WEDNESDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: CHARGERS – WEEK 13
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody. Thanks for braving the elements and getting out here. We sure appreciate it. We had a good day of practice, and we're preparing for San Diego."
**We've talked last week about the challenges of a road Monday night game. How do you feel like the guys have adapted, because it is a shortened week? *(Jamison Hensley) *"It is a short week, and we have a short-week plan that we're pursuing right now. But you have to get the work in even now, because a lot of times in a short week when you play on a Thursday or something like that, both teams are in the same boat, but [the Chargers] are not. They have a full week, so we have to make up a lot of ground."
**LB C.J. Mosley picked up his first sack of his career, and he's blitzing a decent amount. Is that an area where he's growing, his ability to get after the passer? *(Garrett Downing) *"It is. [C.J. Mosley] has been doing that all year pretty well. I don't really know if it was more or less in this game than other games, but he has a knack for that certainly, and he definitely does continue to improve. And there's a lot of little technique things and things you always work on, especially with young guys in terms of timing up blitzes and how to attack backs and guards and things like that and pass protection. As linebackers, they're not defensive linemen; it's not something they do every day, but he's doing a good job with that."
It was pointed out that Baltimore at home hasn't lost to a West Coast team. Is there a rhyme or reason? To you, is it tougher to go from west to east to play a football game, or for the West Coast guys to come over here and play? (Jerry Coleman) "I don't know. I've never gone west to east, so I don't know the comparison on that. It's tough to go east to west – I know that. It's a big challenge. But I'm not sure about going the other way." *(Reporter: "Is there anything to it?") *"I don't know. I've never done it before as a coach." *(Reporter: "I mean coming from west to east.") *"That's what I'm saying. I don't know. I've never done it before. I've always been an east coast coach, so I'm not sure how that works."
*In terms of longevity and also keeping that productive streak going, what do you think of how TE Antonio Gates has been throughout the years and this year in particular? *(Aaron Wilson) *"You look at the tape, and you're hoping that he's going to age out at some point. *(laughter) We all do at some point, but he hasn't yet. He continues to adjust his game. He really does a great job of bodying up and making plays as a receiver. He's still a downfield threat. He's a go-to guy for Philip Rivers. So, he's still Antonio Gates."
John, I know you guys like to pass, but establishing the run these past two games has been instrumental. Is it something you'll always try to do, or have you tried to do it a little bit more the past couple of weeks? (Dave Ginsburg) "No, we always try to run the ball as much as we can, as effectively as we can. It's a part of who we are, and we always try to do the best we can with that."
Has anything changed in these past two weeks that has made [the running game] so effective? RB Justin Forsett has passed 100 yards and [has] 2 TDs in each of the past two games. (Dave Ginsburg) "We've just done it better. We've had more success than we did … If you're comparing to games that we didn't do as well, we've just done it better. We've blocked better, we've run better, and hopefully we can continue to do that."
OLB Jarret Johnson coming back, does he still look like Jarret Johnson? (Pete Gilbert) "He does! Jarrett Johnson is still Jarret Johnson. Absolutely. He plays with his hair on fire. He's all over the field, and I'm sure he'll have those guys fired up to play. Not that they need it, but he's a fiery guy."
**It looked like DT Brandon Williams had one of his better games. Do you feel like he's kind of a newer-type of deep nose tackle? He's kind of a more muscular, less body fat on him – he's kind of a bigger, stronger guy that way. *(Ryan Mink) *"That'd be a comparison question. I'm going to stay away from that."
John, in terms of S Will Hill, just beyond the interception he made, what progression have you seen from him in these handful of games? (Aaron Wilson) "The biggest challenge for Will [Hill] … Will is still a young player. It's not like he has 10 years of experience in this league, so he has a lot to learn about – and he knows this, he'll be the first to tell you this – about playing the position itself. [He is a] very coachable guy willing to listen to really every piece of advice he gets from coaches in terms of where he needs to be and how he needs to play things. And then our defense – he's kind of late to the defense, too – so the checks and the adjustments are new for him as well. But he works really hard at it and he has done a good job, and obviously, it showed up in his play, so that's the main thing."
