WEDNESDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: WILD CARD PLAYOFF
Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
When you took two trips in a row to Pittsburgh, WR Jacoby Jones has had a big return. Is there anything special that you see when this game is coming that it's more locked in for him? Can you explain that? (Jon Meoli) "I think his preparation has been solid in every game. Each game is different. Sometimes you have opportunities, sometimes the blocking is better than others, and in that particular case, it all came together on a play. We certainly hope, and we are preparing to try to do it every week, and this week it will be no different."
Jerry, a lot has been said in reference to WR Antonio Brown as a receiver, but what are your thoughts on what makes him dangerous as a return man? (Aaron Wilson) "I think the same thing that makes him dangerous as a receiver makes him dangerous as a returner. He's very aggressive. He's highly-talented. He has a competitive spirit about him. He wants to make plays, and he has done it. He's a very good player. We have to be at our best."
The weather is supposed to be rainy. Anything you can do, or is it just being an all-weather kicker like K Justin Tucker? (Aaron Wilson) "We prepare for these weather conditions all year long. We try to go outside whenever we can when the weather is bad so when we do get a day where the game weather is bad, we're prepared for it. So, it is something we've been working on since OTAs."
Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak
Gary, just to get it out of the way, you've been mentioned as a … Multiple teams have requested to interview you for head coach openings. Have you accepted? Do you plan on accepting those interviews, or have you heard from anybody? (Jeff Zrebiec) "No, I haven't. I've told you guys before I'm consumed with what I'm doing, and it's not time for stuff like that. I talked to John [Harbaugh] Monday morning, and I told John, I said, 'John, if anybody wants to talk to me, just tell them, "No." I'm a busy man right now. I have a lot to do.' I think it's always flattering as a coach if you're mentioned by any organization in football. But no, my total focus is on our football game, what we're doing, trying to enjoy what I'm doing right now."
Gary, as somebody who's been a head coach yourself, can you kind of assess the job that John [Harbaugh] has done kind of helping keep everybody on track all year? (Childs Walker) "I think it's been amazing. I told Coach that after the game, just to watch what the team's been through physically [and] emotionally, and John held everybody together. I've learned a great deal from him and the way he goes about it each and every day. But his team is a reflection of him. He's a battler, and that's what his team has done all year until the final quarter of the season and found a way to get into the playoffs. [I'm] just very impressed with the job he does, and the coaching staff, but like I said, the team reflects him every day."
Gary, in terms of trying to get some tempo in the first quarter and first half, what are some things you've done in the past to try to jumpstart [the offense]? (Aaron Wilson) "Obviously, you could try to push the tempo of the game. We've struggled with some interesting stuff. The other day, the first four plays of the game we jumped offsides, dropped the ball and fumbled the snap. Those things you take for granted all the time, so I don't know. We continue to look at that. We had been a pretty good starting football team through about 12 weeks, and then we went on about a three-week span there where we hadn't started games very well, but the good news is we have rallied and made some plays. We'll stay focused on that. We need to start better, but if we don't, we need to keep battling and make the plays before the day is over. It's a point of emphasis, but we still have to find a way to play four quarters."
Building scripts, is there a way to kind of … Certain types of plays to give guys before the play you run, just in terms of things you can do to get guys just kind of in a rhythm, maybe build confidence early? (Aaron Wilson) "Yes, you're always trying to do that – trying to get guys involved, No. 1. That's a big part of what you're trying to do early. [You're] trying to do things you think your guys are comfortable with so you're playing fast. But like I said, taking a snap, jumping offsides, missing a cadence, those are things we just have to take ownership for and to get done as a young tackle [on the] first play of the game. But you can't be young anymore; it's time to grow up. I'll do everything I can, continue to look at, like I said, those types of things, but I think it's just concentration, understanding what's going on. It's like last time we went down there: We got off to a fast start, turned the ball over and you put yourself in a bad situation. It's a four-quarter game. We have to find a way to play consistent."
