Ravens' Special Teams Coordinator Chris Horton Quotes 6.23.20
COURTESY OF BALTIMORE RAVENS MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
I'm curious as to how you have been working without actually seeing any players on the field? Whether it's been a difficult challenge for you or whether working virtually has been OK with you? (David Ginsburg) "That's a great question. Working virtually has really done a lot for us. Obviously, so much of what we do as a special teams unit is done through a lot of technique, the same things over and over on the field. We've actually had a lot of time to kind of really dive into the small nuances of our playbook. I thought it's been very effective, the way we've handled it. I thought the players approached it the right way. We've done a pretty good job of getting the most out of what we can, given the circumstances of it all being virtual."
How much of an advantage do you have? You have 'The Wolfpack,' the best battery in the game. Other teams may have a new long snapper [or] a new kicker. Do you study that and gain advantage from teams still trying to figure it out under abnormal circumstances? Where your special teams are some of the best in the league, others may be trying to figure things out. (Kirk McEwen) "I think it's one of those things where when you have a group of veteran guys like Justin [Tucker], Sam [Koch] and Morgan [Cox], those three guys – like you mentioned – are the best at what they do. So, when you have that group, it makes it a little bit easier, because they understand and know what they need to get done in order to continue to be great. Now, when you're dealing with a team – and some teams are doing this – where there is a bunch of new guys, then your system isn't really in place. Well, for us, we've got a system that has been in place. We tweaked it a little bit last year, but our guys are in tune to what we need to do. I think when we finally get out on the field, we should be ready to roll and feel pretty good about where we are."
Has there been any consideration, once you get going, of maybe keeping K Justin Tucker - because at the kicker position, there's not much depth there - maybe isolated away from other people throughout the week? I know that may be hard, but I was asking [head coach John Harbaugh] about that with the quarterback position and how those are two valuable positions. How do you protect those guys? (Jerry Coleman) "That's a great question. That's something we're going to be thinking about as we move forward. But I think we're going to do our best to protect all of these guys, because every position is valuable to kind of what we do and to our success. We don't want to be losing any players to COVID-19. So, our jobs as coaches is going to be kind of, 'OK, what's the best way to do that?' And making sure that our players are safe and that we are safe as coaches as well. I haven't given much thought to it, but it's something that we're going to be thinking about [and] talking to [special teams coach] Randy [Brown] as we move forward."
We've heard that WR James Proche is kind of an option as a punt returner. I'm curious, can you evaluate virtually his ability to catch the punts, and how do you expect him to figure into that competition? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I think you can evaluate virtually. But the one thing that I saw from James evaluating his college tape – [which is] really where we got a lot of information from James – is that he can catch the ball. He's a good catcher. He's good underneath the ball and he can get vertical pretty quick. The other thing I found out about the guy, just from talking to him at the Combine – because he was a Combine guy – is he loves football. He has the right mindset. He has that DNA that we look for [to see] what type of player he is and what type of person he is. The kid loves football. He's competitive as can be. I'm looking forward to getting him out there when we can finally get on the field and just see what he can do. I was able to validate from the college tape what type of returner he is. So, now, when we get the chance to get out there and see him in person, I think that's going to hold true to what my eyes saw and what the rest of the scouts and coaches saw from James."
You guys have extremely high standards on special teams – I'm sure you'd have it no other way. When you reviewed the tape of last year and everything, and when you're planning for this year, what's the one area where you really think there needs to be major improvements on? Is it more of the returning aspect or on the coverage teams? (Jeff Zrebiec) "That's another good question. What we'd done last year, I thought our guys showed up. We played hard every week, and I thought we had gotten better. We were sound earlier in the year. In the middle of the year, we had some hiccups. But I think if we're talking about one thing that we think we all need to improve on, as coaches, just talking about it, is in our return game. We did a lot of studying this offseason, and that's one area that we feel like we can be better in. Whether it's how we're coaching it [or] how our players are responding to that coaching. That's something we've felt like we could be much better [at]. I thought our coverage units were really sound outside of one game we had."
P Dom Maggio is a guy – kind of along the lines with WR James Proche – you're not watching him punt. He's not likely to be really contesting P Sam Koch for the job, but you want to see what he can do. Can you watch him virtually and have an idea of what his leg is? Or is it strictly just the college tape you're looking at with him as well? Not being out there for the OTAs and everything as far as his development, how hard is it for him to develop given these circumstances? (Pete Gilbert) "It's like every other position there. A lot of these young guys are missing those opportunities to kind of develop, but we talk to those guys. There are things, as pros, we can do on our own to kind of make sure we're maintaining a high level of excellence. This is professional football. I think with a guy like Dom, when [special teams coach] Randy [Brown] watched him, Randy said, 'This guy, he can hit the ball.' Randy has been doing this for a long time. He has a good understanding of what he's looking for in guys that he wants to bring in and we want to bring into our team to help us compete. I think, just talking to Dom, he's doing the right things. He's out there. He's practicing. When we're able to get hands on him, I think we are just going to make him that much better, because that's what we've done in the past to really all of our specialists that have come through here."