WEDNESDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: FALCONS – WEEK 7
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody – appreciate you guys being here. [We] had a good practice. We were inside – got away from the rain a little bit and had a good day at work. So, we're on our way to preparing for Atlanta."
John, after you had a win like you had in Tampa – making history at one point – do you concern yourself when you come back, and during this week of practice, after having such a big win, of making sure, maybe even a little bit more just attention to detail, things like that just to make sure? Because after losses, I guess it's easier, because you're drilling into them the mistakes that they've made. (Jamison Hensley) "One of the things we talked to our guys about was, 'You have to respond to whatever the circumstance might be.' Whether it's success, failure, good game, not a good game, whatever comes down the pike, it's in the response. So, this challenge we have this week is the one we're faced this week, and that's the one we have to attend to, and that's how we're approaching it."
**John, what was it like to get S Will Hill and DT Terrence Cody and also DT Timmy Jernigan back today, and how did those guys do? *(Aaron Wilson) *"It's great to get those guys back, and they did well. Will [Hill] and Terrence [Cody] and Timmy [Jernigan] [were] all full participation. You'll see when the injury report comes out, and it's a good thing."
How fortunate do you feel to have one quarterback – since you've been here – starting every single game and someone who has been so consistent? (David Ginsburg) "I feel blessed. It's a great thing. It's pretty amazing to have your quarterback take every single rep since he got here. I don't know how unusual that is – probably pretty unusual. It's a credit to Joe [Flacco]. It's a credit to how hard he works, how tough he is. He's a special guy."
**Coach, what would you need to see from S Will Hill to satisfy you for him to be NFL game ready? *(Jerry Coleman) *"It would just have to be the best thing for us, to be the best thing for our team at whatever point that happens. When it is the best thing for us, all things considered, he'd be out there."
*John, when you guys signed RB Justin Forsett, maybe he didn't get as much attention, but he's turned out the be a very valuable player for you guys. Your thoughts on what Justin has brought to the table? Maybe he's a little underrated at this point? *(Aaron Wilson) *"Yes, I'd say so. [Justin Forsett is] not a guy that anybody gave much thought to. I don't know, did you guys write anything about that? Did you write about [the signing]? You usually … Did you?" *(Reporters: "We did.") "That's good. Did you predict his success? I don't think anybody did. It would have been hard to do that!" (Reporter: "The big story that day was Owen Daniels.") "Was it?" (Reporter: "Yes, because they all signed the same day.") "OK. Owen [Daniels has] done pretty well. Obviously, those guys are veteran guys that had a history in Gary's [Kubiak] system had played in the system before, so that was something that was really important. It's very helpful when you come in and try to install a system of any kind, to have some people that have been exposed to it before and can help you do that. That has been a plus, but the fact that they have played so well is the important thing, and they have. They've done a great job."
Is determined, maybe, the right word for RB Justin Forsett? (Aaron Wilson) "Justin [Forsett], sure – determined. He's a man of great faith. I think if you've read any of the things he has written, you'll see he's a very deep thinker. He's a very thoughtful guy, highly-motivated, tremendous character and heck of a football player. [We're] just very fortunate. Fortunate is not the word I'd use; [we're] just very blessed to have him on board."
With Atlanta – they clearly have a deep receiving corps – is the real key getting pressure on QB Matt Ryan so he doesn't have the time to find those guys? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It is. It's always the key to get pressure. But they do everything they can to keep you from getting pressure. We went down there four years ago, and it was all quick. The ball came out fast to those receivers, and I'm sure that will be part of their plan. They protect [Matt Ryan] every way you can protect him. They use two backs, they use two tight ends, they use two tight ends and a back, and they use a tight end and two backs. They slide it this way, slide it that way. Base protected. They chip their way out – the backs and the tight ends. They mix it up and make you chase it. So, they're going to do everything they can to protect him."