How impressed are you with G/T Marshal Yanda's ability to move out to tackle? You often hear of teams maybe moving a tackle inside because of injuries, but how difficult is that for a guard to do that? (Luke Jones) "I'll tell you, I've been fortunate to be around some really good linemen, [but] this is as good as I've ever been around. I told the team in the team meeting Saturday night … We were talking about some of the things going on – two young guys playing, Marshal moving – and I told Marshal, 'You'll be fine. You could probably play quarterback.' (laughter) That's the way he is. He's an amazing player. His attention to detail, his commitment to the football team and what he does is as good as I've ever been around. So, [I'm] not surprised at all."
Did you give any advice to [Ravens defensive coordinator] Dean [Pees] about RB Ben Tate? (Adam Vorce) "No, I have my own problems. (laughs) Obviously, Ben is a good football player, but I have my own problems."
In terms of the running game, it looked like in the fourth quarter it's been getting stronger. It just seems like it is tough sledding there early in the game. Is that just kind of getting a feel for the blocking?* (Aaron Wilson)* "No, we've struggled to run the ball early in the game, I guess I would say the past month, but we have run the ball well in the fourth quarter. We try to look at ourselves a little bit [to] maybe see how we're running the ball early in the game – those types of things. But we still have to stay committed to it. This will be a very physical football team. They're good up front; they've made a lot of plays against the run; they knock the ball out probably as well as anybody we've played. It won't change for us, but it's going to boil down to us being able to play well on the line of scrimmage."
In terms of personnel, how big of a year has LB Lawrence Timmons had? How dangerous is he as a guy that shoots gaps? (Aaron Wilson) "He's played very well. They played a lot of people on defense. You go through the season, [the] linebackers played a lot of guys. [On] the back end, a lot of guys have played. Troy [Polamalu] has missed some time. It looks like everybody is back in place now, and here they go. I know when Troy is playing, they're very multiple because of his knowledge of their defense. You can see that when he's out there. But they're Pittsburgh. Dick [LeBeau] has been doing it forever. He's as good as there is in the business. It'll be a tough challenge for us. We're going to have to find a way to make some plays."
Gary, there's talk of [it] maybe [being] windy and rainy outside. You can't depend on weather, but if that happens, how much, if any, would that maybe change [your approach]? (Clifton Brown) "It really won't. I'm very comfortable with Joe [Flacco]. Watching Joe throw out here in some of the weather and the rain that we've played in has not been an issue at all. I don't think it changes anything we do. It makes protecting the ball be even more important, and it already was after what we went through last time we went there. Regardless of what we're playing in, we're going to have to play well."
Gary, with RB Justin Forsett, does it seems like he had a little bit more … He seemed like himself this past week than maybe in previous weeks, or is that just … Did you see that when watching that again, watching film? (Jamison Hensley) "I think he's freshened up a little bit. You have to remember you're talking about a guy who was a spot player through most of his career, and all of the sudden he's carried it many, many times. He's been exceptional. I think 'Fitz' [Fitzgerald Toussaint] coming in helping a little bit has taken a little bit off of him. He practiced really, really well today; the way Justin finishes in practice. I'm hoping there's some freshness coming back there. I think it always comes back for everybody once you hit this time of year, just the excitement, the next step, getting in the playoffs, and you could see that today in practice."
And just to follow up on the first question from today, I know you don't want to talk about it right now, [but] is it something that you're not interested [in] even after the season, or would you entertain something right now? (Jamison Hensley) "I don't think about those things. I've told you guys that. I've been through it and I had my turn, and I'm really enjoying what I'm doing. I've told you all that over and over again. I don't think about what's next. I want to enjoy what's right now, and that's this organization, this football team and these playoffs; I haven't been there in a couple of years. I'm really enjoying what I'm doing, and I just want to stay focused on that. That's been my message to John [Harbaugh] and my message to myself since I came here, so I'm going to stick with that."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
Dean, when you go against WR Antonio Brown, is it hard to just focus on him when they have WR Martavis Bryant and all those other receivers in there? Is it hard to focus in on just the one receiver when they have so much depth across the board at that position? (Jamison Hensley) "I don't know if the word 'focus' … I mean, you can't not focus on a guy that has caught 129 passes. (laughter) [Antonio Brown is] going to get your attention. The problem of it is just like you said: They have Heath Miller, No. 10 [Martavis Bryant], No. 11 [Markus Wheaton]. They have other weapons, too, and a running back that has caught what, 80-something balls. And Ben [Roethlisberger] is playing lights out. Right now they're clicking on all cylinders. He is certainly a big cog in the wheel there that you have to take care of, but you can't ignore everybody else."
