WEDNESDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: WILD CARD VS. CHARGERS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"OK, good to see everybody here – sure appreciate you being here. Beautiful day, and we're ready to go to work. We've been digging in and preparing, and we'll continue that through the week."
In 2008, you started a rookie quarterback in the playoffs. Here you are again with a 21-year-old. What you learned then help you at all? Is there anything you can derive from that? Is there too much made from a rookie starting a playoff game?_ (David Ginsburg)_"I don't know about any of that. I don't know if there's too much made or not. We draw on all our experiences, for sure, so probably in some far recess of our mind, we draw on that and just try to move forward."
What experience do you draw when you're 4-5 and having the rest of the team believe, you believe. A couple of these teams were 4-5. At that point, what about the countenance that allows you to believe you can be in this position? (Nestor Aparicio) "I don't know. It's a pretty deep question, and I'm not really thinking that way right now, to be honest with you. So, to try to wrap that all up right now probably wouldn't do it service or do it justice. There'll probably be a time for that. But, I'm just not thinking about that right now. I think it's a great question."
Coming to work today, do you sense anything different at all, mentality- or focus-wise? (Shawn Stepner)"There's energy, that's one thing about it. Our guys have been great all year; that probably goes to Nestor [Aparicio's] question. The energy has been there every week. We didn't lose any of that. Our guys, even when things looked daunting from the outside, our guys on the inside were great. Maybe that answers your question a little bit, Nestor. It's been a long season certainly. We've played a lot of games, we were here early, all that kind of stuff. It's pro football, and yet, you bounce in the building on playoffs week, and you certainly feel like you're refreshed. It doesn't take a lot of sleep to get refreshed for playoffs, and that's where we're at."
Is there a benefit at all to not having to miss a week? We've talked about momentum in the past, but carrying it in without having to miss a beat after taking five-of-six games? (Jerry Coleman) "I don't know. I don't know. It's a good thing to look at and probably do a study on and figure it out, but I don't know the answer to that. I just know that's the situation we find ourselves in, and we're excited about it."
We talk about the Chargers having an advantage facing you just 11 days ago. What can you learn from just playing them?_ (Kirk McEwen)_"I just think all the advantage questions and all that speculation is great to look at, and probably fun to talk about, but it's not for us to discuss. We don't care. It doesn't matter, because it's just not going to help us. We've seen each other recently. That's the situation; that's what it is for both teams. That's what it is; it's part of the process. It affects us internally with the process and how many games you have to break down and how much study we have to do and what we draw from each other. We saw each other recently, but you're still trying to figure out what's coming next, and that's what you have to try to anticipate to some degree in terms of your preparation. You go to work and then go play the game. All the … I don't even know the word for it. All the calculating, the advantages, that's more not for us to do probably."
One of the biggest differences might be TE Hunter Henry coming back for the Chargers. How would that change how you game-plan for their offense?_ (Adam Zielonka)_"I don't know if it'll dramatically change what we run scheme-wise, but it will change the personnel matchup part of it a little bit. He's obviously a proven pass-catching tight end; he's an all-around tight end. I just spent a lot of time watching tape on him yesterday, just in case he's going to be back. It takes time, it takes thought. The fact that he might be back, he might not be back, forces us to spend some time on it. That's probably something they're happy about anyway. But if he's out there, he's a factor, because he's a good player."
You mentioned on Monday with what the Browns were doing defensively of moving guys inside and bringing guys off the edge. Have you seen a lot of that this year? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Yes."(Reporter: "OK, so that wasn't anything that just started happening late in that game?") "No, we've seen that. We saw it from the Chargers also. So, there are different ways that people are playing the offense, and I think we're seeing that and learning it. Our coaches do a great job of preparing for all that, and we popped some runs on them there, too. It's just football."
