RAVENS WEDNESDAY QUOTES: WEEK 3 AT ST. LOUIS * *
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming out. [We are] just getting ready to practice. We had a good morning of preparations so far and [are] hoping it doesn't rain so we can go outside. And, that's where we are."
On the challenge presented facing an NFC team that you don't play often:"Well, it's that. It's not a team we are familiar with, but obviously, we've learned a lot about them. We did studies on them in the offseason. We had a lot of time as coaches to do those kinds of things, and we do know their coaches. We've had some experience with those guys in the past – special teams and defense especially – but they present a bunch of problems [on] both sides of the ball. Just thinking of the defense off the top here, [they have] a very creative pressure package. You guys saw it Monday night. They bring it from everywhere. Safeties come half the time. Quintin Mikell gets them lined up in the back. It's very complicated. [James] Laurinaitis gets them lined up in the front, and it's a very complex, sophisticated scheme that we're going to have to deal with."
On getting DT Haloti Ngata's contract done:"They got on him over here a little bit. They wished him a happy birthday. He got a big present yesterday. Congratulations to Haloti. Nobody's more deserving of Haloti Ngata of such a deal. And, I'm just really happy because of the type of person he is and the type of family [he has]. His family has been around here a lot. His wife and son have been over here a lot. And, they're a big part of who we are as an organization. And, obviously, he's a pretty good football player, too, and the type of person you like seeing that happen to."
On what it means to know that Ngata is now a part of the Ravens' defense for five years:"It's big. It sets the personality of the defense – kind of what you're saying. You can talk a lot about what positions are the ones that have the most value and those kinds of things. Not all the time are defensive tackles put in that category, although it has been more so in recent years because people realize how important it is. But, it's just so much more than that. The impact it has on our defense – the personality, the tone he sets – we can be a dominant defense in a lot of ways because he's that presence in the middle. They always say you want to be strong up the middle, and we're pretty strong up the middle."
On the importance of third-down efficiency on offense and defense:"It's huge. It's hard to be successful without third-down efficiency, unless you're just throwing it over people's heads all the time. You have to stay on the field. You've got to keep the defense on the field and get them off balance and get them on their heels. And, certainly on defense, if you don't allow that to happen, you're off the field, and it's hard for an offense to get in the rhythm. You can't move the ball if you don't convert on third down. It's probably the essence of the game. That's what leads to scoring. And, obviously, that's when the red zone becomes really important, too. Situational football is critical, and third down a big part of it."
On establishing the run game on first and second downs to get third-and-short situations:"Well, third-and-manageable is really important. Third-and seven-plus is tough. Third-and-medium is very doable, because you have a lot of options on the type of routes you run, and most people pass on third-and-medium. Third-and-three-or-less is really great, because you can run or pass. Obviously, the shorter the better."
On GM Ozzie Newsome's ability to find talent that keeps the Ravens' defense one of the toughest in the League season after season:"That's something everybody in the League recognizes, and what's been accomplished here as far [as the defense], it starts with the draft. These guys are all guys that were drafted, and the Ravens decided to hold on to rather than let walk out of the building because Ozzie, at some point in time, decided we are going to establish a great defense here and we are going to maintain a great defense. We are always going to do everything we can do to be great on defense. So, now you have a personality for a football team, for an organization, and that's really important. It's something I know we all agree with. Everybody in the building would agree with that, and it's just a great accomplishment by Ozzie and a great accomplishment by the organization, by drafting, and by the players becoming the kind of players they have been. You look at the Eds [Reed] and the Rays [Lewis] and those guys… It's a great accomplishment."
On the frustration he expressed regarding injured players:"These guys – Chris Carr's in that category and we've got Ben Grubbs now with the toe and things like that – those are always frustrating things for football. But, it's the nature of the business in the National Football League, and that's why you have to go with a deep roster. And you have to have confidence in those guys and be able to put them on the field. I don't really see the value of guys playing when they're not well enough to play well. We've got tough guys, and these guys fight through injuries and they rehab and they do everything they can to be on the field and they're willing to go out there and compete. Sometimes, as a coach, you have to say, 'You know what? Let's get this thing right, get you healthy so you can come back and play at your very best.' And, that's where we are with some of those guys right now. They may step up this week, because they've been getting rehab all along, and they may feel good and they may be able to go. But, they may not. We'll just have to see how they feel."