Is the plan to be here for just a little while, or is it a normal, full work day for you guys with Thanksgiving tomorrow? (Aaron Wilson) "We'll move everything up. We're going to start really early. We start at 7:15 with the first meeting, and then we'll try to get guys out of here earlier, so they can get home to their families, which is what we do every Thanksgiving unless we play a game, which we have done recently."
With QB Joe Flacco, we talked about how much of a luxury it is that you know he's the only starter that you've had to deal with here. Is it more than toughness as far as just being durable and things like that, is it more than toughness to have that kind of streak? (Jamison Hensley) "It probably is. It'd be a great study, because if we had that information we'd be able to predict it a little bit more in the draft. And durability is every bit as important as ability, availability. You can be the most talented guy in the world, but if you're not there to do the job it really doesn't matter. So, that's one of his great traits."
There really hasn't been … I'm trying to think. There was the time QB Joe Flacco had the bruise. There was the time that he had the ankle last year, but you really haven't had a question … Really, for you, did you think going into a game whether he was going to play or not? (Jamison Hensley) "No, just the bruised, the swollen leg game against New England [in the 2009 Wild Card]. That was the only one that was really up in the air that I can recall."
Coach, going back to RB Justin Forsett, do you feel like he's a better fit for your Gary Kubiak offense, because he's more familiar with it, per se, than anyone else, including Ray Rice who is no longer with the team? (Jerry Coleman) "I think anybody can run the offense. It's just a matter of how well you do it, and that's in terms of production. And you just watch guys do it and how they do it. Justin [Forsett] deserves all that credit, because he has done it. He's going out there, and he's making the reads, and he has some really unique skills that have shown up this year more than ever. You saw the skills on tape. The question was, 'Can it translate into an every-down kind of a deal game in and game out?' And to see it translating is just a great credit to him. So, he's a very talented guy."
John, Gary Kubiak talked about how when you were signing RB Justin Forsett here he kind of went to bat and said, "Hey, I think he's your kind of guy." What were some of the things that he said and kind of laid out, and what does that mean? What were some of those things? (Pete Gilbert) "[Gary Kubiak] just meant [Justin Forsett is] a great, high-character person. He's going to work hard. He's a leader. He's a team player. You're going to get his best every single game. He plays through all the stuff you're talking about. He's available, because he's tough with that kind of stuff. It's a physical position. Those guys are targets, but he just bounces back and keeps going. That's what I took it to mean."
*Just to follow up on DT Brandon Williams without a comparison question, how have you seen him grow this year, and what level is he playing at? (Ryan Mink) *"[Brandon Williams] has really matured as a professional. He has always been a hard worker, and he has always wanted to do the right thing, but [he is] learning what those things are, what it means to really prepare yourself. Plus, physically, he's really taking care of himself. He has transformed. He has always been an in-shape guy, but his composition – we call it – is pretty incredible for a nose guard, which was your earlier point. He continues to grow, and for him to do it this quickly as a second-year player is pretty impressive. He's playing at a very high level."
John, you spoke after the Saints game about how you know you're going to need to win a lot of games in this conference, in this division. When you face a team that is also in the playoff hunt, do you even consider potential tiebreak scenarios and the importance of winning a game like this, because San Diego – in the end if you don't win the division – could be battling for the same thing you guys are battling for? (Jeff Zrebiec) "You mean like whether we go for a tie or something like that?" (Reporter: "Having a head-to-head advantage over a team like this.") "It's an offspring of winning the game. It's definitely very helpful to beat an AFC team if you can do it. Just like the division games are even that much more important just for those same reasons. But it doesn't change our motivation or what we have to get accomplished. You have to win the next game on your schedule, because we need to stack wins right now. But it doesn't hurt if you win this game to knock somebody else back."
FB Kyle Juszczyk as a blocker, how much has he improved since last year, and is that important to your total offense that he's just not a guy that's in there to be a receiver? (Clifton Brown) "Well, he was a better blocker than he was a ball handler last game. That's not good. You don't fumble the ball on the 1-yard line, and he knows that. Go ask him. He'll tell you. He's feeling it. But we have a lot of confidence in him as a blocker and as a receiver. He really has developed as a blocker. He takes linebackers on in the hole – very physical. Doesn't win them all, but wins a lot of them. So, he's becoming a really well-rounded fullback/U-back kind of guy."