The Chargers focusing just on QB Lamar Jackson's legs probably had the most success – limiting his yardage. Is that something that's valuable to you, seeing what they did at the next level to adjust and readjust? (Peter Schmuck) "Yes. They did a good job. They're a fast defense. They react fast, and they tackled well and all that. They play good football. Everybody plays you, according to their basic structure, then they expand off of that. I think we're learning – and our coaches already know this – that it's just a little bit of a different offense. You're not going to see much of it on tape how they're going to play you. Sometimes you're going to have to get in the game to understand how they're going to play you. But the more we're on tape, the more we'll see what different coordinators [do], what they like to do against you, and we'll build a little library on that. Right now, it's probably all pretty new."
What makes S Eric Weddle so good at recognizing disguises? (Aaron Kasinitz)"Probably experience. He has great experience with that. He knows the game. He has 'coach knowledge' back there, for sure, because he's been in it for so long and is such a studious guy. I would say it's experience and knowledge of the game."
You mentioned how unselfish guys have been. Do you think the receivers especially – with maybe they're not getting the chances that they normally would've had and they're blocking more – exemplify that approach? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I do. That's a great point. Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead [IV], John Brown, Chris Moore – those guys have … I think they want to win. They want to win; they want to do whatever they can do to help you win. But that's not always the case. Everyone wants to win, but most people want to win on their own terms. These guys have put away their own terms a little bit – a lot, probably. They're blocking. Hey, we're motioning across and cutting off back side defensive ends with our wide receivers, and those guys are doing it. That's a tough duty, but they've embraced it."
You finish with the No. 1 defense in the NFL with a first-year defensive coordinator. What would you say about the job that Don Martindale did in his first year here, where he inherited a pretty good team? (David Ginsburg) "Yes, Don Martindale did a great job – not at all unexpected in any way. I've known him for 20, 25 years. We've coached together on and off; he's been with my dad. I just think the world of him, always have. He's a great coach, he's great with people, very creative guy, just the whole package. Beyond that, the rest of the staff has done a great job. Every coach has been included and has brought something to the table. You want everybody to maximize what they can do and what their abilities are, and our defensive staff has definitely done that."
How much has QB Lamar Jackson's maturity impressed you?_ (Jamison Hensley)_ "Lamar's maturity has impressed me greatly. He's very mature. I think you guys see it – you see it when you interview him, players see it when he walks around. Like I said before, he's very comfortable with who he is. That's a sign of maturity for sure. It's been excellent."
Your tight ends and offensive line have been asked to block a lot of different ways to make this running attack go. How important has that been, their ability to seemingly pick up whatever you guys want them to do?_ (Cliff Brown)_ "They have. It's been a work in progress – a lot of work. We spend a whole bunch of time in the meeting room. Those guys spend a whole bunch of time in walk-throughs, because you can't rep all that stuff out here. You can't even come close to scratching the surface with the number of reps we get in practice, compared to what we ask our guys to do in games. They've been phenomenal – all the guys: tight ends, wideouts, running backs, all of them. But it definitely starts with the offensive line, and yes, I would agree that they've done a great job with that."
The last time you played a home playoff game, it was Ray Lewis' last home game, which may have affected the crowd. What are you expecting from the crowd Sunday? I don't know if it's a sellout just yet. (Jerry Coleman) "I'm sure the crowd is going to be great. It's Ravens football! We have great fans in Baltimore, and Baltimore loves good football. That's what they expect, and that's what they want to see, and I'm sure they'll be out there and be into it."
You've been clamoring for this for a while, and you've earned the right to have this. Is that something you passed along to the guys, who haven't been here for a while and may not understand the history? (Jerry Coleman) "No, we haven't talked about that at all."
The tight ends are a group that seems to really like one another. Because you've talked about the importance of guys playing for each other, is that a case where guys playing for one another really helps them develop? The group has been praised all season.(Jonas Shaffer) "Right, yes. I mean, it's not anything that people don't generally understand. Working together, eliminating drag, sometimes you put something bigger than yourself ahead of yourself. All those things are what make for a great group dynamic. It's just called teamwork. I think our guys have epitomized that from Day One with no reservation. That's pretty rare – it's simple, but probably rare in any walk of life. I'm really proud of the guys for that. As a coach, there's no greater thing that you look for from a group of people. They've done a great job of that, and I think you're right. That's made all the difference."