On preparing for the Rams' no-huddle look, which gave the Giants trouble on Monday night:"We talked about that. That's going to be a big part of it, especially with the crowd noise and all that stuff. It's something they've done both games so far, and they've done it really well. So, the ability just to get the communication done and get lined up, all those things are going to be really important."
On how much emphasis the Ravens will put on preparing for the no-huddle look in practice this week:"We'll practice the communication part of it the best we can. It's hard to get the tempo, because you want to get the look right when you're looking off the card. Sometimes your offense can help you with that, too, in some things that we do. But, really, it's hard. You really can't replicate it in practice at this time of year."
On comparing the Ravens' running game from Week 1 to Week 2:"It has a lot to do with the game. Give them [the Titans] credit; they did a nice job of defending the run. But, we had some things blocked pretty well. We had a couple of missed assignments early on because of the different front we saw. We haven't seen an even front much, and that got us early a couple of times. Then we got behind and we had to [catch up]. We tried to stay with the run even, if you notice, at the end of the third/early fourth quarter a little bit. We'll just keep working on it. Like we've said, we're a work in progress with our offensive line, and we'll just keep pounding that rock."
On Sam Bradford's ability to run the no-huddle offense as a young quarterback:"It says he's really smart. This is his third offense in three years, and it seems like he hasn't really been affected by it too much. You can tell there are some things he's still learning in Josh [McDaniel's] offense. But, he's a smart guy, he's an elite quarterback talent-wise, he's young. I think he's going to be one of the premiere guys. Our challenge is going to be to make him look young. That's what we need to do. We need to see that part of it, because it's there. But, that's easier said than done."
On rookie WRs Tandon Doss and Torrey Smith needing to step up to make an impact with the injury to WR Lee Evans:"They're there. They've been there. They've been practicing all along. We've got a lot of confidence in those guys. It's always a question of how guys are going to transfer practice to the game. But, they've been practicing well. They make plays out here, so we expect them to do it in games."
On the team's mindset after the difficult loss on Sunday coming back to prepare for this week's game, similar to what happened last season:"I don't really remember it that much from last year. I just remember the feeling that you have that you're disappointed in the loss, and that seems to be the same every time. You come back in here and it's an empty feeling. It's gut-wrenching. But, you put the emotions aside and you go to work. And that's what our guys have done. You saw them walking up here. They've moved on – they have to – because we're going to play on Sunday. And, it's a game we need to go play our best. So, that becomes the focus."
QB Joe Flacco
On if he expected criticism in Week 2:"Hey, it happens. That's what you guys are here for – to criticize, make judgments on how we played. We needed to go out there and play better, and that's why you have 16 weeks of football in the NFL. You don't have two weeks. The Super Bowl champion is not decided after Week 2. It's not decided after Week 1, just like everybody wanted to react to that. We have a long way ahead of us. Just like we have been saying, we said it after Week 1, and we're going to say it now: We have improvements to make, and we're still getting better."
On criticism of the offense's lack of a sense of urgency at the end of the game:"I don't know what to really say besides that's what we were doing. I guess that was the plan. It's not really my job to kind of question it and say that we weren't. We needed to go down there and score a touchdown, and we didn't score a touchdown. I did ask about maybe going for it on fourth down there rather than kicking the field goal, but it's what we decided to do. We can't really question that. We have to look ahead."
On his future with the organization, knowing that DT Haloti Ngata's contract is now completed:"We were talking about that back there. I can sit over there, and I am going to get the same question that everybody else gets up here, huh? (laughter) It really does not matter. It's great for Haloti [Ngata] to get a great deal, and I think, hopefully in some future, all of us are going get a new deal. I don't think going ahead into this season… It doesn't really mean anything. I am not going to think about it. I am just glad for Haloti right now. I am not really thinking about myself."
