WEDNESDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF
Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
Jerry, your thoughts on K Stephen Gostkowski and the Patriots' kicking game? (Aaron Wilson) "They're strong in all areas. This is a team that has consistently been one of the top special teams in the league, because they value special teams. You see it throughout their roster; you see it in their offensive and defensive players. If they can add something to their special teams group, it makes them that much more valuable. And their specialists, Stephen has been so good for so long – even as a young player he was. You could see that he was going to have a long, productive career, and he has done that."
Jerry, LS Patrick Scales with the snap at the end of the game, did you see anything fundamental or mechanically that caused it, or was it just kind of an aberration? (Aaron Wilson) "I certainly hope it's an aberration. The fundamentals where you have to get the ball down … He snapped it too high, and it led to way too slow get-off time, and by that time the protection had broken down. So, it was obviously something we have to fix."
Jerry, just how impressive is K Justin Tucker's kick in Pittsburgh – the 52-yarder? In those conditions in that stadium, I know it's not easy to kick long ones there. (Ryan Mink) "After the game, I thought about it more than I did during the game. After the game, it seemed, 'That was a really great kick.' During the game, he had had such a great warm-up and he was so confident during the course of the game, I never thought twice about it. When asked about [the kick], it was, 'Yeah, let's go!' It was one of those easy calls, because I felt really confident he was going to make it, and he went out there and he felt confident, and then he nailed it. It was one of those situations I don't think he ever thought about where it was, and I certainly never did, because I saw him kick the whole game and he had been kicking very well."
People talk about clutch quarterbacks all the time. Is there a notion to clutch kickers? And what do you see from K Justin Tucker that makes him good in the playoffs?* (Ryan Mink) "I was asked that question early in his career about his … He made a couple game-winners, and I said at the time, and I'll back that up again, is he enjoys *that moment. He really does. He likes being out there on the [big] stage."
Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak
**From your perspective, can you talk about the game within the game in terms of matching wits with Bill Belichick. Dean Pees was just talking about how you get something different every week from an offensive perspective from them. Is it similar on the defensive side? *(Garrett Downing) *"There's no telling. I've played [Bill Belichick] many, many times throughout the course of my career, and he does a lot of things defensively – a lot of fronts, a lot of personnel. And he has had a couple weeks to get ready for us from that standpoint. So, I think you expect that. But I think the biggest thing you have to do is you have to have recall from your last five or six months' work. You can't sit here and try to cram everything into this week. Things are going to happen in the game. Hopefully we have recall from training camp, from the 16 games we've played in the regular season and last week. So, that's just part of playing the Patriots and Bill, and [I have] tremendous respect for them, and those things you have to be ready for."
You guys were pretty aggressive in the Pittsburgh game taking deep shots early in downs and what not. Why do you feel like you did that [in] that game, and why is it important in New England? (Ryan Mink) "It's always important to make big plays in this league. You're trying to … It's tough to stay out on that field. And [going] four or five yards your way down the field, you have to give yourself opportunities. Plus, we have a quarterback that puts it down the field as good as anybody I've ever been around. We made some big plays in the game last week. We had some big penalties in the game by putting the ball down the field. So, how's this one going to go? I don't know. They cover very well – that's a strength of theirs – but we have to stay aggressive. We have to give our players a chance to make their plays and be a difference on Saturday. So, we'll see how it goes, but I think that always has to be a mindset."
Was that the key in getting you guys going early as opposed to sort of easing in? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "Yes, our field position was bad. The first drive, I think we were backed up on our own 6- [yard line] and we were three-and-out, so it wasn't good. Steve [Smith Sr.] came out and made a big play and we got going. But we wanted to be aggressive. You're not going to win in these situations in the playoffs without putting yourself in tough situations and giving your players a chance to be aggressive, because everybody is so good. There are such great players on both sides of the ball. I don't think that ever changes week to week, really, but I think it gets even more important this time of year."