With the number of coaching vacancies out there, what are your policies and procedures should any of your assistants be contact for something?_ (Mark Viviano)_"We give them every opportunity to look at that, specifically a head coaching job. That would be something we would encourage. We have a great staff. We have a number of coaches that would be great head coaches. We already mentioned [defensive coordinator] Don Martindale, [offensive coordinator] Marty Mornhinweg, [assistant head coach/tight ends] Greg Roman – those guys, because those guys are coordinators. [Special teams coordinator/associate head coach] Jerry Rosburg would be a phenomenal head coach in this league; he's a tremendous leader. Those are the coordinator-type guys, but the other guys are going to be coordinators in this league, and we have other great leaders, too. We just have a phenomenal staff. I would hope they would get those kinds of opportunities."
You said before that the Chargers were one of the fastest defenses. What did you see on the tape that reflect that? (Aaron Kasinitz)"Oh yes, they're fast. They play fast, they run to the ball, play hard, gang tackling, all the things that you respect. Coach [Gus] Bradley [defensive coordinator] has done a great job with those guys. They're not overly complicated in all the different things they do, but within their structure and scheme, they have a lot of detail to it, and they understand it, and they just play really fast and really hard."
QB Lamar Jackson
On if there is anything different about coming to work today:"I changed my clothes. (laughter) That's about it. Everything else is the same. But, we're working for something. That's about it."
On if he visualized at the beginning of the season that he would be the starting QB in the playoffs:"I can't lie; no, I didn't think about it at all. I told them when I came in, 'I came in to learn, whether it's this year or next year, or I just want to sit out and learn. And, I just got my ticket in the middle of the season. [They] threw me out there, and we've been having success."
On if it means anything to him to be the youngest quarterback in NFL history to start a playoff game:"No, it doesn't. It really doesn't. I don't really look at it like that. I'm here to play football. I was 21 all year, so this is another game for me."
On lessons he took from playing the Chargers' defense:"The same thing I watch on film: They fly around to the ball. They're all to it every play. Each and every play, they're coming at you hard, so you have to prepare for that."
On if it matters that the Ravens beat the Chargers just a few weeks ago:"No, it really counts right here. It's win or go home, so we have to prepare even better and come out with the victory again."
On if he expects a different feeling in the playoffs from what he felt in the regular season:"No, just win or go home. We're trying to win, so it's just nothing [different]."
On if he had a different, scoring-focused mentality in the Week 17 Browns game:"Honestly, I did a little, I felt like, because we needed it more. We need every game, but it was something different. They beat us before last time we played them, and we [were] home, so we have to win at home." (Reporter: "Is that switch still flipped for the playoffs?") "It definitely is. It's on right now – practice, too."
On if it was helpful for preparation to play two "win-or-go-home" games before the playoffs:"Definitely, and it's just a name – 'the playoffs' – that whole thing. You're trying to get the championship now. It was for us to get in it, and we're in it now, so we want the big thing. We want the big thing now."
On if he thinks experience is "overrated" when people talk about him as a rookie quarterback:"Yes, football is … You have to love the sport to be able to compete in it, and I love the sport with all my heart. I don't really look at it like, 'Oh, you've been a rookie, you have to perform at this level.' You have to perform at your level, too. You're out there on the field just like anyone else."
On advice from QB Joe Flacco and QB Robert Griffin III on starting playoff games as a rookie quarterback:"I haven't really talked to them about it. I haven't really talked to those guys about those guys being in my situation. I really didn't, so I don't know yet. I'll have to ask them."
On how he feels to be compared to other quarterbacks like QB Michael Vick:"That's pretty cool. That's a guy I looked up to growing up, but I'm playing like me. I'm playing out there. I'm not wearing his shoes. I'm not wearing his cleats or anything like that. I'm playing to the best of my ability."
On the best birthday present he could receive:"That win! I can taste it. It's like Thanksgiving with that food, sweet potato pie. (laughter) Definitely, I'm trying to taste that victory for my birthday Monday, so yes, this will be big."