On if the young receivers are developing into a big part of the offense:"The only way that you really truly build that is, obviously, you can do it out here [at practice], but you have to go out there and see how they are going to react in games and pressure situations. They are going to be called on, and they are going to have play. They are going to have to go out there and make catches and make plays for our team. We're going to have to have confidence in it and have trust in them. I don't know if we should or shouldn't. I think we should. I think these guys are good football players, but the bottom line is we are going to have to and go out there and trust it. That's my job – to trust these guys. Whoever we put on the field, they are ready and capable NFL football players. I have all the trust in the world in those guys."
On the Rams' defense and their blitzing schemes:"Yeah, they get after it a little bit. They are going to bring some pressure, and it's going to be our job to pick it up, get rid of the ball and win as quick as we can on the outside so we can combat some of those things. Like I said, they get after it. They are going to get after the quarterback, and it's going to pose a challenge. We're going into their place, so it should be an exciting one."
On if it was nice to watch the Rams on TV on Monday night: "I don't know if it helps to watch a game on TV or anything. I am going to watch the game anyway. It is nice to get them on a short week. Anytime you get a team on a short week, I think it definitely is a little bit of an advantage in the NFL, when you can get beat up week to week. We'll take that when we can get it."
On what it does to a defense when the offense is consistently converting on third down:"Obviously, if you are not converting, you are going off the field, and you are not scoring points. I think first and second down are the keys to that. You don't really want to be in third down as long as you don't have to be. There is nothing wrong with making first downs on first and second down and eliminating as many third downs if you can. If you do get in them, you want it to be like we were against Pittsburgh – you want to have third-and-shorts. Every now and then, you are going to have third-and-longs, but if you only have a couple of those a game – one or two a game – then you can do what you can to convert them. But if you are going to have a couple of those a drive, you are not going to consistently convert, the defense is going to get off the field, and they are going to stay fresh. Our job is to keep them out there on long drives. If it is a short drive, hopefully it is a three-play touchdown drive. That's all the short drives we have. We have to do a better job of being a little better on first and second down and eliminating all those third-down possibilities."
On how much they have to watch the Rams closely, trying to get their first win:"I don't know if anybody really, really needs to get a win, but these guys are going to be feeling like they do. When a team is feeling like that, and when a team has that pressure to get a win under their belts, they will probably play a little bit more like they don't have anything to lose, and they will probably come after us a little bit more. It is going to be our job to play the exact same way. Just because we have one win… We still have a loss. You don't win football games in this league unless you go out there and play to win. You can't sit back on your heels and just really play not to lose and hope you win football games. You have to play to win football games. If you don't do that, you are not going to win a lot. You might end up losing a couple like that, but that's the way it goes."
On if he forgets about the loss or if he tries to use it to motivate himself for the next game:"You try to put them behind you. Obviously, you are going to be thinking about it a little bit. Everybody can feed on that a little bit. The bottom line is you have to move on. If you dwell on those things, over a 16-game season, whether you have two, three, four or five losses, if you really decide to dwell on those things and let them affect you, I think they are going to have more of a negative effect on you than they will a positive. I think it is good to put it behind you and move on."
On how married life has made him a better quarterback:"I don't think it has one effect on the way I play football." (laughter)
On if he has been able to avoid sacks and negative plays better this year than in the past:"I don't know. I think, if you really look back at the games, I think I have scrambled around before and tried to make plays, and if you can't make them, you throw them away. I think when you look at the games we play, if we do have some incompletions, I think a good amount of them are usually throw-aways. It is definitely a part of the game where we are going to have more emphasis on… When I do scramble, we're going to have to do a good job of trying to make positive plays out of them and not just stopping negative plays. That's the big part. When you scramble around, there are times when I am going to have to maybe look to run and pick up a couple of yards rather than look downfield and just throw the ball away. There are times when we're going to have get a little bit more separation and work back to the quarterback a little bit, and I am going to have to find those guys because we don't just want to stop a negative play. We really want every play to be a little bit positive, and that's going to be the big influence on improving those situations."
On how often he works on the scramble drills with the wide receivers:"You do it a little bit in camp. You really have to get a feel for it by going out there and having things break down in practice and games. Like I said, it's really more of a feel thing. You go over it, you draw it up on the board, you come out here in camp and practice it, but not really too, too much."
