Thu, 26 Nov 2020

Jim Wyatt

NASHVILLE - The Titans face the Ravens on Sunday in Baltimore.

Here's a quick look at the Ravens:

Record: 6-3.

Last game: Patriots, 23, Ravens 17.

Points for/against: 27.1/18.3 ppg.

NFL RANKINGS

Offense: 22nd overall, 348.1 ypg (2nd rushing, 31st passing).

Defense: 8th overall, 323.0 (11th rushing, 7th passing).

TEAM LEADERS

Head coach: John Harbaugh.

Offense:

QB: Lamar Jackson (158-of-247, 1,762 yards, 14 TDs, 5 INTs, 95.6 rating).

Top RBs: J.K. Dobbins (57 carries, 310 yards, 2 TDs), Gus Edwards (82 carries, 370 yards, 3 TDs), Mark Ingram (55 carries, 230 yards, 2 TDs).

Top WR: Marquise Brown (32 catches, 431 yards, 2 TDs).

Top TE: Mark Andrews (33 catches, 358 yards, 5 TD).

Defense:

Sacks: Yannick Ngakoue (5).

Leading tackler: Patrick Queen (61).

Interceptions: Marcus Peters (2).

Take/Give: +3 (14/11).

Kicker: Justin Tucker (16-of-17 FGs, 28-of-28 PATs).

Punter: Sam Koch 45.5 (43.0).

Last meeting: January 11, 2020: Titans 28, Ravens 12

Of note:

-Ravens defensive back Anthony Levine played at Tennessee State University.

-From 1989-2002, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh's father, Jack, was the head coach at Western Kentucky University.

-Ravens long snapper Morgan Cox attended Evangelical Christian High School in Memphis and played at the University of Tennessee.

Injury Report

DE Calais Campbell (calf)

DB Anthony Levine (not injury related)

CB Jimmy Smith (ankle)

DT Brandon Williams (ankle)

T Orlando Brown (not injury related)

LB L.J. Fort (finger)

Ravens coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody. I appreciate you being here. We made a couple of roster moves, adding guys and working the roster. With the new rules, obviously, there's more activity with that this year probably than any other year. So, if you have any questions about that ... [We're] preparing [and] obviously, getting ready for a very big challenge with the Tennessee Titans coming in here to our stadium. [They are] a very good football team and well-rounded in every way. So, we're going to work to make sure we put our best foot forward on Sunday. So, what questions do you have?"

In going against a physical back like RB Derrick Henry, and you guys have had some dealings with him in the playoff game last year, what's kind of the overall message when you're talking to the players and trying to say, "This is how we stop Derrick Henry?" What's kind of the priority? (Jamison Hensley) "We have an overall message, and we have very specific messages based on the fronts that we play and the schemes that they run. [There are] a lot of technicalities to it, in terms of how we want to play these things, how we fit the gaps and the techniques that we use. That's the main thing that we work on. It's going to take a great effort. It's going to take all we've got. They're a very good run-blocking offensive line, of course. Obviously, he's a downhill runner, right at the top of the heap there. So, that's pretty much the direction of it, and we try to make sure that we're on point."

There's a lot of talk about RB Derrick Henry, but if you look at QB Ryan Tannehill, he has over 2,000 passing, 20 touchdowns and three interceptions. What do you see with their deep ball game and how they're able to balance it on offense? I think they've actually thrown the ball more than they've run. (Todd Karpovich) "Right, well, most teams do, but it's definitely ... The pass is set up by the run. They use a lot of play-action pass off of that. They run numerous play-action-type of protections off of that with good ball fakes to try to draw the linebackers up. You don't really see from most teams all the different types of play-action combination routes - one-man route, two-man route, three-man route, even more - off of play-action like they do. They do them all. Some teams do this or that, or have a theme, but they do them all. It's all things that we've seen before that we'll just have to cover well within our schemes; eyes in the right place, leverage is right [and] take care of our business in the right way, so that we don't get caught out of position."

I don't know, I think it might be five or six different offensive line combinations this year. Has that made it difficult to build cohesion when that's such an important quality and you've talked about that at that position? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, you'd rather have your five guys locked in from the beginning. Certainly, you'd rather have that - there's no question about it. I don't think there are too many teams that have had that this year. I'm sure that the teams that have had that, or have had the least issues, probably [have had] the most success. I'd have to look and see who that is. I don't keep track of exactly who's had the most continuity on their offensive line across the league, other than the teams we play. That's something that would be valuable. We don't have that right now, but we have enough players to be successful, and guys that want to play and work hard and have been here. So, we'll just go to work."