On if he makes it a priority to have bonds with teammates as the starting quarterback:"Absolutely, not just my receivers but the whole team, because we were all together through rookie – well, not rookie OTAs, but just OTAs, camp, stuff like that. We're all we got, really. When people doubted us in the middle of the season, we were all we had. People didn't have our back, so I'm going to talk to my teammates regardless, whether it's the kicker, the punter. It can be an equipment guy, and I'm going to talk to him, too, definitely."
On how relationships with teammates are different in the NFL than those formed playing college football:"Just our ages. That's about it. Nothing changed. You're doing something you love."
On the significance of the receivers being "unselfish" and embracing blocking and other roles:"It's been pretty significant, just those guys blocking their tails off. Sometimes, they're not getting the ball as much as they should. Sometimes, they won't get a catch that game, and I'd be madder than they would. I'd go up to them and be like, 'Man, I'm trying to get you the ball.' They'd be like, 'Are you good? You're good?' I'm like, 'No, I'm not good. When you guys score, then we're good.' But, it's pretty cool to have guys like that on your team, definitely."
On what stands out about the receivers and the way they block:"Oh man, I don't know. I really don't know what to tell you about that. They just do a really great job at it. They shield those guys off for us to get extra yards or score touchdowns, and for the receivers to do that, that's pretty amazing, because some receivers will get cocky, or they might get mad and be like, 'We're not getting the ball that much.' They might just go [take] off a play, take off time, might get tackled, get yards back, stuff like that. But it's pretty cool to have those guys on our team."
On if he notices adjustments opponents make to play the Ravens' offense:"Yes, but we watch film just like they do, so whatever they do, we're trying to match that or do better. It doesn't really matter."
On if he has seen Baltimore embrace him as the starting quarterback:"Yes, the city welcomed me with open arms, and I love the city, like I said before. They believed in me. They drafted me here. I'm going to do the best that I can to have success on that field each and every time I'm out there." (Reporter: "With that being said, what has been the best part about the embrace of the city?") "Everything about it. I just love it here. Anywhere I go, people notice it's me, stuff like that. Even when I first came out of college, when I first got drafted, whenever I go out, people always came up to me, this and that, 'Lamar!' They want to take pictures and stuff, so it's pretty cool to have that going on. People don't hate me here, so I love it!" (laughter)
On kids wearing his No. 8 jersey:"I love it. I might buy my own jersey and wear it. I might join them! I'm loving it, definitely."
OLB Matthew Judon
On matching up with the Chargers after playing them two weeks prior:"We played them two weeks ago. We have to play them again, and they're going to obviously change up some stuff. Or, they might just come in here and run their stuff. We just have to be confident and ready and prepared for whatever they do and make sure we play Raven football."
On how the possibility of Chargers TE Hunter Henry playing Sunday impacts the defensive gameplan:"I don't know. We'll see if he can play. Obviously, he's a good player. He got drafted early, and unfortunately, got injured. But we don't control their roster. We have no clue or nothing to do with what they do with their tight end situation. Hopefully, he can play. I would love to see him on the field and see him back healthy, but I have no control over that."
On the fans at M&T Bank Stadium for the Week 17 game vs. the Browns:"Man, that was one of the loudest stadiums I've played in. I definitely enjoyed it, every second, and hopefully they can come back out again and make it back out for this game and make it louder."
On the opportunity to play playoff football:"Coming into this league, playing these games, this was what you hoped for. You hoped with your back on the wall with those do-or-die games. This is when you get your notoriety, and this is when you let other teams and everybody else that really doesn't get to see you throughout the year, this is how you let them know – let them know what we're built on and how we stand."
On how he describes the atmosphere in the locker room:"We're the same. When we were down on that three-game losing streak, guys came into work. Guys were still lifting. Guys were still ready to play. Guys were still talking to the media. (laughter) And, we always just say, 'the next play.' So, this is how we're going to play it now. We're not going to switch up now that we're in the playoffs. We're going to come in here. We're still lifting, we're still talking to the media, we're still working, so we're going to do that."