On what impresses him about Rams QB Sam Bradford:"He is a young guy. The way he has been able to come in here in the League… Obviously, he was drafted into a St. Louis Rams team that was building themselves up and trying to become one of the good teams in the League. I think he has done a good job of being part of that process. It's not easy to go into a team that hasn't won a lot of football games and play quarterback. I think he stayed confident, tough and really played pretty well for them."
On if it is Bradford's arm that impresses him:"I don't know. I think every quarterback in the NFL should be able to throw the ball, so I am not really looking at that too much. I think, like I said, I don't think it's easy – the situation he has been put in. And, I think he has handled it pretty well. But, I am not going to be paying too much attention to him on Sunday, hopefully. I think we are going to be out there on the field, and hopefully, he is off the field as much as we can get him off the field."
LB Ray Lewis
On how he feels about DT Haloti Ngata's new deal:"Yeah, it makes me want to stay around much longer. (laughter) Man, I'm overexcited just going through the whole process with him. Just being here and helping him through whatever frustrations he may have had with it, just telling him to be him, and being him, is the easiest thing. [He is] the most humble man you'll ever meet. It's really overexciting to see him land that deal. He's one of the guys that really deserve deals like that."
On being an instrumental person in Ngata being drafted in 2006:"Yeah, I mean, I told him I'm going to need a small piece of that – just a small piece. (laughter) I'm not trying to pump it to the agent size, but I do need a small piece of that. When you see him and what he was able to do from college – and then knowing the way we play defense – trying to get him here was the ultimate goal for me. To be once playing behind Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa, then have the ability to see a kid like that with that much upside, I don't' think he's bumped to his greatest side of playing yet. Again, I think he was a great, great draft pick for us."
On when he first saw Ngata become an elite player:"I think every year. I think every year, from Year One to Year Two to Year Three, all the way up, you see his production. And, just really getting into my head, me and him really plan together on why to stay frontside, don't come backside, different things like that. Every day has always been a good day. So, we've always made those adjustments. I think not just every year, but every practice, he always made adjustments to try and find a different way to be better. So, I think that's kind of the upside of him that you can't get from a lot of other young players that you always try to learn at every practice. But, he's one of those ones."
On how much faith he has in the ability of the defense:"The only thing that you can do in this business is keep going. You know, faith is [important] every time we step on the field. We've got faith in each other. If we were out there playing against a high school team, you'd be like, 'Oh, you might be concerned.' But, if you're playing against the National Football League, you're going to have weeks like that, you know? And, the bottom line is, you've got to prepare the same way – win, lose or draw. If you win one real big, like we did Week 1, go back and look why. If you lose one in Week 2 like we did, you go back and look why. But, as soon as it's over, it's over. You come back. That's what keeps you around a long time – not going through that emotional rollercoaster that everything else, or everything else around you, might try and take you on that rollercoaster. Don't go on that rollercoaster. Lock yourself in for the whole year and say, 'This is a journey.' If you understand the journey, you understand that every day is a work in progress, whether you win or lose. A lot of times you still have mistakes even when you win, but they're not highlighted. It's about time to move on now."
On how pleased he is with the defense's ability to stop the run:"Our front seven is rough. We love that challenge. That challenge is, you're telling us that you're going to hand the ball to somebody a certain amount of times, and they're going to get a certain amount of yards. So, every week that's highlighted for us. And we take that personal. That's something that we've done for many, many years. Seeing those top two backs, you probably only pick another handful of [running] backs who are up in the category [of elite running backs like Chris Johnson]. We're seeing another one [in Steven Jackson] this week. He's a real animal. I want to call him, because he plays the game almost like a linebacker at the running back position. And our front seven is definitely always up for the task. So, here we go again."
On how he plans to fix the mistakes that were made against Tennessee QB Matt Hasselbeck:"You correct it. Simple. You come out and don't let him do those things. You either blitz him or put your hands on him. You do whatever you have to do. To let a person with that much veteran experience sit back and to do some of the things that he was able to do – whether it was quick steps or not – someone has to take a risk and jump one of those quick routes and make them stop doing that. If you don't, most quarterbacks, especially veteran quarterbacks, understand Cover 1, Cover 4, Cover 3, so they know where to go with the ball. It's not as complicated as we make it sometimes from that position. And that's the way you kind of get to them. You really have to get him off the spot."