Do they try to get the ball to WR Antonio Brown any which way possible? It seems like they try to do short passes, long passes. It seems like they try to get to him in various ways. (Jamison Hensley) "[Antonio Brown] lines up all over the place. So, they can get him kind of where they want. But I think the thing about [it is] that it's not so one dimensional as you think that, 'OK, he can be in the slot. He could be outside of the slot. He could be on the weak side of the slot, weak side of trips.' He's all over. They can screen him, they can stack. But the thing of it is I think Ben [Roethlisberger] also sees what the coverage is, and all of a sudden you're rolling it. He's not afraid to go to No. 10 [Martavis Bryant] or No. 11 [Markus Wheaton]. [Heath] Miller has always been a security blanket for him, and the guy has always made a clutch catch in clutch times. That's the thing he has always been able to do. And then you add the fact that Ben makes more loose plays in a game than a lot of quarterbacks do in their career. It's a dynamic offense, and when it's running good it's hard [to defend], and it's running good."
**Dean, how well do you feel like OLB Terrell Suggs and OLB Elvis Dumervil play off each other? I mean, they get into it, compete for sacks. How healthy is that? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"That's great. It's funny, because you always talk about as a coach [how] competition makes you better. Usually, you're talking about the first-string guy and the second-string guy, but then when it becomes competitive between two first-string guys, [that's really great]. But the great thing about it is they both are happy for the other guy when they have success, and that just makes our whole defense better, makes everybody play a little harder. I just think those two guys have fed off each other all year."
Will the game plan change at all if RB Le'Veon Bell is out, or how do you work that? (Ryan Mink) "The game plan will change based on how their game plan changes, if it does. At this point in the season, you have to look at everything that they do and take into account if [Le'Veon Bell] plays, if he doesn't play, what might they go to. I can't sit here with a crystal ball and tell you what they're going to do, but what we have to do is be ready for whatever they decide to do. So, game plan-wise, we just have to adapt to whatever they decide to do."
The secondary has a pretty different look than it was last time when you guys went up there. How do you feel those guys played the last few games? Do you think they're ready for a challenge like QB Ben Roethlisberger? (Jon Meoli) "I think they're ready. I think that it's going to be a big challenge. It's that time of the year where everybody that you're going to play is … There's nobody that's not good. Everybody that's in this tournament is good. So, it's a matter now I think … The good thing is at least we've had a little continuity here in the last couple weeks with the secondary. The verbiage, the communication, all that kind of stuff is starting to get better each week. We'll go out there and we'll see how we do. I know one thing about these guys though: They'll compete; they'll work hard. We'll try to put them in the best spots that we can as a coaching staff, and I know they'll give us everything they've got."
Dean, when you look at the film, you gave up six [points] against them and then 43 … (Dave Ginsburg)"The first time we beat them. I just wanted to remind you." *(Reporter: "What was the difference in the two performances by the defense? Was it just personnel? What was the difference in those two games?") *"The biggest thing was big plays. We gave up a couple really big plays. We were really playing well – if you remember right – in that game up there in the first quarter and quarter-and-a-half. And then there were a couple turnovers, sudden changes, and they got us on a 20-yard pass. And right before the half, they got us on a big one, and that really, to me, changes a little bit of the momentum. We had one later on where we actually had double-coverage on No. 84 [Antonio Brown], and he caught the ball, and we missed two tackles, and he scores. You just can't give up things like that. The last touchdown – I know it statistically goes down as six [points] – but we're at a point sometimes as a coach when you're down by 10 or 12 or 14 toward the end of the game [and] you're going to take some chances on some things, because you have to try to make a play going the other way and score. It's kind of like, 'Well, if they score again it really doesn't matter. It's a loss.' So, we have to try to figure out how to win this game, so I took a chance. On the last touchdown pass, we didn't have very good coverage on the tight end because we sold out, they hit us, [and] it was a touchdown. That one is on me. The biggest thing is this team can hit you on big plays. They've hit everybody on big plays. That's what we cannot allow to happen."