On if there's a sense of accomplishment for finishing the regular season as the No. 1 defense:"It's a sense of accomplishment [with] everything you do in this league. This is a very hard league to win in, and the things that I think our defense did – our team, as a whole, did – were very difficult to do. But, we set out at the beginning of the year, through our OTAs, minicamps, all of that, that we set to do this, and we got it done. Fortunately, it isn't the end of the season, so we can go out and finish this thing up strong. We can finish this thing up strong, and then we have more goals. We have more goals that we haven't accomplished."
On if he thinks defense can be overlooked in the league:"You can't overlook the scoreboard. (laughter) If we shut [an opponent] out, and we only get one point – I don't know how you only get one point in the league _(laughter) – but if we only get one point, we still win the game. So, it's never overlooked."
S Eric Weddle
On the benefit to having played the Chargers a few weeks ago:"There are always benefits of playing someone, and such a quick time, quick turnaround, you're playing them again. You're matched up. You're playing whoever you're playing against. You know a little bit about them, but they'll have some different wrinkles for us, as we will for them, so it's just about who's going to play the best on Sunday. Shoot, it's amazing, right? Man, it's like a new season – new energy, great opportunity, we're loose. We've been playing these games for seven games now, so we just have to stay focused and continue what we've been doing – the preparation, the focus, the belief – and hopefully have a chance in the fourth quarter and go make some plays."
On if QB Philip Rivers reached out to him after the Ravens' win in Los Angeles:"That's my guy. It took a couple days. We talked. We talked about the game. We both knew we were going to see each other in a couple weeks, so it was a good talk, just how the game went and positives and negatives. It's going to be great to go against him again. [They have a] great team, and we'll see what happens. It's going to be awesome."
On how Chargers TE Hunter Henry playing might affect the defense's preparation:"He's coming off a knee [injury], so I wouldn't put much thought into it. [Virgil] Green and [Antonio] Gates, they're all really good tight ends, so they add another good tight end in there, and we'll see what happens. But, we're not really worried if he is or isn't. He's another good player. At this point, everyone you go against is good, so it'll be good for them. If not, we're just going to go out there and do our thing."
On if he enjoys playing for defensive coordinator Don Martindale, and what sets him apart as a defensive coordinator:"I think just his personality, his openness, his belief in us and in how honest he is. Good, bad or indifferent, he always is upfront with us and the way we play and what we see, and how he views himself and on the calls he makes. If he makes a bad call, he mans up to it, and especially with us. We're all one in that room. Obviously, he's our leader, but at the end of the day, it's us that have done what we've done this year. And, when your defensive coordinator has put in the time and the effort – and really genuine to each player – it makes you want to play that much harder for him. And, you know that he's going to have your back no matter what. No matter how bad you play, how things may go throughout the season, he'll always stand on the table for you, and that's what you love about him, and the guys play hard for him. I know a team would play lights out for him if he ever got the opportunity. So, we love him to death, and he's done an amazing job, and he deserves the credit that we've played for him this year."
On if there's a disadvantage to enter the rematch with the Chargers as the winner of the previous game, because there may not be obvious things to change:"When you play a team for the second time, you obviously want to be the team that beat them the first time. But, you know they're going to come back with changes, with wrinkles, and they're going to play that much harder, because they know what happened the first game. But, we understand that, and we know that, and it's one-and-done. So, like I said, this is the opportunity of a lifetime, and we're relishing in it, and we're not going to be tight, we're not going to be worried or stressed out, 'If I make this, or if I don't play this, or if I screw this up…' No, just go play! We have each other's back, and whatever happens, happens. That's the dynamic of this team that's very special, is no matter what, we have each other's back."
On if the Week 16 matchup with the Chargers was the best defensive outing of the season:"I think going against the opponent, short week, cross-country, it was definitely one that we needed everybody, everyone in all three levels, the team, special teams. When you play good on defense, it takes everybody, the entire team, coaches, calls. Statistically, we had better games, but against that opponent, and the way we needed a play at that point in the season, if we lost, we were out of the playoffs. To clutch up and to play under the pressure that was needed was pretty impressive, for sure."