On whether Rams QB Sam Bradford plays like a young quarterback:"I tell you what, I like the things that he does as a young kid. He's very athletic; he's more athletic than people think he is. He can really run around with the ball. But, he's very accurate with his ball and where he wants to place the ball. Once again, he understands the [Cover] 3, the 4, the 1 concept as well. When you watch his progression, you see that he really understands the game, which is a great upside for him."
On whether there are different challenges defensively playing in a dome instead of an outdoor stadium:"You know what? For us, it's that more of an advantage because we can hear. So anytime we can communicate, and we can hear and we can talk about things, I think that always helps our defense. So, I think that's kind of an advantage on our side."
On how third-down conversions affect a defense mentally:"If one or two areas are being attacked, then it's one thing. If they're able to do it in multiple ways, where there's run, pass and all these different things, that's when defenses get frustrated. But when you have one or two areas where you just have to tighten up the loose bolts, there's no need to get frustrated. There's just 'come back and let's play better' next week and then let's move on. Whether most people want to put it on our secondary… You can put what you want on the secondary, but still, the front seven, we still have to get to the quarterback. So, it goes hand-in-hand. So, there's no one side that played bad. When the defense plays bad, all of us play bad. So, if there's just one part being attacked, there's just one part being attacked."
On how they use third-down efficiency to get teams off the field:"I think third-and-out is the ultimate for any defense. And for us, we pride in that. We pride in third-and-longs. And when you look at some of the plays that were made from Week 1 to Week 2, those are plays that you inch away from the ball. So, you ask yourself, 'How much do you come back and change and how much more aggressive do you play?' That's all it is. It's taking the next step from a lot of the passes they made last week and just taking the next step and just playing the route."
DT Haloti Ngata
On how such a mild-mannered guy can be so tough on game day:"I don't know. I just try to do whatever I can to help this team win. For me to think I'm going to start in this league, I want to be vicious, I want to be violent, I want to be whatever I can be to help me make plays and help the team makes plays. So, that's the way I go out there and hope I can do it. Turn the switch on, exactly."
On his teammates' reaction to his new contract:"Nobody asked me for a loan; they just asked me to give them money. (laughter) There's no loan in it. A lot of guys were just joking around. Most of them are congratulating me and are happy for me. It's just great that I can be able to do something like that for my family and for myself. Hopefully, I can continue to get better and make more plays for this organization."
On being relieved that the contract negotiations are completed:"Definitely. Don't my shoulders look a little higher? (laughter) It is a relief because I don't have to worry about it throughout the season. [I don't have to] worry about getting injured and worry about my performance. I can just go out there and play the game I want to play."
On the way negotiations unfolded yesterday:"I didn't know how much we were going to get into it really. I came into work and then I left and then my agent told me to come back, and then I left again, and then Ozzie called me to come back. It was really tiring, really, and I was hoping that something would happen. And it did, and it was just a great moment."
On the feeling of knowing that the Ravens consider him the cornerstone of the defense:"You see the guys like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, and to be in that kind of group is really humbling, really. To be considered one of those guys… Hopefully I can do a great job and help lead this defense and this team and whatever I need to do and get some wins."
On the message his contract sends to the younger players about how hard work can pay off:"All the guys are going to be looking at that and seeing that with the Ravens, if you produce, you are going to stay around here for a while. I think they see that, and I think it helps those guys want to work more and more."
On the things people don't know about or see that it takes to be a great football player:"It's definitely tough. I think there is so much pride put in each of us that we want to go out there and we don't want another man to think that they hurt us. I think we are so prideful that we want to be out there and play through injuries and play through little bumps and bruises. Some people, they do well, and some people don't do as well and get injured. God blessed me with great talent and a great body."
RB Ray Rice
On DT Haloti Ngata's new contract and what it means for Rice's future:"I firmly believe that I am going to be here for a while. I really try not to worry about that kind of stuff, obviously, during the season. I have the right guy, my agent [Todd France], and the organization will definitely take care of that. Whether it's right now or after the season, my job right now is just to play football. It's something that you put small thought into in training camp. You think about it, you think about your options. With the weird offseason, you are kind of not having that time to get everything together, but as for me right now, we're 1-1 and I have to focus on the Rams and playing good football the rest of the way and helping my team, putting us in a winning position."