**One of the things QB Joe Flacco said to us yesterday was that you calling such an aggressive game early showed a lot of confidence in him and his teammates. Can you tell even as a Super Bowl MVP he wants that, that he is moved by the fact that you're saying, "OK, I have faith in you."? *(Aditi Kinkhabwala) *"I've felt Joe's confidence since I've been here, but I can honestly say that this past week working with him through the first playoff game, I can see the level rise a little bit. I think he works and plays and lives for these situations, and I think his record speaks for itself and what he has been able to do. A lot of guys want the ball in their hands at this time, and he's one of those guys. He's like, 'Put it on me,' and that's a great feeling as a coach, but it's a great feeling in the room with the team, because I know the team knows that's his gut feeling. That's the way he feels, and John [Harbaugh] knows it more than anybody. It's just a credit to him and what he has done as a playoff quarterback and what the football team has done."
*Is QB Joe Flacco up in your office campaigning more? *(Ryan Mink) *"Is he campaigning more? He's always campaigning. *(laughter) No, I give Joe a lot of freedom. I give Joe my [play] card on Friday, and he looks at it throughout Saturday, and we meet and talk about the things he likes. You want your guy out there doing things he's comfortable with, that he feels like has a chance to be successful. You try to listen to everybody, but he's the one pulling the trigger every play, so we're going to listen to him a bunch."
Has that changed? Have QB Joe Flacco's comments changed or feedback has become more extensive? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "No, I think [he has gotten more confident in what we do – just because of the new offense – as the season has went along. I think that's half of it, as far as his confidence to want the football. And like the fourth quarter he played against Cleveland to get us in the playoffs, it was all about him and some of the plays he made. So, [her is a] very confident young man. [He] loves these situations; you can tell by how he works out here and how he prepares."
C Jeremy Zuttah obviously had his hands full with a very good nose tackle in Steve McClendon last week. He's going to get another one this week. How important is that matchup, and how have you seen Jeremy play this season? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I think Jeremy [Zuttah] has played well for us. He has kind of led the way, made calls, so he's the quarterback on the field for our O-line. This group [is] very big inside with [Alan] Branch and [Vince Wilfork] – very big people. Or they can play an odd front, they can play an even front. I don't know. If you do, let me know. I'd appreciate it. (laughter) Guards are going to get a lot of work from big players, or you're going to get a nose and Jeremy is going to get a lot of work. It's our job scheme-wise to try to help everybody [with] what we do, but ultimately it ends up [being that] you have to be better than the guy across from you on that given day. So, it's a big challenge for all of us, not just Jeremy."
T James Hurst has done a nice job at left tackle stepping in for T Eugene Monroe, but what would it mean to get Eugene back if you can? (Ryan Mink)"You get [Eugene Monroe's] experience back. That's the biggest thing, but we'll see how it goes. He practiced today, and we'll see how he holds up. But we have a lot of confidence in James [Hurst] and John [Urschel]. When they've played for our football team, good things have happened. It hasn't been too big for them. We have a lot of confidence moving forward. Hopefully Eugene is there, and that's a problem that we have, so we'll see what happens."
**Gary, how do you combat physical corners like CB Darrelle Revis and CB Brandon Browner who aren't afraid to play a lot of press coverage? *(Luke Jones) *"They are as good as there is in the game. They can lock you down. They match them up. Bill [Belichick] moves them around. They match people. They have a lot of confidence in what they're doing, man coverage-wise. I think we have to go do what we do. We can't sit here and assume, 'Well, this guy is going to play that guy.' We can't do that. We have to go out and run the things we run and do them well. But that's a strength of their defense, and if we're going to find a way to get it done, we're going to have to beat as good a man coverage as there is in football, and we understand that."
**Gary, do you expect it to be – generally speaking – tougher to run the football in the playoffs, and how important might the running game be to try and keep QB Tom Brady and the rest of those guys off the field? *(Clifton Brown) *"I think it's important that you continue to hang in there with it. Last week we ran the ball pretty good in the first half, and in the second half we didn't run the ball at all. But, we kept plugging a little bit enough to keep them honest. You never know. One thing about running the ball, it cannot look good and you can bust a big play. And statistically, at the end of the day, it's, 'Boy, you ran the ball well.' So, you have to give yourself a chance to do that, and the only way we're going to be able to do that is if we're in the type of game we want to be in. We have to protect the ball, have to make some big plays, but we're always going to try to run the football and try to find a way to do it."