What do you like about TE Luke Willson? I know he's on the practice squad, but is there a chance that he could be activated for Sunday so you could have two tight ends or one to go with FB/DL Patrick Ricard and TE Mark Andrews? (David Ginsburg) "Yes, there is. We have guys on the practice squad at tight end and other positions that certainly could come up. We'll just have to see how the week of practice goes. But we like Luke [Willson]. He's a guy that our personnel department knows really well. Of course, we've played against him before, so we know him a little bit. [He's a] good guy and an experienced player, so that helps us. It's good to have a guy that's been out there before and knows how to play. We'll just have to see how he fits into what we're doing."

What did you think of G/C Patrick Mekari at right tackle? It looked like he really held up well out there. Generally, with his physical stature, he's not what you would expect at a right tackle, but he did well in the pass and run game in the second half. (Pete Gilbert) "He did. Pat [Mekari] is a very good player. [He's] a very versatile player, that's one of his best strengths. Nobody works harder than Pat Mekari. He just really understands what we're doing. I think he could play any position on the offensive line, and he's played the extra O-lineman this year, which is kind of a tight end position. So, I'm very proud of what he did. He played tackle in college, too. So, that was a big benefit for us in the game."

Ravens QB Lamar Jackson

A lot of fans feel - going against the Titans again and what happened in that playoff game - that this is a revenge game? From a player who has played in that game and is going to play in this game, is there any sort of revenge, or does that game factor into this game at all? (Jamison Hensley) "It's not a revenge game. The game is over with; it was last year. We just fell short. We can't do anything about it. We're just going into this game trying to be 7-3 - that's all. We're not looking into it like a revenge game."

Going off of that, is there any big takeaway from that game that you carried with you through the offseason and still have with you for this season? (Morgan Adsit) "We just wanted to score points during the game. Our offense, we were driving the ball, but we weren't finishing. That would be one of the biggest takeaways I took from the game - that we just have to finish drives. And hopefully, that's what we're going to do this Sunday."

The announcers were talking about how there were a couple opportunities they felt you passed up - potential running lanes. When you watched the tape of the Patriots game, did you see that at all? And were you happy with how that kind of played out - with how much you ran in the Patriots game? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I saw one run - it was a pass that I threw to Willie [Snead IV] - I wish I would have kept it and got some yards on that play. But that's about it. I feel like we played pretty good on offense. Like I said for the previous question, we just have to score points - finish drives, score points - then the game would be different. But no, I think it was pretty good other than that."

I went back and watched the film, and really, there was a lot of efficiency and effectiveness, but a few plays here and there that kept drives from scoring points. Does that give you the feeling that you're getting closer to putting it all together for this week, or does it feel like a step backwards? (Pete Gilbert) "Like I said, we just have to finish. We see little things on tape, like we could have probably put them away during the game, but we had a few penalties [and] a little miscommunication - stuff like that. We hit those, and I feel like the game would be - like I said before - different."

I understand the other team had to play in the same conditions, but is there any way to get ready to play in the conditions you had to face in Foxborough? (Kirk McEwen) "To be honest, no. I have seen different types of weather games. I've played in heavy snow, windy games. This game here was just a lot of rain. Every time we stepped on the field, it was like the rain started pouring down [like] crazy - dramatically. It happens. It's football, and we still had opportunities. We've got to live with it."

You've been operating behind a makeshift offensive line ever since T Ronnie Stanley went down, but it seems like they've been giving you good protection. How would you assess the way the line has played despite all the shuffling that's been going on? (David Ginsburg) "Our guys have been playing pretty good. I'm confident in our [offensive] line - 100% confident. We've got those NFL linemen for a reason. Those guys [work] their tail off. They want to win games - I know that for a fact. We just have to keep stamping stuff and keep it going. They're doing good so far."

I know you would like your numbers to be better when throwing to WR Marquise "Hollywood" Brown. What do you think needs to happen for that connection that you guys had last year to kind of come back this year? (Jamison Hensley) "Just keep going after it, keep shooting my shot, just keep giving him an opportunity - that's all. We're going to be good, for sure."

WR Willie Snead IV is someone that you've always expressed a lot of confidence in, but since the Bye Week, his targets and catches have been up. Is there anything you're seeing defensively to explain that, or is it you guys just developing a little more chemistry as the season has gone on? (Luke Jones) "Just better chemistry. We're getting a lot more comfortable as the season is going on - that's all. Nothing more, nothing less."

Earlier in the week, C Matt Skura had to put out a statement on social media saying, "Hey, leave my family alone." When you see that, as a teammate, how do you feel? And what do you say to fans that are inappropriately attacking like that? (Pete Gilbert) "It happened to everyone. Some of the fans are not out there - or none of them are out there - doing what we're doing. [Matt] Skura has a lot to do out there; he has to make checks - and stuff like that - for the line. So, there are a lot of things that go on, and people shouldn't be messing with his family at all. That's a human being at the end of the day. That's my teammate. That's my brother. So, yes, that's just 'B.S.'"