On the Rams' defense:"One thing that you see on tape is that those guys are physical – they are very fast. It was great when you got a chance to watch them on Monday Night Football. Regardless of what the score is, you are kind of scouting them on your own and watching the game. I have always said it: Their record doesn't show how good they are as a team. Little miscues here and there, and that is the difference between winning and losing. We know that they are going to come out fired up. Nobody wants to go 0-3 as the beginning of the year starts. With the change of schedules and short offseason, I am sure those guys will be ready to play."
On how important first and second downs are in setting up third-and-short:"First and second downs are important to obviously put yourself in a winning third-down situation. Winning third situations are obviously third-and-short. Anything third-and-five-or-less, the percentage rate goes up in converting. First and second down, we have to do a better job of managing third down, but at the same time, we just have to execute. That's going to be the key to our success this year on offense. It's not going to be any game plan, any scheme that we haven't seen, especially with the veteran leadership that is going on with this offense. Our key is going to be execution. It it's going to be a five-yard gain; let's get the five yards. The key on first and second down is to not go backwards. That's a point of emphasis that we will work on this week."
On the effect converting third downs has on a defense:"You watch it all over the League. You watch when teams convert on our defense on third down, what it does. Obviously, when we do it to another team, they start rotating guys in and out and you know you have them on the ropes. Every defense preys on three-and-outs. Every great offense knows that they are going to drive the ball down the field regardless of what the defense does. We have to take what they are giving us, and let's try to march the ball down the field. One thing we have to do is maintain our ability to sustain drives. As the defense gets tired, let's try to get points out of it, whether it's three or seven. We would rather [it be] seven, but everybody will settle for three points."
On if it is hard to reconcile with the differences between Week 1 and Week 2:"If it was Week 12 going into Week 15, you would kind of reconcile on it, but it is still early. There were two different teams. We played against a team that was predominantly 3-4 [and] we were familiar with each other. Then you go against this 4-3 kind of defense, and it was different for us. At the same time, somebody made a comparison to last year. We faced a tough Jets defense 3-4, and then we had to go against Cincinnati, who is in a 4-3. You have to be able to transition week to week. If it was later in the year, yeah I am going to embrace the journey. You have to embrace the loss, learn from it. Am I happy about the loss? Absolutely not. Nobody likes the losing feeling around here, but at the same time, it is a journey – it is a family. We are going to go through ups, we are going to go through downs. We are going to fight. At the same time, we are going to celebrate when we do great things."
On what adjustments need to be made to crank up the running game:"I don't think a lot of adjustments have to be made to crank the running game back up. It's going to be a lot of… When we watched the film, there was a guy here and a guy there. It wasn't a scheme, and so, we just had to make plays. We're all professionals, so I'm sure that film has been corrected. What's great going into this week, we're faced… The Rams run a similar front to what Tennessee ran. Obviously, you're going to put some wrinkles in the run game. You're going to try to put in a play or two to mix it up. But at the same time, it's going to be execution. And it's another test for us – being that we're away. But as far as making any changes, I don't think we have to change what we're doing. But, we do have to execute. And that's our job as professionals. It'll start, you know… I'll be the guy that's trying to push the run game to get going. Obviously, you know, we'll run the ball. We're pretty successful."
On whether he feels that the first few games of the season are more like an extension of training camp because of the shortened offseason:"I wouldn't call it an extension of camp, but we definitely have to ramp things up a little faster because of the shorter offseason. I wouldn't call it an extension of camp because these games do count. You don't want to call it an extension of camp, because if you're out there playing an extension of camp and you miss the ball on things, you find yourself playing catch-up. At the same time, as the season goes along, may we add a few things that we probably would have added already? Yes, we would have. But, we're going to stick to what we worked in camp, worked in the preseason, and try to carry it on. I think we're a good enough team… No, we're not good enough to just show up and win. But we're a good enough team to go out there and execute – perform a solid game plan, put together and go out and perform and execute. That we are capable of doing because of the veteran leadership."