MARVIN LEWIS (with Cincinnati media)
ML: “As you look at the Ravens, offensively their dangerous part starts with Ray Rice. He’s a fine runner and does a great job of running, cutting and making people miss within the hole, and he’s a great runner of screens. When the ball comes out and he gets the ball in his hands, there’s a lot of danger there. They’re doing a good job of utilizing the young tight ends within their offense, and getting the ball to them – (Ed) Dickson, (Dennis) Pitta. On the outside, Anquan (Boldin) is a big and physical receiver. They’re getting a lot of production from the rookie, (Torrey) Smith. So those are the key elements. I thought earlier in the year – maybe not as much last week – that Ricky Williams has done a nice job running the ball downhill and spelling Ray Rice. So they have two good downhill, running-hard running backs. So that’s the task at hand in order to slow them.
“For our offense, the biggest thing is that we’re going to get pressures similar to last week, and we have to do a great job of recognition with everybody offensively. We have to really get after it in that way. We’ve got to be able to create some space in the running game and throw the football productively when our opportunities are there. We want to attack that way. Those things are important. The rushers and the two outside guys are important to get blocked.”
Baltimore’s placekicker, Billy Cundiff, and punter, Sam Koch, are always some of the best in the league:
ML: “Yeah. They are quality specialists, who have been at or near the top of the league rankings the last couple of seasons. They really do a good job. Winning that battle would be great.”
Baltimore has struggled on the road, but they have for the most part been very good at home. Is home-field advantage that important for them?
ML: “I don’t know, you’d have to ask John (Harbaugh). Regardless, we’re going to go play them in Baltimore. That’s our challenge – to win again on the road. We know that, like some places we’ve played this year, it can get loud. But we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do – be efficient on offense and be exact on defense. Then it just comes down to playing football.”
You’ve had pretty good success against Baltimore over your tenure here. What is the key to beating them on the road?
ML: “We have to be very efficient; we have to be detailed in our responsibilities and our jobs. We’ve just got to go play. Eventually, it just comes down to 11 guys on 11 guys. Who executes best, who can take care of the football, who can take the ball away.”
Does it seem like Baltimore is blitzing more often than in past years?
ML: “I don’t know. I guess that was the thing that everyone was unhappy with Greg (former defensive coordinator Greg Mattison) about. They played pretty good defense under Greg. And with Chucky (defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano) now, they’re doing a pretty good job. With the 3-4 (defense), when a linebacker comes (rushes the QB), that’s really not a blitz, but sometimes it can get categorized as a blitz or pressure. They do a lot of five-man rush things. That’s common for what they do and very similar to Pittsburgh. It’s a matter of identification, getting our guys getting on their guys and winning those battles.”
How do you think
ML: “That’s a good question because avoiding sacks is the product of 11 guys. Sometimes it’s a one-guy breakdown – one guy gets beat or breaks down mentally. But 11 guys have to play together. I think Andy is doing a good job, and we have to continue with that the rest of the football season. It’s very important that we don’t get trapped in the pocket and we don’t lose the ball when we’re in the pocket. We’ve got to continue with that and just keep working at it hard. He has a great movement and presence in the pocket and ability to move away from the pressures to deliver the ball.”
Ray Lewis is in his 16th season and still playing at a very high level. You used to coach him, so what is it that allows for him to be so productive at this late stage in his career?
ML: “He’s been a great study, a great preparer. He anticipates, doesn’t waste movements and doesn’t waste steps. And he keeps his body in tip-top physical condition – much like his old coach (laughs). He’s just phenomenal.
“Ray was a young guy when we drafted him – just 20 years old, but what he’s done is phenomenal. He still has the spirit and everything there, and he’s still fun to put on the tape and watch play.”
This is John Harbaugh’s fourth year as head coach of the Ravens. Over that time, have you seen any changes in how they play or their philosophy?