FB Kyle Juszczyk said that was the first time he had ever fumbled, like even college. He said he never fumbled in college. I'm sure that doesn't make you feel any better. (Clifton Brown) "No, it makes me feel no better at all. (laughter) Makes me feel worse actually. Why now? Could have got it out of the way at Harvard, and we would have been done with it. (laughter) Just as long as it's his last time, we'll be fine."
In the opening drive when the Saints get all the way down and get a fourth-and-goal, can you talk about the resiliency after giving up [a] big play for the defense to get that stop? They seemed to have done that many times, but they don't let the big play that doesn't score bother them like, "OK, they're not in yet, so we'll take care of it." (Pete Gilbert) "We did talk a lot about that. Every play matters. That's why you want to finish every play, because they're not in until they're in, and anything can happen on the next play. Probably this year more than any other year, that has really been proven. It has happened in a number of games. Even the field goal, [the Saints] drove it down at one point in time, and we got off a couple times in forced field goals during the game. So, red zone defense – that's what it's really all about."
QB Joe Flacco
On having a running game to back up the passing game: "It's been great. I'd love to throw 50 times a game if everything is perfect, but that's usually not why you're throwing 50 times a game. It was great. This week, I think we were executing on a lot of levels, and Justin [Forsett] had a great game, and it's great to see him play the way he's been playing. Our offensive line, it starts with those guys, and they're doing a lot of things really well right now."
On foregoing some of the passing game and effectively utilizing the running game vs. the Saints: "I think from early on you could tell we were going to have a pretty good day running the ball, and it probably exceeded everybody's expectations. We ran the ball really well and we were able to do it all game. And when we threw the ball, we got some pretty good yardages on some chunks and took advantage of things in that way."
On the effects of a short week on a player's body: "I think usually by the time you get around to the end of the week, you feel pretty good. I don't know – it probably has some kind of effect that you don't really necessarily even feel. But by the time you get to the end of the week, your body is feeling pretty good, as good as it is going to this time of the year."
On realizing the playoff implications of this weekend's game: "There are times when you think about that stuff, but it's honestly so tough and it's so bad for the mind and the outcome to think of what the possibilities are and think of what the outcome is going to be. We just have to go and play the football game. And I think if we do that and we concentrate on ourselves, then good things are going to happen. You can't really worry about what it is. I know that's what we do and that's what we're here for is to go win football games. But the more you think about that, the more you put pressure on yourselves and the more you do things that are uncharacteristic. So, you just have to go out there and play the game, and all that stuff will take care of itself in the end."
On if he's thought about OLB Jarret Johnson coming after him: "Not really. Hey, I know what he's all about. I played against him in practice for a long time. He's a good player – relentless, tough – and I have a lot of respect for him. It will definitely be fun to go against him, and hopefully the guys keep him off me."
On whether he thinks Johnson will talk trash to him a lot: "No, I don't expect him to."
On how much he respects the toughness of QB Philip Rivers: "It's pretty cool. That's what football is all about. And as a quarterback, are you really a tough guy? (laughter) You don't have to do anything that necessarily [is tough]. I'm not out there tackling guys and sticking my head in there. (laughter) So yeah, anytime you see a guy [who is like that, you respect him]. It's not the fact that he's not missed a game; it's not necessarily that that impresses you. It's the fact that he has been hurt in certain instances and has played through it. I think that's what football is all about – that's part of it. And it's definitely cool to see that and see those guys that are still out there that are willing to do that stuff."
On not viewing himself as a "tough" guy: "I don't say I don't view myself as one. (laughter) I just said I can't say that. You can't say that you're a quarterback and you're tough. You're a quarterback, you're not tough. I mean, you're a quarterback. (laughter) I play quarterback for a reason. I probably wasn't tough enough to play those other positions, and that's just the bottom line. So, you have to go out there, and if there is a time here or there where you can at least be proud of what you did, you have to make sure you do that."