Coach, what impressed you the most about your two rookie offensive linemen last week, and what did you like about G/C John Urschel coming out of training camp? (Mike Preston) "The best thing is the fact that they handled it with such poise – those two young guys [John Urschel and James Hurst]. They were smart. I don't think [there were] any assignment errors, very few technique errors. They communicated well with their center. We were on the same page with everything we did. That's pretty unusual for two rookie guys. Those are two smart guys. Urschel coming out of camp, again, [there were] not too many mistakes – pretty good with technique. He's such a conscientious guy. We had a conversation after Wednesday's practice where he kind of got off kilter a little bit in the sense that he was kind of, I don't want to say soft, but he wasn't very aggressive. He was thinking so much about doing the right thing, he wasn't coming off the ball and blocking people. So, the conversation was, 'You're going to be fine. Just put your foot down and go block the guy. You know what you're doing. You've had a good camp.' To see him play as physically as he did, that was a good thing, too."
**Coach, you talked about your team responding. You had an unusual situation start of the season. Is this response just what you expected from this football team? *(Gary Mihoces) *"It was kind of a new circumstance, right? And it's not one that we ever expected. It's not in the manual. But I'm not surprised by the fact that our guys handled these kinds of things really well, and they have. You expect them to do it the same way going forward."
What is the challenge – you guys haven't faced the Falcons in four years – what is the challenge when you're not familiar with a team like that? (Adam Vorce) "It's like every time you play an NFC team, you play that division once every four years. So, these teams are all new to us. The challenge is you have to get to know them. You're not as familiar with them as your opponent in your division. But they have the same issue with us, so it's fair."
OLB Elvis Dumervil
On whether the defense had a breakthrough game against Tampa Bay: "I won't say it's a breakthrough, just an opportunity to continue to get better. I think we've been rushing pretty well all year. Sometimes the numbers don't show [that]. But we just try to be effective, and the guys in the back helped us out."
On how the defense will diagnose the protection of QB Matt Ryan: "Obviously, when you have two guys in the backfield in a shotgun formation, typically you get a head's up that you're going to get chipped. So, if they plan on doing two-, three-man routes against seven-, eight-man coverage, we'll see how that works out."
On whether he sees similarities between QB Joe Flacco and QB Matt Ryan: "Man, I wish I could tell you I'm a quarterback expert, but I'm not. But [Matt Ryan] is a good quarterback – very talented. [The Falcons] have a lot of good weapons. He makes all the throws. He can run and throw the ball as well. So, we have to make sure we're on our 'A' game come Sunday."
On whether he is more comfortable this season in the Ravens' defense: "Yes, most definitely. I think more than anything, it's just kind of life off the field is more settled here. So, going from Mountain West to here was a bit of an adjustment. But getting situated, understanding the package more and what I'm expected to do, I'm definitely a lot more comfortable than I was last year."
On OLB Terrell Suggs getting his first full sack against Tampa Bay "[There is] a reason why he's Terrell Suggs. He's the hardest guy on himself. And I think he has been playing great all year [with the] run, being effective with the pass rush, getting hits. I think he may lead our team in quarterback hits. So, he has been playing great all year. But a guy like that, that's why he's accomplished what he has accomplished. He's hard on himself."
On whether he thinks CB Jimmy Smith is playing as well as any corner in the league: "Again, I'm not a cornerback expert either."
On how impressed he is with the development of CB Jimmy Smith: "I'm not surprised, because since OTAs, from camp, he has really demonstrated what he wants to establish himself as this year. So, he's doing it. He's one of the main reasons why we can kind of get after the quarterback. We have good guys like that covering. It helps."
QB Joe Flacco
On where his five-touchdown game ranks among the things he's done in his career:"I honestly haven't thought about it. Hey, it was a lot of fun that day. I mean, shoot, I looked up at the clock and there was almost 14 minutes left in the second quarter and we already had five touchdowns. You don't come across those too often, and you'll take them when you can get them. But I haven't really thought about where it's ranked. It's not really that important anymore. After the first three, I mean, we didn't really need more after that, so who cares?"
On it being unfortunate that the NFL record for passing touchdowns is seven:"Hey, if most of them had come in the second half, I'd probably have a better chance of getting seven or eight. But because they all came so early, it kind of had to come to a halt at that point."