On if it feels like there is less pressure in the playoffs because the team made it into the postseason for the first time since 2014:"Oh, for sure. Yes, it was a long offseason. Everyone knows it. It wasn't too good of times here all offseason, telling us how bad we were, and guys can't play, and we can't finish games, 'yada yada yada, yada yada yada.' Especially me living here all offseason, it was cold and long. But, that was the motivation. 'Wink' [defensive coordinator Don Martindale] came in and really changed some things up and was upfront and honest from the beginning that we're going to do things differently, and we're going to be as one. And we get these chances that we're building ourselves mentally and physically to get in those moments and win those games, and we got in that situation on Sunday. There wasn't a guy that blinked or wasn't confident in the situation that we were going to go stop them, because we've been preparing for that moment for a year straight, and that's what's driven us to be where we're at and to play the way we do."
On if it toughens the team to play two "win-or-go-home" games prior to the playoffs:"Yes, I believe I said this after the game, that I think we're as mentally-tough group as there is in this entire league. I think we've shown that. I think we've been in situations and tough, tough plays and situations, but on the wrong side of some things that have molded this group to take on any adversity, any situation that may happen in this game coming up – hopefully, for the foreseeable future, that we're ready – and we'll take it on, and we'll conquer it. So, that's the exciting part of this group, that we've been molded into a group that anything that comes our way, we're going to attack it and play our style and go get it."
On if the impact of defenses gets overlooked, especially around the playoffs:"For sure. You see the second half of the season how the scoring has come down, and defenses have started to make their mark and be the difference-makers that we all know happens late in the season, whether pressure … You're not going to maybe throw those balls in those certain areas late in the season. You know the consequences of it, and especially now, defense travels, and running game travels, and great special teams do. So when you have those on your side, you always have a chance when it's playoff football. You don't see many blowouts in the playoffs. It very rarely happens, and it's going to come down to close games, execution, the focus and going to make that play to win the game."
On the turnovers coming in bunches in the latter portion of the season:"I just think the style we play is aggressive, in-your-face, pressure on your quarterback, man [coverage], and we always felt like we have playmakers. The opportunity has presented itself. We have to go make it happen. Some of that is us forcing the issue a little bit more, and some is getting the opportunities with the pressure, with the quarterbacks getting hit, the quarterbacks down in games, and they're forcing the ball up a little bit more. It's been a point of emphasis all season, but especially after the bye, to pick it up, because where we're at in the season, we felt turnovers and shoring up the red zone were huge components to making a run at this thing. Over the last four weeks, we've done that. It's obviously a huge part of our success, and we have to continue that to have a chance."
G Marshal Yanda
On heading into the playoffs with a young quarterback:"All the guys are excited around here. This is what we all play for – to play in the playoffs and have a chance to be relevant, and everybody's excited. I'd say that everybody on the team and in the locker room [is excited]. Excitement is the word."
On if QB Lamar Jackson has a veteran presence in the huddle:"Yes. Every single game, he's definitely getting a little more calm, a little bit more confident in what he does. Like I always say, young guys have a chance to grow. He's done that."
On if it has felt like a long time since the Ravens have made the playoffs:"It did – it definitely did. Somebody was asking me about tickets today, and if we got tickets during the playoff games, and I couldn't really [remember]. I was like, 'Uh, it's been a little while.' (laughter) But yes, it's been a little bit. But like I said, everybody is fired up. This is why we all play. We're excited."
On if he finds himself giving the rookie QB Lamar Jackson veteran advice, like not celebrating too early before crossing the goal line:"You just try to help in any way you can. I've seen that play where you're trying to celebrate just a little bit too early, and the guys are just too good in the NFL, where they will literally come and get that ball out before you cross the goal line. So, I just try to help out. Yes, him getting super excited about scoring [is great], but you don't want that to cost us by that extra stuff."