In that same vein, what have you seen the last month or so in the play-action game. It seems like it has really opened up. (Jon Meoli) "Yes, it has. We've gotten the ball down the field various ways. We were able to boot a little bit last week, so you never know. But Joe [Flacco] is very comfortable doing that. And like I said, for us to get it done, there's going to have to be some big plays made. I don't know how we'll make them – running the ball or throwing it down the field – but we're going to have to make some."
Have you found that teams are keying in on the running game? (Jon Meoli) "I wouldn't really say that. Pittsburgh played their defense, and they're very good. They run sideline to sideline. They got tough, especially in the second half. This week, I don't know how we're going to get played or how it's going to go, but we're always preparing to do both and being physical is always going to be a part of our game even if we're throwing it."
Just curious, when you're surrounded by so many coaches, is it kind of like iron sharpens iron when you have so many talented coaches around you? (Julian Benbow) "Yes, no doubt about that. This coaching staff has tremendous experience, tremendous playoff experience in this league. Dean [Pees] has been doing it forever. ['Iron sharpens iron'] is a saying that John [Harbaugh] uses around the building a lot, so I don't know if stole that off the walls or what, but there's no doubt. When you're challenged every day as a coach … I'm challenged every day going against Dean in practice, going against Dean in training camp. That's very fulfilling as a coach, because that's the only way you get better. And then as a group, I think we work extremely well together. [This is a] tremendous organization and built extremely well."
How do you as a coach prepare your card when you don't know what the defense is? (Aditi Kinkhabwala)"You put a lot of stuff on there and then you start grabbing. *(laughter) *You just have to have a lot of bullets. You have to have a bunch, a lot of things. You never know what it's going to take, but you always have to do everything you can to know that you can put your players in a position to go make a play and be successful. What play that's going to be, I don't know. We have to go find out."
But is it just, "We're not going to let them dictate. We'll do exactly what we want," or do you have to be somewhat responsive? (Aditi Kinkhabwala) "I think the game is responsive. You're trying to do what you think your players do best, but the game is responsive all the time. So, it changes all the time."
What's your response to Bill Belichick saying that the offensive players chop-block a lot? (Adam Vorce) "Well, we cut. That's part of what we do offensively. We run the ball. We're a zone team. So, that's my response. That's part of the game. That's part of what we do."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
[What are your thoughts on] how secondary/assistant head coach Steve Spagnuolo has done with this bunch with all the changes that he's had to go through in the secondary? (Aaron Wilson)"He's done a great job, as all the staff has. We all pitch in, and it's not only the secondary, but the linebackers, the front. Everything contributes to the whole defense, whether it be coverage, whether it be pressure on the quarterback, to help the coverage. Whatever it's been, it's been the whole group. They've all done a great job."
One of the things that head coach John Harbaugh said to us yesterday is that because of all the injuries, you almost have to create a new defense every week for whatever personnel you have available. Is that how you look at it? (Aditi Kinkhabwala)"You always look at who you're playing and who you're playing them with and just try to put guys in positions that they can succeed. And whether that's creating a new pressure, whether that's tweaking a way you play a coverage or something like that, that's just part of coaching, part of football. It happens with everybody. Even when everybody is healthy, a lot of times you'll face teams and you'll want to change things because of what they do. So, it's always a combination of both. What I like about our defense and about our team and about our coaching staff is the fact that we sometimes do change – sometimes considerably – a considerable amount of calls, and our guys can get them. That's the advantage of having a smart football team."
Dean, I see you staying up late at night trying to devise things. You don't have DT Haloti Ngata, you don't have a secondary. Is that how it worked this year? Do you have to really work overtime to get a defense in place, given what you had to work with? (Dave Ginsburg)"You've been here watching when I leave?" (laughter) *(Reporter: "I suspect.") *"Some years are just like that. There are some times that you just have to spend a little more time. If you stay healthy and things are really rolling good, yes, you have a tendency not to change too much because you really don't want to change just to change. Like I said, sometimes it's late; sometimes it's not so late. It's just a matter of whether we think that we can … What can we do best against this team? How can we succeed? Sometimes that's drawing up new things; sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's doing the same thing but from a different look and trying to make it as simple as possible, because you've only got a couple of days to install it. Some years are like that. Every year is different. I can't really explain it to you, other than we have to stay here as long as we've got to stay here to get the job done."