On if having such an impressive team performance makes it tougher going into the next game:"I think the biggest thing is during the week is coming in here and reminding yourself and everybody to put the work in. I think that comes naturally for us. I think it's something that we're good at doing – coming in here and working hard – and that's the most important thing. Because once you get out there on Sunday, everything takes care of itself. And it's all about the way you prepare during the week, the way you get your legs back – all that stuff. So, I think as long as we come in here and focus on our task and live in the moment this day, then I think we're going to be alright. Like I said, I think we do a good job of doing that. There are so many ups and downs and highs and lows throughout the season that you have to manage those in all kinds of different ways, and I think this is just another one that you have to deal with."
On his confidence in a young offensive line that has protected him well:"It's kind of cool. It's great to see the depth that we have. We've obviously put in two rookies on the left side, and we haven't really skipped a beat. It's great to see that we can do that and really react to any situation that we need to. The way those guys played on Sunday, and the way [James] Hurst has been playing over there for the last couple weeks, has been really impressive, and I think it's going to help us out a lot in the long [run]."
On what he thinks about the comparisons made between him and Falcons QB Matt Ryan:"I think it's always something that's going to be there just because we were in the same class. That happens with everybody that gets drafted in the same class. I think it's a cool thing, because I guess as long as [the media is] still talking about us, we're somewhat relevant – the both of us – so I guess that's a good thing. Usually, you're either being talked about as a good draft class or a bad draft class, so it's nice to see that we are still relevant and playing meaningful games and things like that. I said to [Atlanta's] media, too, 'It is a shame that we're in different conferences and we don't get to play each other as often as we'd probably like to.' It'd be pretty fun to play each other more often, but yeah, we're in different conferences [and] we only play each other once every four years. But yeah, it's cool. I enjoy the games."
On if he studies quarterbacks when viewing games, as opposed to watching them as a fan:"You watch as a fan. You watch what games you can. There are some weeks I say, 'I'm not going to go home and watch football,' but you end up watching football anyway. (laughter) It's just what you do. So yeah, but it's more of [watching games as] a fan."
On if he ever studies a quarterback's five-step drop or seven-step drop, for example:"There are times when me and Tyrod [Taylor] will be sitting there watching film and we'll look at certain guys and say, 'Look how he does this. Look how he does that.' There are times when you're watching the other defense, obviously, that you're preparing for and you get caught up looking at maybe the other quarterback just to see how they do things. But like I said, even that stuff is mostly [looked at as] just a fan, and [it's] your curiosity kind of coming out."
On how his career would be different if he were drafted by Atlanta:"Oh my gosh, I have no idea. The amount of, I guess, the trickle effect from me being drafted … Who knows? Who knows where I'd be? Are you kidding me? Who knows, I could be out of the league. You never know. (laughter) You just never know. I could create all kinds of crazy scenarios for you. At the end of the day, I'd like to think that I would have accomplished a lot of things that I've accomplished anyway, but I don't like to think of that. I'm a Raven, and that's the end of it."
On if he's filled in the requisites for what defines an "elite" quarterback:"I don't know. There's always some kind of question out there that tends to be the trendy one that everybody is asking this year or that year. I think some of it has to do with how many years you've been in the league. Are you a young guy that's almost there? There are a lot of different scenarios that allow people to ask that question or tell people not to ask that question. But I think one of the things is that it's a trendy thing. A lot of people the last few years were talking … That's just the word they used: 'Elite, elite, elite.' Who knows where it came from, but that's just what it was. So, I think a lot of that has kind of quieted down a little bit, and we've gone out and won, and we've won consistently. We didn't necessarily do that last year, but for the most part, like I said, we've won consistently and we're continuing to do that this year. [We] just have to keep it up."
On if his five-touchdown game and 102-consecutive starts are enough to settle the "elite" argument:"Five TD passes – who knows? That could just happen to anybody or at any point, but I definitely take pride in being there for my team and showing up every week and letting these guys know that they can count on me no matter what. So, I definitely take pride in that."