On the challenges of facing a team twice in three weeks:"The challenge is: Are they going to game-plan us the same way that they did the first game, or are they going to completely change the gameplan? Are we going to change the gameplan? You really don't know, exactly, if they're going to stick to the script or if they're going to install a new gameplan. You just have to look at their entire body of work, their entire 16-game season, be ready for all of it and just be ready to execute on Sunday."
On if he has noticed opponents' defensive adjustments to the Ravens' offense: "I feel like every defense has their own way that they try to stop it – whether they're bringing two guys off the edge for the read guy and Lamar [Jackson], or they're just stacking it heavy to one side. 'G-Ro' [Greg Roman, assistant head coach/tight ends] does a good job of creating problems for them, as far as like when they want to do that, we're going to do something else to combat that. They definitely scheme things up for sure." (Reporter: "How much of that is checks on the linemen? Lamar has to recognize, 'Alright, they're going to bring two guys off the edge, so we need to go the other way.'") "Some of it is checks, and then some of it's also his read. Sometimes it's just a designed call where we're doing it; it's a lot of stuff. It's how the play is called, whether the call has one or two or three reads, or whether it's just designed one read. It's a lot of stuff going on, but it's a combination of all that happening at the same time – whether it's a read from Lamar or a give or all that stuff. There's a lot going on."
On how challenging and fun the new offense has been for the offensive line:"We're running the ball like 40-plus carries a game – sign me up! Let's go! It's been great. Obviously, in the end, we are winning – that's the most important thing. Like I said, if we have to pass the ball 50 times, run the ball 50 times, as long as we're winning, and we're here in January – that's the ultimate goal. No complaints."
On if QB Lamar Jackson's personality made what could have been an awkward transition easier for the team:"I just think he's calm and collected. He doesn't say much. He's doing his job – that's fine. Obviously, the quarterback, on the outside looking in they say that everyone has to be vocal and you have to do this, you have to do that. Well, when you're a young quarterback, you don't want to put too much on his plate. He's doing his job. He's staying quiet and confident, and there's nothing wrong with that."
On his take on QB Lamar Jackson's social media presence and rapper friends: "I don't know anything about all that stuff. I haven't known anything about all that stuff for the past 10 years, so I don't even worry about that stuff. As long as we're winning – hey, everything's great. We'll bring out the belts. We'll do everything, alright?"(laughter)
On his best piece of advice for preparing for playoff football:"I tell people, 'Don't change what we've been doing.' Our preparation has not changed from training camp, and how you approach this game from day-in to day-out, it doesn't matter who you're playing. They demand a tremendous amount of respect. Obviously, we all understand that if we don't get it done we're going home. That's something we also relay to the guys. They obviously know that – they're not dumb. But just focus on our preparation, put everything else aside – as far as distractions off the field – and just focus. Everybody needs tremendous focus during this time."
On the Chargers' linebacker corps: "I think their defense as a whole is a quick group of guys. Their D-line up front and their linebackers – they run well. With [No.] 33 [Derwin James] back there as well, he runs well, too. I'd say they're just a fast defense, for sure. A lot of guys can really run."
On T Orlando Brown Jr.'s development:"I think the kid is getting better every single week. I think he's grown mentally, and I think he's definitely getting some confidence that he can play in this game. He's a big, strong man. He's doing a good job for us. He's really moving guys on double-teams. Like I said, I've always liked the kid's approach. He has a good, positive attitude every single day. He just needs to keep his head down and grind, just keep grinding. I like what I see; he's doing good things."
On how he balances the confidence of just beating the Chargers with knowing it's a clean slate on Sunday:"It's already been said [that] they're 8-0 on the road. They haven't lost a road game this year. That right there gains a lot of respect from me, and I already told our guys in our room that they're 8-0 on the road. Obviously, we beat them at their house, but every game is a one-game season. It's the playoff time, and you can't dwell on the past experiences. Win or lose, we can take what we did well. But obviously, there's no vote of confidence just because we beat them two weeks ago that they're just going to … Obviously, the, 'Oh that's going to matter in this game,' has zero degree of what's going to happen this next game. So, we just keep our heads down and not worry about that. They can come in here and get it done. That can happen for sure."
