||HEADLINE NEWS - Team Notebook
Wednesday - 11/5/2001
Weíll start with a little bit of a follow-up on yesterday. The more you look at it, the more you look at what is going on around the league yesterday, it was just a huge win. Probably the biggest win that weíve had, save the playoffs and obviously the Super Bowl, a road win that weíve had. Yesterday I think is a good example. There were five games in the league that really came down to the very end: the Bears and the Browns, New York and Dallas, Green Bay/Tampa Bay, Tennessee/Jacksonville, and our own game. In each of those cases, the home team won in a close game, which is kind of what being at home is all about. It shows you to win on the road under those circumstances; it shows you how big that really is. Itís real easy to lose perspective on it. If we do this last year at this same time I think everybody would have been dually excited because of what it meant. But the fact that weíve won a Super Bowl, itís kind of like ĎOK well thatís good, but thatís the expectation.í It carries over into the theme that we are aware as anybody that last year was a lifetime ago. Winning this year, as everybody is finding, is as difficult as ever, even more so. The fact that we won a Super Bowl last year really has no bearing on it whatsoever. Except for the fact that this team has certain collective experiences now. Winning yesterday is part of that, the collective experience of having gone to and won a Super Bowl. Fighting your way out of the malaise that we had last year, it is a part of it and it is a part of the character of this team. When I talk about character being a big part of it, we beat a team with a lot of character. It doesnít mean that the team that won and the team that lost didnít. This is not good vs. evil. Everybody is deserving, but that character and that maturity comes through, and thatís what we are going to count on the rest of the way because it is going to be a battle. Just look at the rest of the league. Any of you that are so inclined to wager on games, I donít know how you do it. I canít imagine having any confidence at all going from one week to the next, this team vs. that, whatever the statistics were, and having real confidence with it. I just donít know how you do it.
On the injury front, we are fairly healthy. James Trapp has a pretty good groin. This is a little mini-bye for us, which is good. We need this after the road-trek weíve been on, all but one day, thatís why they are going to have the extra day off. Weíll get a normal weekís work obviously starting on Thursday, but the players deserve this. Itís the mid-way point being at eight games. It doesnít feel that way necessarily, but thatís why I gave them the extra time off, and gave them this afternoon off because our guys need the break physically, mentally and emotionally. Weíll see how James Trapp and Terry Allen are come Thursday. The extra time should help them. Outside of that, I donít think there are any pending issues. Elvis threw very well on Sunday in the warm-up. We anticipate him being much closer to starting come Thursday, but Iíll have to reserve until I actually see him out there at practice.
Q: At the beginning of the season, you said it would be difficult for the Ravens to repeat as champions relying so heavily on the defense. So far it seems that that is how weíve won most of the games.
I disagree. You are wrong. You havenít seen the same half season that I have. Yesterday was a game about balance. Yesterday was a game about special teams coming up large. That doesnít take anything away from our defense, but this is much more of a balanced team. Not that we canít rely on the defense, certainly itís an outstanding defense, but there is much more balance to this team. I saw a thing the other day where it said it is going to be tough on the defense because they put them out on the field much more then they did last year. At some point as a professional I hope you all actually put some fact to observations, otherwise this gets kind of silly. The defense has not been out on the field. Itís been out on the field less than it was last year. So when we throw out observations like that, be careful. I donít mean to be too rough here. In my opinion I think you are wrong here. I think there is much more balance to it, and this team feels that.
Q: You said the offense has dramatically improved from where it was a year agoÖ
I feel better about the offense then I did a year ago today. Now there are certain things, Iíd love to have our starting tackle in place, Iíd love to have Jamal Lewis in place, but we have more balance, we have more big play potentialÖWeíve been running the ball decently. You can look back and there were times that we didnít run the ball particularly well with Jamal. There were games where it just didnít come together for us, so I think we have to be careful about making observations. I feel much better at 5-3 today, more equipped to take on the second half of the season, more optimistic about what we can do, than I did at 5-3 last year. Now thatís just an opinion. As Dennis Miller says, ďI could be wrong.Ē
Q: When it comes to Heinz Field, the turf, the wind, is that what you expected at all?
Great, great venue. The field at Three Rivers is not one that people enjoyed playing on, I donít think even the Steelers did. Itís a beautiful complex overlooking the city. Obviously we have a very fond memory of it or enjoyed it, but it is one of the great new stadiums and we look forward to going back there on a continual basis. Itís a great place to play football.
Q: Brian this is the type of game you guys play well in. The slug-fest, get in your face, only the strongest surviveÖ
There again, you have to be careful when you look at the statistics. Iíve said that for a number of weeks now. We lost the statistical battle, clearly, but thatís not what that game was going to be about and rarely is it. We won the statistical battle last year, if Iím not mistaken, and lost the game. Weíve been that way with Tennessee, we won the statistical battle last yearís first game, but lost the game, and it was reverse the next two games. So when you play the Pittsburgh Steelers, deep in tradition, well-coached, fiery, passionate, you knew it was going to be that way going into Pittsburgh. So thatís what makes the win so significant. We know that, they know that. Thatís why it is so hard-fought.
