COURTESY OF BALTIMORE RAVENS MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
I think it's an obvious question, [but] given that you haven't been able to get all the guys together on the field, has this virtual thing worked for you? And do you feel like you're a little bit behind when you hit training camp? (David Ginsburg) "Yes, it's been a unique offseason, and it's been a challenge for everybody in America, really. Under the circumstances, I think we've done the best we could possibly do. I really think the players have done a great job of embracing that. I think we've been able to, in some cases, because of the extra meeting time and whatnot, really slow things down for some of our younger players and take our time teaching certain things. So, I think, from a mental standpoint, it's been A-plus. There is no substitute for on-the-field work, so losing that time on the field is what it is. Every team has dealt with it. Now we have to move forward into training camp and really be smart with how we allocate our time and allocate our resources and the decisions we make, so that we can accelerate our performance on the field as quickly as possible. I think it'll be unique, but I think once we can get out there and get going, I think it'll work itself out."
Obviously, with QB Lamar Jackson coming off an MVP season [and] having a great year last year, what have you been trying to focus on? Is there a particular area that you've been trying to focus on with him, as far as improvement this offseason? (Jamison Hensley) "Lamar is still relatively a young player. This will be his second year as a full-time starter, and I think, really, all aspects of his game he was able to really look into, with a critical eye, and really discuss certain things. I think it's been very valuable for him. So, I don't know that it is just one thing. I think it's been, really, everything. And he's done a really good job of staying engaged and communicating really well. I think there [were] a lot of little things that he really became aware of as he was able to look at the body of work he's put out so far. So, to answer your question, I think, really, a lot of things, not one specifically."
How much have you had to overhaul the playbook this season, with trying to stay ahead of the competition? Or, has that been a challenge because of not being able to get together with the players? (Todd Karpovich) "Definitely. We kind of have our internal process every year. We get rid of this; we might add something. There are some things that we practiced last year that we didn't actually run in games, so we really wanted to evaluate all that. I think we've definitely tweaked things. We haven't had the luxury of the OTAs and whatnot, to really kind of test-run certain things, so we have to be really judicious with how we use that time in training camp to experiment. I think experimenting this year is going to be very selective. So, yes, definitely we've tweaked, we've added, updated, but how much we experiment in training camp, we're really going to have to be selective with that."
I don't know if I've ever seen a transformation from Year One to Year Two, body type, that WR Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown has gone through. I'm wondering, what have you thought about his transformation? He looks incredible to me. (Kirk McEwen) "I think last year, all of us, to a man, were saying, 'Wow, once 'Hollywood' has an offseason – a real offseason – wow, that's going to be something.' So, I think we are going to see that this year. He's been working really hard. He's not dealing with certain aspects that he had to deal with last year, and he did a great job of fighting through that and battling through it. He was frustrated at times, but he really managed those frustrations and diverted those towards being productive, so that was a really good sign of maturity. And, I really think he's had a great offseason, physically, and [I'm] very excited about what that looks like this year. [I] can't wait to get the ball rolling."
This is the first time that a lot of us have had the chance to speak with you since the Tennessee game. And I know it's five months old, but looking back on it, Coach Harbaugh has answered the questions. Did you feel like the team got away from what made you guys successful for 14-of-16 games? And what I'm referring to is the number of dropbacks for QB Lamar Jackson and the lack of handoffs to the running backs. (Jerry Coleman) "Yes, I think it's like, what came first, the chicken or the egg? I think once the score kind of got out of hand on us, that's when things really flipped from a balanced attack, to a more aggressive attack. A game like that, as a coach, you always blame yourself first; you always look inwards. You always want to push the right buttons and pull the right levers. So, certainly, I'm the first person I look at when that happens. But, it's really a function of a lot of the little things that we did during the regular season; we just didn't execute at a high-enough level. Very simple things, very correctible things, but very important things that we generally hang our hats on. [It was] a great learning experience, and it behooves us to learn from it, move on and get even better moving forward."