On the significance of earning a home playoff game:"It's awesome. Things happen quick. If you would've told me seven or eight weeks ago that we were playing for the division and have a home playoff game … Everything happened really quick, but that's a testament to the guys and to the coaches, guys getting things done and winning games at the end there. It's exciting. To have a home playoff game, I told the young guys that usually we would have to go on the road, but to have a home playoff game, understand that's a very big deal to have your first one at home. It's a big deal to the fans. It's a big deal to us. M&T Bank is going to be rocking on Sunday, and we're excited to be a part of it."
CHARGERS CONFERENCE CALL
(with Baltimore Media)
Head Coach Anthony Lynn
What do you find is going to be the biggest challenging in facing a team for a second time in three weeks? (Jamison Hensley)"Obviously, they know us, we know them. So, it's just going to be execution. We need to win our one-on-ones, and we have to execute. I don't think it's going to be a big secret as to what everyone is doing. It's just whoever executes the best is going to win this game."
How much do you think familiarity will help you in defending the Ravens' offense a second time? (Jamison Hensley)"You never know what they're thinking and what they're planning. They could be banking on some familiarity and then do something completely different and catch us off-guard. I think what they're doing, they're doing it well. I don't see them changing a lot. Yes, those reps that we got a couple weeks ago will help, but I'm looking for them to do something a little different as well."
QB Lamar Jackson didn't rush for many yards against you guys. Is there something you learned about him in that game that's surprised you? A lot of the teams that have faced them have talked about how they're hard to prepare for because they don't know his speed. (Jeff Zrebiec) "Well, we know his speed. I watched him in college as well. His speed is really good. We know that you have to protect the perimeter with this guy. On the edge, one-on-one – he can win. He's like a running back with the ball in his hands. He also can throw it. I watched him throw for a lot of yards in college. He's a dual-threat right now, and dual-threats are always tough to prepare for because you have to play 11-on-11. You have to be really disciplined and sound in your techniques and in your gaps."
If TE Hunter Henry is able to play, how much of a boost would that offer?_ (Childs Walker)_ "He's a good player. We're not quite sure where he's at right now. He hasn't been on the football field since April. The expectations wouldn't be real high, to be honest with you. We'll evaluate him at the end of the week, and we'll see where he's at."
How did the Ravens' secondary, and S Eric Weddle's, ability to disguise coverages affect the game when you played a few weeks ago?_ (Aaron Kasinitz)_"I thought their defense just played well. All of them – they all played well. They got pressure on the quarterback, they got off blocks, they make tackles. Yes, they did some disguises in the back end. But overall, we just have to play better."
You were the best road team in the league this year. How much did the regular season, the tough venues you won at, prepare you for Sunday's game? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Well, it definitely can't hurt that we've won in some tough places. I think our guys like the challenge. I believe they thrive in hostile areas. It's a chance to galvanize our team a little bit. But they're a tough group. They're tough, they're resilient and we'll see. We've done well on the road, so we're not fazed at all going to play on the road – I can't tell you that. But we have to play the game."
After Dec. 22, did you get a feeling you'd see the Ravens again?_ (Jeff Zrebiec)_ "The way they were playing, I knew they'd probably win out and be in the playoffs. There was a strong feeling that we might see them again, to be honest with you. They're playing pretty good football."
You play a 1 p.m. game. For a West coast team, it'll be 10 a.m. your time. How do you prepare for that? (Aaron Kasinitz) "We do some things, scheduling-wise. We may bump some things up a little bit. At this point in the season, we've been there and done that. So 1 o'clock, 10 o'clock, it doesn't matter what time, to be honest with you."
QB Philip Rivers has a knack for talking to the opponents. Do you say anything to him about toning it down?_ (Ed Lee)_"Players do that all the time. Some of the best who've played the game trash talk and jab at each other a little bit, but these guys are all friends. It's nothing negative; it's all friendly. If it ever got negative, then maybe so. Phil is a heck of a competitor, and he likes to mix it up a little bit. There's nothing wrong with that. I see great players doing that all the time."