weird stretches or some handstands or meditating. (laughter) He's got his regiment that he does, and it keeps him healthy, and he's able to go out there and be that rock, stone, corner that every team needs. He's a phenomenal leader, and our young guys … I see him all the time as he's coaching up the young guys. So, it's awesome to have a guy like Brandon Carr in our locker room."
On the key to having success against a rookie quarterback: "With a rookie quarterback going against kind of a veteran defense, you want to confuse, do different stuff, but Baker [Mayfield] is a little different. I'm not being biased because he's from Oklahoma, but he does have that effect on defenses, where he's not afraid to throw the ball in there. He'll fire it in there. He's not really hesitant, so we're preparing for him like we do with any other quarterback."
On what it means for CB Jimmy Smith to return: "Having Jimmy around is huge. We've been playing really well without him, and having him back is just a major plus. Jimmy, when I first got there, that was kind of the guy I kind of connected with, being from California and all that. We all love 'Jimbo.' Happy to have 'Jimbo' back. He's going to, obviously, help improve our team."
On the Ravens playing at a high level in all three phases: "In this league, sometimes you can get away with one phase doing better than the other, but most of the time, you're going to need all three phases to do well to win a ball game in this league. When we're clicking on all phases, and I think I can speak for any NFL team, when you're clicking on all phases, the outcome of the game is usually on your side."
On watching Oklahoma's 2017 team: "It's always fun to watch, until we get to the playoffs or something, and we don't go to the National Championship. (laughter) But, I think we're headed in the right direction. Obviously, Lincoln Riley over there has done a great job, coaches and staff have done a great job of recruiting, and then, thanks to Ozzie [Newsome], we have some more Oklahoma guys in here. Now we can gang up on [Justin] Tucker this week when we beat Texas by 30. (laughter)It's been fun to watch my alma mater. Our bye week, I'm going to take my son to his first game when we play Oklahoma State, so that's going to be pretty fun." (Reporter: "Is Justin Tucker the kind of guy who'd be willing to put something at stake for the game?") "Oh yeah. DeShon [Elliott] and Tucker, I believe those are our two Texas guys, so when we win, you'll see them in a bunch of OU stuff. I'll be gladly posting that, so beware." (laughter)
OLB Terrell Suggs
On the key to not allowing a TD in the second half this season:"I don't know. We didn't know it was a stat until y'all brought it up. It's kind of like a pitcher with a no-hitter. So, we're just playing football, but thanks for bringing it up. Good job."
On the key to facing a rookie quarterback: "I don't think there's any particular formula. This is the best league in the world. All quarterbacks are difficult. We've had veteran quarterbacks have success against us; we've had rookie quarterbacks have success against us in the past. You just want to play good defense. You just want to continue to play well. He's going to make some throws, he's going to make some plays. I think the trick is to just not panic."
On if the Browns are more talented this year:"Absolutely, but they've always been a scrappy team. I always said their style of play is like, significant to Joe Frazier. It's always going to be a rumble. They're going to be ready to play. They're going to be ready to play. We know [Browns head coach] Hue Jackson. We know Hue is going to have his guys ready to play. I'm a big fan of Hue, except for when I'm playing against him. It's going to be a good game."
On if the league's rule changes make the Ravens' defensive performance more impressive:"No. Not just in football, but in life, things aren't always going to be set the way you want them. So, you just adapt and play football. We're not really focused on too much on anything but our opponent and being the best team we can be and playing football."
On his impressions of Browns QB Baker Mayfield:"I like him. I like his swag, his edginess. As a fellow competitor, you have to respect that. I like his game and his fieriness – if that's a word."
On if that makes him want to sack Mayfield more:"No, no. That's nothing. We're just focused on playing football around here. This is the NFL – a lot of guys have swag. I think it just adds to the game and makes our game better. I think it's good for them and their city. It's no added influence for me."
On having CB Jimmy Smith back:"It hasn't been that long. 'Jimbo' – that's our boy, 'Beans.' It's good that he's back in the locker room. We'll just see how things work out."
On seeing QB Joe Flacco off to a hot start and how that provides confidence to the team: "It's another one of those 'no-hitter' questions. Like I said, Flacco, Joey – he's playing well. I think the secret is for him to continue to play well. They did a good job of adding some additions to our offense to help him. It's four games – we have a long season to go. We're going to keep playing though. We're going to keep playing ball."
On his impressions of the team through the first quarter of the season:"I don't have any. I think we need to get better. We're going to keep working to get better. It wasn't terrible; it wasn't the best. We're going to work to be the best team we can be."