ML: “I think his teams play very aggressive, and they are very, very sound. They do a great job in the kicking game. They do a great job defensively and offensively. I think you have to go outplay them. They are going to make few errors that beat themselves often. That is just not their style. They are going to make you beat their defense. And beat them in other ways. They are going to try not to beat themselves, they are going to take their shots down the field aggressively – that is what they do. They have, as I said, a great runner (Ray Rice) that takes care of things, whether it is underneath getting the ball in his hands or in the running game. But every time he touches the ball he is a big threat.”
There have been a lot of people over the last few years that have wondered if Joe Flacco can raise his level of play and take that next step. He impressed a lot of people with his performance down the stretch two weeks ago at Pittsburgh. What do you see from him in that area?
ML: “I think he just answered their questions when he drove down the field to beat Pittsburgh like he did. He has played a lot of good football. We saw him in his first start ever (in Week 1 of 2008). He’s talented. He is still a young guy, and he’s working with some new guys on the outside right now and tight end on the interior. So starting out, it’s been a little bit different for him.”
Do you see any similarities between Joe Flacco’s and Andy Dalton’s early developments?
ML: “At the point when Joe took over, the rest of their football team was a little bit more established. Unfortunately, I am sure for Joe, he didn’t know he was going to be the starting quarterback. And so, until two weeks before (the start of the season), one week before, it was a little bit different scenario.”
Torrey Smith has added the element of a deep threat to their team. What do you see from him?
ML: “Very fast. Great vertical speed, and he’ll catch the ball over the top. He catches the ball, they give him the ball on screens, and he is a threat over the top. He’s got great speed.”
Torrey Smith has had a few dropped passes in big situations, but he seems to always come back and make up for it. What does that tell about the mental makeup of someone?
ML: “I think it tells more about the makeup of the football team and the belief they have in him that he can make those plays. That he is still in there to get those opportunities and they are still trying to create those mismatches and opportunities for him to get the ball vertically. So obviously, they have a lot of confidence in him.”
ML: “It’s obviously very important. With Leon injured and out, we are expecting more out of Kelly now. That’s why we made the trade to bring him here. We had to make sure we were backed up in those positions. So it is now his opportunity to go do it.”
It seems like each team in the AFC North was put together similarly – stout defense, tough running game; is that unusual?
ML: “I think it was like that at one point earlier in my NFL career, back when it was Tennessee, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Even Jacksonville at that point. It has kind of evolved back a little bit in that way. And with Cleveland, we know how they are playing on defense right now. They are doing great things.
“We know that at some point in the year, weather changes and we are going to have to be stout on defense. We are going to have to run the football and be efficient throwing the ball offensively. We have some great threats offensively, and we are trying to keep those guys alive. We’ve got downhill runners, which I think you need to have in order to have an opportunity year after year to win the division.”
ANDY DALTON (with Cincinnati media)
It seems like Baltimore blitzes even more than they used to – almost 40 or 50 percent of the time. Is that accurate?
AD: “They definitely know the personnel they are going to blitz in. Some more than others. So we’re facing another good defense. It comes down to preparation. We put in the game plan today. We’ve got a good plan, it’s just coming out and executing.”
Who is the straw that stirs the drink for Baltimore’s defense? Ray Lewis? Ed Reed?
AD: "Obviously those two guys have been around for a long time, and everybody is going to listen to them. They are the two that stand out. They are kind of the heart and soul of that defense.”
You’ve done a good job of avoiding sacks. How much emphasis each week do you put on avoiding the rush with your feet?
AD: “We try to avoid negative plays. I try to do whatever I can to either get the ball out of my hands or move around a little bit so I am not getting sacked. The offensive line has done a really good job. They have been protecting really well and I’ve been able to stay in the pocket.”
Baltimore has some players on defense that have been around for a long time, and who have played on some very good defenses. What are your memories of watching them as you were growing up?
AD: “They’ve got a couple of the same players that I watched. They have been really good. It seems like when you talk about Baltimore and you talk about their defense, you talk about Ray Lewis you talk about Ed Reed. It’s going to be fun to get a chance to play them.”
In preparing for Ed Reed, what do you see?
AD: “He has great instincts. He plays the eyes really well, and he’s got a really good feel for the game. You definitely have to know where he is.”