Is that particularly true this week going up against somebody you know very well in head coach Bill Belichick, in terms of those late nights trying to figure out what you're going to see from them? (Garrett Downing)"Really, at this point in time, I don't think I know them as well as everybody thinks I know them. I've been gone five years. There are two guys on the defense that were there when I was there – [Vince] Wilfork and [Rob] Ninkovich. The rest of the defense is different. Every year the offense is different with those guys, depending on the running back, the wide receivers. This isn't [Deion] Branch and [Randy] Moss and those guys. It's just different. People talk about my familiarity. It's just the fact that I know coach Belichick and his coaching staff. Half of those guys are gone; it's been so far removed, it's different. I've seen them go five wides no-huddle for a whole game. I've seen them go three tight ends for a whole game. You have to get ready for everything. That's why they are good. That's why they win every year. They do a great job with whoever they have. No. 12 [Tom Brady] is still the main cog. He makes it all go. But he's done it with all kinds of different types of offenses, really. Whether it be the running game … They ran the ball well on us last year out here. But we're not the same team either, and they're not the same team. Every year is different with them. Hey, we're playing the best – you have to beat the best."
Dean, what do you like about the way CB Rashaan Melvin has handled a very large role for a guy that didn't have a lot of experience until you put him on the field? And just kind of the way his demeanor is and [his] aggressiveness? (Aaron Wilson)"He's handled it extremely well with not a lot of playing experience. One of the things that helps, just like when Danny Gorrer was here for the very short amount of time that he was here at corner, it helps when you have success early. It's like anybody: If you go out and the first thing you do as a defensive back is give up a touchdown, that's not exactly the way you want to start. The good thing about Melvin was we got off to a good start with him, put him in some positions, and he did a great job with them and he had some success. That built up confidence and he felt good about himself; he knew the other guys around him felt good about him and were confident in him. And that's half of playing defensive back is really having confidence in yourself playing back there. Danny Gorrer was going to be kind of the same way. He starts out the first game he's in here, and he gets a pick right at the end of the game. So, if you can get them started that way, that's certainly the way to start. But he's done a tremendous job for us."
Dean, you mentioned QB Tom Brady [and how] he's done it five-wide or three tight ends or whatever. What are they doing right now that [has made them] so successful that you've seen? (Pete Gilbert)"Week to week. I'll watch them go against the Colts, and they go two tight ends and put [No.] 35 [Jonas Gray] in the game, who nobody even knows who that running back is, and he rushes for 200 yards. Then I've seen them go tan personnel, which is empty, against – I can't remember who it was I watched it against – and they go seven plays in a row right down the field. I can remember being with them [when] we went up to Minnesota, and [Tom Brady] started the game in no huddle, empty the whole time, because Minnesota had a great front to stop the run. Well, those guys were worn out after the first quarter. So really, it's week to week. It's not like, 'OK, well this is the scheme he has this year different than last year.' We could see a lot of things when he had [Aaron] Hernandez and [Rob] Gronkowski. Well, now he's got No. 81 [Tim Wright] and Gronkowski. That's the thing about New England is you have to prepare for a little bit of everything, and it really is week to week."
How do you pass rush these guys? Because QB Tom Brady gets rid of the ball so quickly, quicker than really any other quarterback in the NFL. How do you pass rush him without exposing yourself to him? (Ryan Mink)"As fast as you can. (laughter) That's as simple as I can say it. You have to try to get to him as quick as possible. You have to do a great job of covering on the back end and make him hold the ball a little bit. He's going to try to get the ball out quick. I'm sure they are going to scheme up some things to help their offensive line in the rush. We just have to adapt to whatever they do."
