Ravens' RB Coach Matt Weiss Quotes 8.22.20
COURTESY OF BALTIMORE RAVENS MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
We all can see RB J.K. Dobbins' explosiveness. But when you think about whether or not a rookie running back is ready to contribute immediately in the NFL, what are the kind of cues you're looking for and how is he faring in those areas? (Aaron Kasinitz)"J.K. [Dobbins], I've been really impressed with. I think every day, his athleticism, his physicality, his vision – all the things that make a great running back – show up on the field. I think honestly, though, I've been even more impressed with his mindset, of his make-up, which is really his competitiveness, his work ethic. He's kind of wired a little bit differently. I think that's really a credit to J.K., first of all, but also a credit to the scouting staff, to [executive vice president and general manager] Eric [DeCosta]. Those guys do a great job getting that background information and then synthesizing it into the draft process. I knew that he was good that way, but sometimes you never really know until you get a guy in the building. I've been really impressed. That's why we have one of the best scouting staffs in the league. I'll give you guys a quick example: A big part of the culture here, you guys probably know this, but just hard work. The weight room is huge, [head strength and conditioning coach] Steve Saunders does a great job, gives us a competitive advantage across the whole league. That's part of the culture that [head coach] John's [Harbaugh] built. It's like a hardworking … We work here, that's what we do. I tell rookies that right away. I said, 'Hey, J.K. You're going to go into this weight room. This is part of being a Raven. You need to do a great job in the weight room. It's valued here. It's important.' He's like, 'I know. I've got it. I love the weight room.' 'OK, great.' So, the first few days of training camp was nothing but strength and conditioning. So, we find out … I hear from people that he's in the weight room doing the workouts just talking trash to the strength coaches nonstop. I knew that they secretly loved it, but I asked him, 'J.K., why do you do that? I mean, these are the guys telling you how much weight to put on the bar, how many reps to do. Why would you go in there and talk trash? That's just going to make your workout harder.' He said, 'I'll tell you why I do it. I do it because I know if I talk trash, I'm going to get the attention. They're going to be focused on me the whole time. I've got to be at my best. And I know if I'm talking trash to them, they've got to be at their best. So, we're both going to be at our best, and I'm going to have the best possible work out. So, that's why I do it.' I just think that that kind of speaks to who he is. He's just a really rare guy that way. Not having any preseason games is disappointing for a guy like that, but I can't wait to just see what he does on the field in live action."
What are you doing to polish each running back's skills? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre)"That's a great question. I think one thing about our room is that we have tremendous diversity of skill, so they're all a little bit different. I think that helps in terms of cohesion in the room. I think it helps in terms of synergy and making sure we get the most out of the position, where we can leverage guys' strengths and put them in positions to be great at their strengths. The other thing, too, I love about these guys is whatever weaknesses they have, they can do everything. Gus Edwards isn't known as a receiver, but he can catch the ball. He can run routes. He can surprise people that way. Justice Hill is a little bit undersized. He is a great technician at pass protection. So, we work to leverage everybody's strengths and put them in position to do their strengths, but also to strengthen their weaknesses as well. So, to your question, we focus on that a lot."
Another question on RB J.K. Dobbins. With your interaction in the draft process and your interactions with J.K., was there anything that kind of stood out and made you think this guy would be a good fit for the team? (Jamison Hensley) "He had a great interview at the Combine, and from the little bit of background I'd done, I knew that he was a great make-up type of guy in terms of football intelligence. That's another thing about him. We had watched old San Francisco [49ers] film from when [offensive coordinator] Greg [Roman] was the offensive coordinator there to watch Frank Gore. We pull up the film and right away he knows, 'Hey, there's Joe Staley. There's Mike Iupati.' He knows all the players. I mean, that's just really uncommon. In terms of the draft, like I said, I knew he was good. I didn't know … In terms of his make-up, I didn't know it was like it is. I've been really impressed."
I think a lot of fans are still talking about four running backs and how you get them all involved. How do you like the diversity of what they bring to your rushing attack? And do you feel like, 'I can find reps for all these guys?' (Ryan Mink) "That's definitely something that I've seen out there a lot, and I for sure expect, and it's definitely something that we're working on. I would say this though; there's an African proverb that you guys have probably heard. It says, 'If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.' And I think that's the mindset of our room, in terms of ... All these guys, I truly believe that they would all start on most NFL teams, [and] if any of them ran alone in our offense, they would have a chance to lead the league in rushing. But our offense wouldn't go as far, [and] our team wouldn't go as far. I think they all have that mindset. And they're better together; they truly are – just from the standpoint of the synergy you get from being able to be fresh all the time in games. And between games, week-to-week, not having to carry the load like that makes them better players. The fact that we have diversity of skill, and we can leverage their strengths – like we talked about – makes everybody better. And the other thing too, just with our group is these guys all really like each other, and I know that from being with them every day. To give you an example, they took a running back trip to Brazil in the offseason. This is pre-COVID-19, obviously. I've never heard of an NFL position taking a vacation together, so obviously, they like each other, and it just speaks to the fact that they all want each other to do well. They're the happiest people on the sideline when the other guy is running the ball and scoring and getting yards, or whatever it is. And that's really helped too – to have that culture already established – to bring in J.K. [Dobbins] when that's already the culture in the room, to get him involved with that too."
What do you know about the logistics of that trip? Was that something that a veteran like RB Mark Ingram II would've put on? And then, if it was him, how do you view him entering Year 10? He was a little bit banged-up at the end of last year. What are you seeing, physically, heading into this season? (Bobby Trosset) "Mark [Ingram II] definitely is the leader of the group, and he helps set a lot of that stuff up. You'd have to ask them for more details. I definitely respect the question too, in terms of the age and all that, but truly, I think Mark is ascending. There [are] aging curves at every position, and obviously the running back aging curve is a steep one – which is I think what you're getting at – but I also think there [are] aging curves for every skillset. We know speed deteriorates the fastest. When I look at Mark's skillset and why he's good; he's super athletic, he's powerful, he has great vision, great contact balance, [and] none of those things deteriorate quickly with age. In fact, many of them get better with age. And so that's what I see from Mark. And as long as his body stays intact and everything's good, which it seems to be … He's talked about it before; he's never been the guy taking 300 carries in a season. So, I think he's great. I think he's an ascending player. I don't think he gets enough credit for the type of athlete that he is. Anything that we want to do – whether it's the footwork – you can just articulate that, and he can do it. It's amazing. I think he's an underrated receiver. To give you an idea of the type of athlete he is, he actually won the seventh and eighth grade USGA Youth Midwestern Regional Tournament two years in a row. He shot a 78. That's verified; you can look it up. So, he's a phenomenal athlete, and that doesn't go away; that doesn't deteriorate with age, so-to-speak."