On if he's connected with Falcons QB Matt Ryan away from the football field:"No doubt about it. I think we're very similar in who we are and what we believe in and all that. And yeah, I haven't been with Matt a ton, but I have seen him at charity events and things like that. There's definitely a little bit of a connection there. I didn't know that we were so close to each other in terms of where we grew up until, obviously, you started hearing about him at Boston College and when he was in college when I was at school. But that's also pretty cool. Obviously, from here it's only a few miles up the road – it's not very far – and I'm sure he'll have some people coming down from Philly for this game."
On if he feels there are more similarities than differences between he and Falcons QB Matt Ryan:"I don't know what to say. I don't know necessarily how our styles are, but obviously, we've been able to go out there and we've played on good teams, and we've done our part. And I think that in that, you can find a lot of comparisons."
On what stands out about G Marshal Yanda:"I talk about taking pride in being out here and playing and being there for my teammates, [but] there's no better guy at that than Marshal. He's one of the toughest people that I've ever been around. You know that you can count on him and you know that you're going to get 100 percent from him every single time. He takes it personal and he wants to be there for the team. He's just a guy that I can trust and respect, and when you have that guy right next to you, you don't have to be too worried. You're very confident and you feel very secure in the fact that he's there."
On if the team's approach has remained the same throughout the year, even considering the early-season controversy:"It really is, and it has to be. Obviously, there's a different feeling coming in here on Tuesday after a win and Tuesday after a loss. But at the end of the day, when you come in here today, on a Wednesday, and you start preparing for your next opponent, we all have the same thought process every week. We prepare the same, we practice the same – we're used to that routine. A lot is talked about when you lose a game [or] when you win a game. 'How do you move onto the next one?' The bottom line is that we are used to a routine, and things are pretty much exactly the same each week for us."**
CB Jimmy Smith**
On what his film study has said about Falcons WR Julio Jones:"Exactly what everybody in the world says: He's a tremendous leaper, he has tremendous speed, hands, catch radius. He gets open a lot. Even when he's double-covered, he still goes up and gets the ball. This is week is going to be … [You can say the same] about 84 [Roddy White] as well. He's a tremendous athlete and receiver. So, this week we have our work cut out for us."
On how much of a threat Falcons WR/RS Devin Hester is:"He's a guy that can come in and change the game in one play. You already know his return ability, so they're going to give him the ball in space and just let him run and try to make plays. This corps, this group, is going to give us a real challenge."
On the satisfaction he gets when he's mentioned as one of the league's top cornerbacks:"I would be lying if [I said] I didn't smirk when I hear something [like that], but honestly, I really try my hardest to keep my head down. I don't want too much to hit. I don't want people to say or put me in the spotlight just because … At any moment, I [could] have a bad game and the world turns on me. I just try to keep focused on every game [and] take each game by itself."
On if he believes he should be categorized among the NFL's best cornerbacks:"In my heart, I feel that way. I always feel that way. But I'm not going to go out in public and [say], 'I'm the No. 1 corner!" That's not me."**
WR Torrey Smith**
On what he thinks of Atlanta's defense:"They're talented, very disciplined, and they're always in the right spot. Just like any other week, we're going to have our hands full with them. [We're] going to be on our game. We had a great week last week, so we have to try to continue to build on that momentum. It's going to be a tough task with these guys. They have some playmakers as well. It's going to be fun. I'm looking forward to it."
On what kind of teammate and person RB Justin Forsett is:"He's one of the best men you'll ever meet – very religious, he's a family man. He's honestly one of the best people that I've ever had the opportunity to be around and to talk to him about things. Just the way he approaches things – he's wise beyond his years. It's fun playing with him."
On RB Justin Forsett being a determined running back that isn't afraid to hit the hole:"He's a heck of a ball player. I'm surprised that he's even here right now. I feel like he's a guy that he could be the lead guy anywhere. And I'm glad he got his shot here and he's able to showcase his talent."
On how RB Justin Forsett went from "odd man out" to "feature back" with the Ravens:"That's the way things work out. You can't go by what [the media] says all the time. Guys get it done."
