It's a huge challenge for us, a defense that seems every year they're ranked in the top five. When you have players like Ed Reed, Adalius Thomas and Ray Lewis and the two corners they have over there, they're going to be ranked in the top five. So offensively, we've got our hands full again. Week-in and week-out, it seems like we're playing against good defenses, and this is one of the best ones we've seen all year.
Q: Why have you done so well against them?CP:
I think it's a great challenge for us. When you're an offense playing against the Ray Lewises and one of the better defenses of the league, you like to think you play up to the level of your competition sometimes. When you know you've got the best ones coming in, you've got to bring your best game, and it's happened that we've played very well against them. And the other reason is that we match up very well against them. We like some of the matchups that are created when they get certain personnel groups, and we've been fortunate to run the ball against them, which has helped a lot with the passing game. Just the matchups they create are in our favor.
Q: How much are you involved in play-calling?CP:
A lot of people want to point their fingers at Bob Bratkowski, but if you're looking for somebody to point your finger at, you can point it at me because I'm calling a large percentage of the plays. I'm not sure exactly what it is. He's taken a lot of unfair criticism and a lot of that should be pointed at me. Being the QB and being in the position we're in with the no-huddle we run, I do end up calling most of the plays.
Q: It seems opposing defenses are taking away the run sometimes:CP:
Yeah, some teams have loaded up the box a little bit on us. Some teams we've been able to throw on and some teams we've been able to run on. It's just game planning going into the game. There's been some criticism and like I said, if you want to point a finger, point it at me.
Q: It depends on the pre-snap stuff, too:CP:
Yeah. A lot of our plays are based on the look you get.
Q: How much freedom do you have to call plays at the line?CP:
I'm not going to go into how our offense works and give anything away. There's no point in me doing that -- I'm not going to give the opposing team our game plan. But I have a lot of freedom. There's a number of plays I can get to, a number of plays that we'd like to get to, and I just try to put us in the best situation possible.
Q: Do you feel you're familiar with the Ravens because you play them so often?CP:
A little bit. We do see them twice a year. You get a good feeling for what they're trying to do and what they're trying to get to, but they still do a lot of movement. You're never going to be 100 percent, you're never going to know exactly what you're getting just because they move so much. The reason they're moving so much is to create confusion. They want to create confusion offensively and try to cover up some of their weaknesses defensively. They do good job of that. They consistently move throughout the game in different situations, different personnel groups and try to make it tough on the offensive line and the quarterback.
Q: You took some low hits in the Atlanta game; some say they were going after your legs:CP:
It's always easy to take a perspective when you look back at the game. It's a lot easier than being the referee on the field at the time. A lot of times, guys are coming in low because they're being blocked in low. If a guy's coming in unimpeded and just dives at your legs, that's one issue. But when you've got an offensive lineman trying to reach out and get a piece of you and you've got a fullback or halfback chipping on you and you're off-balance and you're stumbling forward, that's another thing. I don't know. I guess that's my answer. I'm not sure. It's a lot easier to look back the day after and say OK, this should have been a penalty, and this shouldn't have been a penalty.
Q: You had chat with a defensive lineman after one play; were you thinking they were coming in too low?CP:
Not really. There's about 350 other things in my mind during a play. That's probably one of the last things I'm thinking about -- should that have been a penalty or not a penalty. There was one instance, I remember, the referee did tell me it would have been a penalty had he not been knocked into my legs.
Q: Do you listen to fans who say you're not the same, not all the way back?CP:
When you're the quarterback, it's your job to win. We obviously haven't won every game. We're 4-3. There's a number of plays I'd love to have back, a number of instances in games I'd love to have back. If your quarterback plays great and he goes out there and does his job and doesn't miss everything and is 100 percent on everything, you're going to win your football games. We're 4-3. I haven't been 100 percent, I haven't been perfect, and I haven't played great football. You can put all the blame you want on me. I believe and I take the stand that it's my job to make sure we're effective on offense and we're giving ourselves a chance to win games. We're 4-3. We've lost three tough games. The way I play football and the way I grew up playing quarterback, if you don't win it's on the quarterback because the quarterback can always give you a chance to win the game, and I haven't done that in three games.
Q: Are the offensive numbers down due to less confidence?CP:
Everybody wants to talk about last year. The way I look at it is, last year is last year. I'd love to go off the numbers I put up last year and if it was guaranteed I'd put them up the rest of my career, I'd be happy with that. That's not how this game works. It changes from year to year, personnel groups change from year to year, and schedules change from year to year. I more than anybody would love to be putting up some of the same numbers, and we haven't offensively. But that's why this game is such a challenge. That's why people get fired and rehired every year. That's why there's so much turnover in this league, because it's difficult to be consistent. I'd love to put up 70 percent of my passes, complete them, and throw a whole bunch of touchdowns every week, but that's not realistic.