BROWNS CONFERENCE CALLS
(with Baltimore Media)
Head Coach Hue Jackson
Can you kind of give us some sense of the excitement that's building in Cleveland around QB Baker Mayfield? _(Childs Walker) _"I think, obviously, Baker has helped the organization win a game a couple weeks ago. I think he did some things good last week. I think his teammates saw the talent in him. I think the fans are seeing it. Obviously, he has to continue to play better and get better. He has a way to go, but I think he has brought a little life to the organization."
The chess match between offense and defense, especially a division rival, how does that change when you have a rookie quarterback who is a rookie, but the Ravens also haven't seen him? _(Aaron Kasinitz) _"Obviously, we're playing, arguably, one of the best defenses in football. So, I'm sure they're a very confident group about playing a rookie quarterback. Here, [Baker Mayfield] is just going into his second start. He's going to learn a lot in this game, because he's going to play some really good defenders, so I couldn't tell you what their mindset is. I know we're trying to do everything we can to prepare a young man for his second start here at home against a very good defensive football team."
What kind of things do you stress to QB Baker Mayfield? _(Mike Preston) _"Obviously, he just has to play well. He has to play well within our scheme. There are certain players to be aware of, i.e. Terrell Suggs, because he's really good at what he does. And there's a lot of good players, as we know, on that defensive football team, so we just have to make sure that he's well aware of how that system plays and how they play within their system, and just make sure that he's ready to execute our offense to the best of his ability."
How impressed have you been with the way the Ravens have covered downfield and the way that their secondary has played? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"They're playing well. Obviously, like I said, they're one of the best defenses we've faced all year. They're playing good. They're playing real team football on defense. They're playing physical. They're playing tough. That's the way the Baltimore Ravens work. I've always known them to have really good defensive football teams, and they know how to play with each other."
Beyond the quarterback, do you feel like you guys have been able to add a lot of dynamic, young talent over the last couple years, especially on the defensive side of the ball? (Childs Walker)"Yes, I do. I think [general manager] John Dorsey has done a really good job of adding more talented players to the roster. I think we're still working at it. I feel better about the direction we're headed and what we're trying to accomplish. I think everybody, to a man, is 'all in' and trying to make sure we get there. Just like anyone else, we want to get there fast, as fast as we can. I think that's what's important."
On the other side of the ball for the Ravens, what have you seen from QB Joe Flacco? Why do you think he's had a strong start to the season? (Aaron Kasinitz)"Again, I think they're playing well as a team. I think when that's happening, Joe knows that he has a good defense. There's a lot of chances he doesn't have to take. I think there's some other pieces that they put on offense – the young man [John] Brown, and obviously, [Michael] Crabtree. They have a strong running game. This is just a really strong, AFC North Baltimore Ravens football team that's well-coached. I'm not surprised by anything Joe is doing or anything that their team is doing."
Did you keep much of your offense from when you were running the show as opposed to now with Todd Haley?_ (Mike Preston)_"No, I think it's a blend. I think that's important. I think we have a good blend of an offense that we have in place. We do whatever we think we need to do to move the football."
QB Baker Mayfield
On his season thus far:"I've been very positive on this season. Obviously, it's just the beginning, so I don't have an overall thing to say about it, because we're moving forward, but [I'm] positive on what's happened so far. A lot of good, and also, with that comes bad and learning from the mistakes we've had. [I've] been ready to play. Now, I just have to go out there and do it. We need to get on the same page as an offense and be able to help our defense out."
On the toughest adjustments from college to the NFL: "I think all of that I handled throughout OTAs and then training camp. Just the verbiage of it – I had a lot of hand signals and stuff that I did at Oklahoma, just playing very fast, and s, just slowing the game down for me, getting in the huddle. But, I'm just being a leader, and taking command of that offense helps, and that's come with experience."
On if there has a been a difference in the dropbacks:"Definitely the numbers of it, yes, there were more of the deeper drops. But at the same time, it's just another couple of steps when I drop. I just need to be more detailed on it. It wasn't that big of an adjustment for me."
On what he's learned from his two games of NFL experience:"It's all about the little details. At this level, everybody is so talented. You have to do your job to the best of your ability, So, I think in crucial moments, you have to be very detailed. Just do your job, and trust that the other guys around you are going to do that as well."