With the future Hall of Fame players on a team like Baltimore, do you ever find yourself before game or anytime watching them on the field and thinking, ‘Wow, I’m on field with these guys?’
AD: “It makes it a lot of fun. Seeing some of these guys, getting to play them, it’s definitely a lot of fun for me.”
When you were drafted into the league last spring, were there one or two guys that you really wanted to meet or play against?
AD: “There wasn’t one guy I was hoping to go against or anything like that. This game will be fun, getting to play the Steelers is fun, getting to play all the division games is fun. So there’s not one guy that I was like, ‘I hope I get to play against them.’
How similar are Baltimore and Pittsburgh’s defenses?
AD: “They’re really good against the run, both of them. Scheme-wise they are a little different, but there definitely are some similarities for things they are doing. We’ve got to go out and play well. We got to play a little bit better than we did last week.”
In the game last Sunday, your long TD pass to
AD: “For sure. I definitely see a matchup if we can get him one-on-one or in a chance where he can out-jump some people, and we will take that shot. We will take our chances with that one. It has paid off for us a couple times.”
MARVIN LEWIS (with Baltimore media)
On what they do defensively that has caused QB Joe Flacco problems in the past:
ML: “I don’t know. I think you defend team’s offenses each and every week, and that’s part of what your charge is on the other side all the time, and the challenge. So, I don’t know that we’ve especially done anything special that’s special. I think we’re 3-3 against Joe, so that, I wouldn’t say, is as special as maybe you want it to be.”
On whether they mix up coverages as part of their defensive plan:
ML: “Again, I think that’s part of our challenge each and every week, is to put together the game plan that you feel good about against the opponent. And they’ve got some great weapons on offense, and Ray Rice, and Ricky Williams comes in and spells, and then I think the outside receivers really are doing good things. And [Torrey] Smith has emerged as a great vertical threat and [Anquan] Boldin, we know the physicalness of his play and how he can attack the football. And then they’ve got the tight ends really going. So, they’ve been quite a challenge and they’re moving on with new people this year.”
On the competitiveness in the AFC North and the division being up for grabs:
ML: “Yeah, I think that’s really key that they’ve kind of put their best foot forward already in the division by beating the Steelers twice. And I think that … so, for Pittsburgh and us and Cleveland – wherever they are in the race – but we’re all kind of playing uphill to the Ravens right now, and so, this is a big football game that way. They’ve gone in and won … if you want to win your division, you’ve got to win the division games. And yes, they’ve lost a couple games probably that they felt like maybe people didn’t feel like they were going to lose, but they played in those – in my opinion now – those teams played football very similar to what our division does, at least defensively. And they’re stout defensive groups, they have really good, active front sevens, and those teams played well that day. They got some turnovers, and that made a difference in the game.”
On how much their game against the Steelers last week prepared them this week for Baltimore:
ML: “Well, I think we’re… Hopefully, every year when I try to decide who stays and who goes on this football team, we’re putting the football team together to work and compete in this division. So, I think each and every week, we want to play football to that style.”
On whether he is surprised at how much the Ravens have thrown the ball this season:
ML: “Well, again, they’ve got to go in and do their coaches’ part of their plan and so forth. And even though you say that, some of these throws that they’re making, those are off of run plays. And so, they’re getting the look where instead of trying to run the ball up there against some of the eight-man looks and so forth, they’re throwing the ball outside. So, sometimes those numbers can be a little deceiving on that in that way.”
On what has impressed him most about rookie QB Andy Dalton:
ML: “Well, I think Andy’s demeanor is what we expected, and really what we hoped it would be. That this wouldn’t be too big for him, that he could handle it, that he would be able to proficiently go out and do his job week-in and week-out. And our challenge is to get the other guys to do their job to the best of their ability week-in and week-out, so Andy can just focus on his.”
On what has been the biggest factor in their turnaround from last season until now:
ML: “Coaching. (laughter) See, you’re supposed to laugh. There you go. (laughter) No, I’d say we have better players. I think we’ve improved ourselves in a number of different spots, and I think that’s been important. I think we got off to a good start, where you have to play good defense; you can’t give up big, explosive plays and things like that. And that was key. We felt like we had to do that, we had to stay very, very good, and sound, on special teams, and allow our offense to evolve. And I think our players bought into that and I think we’re more talented in most spots than we were a year ago, and I think that’s made a big difference.”