Q: When running backs and receivers all want the ball, how do you deal with that? CP:
It's a good thing and a bad thing. It's good because we've got guys who want the ball. It's bad when you show your frustration to the media. You always want to keep things between your teammates. But we have a lot of guys who want to make plays. We have a lot of guys that want the ball in their hands in critical situations and want the ball in their hand every single play of the game. But when it comes down to it, you've got to take what the defense gives you. We'd love to run the ball 35 times for 180 yards every game and throw the ball for 350 yards and 40 times every game, but it's not realistic.
As tough as this league is, as tough as defenses are, you've got to take what defenses give you. You can't just line up and go on with the game plan and say hey, we're going to run the ball 36 times. You play a game and go back and look at the film and say, 'We averaged 4.1 yards every rush, we should have run the ball 50 times'. It's a lot different story than making that call on game day and going through it on game day than it is the next day and looking at stats and saying, 'These guys should have run the ball more.' When you lose, everything gets magnified, and the first thing that gets magnified is we're not running the ball well enough. It's something that we're going to look at and figure out what's best for our team and best for our offense.
Q: Will you pull aside Rudi, Chad, and Willie just to make sure you guys are on the same page?CP:
If something needs to be said, something will be said. A lot of times after games, people get frustrated, and need to vent. There are instances where things need to be said, and there are instances where things don't need to be said.
Q: Do you think something needs to be said now?CP:
We've already talked about it. We've already handled it.
Q: I think Willie was talking about mentality, as far as getting over the hump, and winning the close games:CP:
Yeah, we lost by one point to Tampa Bay, two points the other day on Sunday, and we got our butts whipped by New England. We do need to play better football. We need to play tougher football. But when you say we need to play better football, we need to be more physical. We need to be 100 percent in communication. We need to do so many better things which equal up to playing good football. Toughness is one of them, and it's something we are working on.
Q: Do the offensive linemen ever come up to you in the huddle and say, 'I can dominate this guy' ... how do you handle all that when guys are talking like that to you?CP:
I don't think that's happened. If we need to talk on the sideline, if there's something that's open, if there's something that's going to work, we talk about it, we figure it out, and we run it. That's something that hasn't happened during the game.
Q: Is that something you don't want in the huddle?CP:
That's not something that's going on in the huddle.
Q: Is this a defense that you bide your time against, knowing they are going to give you some opportunities to make a big play?CP:
They give up some big plays, but I think they are number one in the league in turnover differential. They've created a ton of interceptions, fumbles, and created a bunch of takeaways. You need to be smart with the ball against these guys. They've got a lot of guys that make plays on balls; guys like Ed Reed who can make an interception turn into a touchdown extremely fast. It's a defense where you need to be smart with the ball, make sure you know where you're going with it, and be accurate with it because they are a ball-hawking defense.
Q: What was your take on the "Ocho-Cinco" jersey incident?CP:
That's Chad being Chad and just having fun with the game.
Q: With this Ravens defense, how do you deal with their tendency to step out of the defensive game-plan and try to make plays, and how do you combat that type of stuff?CP:
You just need to go through your reads and take what their giving you. You can't hope that somebody is going to be out of position, or hope that someone is going to jump a play. You can't hope that Ed Reed will think a certain play is coming and be out of his zone or not handle his responsibility on a certain play. You can't play the game like that. You need to go out, make your reads, get the ball to the guy that's open, and take what defense is giving you.
Q: Do you get the sense that you are going to see more man-on-man coverage this week?CP:
They are a confident group, but I don't think they have a ton of confidence playing against our offense in particular. We don't know what to expect exactly. It hasn't worked in the past and mostly in this league you try to stick with what works.
Q: Chad and T.J. live for these moments, the opportunity the get some one-on-one coverage:CP:
I live for that opportunity too, to get those guys in one-on-one coverage. Not a whole lot of teams have done that to us. We're not going into this expecting them to play a lot of Cover 1, but you never know.
Q: Was that game in 2004 a turning point for you, and are they different defensively since then?CP:
That was a big turning point in our season and it was a big win for us at their place. As far as them changing as a team, they have a new coordinator, some new faces, but it's still Ed Reed and Ray Lewis leading things off. Not to mention Terrell Suggs and a whole bunch of other guys. They have a lot of the same players, but a different scheme.