On his impressions of the Ravens' defense:"Obviously, very talented, physical, they come up and intimidate you, try to hit you, set the tone for the whole game. But then on top of that, they're just good at what they do. They trust their guys are going to be in the right spots. They trust the guys on the outside, and they allow the defensive line and linebackers to make plays because of that."
On his texts with S Tony Jefferson, a fellow Oklahoma alum:"Mostly just teaming up against the University of Texas, stuff like that. Tony is a great guy. [It's] been great talking to him, getting little pieces of advice throughout my process. But then now, [it's] just talking to him, wishing him good luck, just friendly trash talk, nothing more than that."
On if he's had his "welcome to the NFL moment" yet:"I'm not exactly sure if I have. I don't know if it counts, but in preseason, Fletcher Cox tossed me like a rag doll, so I might count that."
On if veteran players have tried to get in his head:"A little bit, but how I am, I kind of love that – the trash talk, the rivalry stuff – throughout a game. That comes with football, and I enjoy that. You have to be competitive. You want the game to be like that. You want it to be heated and passionate to have fun."
On if head coach Hue Jackson, a former Ravens QB coach, has told him about the Ravens' intensity:"I think just with how the defense is, they set the tone. He talked about how they're the leader of the team, how they want to take control of the game, they want to be physical, stuff like that. I think he just spread the message on what their mindset is, what their mentality is, and that's important for us to realize that."
On his relationship with offensive coordinator Todd Haley:"It's been great. I've learned a lot throughout this process, and I think, just for me, it's keeping an open mind and realizing that I can learn so much throughout the week. It doesn't have to just come on gamedays or during meetings. I can just pay attention to everything he's saying. It's the little details, and I can keep learning and growing in the system."
On how much he has kept in touch with TE Mark Andrews and T Orlando Brown Jr.:"I talk to them a couple of times a week. Those are two of my best friends and two of the best teammates I ever had. So, I'm looking forward to seeing them on Sunday. But the message is definitely mutual, that it's going to be competitive. Everybody here wants to win, so it will be great, but then we'll be friends after."
On how much his life has changed in the last year: "A lot. I'm engaged now, so that was a big change – very happy about that. And then obviously, throughout the football process, given the opportunity to do my dream job, and to be able to work for that. So, it's been a very exciting time for me, just trying to stay focused on doing my job and realizing that I'm blessed to be in this position."
On having to work his way to his success:"I think not just my story, but a lot of the guys in the NFL, you see the guys that had to work for it, that had to scrap for it, like you said. You have a lot of success, because there's a worker's mentality. So for me, it's keeping that same mentality no matter what's happened in the past and realizing that I have to come to work every day, because there's competition. This is a job, and there are people that would love to be in my spot, so I have to have that same mindset."
On if he feels as though he's part of a group of young players changing the culture in Cleveland:"That was the mindset that we wanted to have as a rookie class, and also not just the rookies, but everybody that was new here to this team. The goal was to change the culture. Anytime the two years prior to that the record was 1-31, you want to change the culture, because unless you have that change, nothing changes on the field. So, I'm very happy to be put in the opportunity and given a chance to do that. That's something that I take pride in, that challenge, and I love to go to work for it every day."
On TE Mark Andrews as a target at Oklahoma:"Obviously, he's a very, very big dude. He's 6-5. I think he's about 260, but he can run. I think it's the size plus the talent, which normally you don't get that mixture, so he's blessed with that. And then, I think his football I.Q. is something that people didn't realize until you sit down and talk with him. He's a guy that realizes what you want to accomplish on offense, and then when you mix that with how talented he is, that's a dangerous duo."
On QB Lamar Jackson and how the Ravens have used him:"Lamar is one of the most talented people I've ever seen. I love Lamar. He's a happy, fun-loving guy, but he's competitive. Once he gets out there, he wants to win, and so, he's a guy that, I think, he's doing a great job of making it about the team. He wants to play quarterback. He's said that a couple of times, but at the same time, he wants to do anything to help the team win. So, I think, kudos to him for that. That's putting the team before himself and realizing that he can help y'all out."
On how his receivers, WR Jarvis Landry and WR Antonio Callaway, have shaped his play as a quarterback:"You can have all the talent in the world at quarterback, but if you don't understand your receivers and you're unable to adapt to the way they run routes, their catching abilities, then all that goes out the window. So, being able to see how they run, how talented they are, and kind of adapt to what their skill set is, is the most important thing, and they've made my job very easy. Obviously, Jarvis is one of the best receivers in the league, and we're hoping Callaway takes right in his footsteps and follows him along."