On whether there are any updates on WR A.J. Green:
ML: “He’ll be a little sore this week, and we’ll have to see how he goes through the week and how he recovers, so that hopefully he can get some practice time in. But, we’ll have to… I don’t speak much about injuries since I can’t put my hands on him and heal him, but hopefully he’ll be good to go.”
On how important it is for a team to get some early season wins and then to go on a roll:
ML: “I think it’s good to win football games, and you have to take advantage of every opportunity you have to win. It’s so tight here in the NFL Sunday after Sunday. So, you have to really make plays when you get opportunities, and hopefully come out on top, because you don’t get them back. And it does help guys gain confidence in the things you’re doing, the things that you’re trying to coach them to do week-in and week-out – the game-planning you’re doing, week-in and week-out. ‘If we do this, then this will happen. And if we don’t, then this will happen, and we won’t feel good about it.’ And so, I think if you can reinforce those things, they’re helpful.”
On his rookie QB Dalton facing a tough Ravens defense this week:
ML: “It’s a difficult thing. We have to be very good and really do a nice job of creating space, and doing the things, and getting in our matchups that we feel good about. But, it’s going to be most important that not only Andy do his thing, but that everybody else does their thing best.”
ANDY DALTON (with Baltimore media)
On the challenges of facing the Baltimore defense:
AD: “They’ve been really good, and they’ve been really good for a while. So, it’s definitely going to be a big test for us. You see the heart and soul of the defense with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. They get the guys going, and they’re the guys doing a lot of the communication. So, you’ve got to find where those guys are, and we’ve just got to execute. We’ve got to go out and just execute our plan.”
On whether anyone has compared his rookie year to that of QB Joe Flacco’s first year:
AD: “I mean, I think some people have made the comparison, especially playing in the same division. The biggest thing is not trying to have too many negative plays going out and managing this offense and taking the shots when we think they’re there.”
On how much he has grown as a rookie quarterback from Week 1 up until now:
AD: “I feel like I’ve grown a lot. I feel like I’m seeing things a lot better, and I have a really good understanding of what we’re doing and what the defenses are doing. So, the biggest thing [is] I’ve just got to keep improving, keep getting better each week.”
On whether they gained some confidence in last week’s game against the Steelers, despite their loss:
AD: “I mean, it was tough that we ended up losing, but we were in the game the whole time. And so, we do have confidence. We’re going to be in the game and we’re going to be in a lot of these games. We just have to go out and play to the best of our ability.”
On the impact potentially losing WR A.J. Green could have on their passing game:
AD: “Obviously, everybody knows what A.J. can do; he’s a great player. So, obviously, we’d love to have him. I don’t know all the details of everything that’s going on with him right now. But, you know, we’re going to put a plan in and guys are going to have to step up if he’s not ready to go.”
On whether he thinks facing the Steelers’ defense prepared him to face the Ravens defense:
AD: “I think so, a little bit. It’s two really good defenses. Getting to play them back to back is going to be good for us. Last week was a test, and this week is going to be another really big test for us. So, like we’ve been saying, it just comes down to execution and just doing your part.”
On if he thinks Bengals RB
AD: “He’s been a really good runner for us, so we’re definitely going to get him his share of carries. I think it all depends on what the game is like, what is going on. But, he is definitely going to get his carries.”
On playing right away as a rookie QB vs. sitting behind a veteran and learning:
AD: “I think there are two thoughts of it: One, let them go out and play right away. I think that’s the way, obviously for me, I am glad I came into this. I get to learn out there while I am playing rather than sitting on the sideline watching. There are definitely advantages to both.”
On his emergence in the contention for Rookie of the Year:
AD: “That would be a great honor, but I am just trying to do whatever I can to help this team win. I am not really too worried about some of those awards – Rookie of the Year and all that kind of stuff. I am just trying to help this team win games and get into the playoffs.”