Q: When you faced the idea of losing Trent Dilfer and Tony Banks and signed Elvis, you said Chris Redman was going to be your number two man.
And he is.
Q: But I donít understand that. I donít understand the designation as number two when RandallÖWhat I was going to ask was, do you think Chris Redman could have come in and done the same things as Randall?
Itís hard to say. That would have been a lot to put on Chris. I have a lot of faith in Chrisí ability. What I said was we have to have Chris at number two and develop him and practice him that way. He has done that. You are a little bit vulnerable because also Randall is here for a reason. If Chris was truly going to be a two and we were comfortable in saying ĎYes we need you to come in and win two games for us,í we wouldnít have brought Randall Cunningham in. We made it very, very clear. If something happens to Elvis Grbac, Randall Cunningham in going in the game. We made that very, very clear. But we are going to practice Chris Redman and try to get him the reps of a number two to develop that for the year and the year after that. Randall has obviously stated that he is done after this year. This is kind of like, who is starting? You have to think outside the box a little bit. Thatís kind of the way we are approaching it. We are getting those reps with Chris Redman. I am hoping at some point to get Chris Redman into a game. And again, if the game were to go that way and we were fortunate enough to have a solid of enough lead, the next guy in the game will be Chris Redman, whether it is Elvis or itís Randall, in the fourth quarter.
Q: When you made the overall quarterback decision, did you have a good idea you were going to sign Randall or somebody like Randall to be the third guy?
Yeah, we had a pretty good idea. We would have been comfortable and ready to go into the season with Chris Redman at number two, but Randall was there, particularly at a good price cap-wise. So it seemed prudent to do that, yet still not diminish the improvement that Chris is making.
Q: You know people are going to say, ĎWell they won two games and now they send Randall to the bench.í
Yeah, the majority of people are going to say that and if the majority were right, the majority would be rich. Elvis Grbac is our starting quarterback, plain and simple. Iíve said that all along. Weíre lucky to have Randall Cunningham here. When Elvis is ready, Elvis will be our starting quarterback. Elvis knows that, Randall knows that, this team knows that.
Q: It seems like your offense is close to getting there and then it has these breakdowns one or two times and that is what is kind of holding you up.
Right. That is typically what can happen. You have to eliminate those types of mental errors or physical errors if you can in key situations. The offense has been able to deliver when it has needed to, particularly in the past two games. Numbers havenít been hugely impressive. Weíve been there where numbers have been really, really good. Sometimes that has made a difference, sometimes it hasnít. Iím comfortable with where we are offensively. Iím relieved, if indeed it is going to happen to have Elvis back because I think he brings a dimension that has been successful for us, and I think we are going to get better in those little things. Weíll run the ball pretty well. Like I said Iíve been pleased up to this point and surprised quite frankly how well we have run the ball. There are going to be games like we had yesterday where we werenít running the ball quite as well. The linemen were having a little bit of a tough time hearing. We werenít getting off on the ball as well. Not to make that an excuse, and we are certainly going to have to deal with that this week, given the crowd in Tennessee. Thatís part of what we are going to have to deal with. Iím comfortable with the direction we are heading.
Q: Can you comment on what Duane Starks is going through?
Duane may be trying to do a little too much. Trying to force too many plays to make plays saying no you canít come over here. He started out that way last year and got into a real comfort zone and said, ĎLook, Iím going to let it come to me. Iím going to stay with-in the structure. Keep my technique sound.í Usually if you can get back to those kinds of fundamentals, you are going to be OK. Duane recognizes that. Thatís where we have to get back to that being fundamentally sound, mentally sound and what his obligations are. Like last year, that happened for Duane and he kind of took off. People were coming after him and pretty soon they paid a price for that. Hopefully that will happen again.
Q: You mentioned special teams and we saw how Pittsburghís kicker missed four field goals. Can you talk about what Matt Stover means to this team?
You saw it last year at a key time. The way games are going, Iím looking at 21-20, 28-24, 27-24, 13-10ÖSomewhere in there everybodyís kicker is going to have an impact on this thing. I saw somebody comment on how ridiculous it was that Bill (Cowher) was so animated about the time had run out. It was just a chip shot field goal. Are you kidding me? Bill was right in going after it that way because you donít know what was going to happen. You donít know that we werenít going to go back to the other end and miss it. You donít just throw that in and say, ĎYeah well he is going to make it anyway.í You fight for that tooth-and-nail. I would have done the same thing, because you saw at the end of the game. All it takes is something not being quite right. The way these things are going to go and the way they are going to go down the second half of the season, you fight for every single point.
Q: Speaking of Bill, I noticed your greeting at the end of the game was a little longer than usual. You almost seemed to hug each other.