On how QB Philip Rivers talks trash on the field: "It's all fun, it is. It really is a lot of fun to see him play and see how fired up he gets. And everybody gets fired up; it's just everybody does it in a different way. It's definitely fun to see that. I remember a couple of years back when Jay [Cutler] was playing for the Broncos, those two just going at it. Maybe me and him, you never know, maybe me and him will get into one this week and you guys can run with it." (laughter)
On if he's ever come close to getting into a shouting match with another QB: "No, I don't think so. Not unless I was playing defense in high school, maybe. I don't know."
RB Justin Forsett
On his two AFC Offensive Player of the Week awards:"It's been a blessing. It's a credit to the guys around me. I couldn't get these awards without them. It's definitely a team award."
On how much of his success has either been his own making or the offensive line's:"They can take the credit. I'm blessed with a great offensive line. They do a lot of the work up front. It's their job to get me from 'A' to 'C' and for me to get from 'C' to 'Z.' I think we work very well together."
On the Ravens making a commitment to the running game:"It's been great getting the opportunity to go out and show what I can do every week. [I'm] just trying to get stronger every week as we're getting closer to the end of the season and these games [get] more important. [I'm] just trying to run with this opportunity."
On if the running game gets more important as the games do:"I think this time of the year you have to be able to run the football. You want to be able to control the clock. We have a dominant front with the offensive line that we have, and we're able to wear guys out. When it comes down to the fourth quarter in the back end of the season, it's difficult to stay with us."
On what 1,000 rushing yards would mean to him:"It's been a goal my whole career just to get to 1,000 yards. To finally be close to it, it's amazing – a blessing. Hopefully we get there soon."
On how much his familiarity with offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's offense has helped:"It's helped a lot. I think I may have had six different offensive coordinators in my seven-year career. Being able to know and be familiar with the offense coming here made the transition that much easier, and I was able to help the guys along during the process."
WR Torrey Smith
On how the Gerber Baby voting is going for his son, T.J.: "On that baby thing? I don't know. I just tweeted it. [My wife] told me to tweet it; I did it."
On the luxury of having a QB like Joe Flacco who is going to be there every game: "I think it says a lot about him. He's tough. He's taken a beating certain games, and he'll get right back up and doesn't complain. That's not just this year, that's been each and every year since I've been here. So, he's a tough guy. I don't really think there is much more I can say about it."
On if it's a tough week considering the short week and holiday coming up: "I guess if you want to think about it as a distraction, but I'm looking forward to a nice meal after practice. The week is obviously a little shorter, [but] we have our iPads and our coaches have been working hard long before this week to be prepared for this. So, we have our game plan and everything already. The most important thing for us right now is really to just get our legs back, which [head] coach [John Harbaugh] has a great plan for."
On if the coaches gave the players the game plan earlier than normal: "No, you don't approach it [ahead of time], but they have it. So, the workout load isn't really the same. For us, I guess technically we normally can get it on a Monday after the game, but we're here Wednesday and we have it, so it's no big deal."
On his preference to play a Thanksgiving game or being at home with his family and watching football: "It was awesome to play in it those two years, and it's a lot better to eat and be at home, too, but it will be a good time. [There are] some good games on, so we'll check them out."
On being in a good rhythm with QB Joe Flacco the last few games: "It's a game-by-game thing. I just have to go out there and, again, make plays. Whether it's one ball or 100 balls, it's my job to go out there and make every play. And it's about being consistent. There are going to be some games where they are better than others, but right now I need to be at my very best for our team. This is an important stretch for us."
On what made him show his emotions more outwardly than normal Monday night: "I'm not going to tell you all anything.* (laughter)* Everything is heightened a little more. I'm a guy that I keep everything in. I try not to let people know if I'm mad. If I'm happy, I'm always cheesing and smiling – that's me. But I try to keep everything inside. I don't want to let it throw off my game. But, I was a little bit [mad]. It probably happens a few times a year. I can guarantee two times a year with the Steelers. *(laughter) *But more so than anything, it's not that I'm not passionate or anything, it's just that I keep [my cool]. When I line up, I still want to dominate the person across from me. I want to score every single time I touch it. [Like] Steve [Smith Sr.] says, 'I want to take his lunch money.' It's that simple. But I don't have to be an aggressor outwardly after the play for everyone to think that way. No, I play to score and touch the ball, and when I get it, I need to make a play every single time."