Dean, what is the special challenge of defending TE Rob Gronkowski, and can the experience of playing against TE Jimmy Graham earlier this year kind of help? (Aaron Wilson)"They are different style of guys, though, but it does in a way. They are both big, talented tight ends. They flex them out, both. The biggest thing with Rob is the fact that he's just so big and can body you up. It's like running a seam route; it's not like [Greg] Olson from Carolina running a seam route who runs like a doggone defensive back. The problem with him in a seam route is he's so big, Tom is going to put it up over your head and let him go get it. That's always going to be the problem. We just have to do a good job of staying over the top of all those guys and not letting them body us up. He's a guy that if you contact him downfield, he's generally going to win, because he's going to knock down a 190-pound guy as big as he is. There's a way to play him, and we have to do a great job of doing that."
Dean, everyone has to rotate defensive linemen, but what kind of luxury is it to have the depth that you have? (Jon Meoli) "It's a great luxury. It's same thing at outside linebacker, who really are our defensive ends. Rather than a guy playing 70 plays in a game, the guy can play 40 and everybody can be fresh at the end of the game. I learned that a long, long, long time ago. You want to be fresh at the end of the half and you want to be fresh at the end of the game if you can, because those two two-minute situations could make the difference in the game. I'm not saying that the rest of the game doesn't matter, but you don't want to be tired in two-minute at the end of the game. So, whenever you can rotate guys and know that you can put the best guys out there to finish the game, it's always what you are trying to do."
On a personal level, do you have a niche here as a defensive coordinator, and was your time at Kent State enough to satisfy your head coaching desires? (Dave Ginsburg) "Probably. *(laughter) *That's always a hard question to [answer]. Everybody always sits and tells you 'no,' and then they turn around and take a job. *(laughter) *That's what they do. I don't think anybody can honestly say … It always has to be a right situation in any job that you ever take. It's got to be something that you want to do. It's not the prestige of wanting to be a head coach or whatever. With me, it's always been when I took a job, it was because I really liked that job. I've never been fired – knock on wood – and I never left a job that I didn't like. There hasn't really been a job I haven't liked where I'm at. I've always just thought the other opportunity was better or it was more, 'I'd like to try that.' So, I'd never say never, but I am so happy here. I love Baltimore. My family loves Baltimore. I love this defense, and I love working for John Harbaugh."
DE Chris Canty
On the Ravens' locker room staying loose:"We're just enjoying what we do. We have a group of guys who have a great rapport, great relationship with one another. When we're out on the field, when we're in the classroom, we're focusing on being able to execute at the highest level. We just want to keep stacking days, good days of preparation leading up to Saturday's game."
On what the Ravens' "faith and guts" theme means to him:"I think that's the story of the men in this locker room throughout the course of the whole season here – the adversity that we faced and continue to overcome. [I am] just proud of the group of guys here. They continue to show up. We continue to show up as a football team. That's kind of a way to define the 2014 Baltimore Ravens."
On how he would define the 2014 New England Patriots:"They're a smart, tough, physical football team. They've been very good for a long time, and the 2014 version of the Patriots is no different. They're very good at what they do, so we have our work cut out for us. We've tried to put them under a microscope throughout the course of the preparation – tried to put ourselves in the best situations where we can be successful on Saturday."
On the key to getting to QB Tom Brady:"I think one of the keys to our successful pass rush is making sure that all four guys are tied together up front, making sure that we understand how we're going to attack the pocket, how we're going to try to affect the source of the passing game, which is the quarterback. Our ability to do that will determine the outcome or the result, so to speak, as far as rushing the quarterback. It's just something that you constantly have to study, something that you constantly have to try to get on the same page with the guys that you're working with so that you can have that rapport, so you can kind of understand how to best work with the guys in order to get the result that we want."
LB C.J. Mosley
On what he expects to see from TE Rob Gronkowski:"I really don't know what to expect, but if I'm on him, I'm going to do my best to cover him, and whoever else is on him is going to do their best. We just have to try our best to execute and win each play."
On how much facing TE Jimmy Graham prepared him for matching up with TE Rob Gronkowski:"They have a lot of similarities, but at the end of the day, you can't compare those two, because they're two different types of players that have their own type of style. But they're both very elite tight ends, and they know how to make plays. So for us, we just have to try to keep our eyes on them and try to eliminate the big plays they're going to make."