On whether he has set the tone for himself this season after his performance versus Tampa Bay: "I mean, I feel that way each and every week. So, whether I have a rough game or a good one, I feel like it's on me to go and capitalize on next week, which is a whole brand new challenge. Last week has nothing to do with this week, just like the week before that had nothing to do with playing Tampa Bay. I just have to go out and have another great week of practice, and it will transfer over to the field."
On purchasing jerseys in support of Bengals DT Devon Still and his daughter Leah: "I worked out with [Devon Still] in the offseason. We have the same agent as well. So, I've known him for a little while. And even if I didn't know him, it's something I would have done. It's a great cause. It's something that, obviously, I can't personally relate to, because it's his daughter fighting for her life in a battle, and she's a very strong young lady. But I have a young son, and I can only imagine what it's like. And he's one of our brothers in this league, and anytime I have the opportunity to support him, and as well as any of the other kids in the country who are fighting childhood cancer, it's something that if I can help, I will."**
OLB Terrell Suggs**
On what he remembers about the last time he faced Falcons QB Matt Ryan:"It was a long time ago. We played them last year in the preseason. I can't remember the last time we actually faced them in a regular season game. Was that 2010? I think they won that one. [Matt Ryan is a] great quarterback [who] came out [of the draft the same year] with our quarterback, and they've both been lighting it up ever since. It's going to be fun."
On how you try to move on from a week in which you have a dominating win:"Definitely, because every week you're going to be faced with something different. We had a lot of success last week, but we're not really banking our season on going out there and playing the way we did [at Tampa Bay] every week. We aren't expecting that. We would like that, but we don't expect that. We're not kidding ourselves. It's the NFL, and we're dealing with a phenomenal team right now. And we're definitely going to have to play some good football to come out with a win."
On the biggest keys to CB Jimmy Smith's development:"We knew what Jimmy could do. That's why [Ravens general manager and executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] brought him in here. But I think just with his development he's being himself. He has a lot of confidence in his play right now, and he's ballin'. Jimmy is [having another] good season."
On his new sack dance this year:"Nah, it wasn't a new sack dance. It was something I saw on tape, though, but I was supposed to unveil that a long, long time ago – a couple of games ago. (laughter) But we'll start there."
On how S Will Hill will help the Ravens' defense:"Anytime you have a phenomenal talent like Will Hill on your team, he definitely can help your defense, whether it be coming up in support in the run game or basically communicating in the back end. All of that is pretty big. We get another big safety back into the lineup, and everybody knows how we like our safeties around here. It's going to be pretty good to actually get him out there in that Raven black and see what he can do."
On what he's seeing from Atlanta's offense on film:"They have a great tandem at wide receiver and at running back. This is probably the only team in the NFL that dresses four running backs and actually plays them all. They have a phenomenal group of guys over there, but it all starts with No. 2 in Matt Ryan. We're going to have to deal after 10 and deal with them all."
G/T Marshal Yanda
On how it feels to speak at the podium session:"I'm just here to answer your guys' questions, and that's about it – pretty vanilla out of me."
On what it's like to block for RB Justin Forsett "Justin [Forsett] is doing a really good job. We're all happy with him. He's been running the ball hard. [He is a] good guy, a good teammate, works really hard in practice. We are blocking our butts off for him, and he's doing a good job."
On RB Justin Forsett's decisiveness on the field:"I'm not too much of a running back reader, but he definitely has a really good vision. Like you said, he is hitting it north and south, and he's breaking tackles, too. You see him breaking a lot of tackles. That's the thing with running backs, they at least have to make one guy miss, and it seems like he is always doing that. So, all of our backfield … We have a lot of good backs back there, and I'm excited."
On whether the offensive line took pride in protecting QB Joe Flacco so well against Tampa Bay: "Yes, that's our job. Our job is to protect Joe [Flacco] and open lanes in the run game. So, when Joe is firing like that, our work is paying off, and we're holding them back, and he's able to make his reads and make his throws. And that's our job. So, it was great to jump out like that. Joe was firing, and it was a great job by everybody. It was great team win."