On Monday night being one of his most complete games in terms of blocking, making plays after catching the ball, even though he didn't score a touchdown: "I've had plenty of those games, so to me, it was just a good game – no more, no less. So, hopefully we can get some more."
On this week's game against the Chargers carrying added significance because both teams are in the hunt for a Wild Card playoff spot: "Every game right now is like a playoff game for us. We play a couple of teams that are all in the hunt. So, it's really going to be about who wants it more. We have to be at our best right now, and we understand that."
On his feelings on whether Ray Rice should be reinstated immediately by the NFL: "I talk [to him]; that's my boy. Just because he's not on the team, I don't hate him. I don't like what he did, but I don't hate him. And I think that right now whatever happens with him, I'm sure he will take the punishment – whatever they hand out – but I hope he gets a second chance. We live in a country where you are supposed to truly get second chances and our judicial system is based on that. It's supposed to be, at least. It's not always that way. But [I hope] he gets a chance to redeem himself and show people who he really is, because that guy on that tape made a bad decision."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On if playing Monday night games takes a toll on the body for the next week:"It does, but you have to be a professional. You have to take care of your body, and [head] coach [John Harbaugh] is doing a good job of adjusting practice so that we can do so. What we're trying to do is bigger than how we feel right now."
On if the media should keep jinxing the Ravens, like when talking about his 100th sack:"Going forward, whatever we're trying to accomplish, let's not just talk about it, OK? (laughter) But the one I was really concerned with was definitely Drew Brees not beating us. I was like, 'He's never beat the Ravens?' And I thought about every time we faced him, like, 'Yeah, we've won every time.'" (Reporter: "By the way, Philip Rivers has never won in the state of Maryland.") "See, what did I just say? (laughter) What did I just say? But we were concerned about that, [and] we ended up getting it done – we ended up winning. The sack, I wasn't sure who they were going to give it to. I did sack him, [but] I didn't get to do my celebration that I wanted to. But once I got it, I just got to save it for other things to achieve."
On signaling that he had sacked QB Drew Brees:"I just had to make sure they knew it was me. I didn't want to chance it, because the previous time I was getting ready to sack him, he threw a pick-6, and if you noticed, I didn't celebrate too much on that. I was just like, 'Did that really just happen?' And then I had to realize, 'OK, we got the lead now. We're good.' It was a great thing. But it was all in good fun, though. I'm glad we achieved both things."
On QB Joe Flacco never missing a game in his career:"He hasn't. What'd I tell him about the damn jinx? (laughter) He's very tough. One thing [is] he doesn't get really rattled. No matter how the game is going, if there's still time on the game clock, he's still capable of making plays. You have to love that if you're a coach. That says a lot about his durability for him to be able to sustain being able to play a lot of games."
On if he has any type of relationship with QB Philip Rivers:"There's really no relationship, but we do respect his competitive nature, his tenacity. Like I've said, I don't like many quarterbacks in this league. Andy Dalton is one [I like], he's another, and there's a few more, but that's about it."
On how significant it is to be a member of the 100-sack club:"It is. It's definitely flattering, but I still think there's still work to be done. I still want more. I would like to have another one of those (gestures toward Super Bowl banners), to be totally honest with you. It's good to have 100. It wasn't like when I came in to the NFL … You don't ever hear a guy say, 'Oh, I want 100 sacks.' Or do you say, 'I want to win a Super Bowl.' Once you have that taste of that, there's nothing like it. I definitely would like another one of those."
On he and QB Philip Rivers liking to talk a lot on the field:"It's been fun. It's been very competitive – not too much disrespect. It's been a lot of fun. Both teams are having some success this year, so I'm expecting it to be a little more intriguing. It's going to be fun. It's going to continue to be fun."