Bill is a good man. I canít say Bill and I are particularly close, but Bill has always been very gracious. When you become a head coach, itís like anything. Itís kind of like a small fraternity. From the beginning, Bill has always been one, even as a rival, to extend the hand and be very gracious. Not in a Ďlet me show you the ropes, son,í type of deal. But he is very gracious and competitive and Iíve always appreciated that. We had a good visit before the game. After the game there was an appreciation for, boy that was a hell of a game, wasnít it? Iím sure he wasnít as thrilled about it as I was, but I do think he recognized this is why we do what we do. It was a beautiful day, two teams in it and it just comes down to something like that. Could have been you, could have been me. You enjoy that kind of competition.
Q: Along the same lines, how would you describe your relationship with the coach this coming week?
Probably not as close.
Q: You have a big Monday Night Football match against a big rival in Tennessee. Even Shannon Sharpe commented on how this is more than a Monday Night Football match. Itís become personal from everyone from the coaching staff down to the players. Do you see it that way?
Yeah, itís personal in a sense that itís a very competitive game; itís a division rival. It doesnít have to be Monday night and it doesnít matter what our records are. It is going to be the same kind of game. Anybody that thinks that itís not, is mistaken. I made the comment after our game here last month, when they had gone to 0-3, that we had gone through a three-game losing streak and come out of it. Those with a different agenda tried to take that as a slap to their face. Well, we came out of it; weíll see what you guys do. No, everybody in the room knew what I was saying. This team is more than capable, and I fully expect them to fight their way out of it. I had no delusions of coming into Tennessee and them being 0-7 or 0-8 or whatever it is. You knew they were going to fight back. They are too good of a football team. They are too well-coached and they are a good organization. It is going to come down to a football game. All of the rest is rhetoric.
Q: It looked like you kind of went away from the rotation a little bit on the right side of the line toward the end of the gameÖ
There was a little bit of a rotation. We are still trying to find the best combination. Again, part of this is weíve got to keep them fresh, both Bennie (Anderson) and Sammy Williams because of what theyíve been through. We are just trying to get through that the best way we can. They did some things well. They did some things not so well. Weíre at that point of the season where this team is tired and we need that extra day. Iím counting on them coming back a little more refreshed.
Q: Talk about the winÖ
Yeah, weíre at the mid-way point off a hard, tough first half of the season. We are going to take the emotional part of the win, because it does mean a lot. This is what the league is down to now. Everybody is talented. Everybody is well-coached. Everybody is deserving. So, it comes down to experience, character, perseveranceÖall of those clichť things. Thatís what makes the league so great now. Weíre going to be analytical and look at the things that we need to correct. But, then you move on and you go from there. Thatís just what this leagueís about right now.
Q: What did you see in Qadry that made you bring him in?
Well, Qadry was one that I had early in his career. You could see the potential. You knew that he needed to develop a certain focus that only a veteran can. His work ethicÖhe always worked hard, but he wasnít real focused in the way that he would work hard. He would spin his wheels sometimes. His demeanor in the game, understanding the gameÖthe consistency of Qadry is what Iím most gratified about for him. And there are any number of stories about guys who start in one place and then latch on somewhere else. Quite honestly, my main reason for bringing Qadry in, was his familiarity with what we did. I thought he would be a great resource for the receivers. And, I thought he would have a certain level of productivity with us, but I couldnít have imagined that he would turn into that steady guy for us, like the way he has.
Q: How do you feel about the team penalty-wise?
I donít know that thatís a big issue right now. We jump offsides more than we would like, and Rex Ryan hears about it constantly. But, itís a part of our game and our guys are into that, so you have to ask Ďhow many offsides is worth how many sacks, pressures on the quarterback, or the extra hit.í So, I donít know that the penalties are a big factor for us right now, particularly those that you can control. Pass interference, holdingÖIíve been in this league awhile now, and I say it in the symposiums, with the officials, I get the films. Iíve spent an untold amount of hours trying to understand it. I have no clue what pass interference or holding is. I couldnít tell you. I have not even the faintest idea. Those you kind of let go along, but the ones, you can control, defense jumping offsides, illegal procedure, those types of things you try to focus on.
Q: Talk about the national game on MondayÖ
Weíre in week nine and itís our first truly national game. How about them apples? Here we are, the Super Bowl Champs, and itís week nine before we can get on the national game. Now I realize that there are other circumstances; Iím being paranoid here. Normally, that would be something of a concern. But this is a team thatís been in the spotlight of a Super Bowl and has been through the playoffs, so I donít know that itís a concern. Thatís what training camp was all about. You were miked up for an entire training camp and now you canít handle a few extra media around? So, thatís what that was about, it really was. So, I donít really worry about that. Now, being hyped up, the game, the whole thing, sure, you always worry about your team. Part of the problem will be pacing them through the week, particularly with a late game on Monday. Letís not leave it on the field Thursday or Friday. Iíve been here before and my bigger concern is letís not get too anxious. Letís not put too much into this 9-on-7 on Thursday and letís focus more on the game.