On the difference between regular season and playoff weeks:"Everybody knows if you don't win this one, there's no tomorrow. We're all playing for that next day, so we know what to expect. Everybody is coming in prepared to work."
On if he can sense any differences at this point in the year:"You can definitely [sense it]. The days aren't longer, but you can definitely see guys more focused. We're trying to make it to the next day, so we're going to do whatever we can."
On what comes to mind when he thinks about the Patriots: "[They are] a team that knows how to execute and make plays. So, the team that's going to execute the most, make the least mistakes and the least mental errors, that's who's going to win the game."
On how the veteran defensive players have helped him prepare for this week:"A lot of guys on this defense, on this team, have been in a situation like this, been in games like this and been at the Patriots for these types of games. They're going to set the tone to kind of give you that mindset of what you're about to get into. But for me and the players that haven't been there, we just have to execute."
WR Steve Smith Sr.
On what his experience has been like playing the Patriots in New England: "I've only actually played them in the regular season, so I'm not sure what to expect. I've only seen [the Patriots'] playoff games, because I was in the NFC a few years, so I've never been in that atmosphere. So, I'm not sure what to expect."
On why he signed with Baltimore as a free agent and did not visit New England: "No. 1, I think flights were kind of … They had a little bad weather. And also, No. 2, this was my first time being a free agent, so everything was new to me being a free agent. So, I went in everywhere not thinking about what was lined up, but taking one trip at a time and going with my gut and experiencing being a free agent for the first time."
On CB Darrelle Revis' toughness and whether he is still "Revis": "Is Revis still Revis? I think his ID and his Social Security number would say he's still Revis." (laughter) (Reporter: "Is he still one of the best shutdown corners?") "I think he's a great corner. I don't think you get a one-year deal for, I think, $10 million dollars for being a slouch. I mean, Revis can play. He's a great corner. He's a corner that you have to prepare for, you have to watch film. You can't just walk in there thinking, 'Ohh.' He's a professional, and, you have to approach it with a professional mindset and watch film."
On whether he enjoys the best players going up against each other: "I'm not sure if I'm the best, but it beats getting the third-string guy. (laughter) I anticipate it's going to be … I have to be patient and understand he's going to make his plays. And really, that's it – be patient. It's a long game, 68 plays. A lot of things happen."
On CB Darrelle Revis saying Smith Sr. is an electrifying player: "Oh, he did? That's awesome." (Reporter: "They're all being very nice to you this week.")* *"Thanks, Revis. Appreciate it."
On whether he has a response to when other standout players compliment him: "I think I said a great compliment. I'll take that. I respect the heck out of [Darrell Revis], and he's a guy that … I don't anticipate any nonsense. He doesn't anticipate any with me. So, it'll be a great veteran game, you know? I think on the run plays, I'll look out for him and he'll look out for me."
On whether there is a mutual respect between veteran players: "Yes. There's a number of guys … Before the first play, you walk out, tap hands or whatever like, 'Hey.' You don't play this game this long trying to be something you're not. You play this game and understand it and people watch film. They see it and they respect it, and I respect him."
On whether it's fair when quarterbacks are defined by how they play in the postseason:"I think that's what defines a quarterback, yes. I think that helps and hurts you. I think that's why Tom Brady is one of the best [is because of] what he has done in the postseason. I think Joe [Flacco] … I heard a stat after [the] Pittsburgh game – all those touchdowns, no interceptions… Wow. Those numbers don't happen very often, don't happen a lot. So, what it is … You have to go, 'Wow.'"
On whether he saw QB Joe Flacco have an increased focus prior to the Pittsburgh game: "Let me think. No." (laughter)
On whether QB Joe Flacco has more confidence on game day because of his playoff experience: "I have not been here long enough to say that." (Reporter: "But just in that playoff game against Pittsburgh, is that sort of, you know…") "I was too busy focusing on myself and trying to keep things on edge and focusing in on everything and understand, because the last time we were [in Pittsburgh] we got thumped in the crowd. So, I was just trying to rein things in on myself. But I'll pay attention this game and let you know. (laughter) Oh, I'm being honest. It's true."