Traditionally, you guys haven't had four running backs available on a gameday. With the four that you have now, certainly, you'd expect all four to be there for you. Is it a good problem to have a lot of talent there? It is still challenging, right, to keep everyone happy? (Pete Gilbert) "Well, I love good problems. I think I've learned over the years, if you have good problems, bring them this way. And I say that unabashedly. Talented, hard-working players that love football – bring them on. And the fact that we have a lot of guys in our running back stable, if you will, just makes me excited to no end. I don't think you can have enough really good running backs, and we certainly have a plethora of them. I'm really excited to see J.K [Dobbins], and I love the guys we already have – Mark [Ingram II], Gus [Edwards] and Justice [Hill]. We'll find ways to make it work, for sure. To have that kind of backfield is a blessing. We definitely want to get into training camp and work through it and kind of evolve as we go. As far as how we are actually going to deploy them, who we are going to emphasis [and] how, I think that's going to happen on the fly every day in training camp, and [we'll] get a better feel for that. But I love problems like that. I mean that sincerely."
The wide receiver spot opposite 'Hollywood,' how do you look at that and the steps that you expect WR Miles Boykin to take in Year Two? And do you see WR Willie Snead IV and WR Devin Duvernay as guys who can also play outside in that number two role? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, we have two new guys in Duvernay and [James] Proche, and we're really excited about them. I know we heard really good things from the guys at the workouts down in Florida, so it'll be a lot of fun to get on the grass with them. And then Miles Boykin, you mentioned, [we are] really going to load his plate a lot more this year and really ask a lot of him this year. We really feel like he's going to take a giant step. I think Willie Snead is a Swiss Army knife in his own right. He does so many things for us at a high level. He's one of the most physical receivers in the NFL. He was a big part of our rushing attack last year, that set all those records, and really all the receivers were. Yes, we're really excited to see how that unfolds. And we are going to use multiple personnel groups, so everybody is going to have different roles on different plays, and that's one of the messages [that] we've talked about and will talk about [on] our first day back. We are going to be a very multiple offense. You might see three, four tight ends on the field. You might see five [wideouts] on the field. On the next play, you might see something completely different. Everybody is going to have an important role, and how we build the overall attack week-to-week will be different. But one thing is for sure; we're going to be multiple with how we deploy personnel – so the more the merrier – and I'm really excited to get to work with those guys."
Obviously, with the recent events, QB Colin Kaepernick has been back in the news lately. And I know you've talked about him in the past, but considering all that's gone on, what would it mean to you personally, and what do you think it might mean to the league and the country, if he were to return and be on a team this year? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I had a great experience working with Colin, and I certainly wish him the best and I'm hopeful for him, if that's what he chooses to do – to get back and play. I don't know exactly where he's at with that or where every team in the league is. But one thing is for sure; I'm always rooting for him. Colin was just a treat to coach, and I wish him the best. So, however that goes it goes, and I'm certainly in his corner rooting for him."
Given the fact that you guys set a bunch of records offensively last year, and just the thought of all these teams having all this time to study you guys now – and Coach Harbaugh has been very clear about having to keep pushing forward on the offense, so you don't let defenses catch up. Is that a fine line for you, to not make too many changes and stray away from what worked so well for you last year, while wanting to keep evolving as an offense? (Jeff Zrebiec) "That's very well put. What I've learned over the years is you have to be good at something. You have to be really, really good at something. And after you get really, really good at something, you want to get really, really good at a few things, and you keep building on that. So, that's kind of what we aim to do. How our new personnel fits together, I think will naturally shift us a little bit. It won't be the same, but we're going to keep pushing the envelope. This year might be an interesting year as far as stats and records and whatnot. Maybe it's not a stats and records year around the league, just because of the nature of how things are right now. We'll see; we just don't know. The important thing is that we keep moving towards playing winning football and developing our overall attack, getting better and playing winning football. That's going to be incumbent upon every man when we get back to work and training camp. Every day is going to be incredibly important, as is their training period from now until then, to show up in the best shape of their life. But, it's an interesting question. That's something I think about every day, at least once a minute, and how we are going to kind of put things together. How it's going to look a little different. Especially in a season like this, you don't want to get too far off the rails. You have to kind of stay on the rails and be selective with what you want to do differently."