Earlier in your statements, you said you want to go to 7-3. These are two 6-3 teams, we're past the midway point of the season. I know you want to win them all, and they're all big games, but how much does it feel like this is - at this point of the season - a pretty big game given the amount of teams that have 6 wins and where you and Tennessee are? (Shawn Stepner) "Every game is a big game, and we want to win them all. Unfortunately, we didn't win three of them out of the nine we've played so far. So, we just have to go in here, focus up, and work hard. It starts today in practice. Keep our head on our shoulders, keep our head held high, and just go out there and play football."

People have told you guys that you made last season look easy. When that playoff game ended, and you guys got into the offseason, did you guys have a sense that this year would be even tougher just because of how fast teams are to adjust in the NFL - big picture? (Jonas Shaffer) "No, we didn't really think about stuff like that. We just wanted to focus on ourselves and getting better from last year. Our record might not be the same, but I feel our mind is growing a lot. We learned a lot about ourselves. We just have to keep it going."

Titans coach Mike Vrabel

(Conference Call with Baltimore Media)

Can you tell us about playing against the Baltimore Ravens? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "One, I have a lot of respect for Coach John [Harbaugh] down there and what he's done over the history there. Their organization [has] a fantastic owner [Steve Bisciotti]. How they've built their football team, they're tough [and] they're physical - that will be the same challenge this year. They run the ball extremely well. They play great defense. We prepared for them last year, and we'll have to prepare even harder and play better this year to give ourselves a chance."

You've obviously been around linebackers for a very long time. When you watch ILB Patrick Queen, and I guess ILB Malik Harrison, too, what stands out to you when you watch the Ravens' rookie linebackers? (Andrew Gillis) "[They're] young, athletic, fast. [Malik] Harrison has played a little bit and done a fantastic job on special teams, as well. And then [Patrick] Queen, obviously ... There's a lot to that defense, and I give those young guys a lot of credit to be able to handle the volume in which they are asked to know. [They're] productive and very good tacklers. [They have] a great range to make tackles and plays all over the field. Queen has done a nice job of getting the ball out as well."

When you think back to that game last year, how did that ... I think that kind of felt like a shock here in Baltimore. What were, maybe, one or two things that you guys did that other teams weren't able to do against the Ravens last year? (Aaron Kasinitz) "They start extremely fast. They try to 'shock and awe' you early. They're outscoring opponents, probably, [244-165] points this year. So, that trend is continuing and they're getting up in ballgames. So, we're going to have to be very competitive. We're going to have to be ready to go early on."

You mentioned the defense being complex when you talked about the linebackers. What does defensive coordinator Don 'Wink' Martindale do differently? And what's kind of the challenge ... A lot of people talk about the challenge of preparing for QB Lamar Jackson, but what's the challenge of preparing for the Ravens' unique style of defense? (Aaron Kasinitz) "A lot of respect, obviously, for what they've done there and what they're doing now. They'll throw a lot of different personnel groups at you. They'll have some gameplan things that they feel like give them a chance to win. They're aggressive when they're ahead. They're really going to keep the pressure on you and blitz you. Statistically, they're very good; they're excellent on third down and not giving up a whole lot of points. This will be a huge challenge, [they're] very good on the backend. They have two cornerbacks combined for seven forced fumbles - that's pretty unheard of. Not only do they cover extremely well, but when they do get completed on them, they're finding ways to get the ball out of there. So, we'll have to take care of the football and make sure that's at the top of our list."

The Ravens have four running backs and they have some unique styles to them. In terms of game-planning for a system like the Ravens run with running backs that can kind of beat you in multiple different ways, what are the difficulties that go into game-planning against that? (Andrew Gillis) "I think that they all have a similar skillset; I think [Justice] Hill may be the outlier. But obviously, Lamar [Jackson] possesses great awareness and ability to operate the option game when they ask him to do that. But then they have the ability to just run a traditional run game that's just as successful. This isn't just all option football. So, that's the battle that you wage; just making sure everybody is sound and everybody is where they're supposed to be, but then you're going to have to tackle. The guys run hard. They have excellent vision to bounce out or cut back. When the quarterback does have it, he's a threat every single time he has the ball in hands."

How is DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney doing on your team? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I think 'JD' [Jadeveon Clowney] had some plays that he's really done well, [and] probably some plays that he'd like to have back, like the rest of us. But he's working to improve and trying to get better. He's brought some disruption. I know that he would like the production to be there, but he's had some very good plays for us. And on the same token, like a lot of other players, [he'd] like to have some plays back."

As far as QB Lamar Jackson as a runner, just with his elusiveness, how difficult is it to get your players, not only in position to slow him down, but to even try to get a solid hit on him? (Jamison Hensley) "I think you have to be careful trying to take these big shots on him, because he's just going to make you miss. We've seen that against us. There were examples, obviously, last year, but then throughout the film. You'll have to get a lot of guys to him and be able to swarm and try to do our best on him. He's very talented. He's got speed. He's also got quickness and an ability to make you miss in small areas."

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