On how the offensive line has improved this season:"I think we are just taking it one day at a time, and we're growing. Obviously, we've had some new guys in there with injuries and stuff, and the [young] guys [G John Urschel and T James Hurst] have stepped up and played well. And that's a credit to those guys and a credit to the team. It's everybody. It's not just us. It's the backs, it's Joe [Flacco], it's the tight ends, it's Gary [Kubiak] – it's everybody. So, we're in this thing together, and it's definitely going well for us. We've had a couple of hiccups, but we're just trying to continue to be consistent and get after them."
On whether he could tell in training camp that the offensive line would have a better season:"You never know. You really don't know. You hope that it's going to go that way, and you hope that we're going to play good football when it really counts. And to have it turn out like that is great. But it's one day at a time, and the game is gone already [after] Sunday, and we're moving on. And you have to prove it again every Sunday. So, it's something you can't get too high or too low. You just have to keep grinding and work hard every day."
On whether he had a message for rookies T James Hurst and G/C John Urschel:"John [Urschel] asked me before the game if I had anything for them. I just told him he's a rookie in his first start: 'Don't try to over analyze anything. Just go out there and play football and be physical, and everything else will take care of itself.' He works hard during the week on his fundamentals and techniques. So, as young guys, you don't want them overthinking too many things. You want them to go out there and be physical and just go out and play football. Because in the end, it is just football, and you don't want them out there being timid and being a young guy thinking too much. You just want them straight ahead rolling, and I think he did a great job."
On whether it is important to him that his name sits among the top guards in the NFL:"No, not at all. We're working hard as a team, and you never … I really don't read the media. I'm concentrated on what's going on in this building, and everything else is a distraction that I don't worry about. I worry about Joe [Flacco]. I worry about our guys. I worry about our team and us moving forward as a group. So, as an individual, no. I just try to do my job and try to be good at my job."
On whether he was anxious to begin this season: "Every year is a new year, and it is [an] exciting year. It was a new start for us, and every year is like that. So, you just have to take it and roll with it. I was excited to get back out. I love playing football; I love the game, so it was another year to get out there and show what you can do."
On whether he is excited to see how the running backs perform against Atlanta:* *"Well, you try not to say that we're just going to go out there and run them over. We don't know how a game is going to go. We're executing the game plan right now, getting the plays in and their personnel, and we'll see what happens. But we're working hard one day at a time right now, and we just hope we can try to leave off where we left with Tampa – just keep that momentum going, not have the wave, just try and be consistent and be the offense we need to be for this team."
On whether QB Joe Flacco's demeanor changes according to his play: "No, Joe [Flacco has] been the same since I've been here. He has been calm and collected and confident and never high or low. I've never seen him mad or discouraged or even too happy. You guys have all seen him, too; he's the same. He has been the same. When he's throwing five TDs, he was kind of just as surprised as we were. We came off the sideline, and Joe was like, 'I threw five touchdowns in this amount of time.' He was kind of surprised himself. So, you're just in the zone, you're playing football, and that's what he does, too."
On whether he plans to watch his alma mater, Iowa, play Maryland this Saturday: "I'm going to try to watch, but I probably won't be able to get down there just because it's the day before we play. So, I'll be cheering them on."
On whether he remembers his first NFL start:"Yes."
On what he remembers from his first NFL start:"The first game of the year I came in after 'J.O.' [Jonathan Ogden] got hurt. That wasn't my start, but the next week I started versus the Jets, and I just remember being a young guy and you're going to make young guy mistakes and you are going to learn. Obviously, it's a learning experience – how you get beat or how you see a certain thing, stuff like that. So, it's all about experience, and you understand young guys, they just have to go through some growing pains, and that's just the way it is going to be as a young player."
On whether he had a "come to Jesus moment" during his first NFL start?"No. Heck no. When you get out there and the ball is snapped, you're just playing football. It's the game that you've always loved and the game that you work hard at, and it has always been just football."