I don't think we've really talked to you much this offseason since G Marshal Yanda retired. How would you assess that entire interior of the offensive line now, and how are you getting your options to replace him? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I saw pictures of Marshal recently. Maybe he can come back and be a fullback. (jokingly) He's lost like 65 pounds. I barely recognize him. He looks great. But losing him, you can't just replace Marshal Yanda. The guys that we have, we believe in, and there's going to be a real competition there to see how that all unfolds. We have a lot of different options and everybody has the opportunity. The best five guys will play. We have some young guys that we just drafted, some free agents, and we have veterans that we believe in. So, how all that unfolds, it's going to be really interesting. But the opportunity is there, and somebody has to grab the brass ring, so to speak, and go for it. Not just one, but multiple guys, because you can never have enough, really, in that interior offensive line, where things happen so quick, and continuity does matter, because guys are working together with all that quickness down on the inside. It's going to be a competition, a process, a day-to-day process, and I like where we are at. Once we get out there, we'll kind of see where it goes."
Just going back to QB Lamar Jackson. It doesn't get better than an MVP season, but what do you see as the next step in his evolution? (Garrett Downing) "The next step for Lamar is … I've kind of said this before. At the quarterback position in the National Football League – probably the hardest position to play in all of sports, in my opinion – there are so many … Picture a graph of all these different charts, and every chart … Like a bar graph, and there are 50, 60 things, where every day you're kind of measured in each category at. And if you can get all 50 of those up two percent, three percent, now you're a much better player at the end of the day. So, just continuing to evolve his overall game. I think there's a magic to his style and how he plays – some creativity. We always want to focus that creativity and that energy into winning football, and winning football decisions on the field – accuracy, timing, vision, all those things. Just a constant, slow, steady, upward tick in all those different categories. There are certain things we want to work on and emphasize more – throwing the ball in different parts of the field, for example. But we are always going to try to be aware of and push the envelope in all those different areas to try to get those bar graphs moving up. And then when the game rolls around, we are going to do what we're good at and what we want to do. As part of his development, chase to being great and chase to improve, you're working on all these things all the time. So, I don't know that I would say it's one thing, but everything."
With TE Hayden Hurst being traded in the offseason and knowing how much you use the tight ends in the offense, I wanted to get your impressions about the younger guys – TE Jacob Breeland, TE Eli Wolf, and even TE Charles Scarff, who was on the practice squad last year? (Luke Jones) "Yes, the opportunity looms, and it's there for those guys. Eli, Breeland and Charles, they're all going to have an opportunity. It's real. They are going to have to come in … Those are guys I was referring to, as well as everybody else … Once we get out there, they have to maximize every single day, just for us to see what they can do, for them to improve and for us to see where they fit in the grand scheme of things. So, we're really excited about all three of those young guys. [The] opportunity is there for them, and we'll see where it goes. But I think they have a real, legitimate chance to make a positive impact on this team."
Day-to-day you get into the season, and it's hard to really reflect on what's going on big picture. But, when you think back to the 2019 regular season and what was accomplished and the way it was accomplished, particularly with QB Lamar Jackson leading it, what strikes you the most about that year? Is it anything you, as a coach, could have ever imagined? (Pete Gilbert) "The thing that strikes me is just the spirit, attitude [and] the competitive spirit of all these guys. The teamwork, the selflessness, just the support everybody gave one another. Going into our opener of the 2019 season, there were a lot of doubters. There were a lot of people that legitimately had a lot of question marks on what this was going to look like. Was it even going to work? Was it going to fall flat on its face? That was real. That was tangible, and it was a big question mark. I think a statement was made by these guys early on and their ability to push forward through the season. We had a couple bumps in the road, which are going to happen, and just the way they hung together and battled for one another, I think it kind of spoke for itself. So, I think that overall experience of 2019 was really, 'Hey, is this thing even going to work? What's this going to look like?' That was kind of the feel I was getting, and I think everybody kind of answered those questions very loudly and proudly. Aside from that, just the spirit of teamwork amongst these guys. So, I think we have a lot of character on this team. We have a lot of guys that really care about one another, and I think that's really going to help us moving forward into 2020."