What comfort level do you have with HB Giovani Bernard when he’s in the backfield?
“Gio is such a smart player. He understands every aspect of the position. He knows what we are doing in the run game, pass game, protections and all of it. I definitely have a comfort level with him back there. He’s been so good at it his whole career. We’re fortunate to have a guy like him, with Joe (Mixon) being down (injured), who is reliable and does everything exactly how you want done.”
How does having smart players on the offensive line help this offense?
“It’s huge. With everything that we do, you have to know what you’re doing. Everybody has to be on the same page, and I feel like we have done that so far.”
Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor noted that Giovani Bernard is a good runner between the tackles. Is that also something you have noticed with him?
“Yeah. I feel like he can do it all. Obviously, everyone knows Joe (Mixon). Joe is a bigger guy with the speed, size and ability to catch. Gio gets a little bit overshadowed by him. I feel like he’s an all-around back. For him, he can run inside, outside, catch the ball and do everything you want your back to do.”
You have looked comfortable in the pocket through the first two games. How much has your comfort in the pocket led to success?
“I think it’s huge. Anytime you have time back there you can step into your throws, and I feel like you can put the ball where you want it. Anybody that’s played the quarterback position knows if you can step into your throws and if you have time (to throw), you should be able to put it where you want it.”
Did you change anything in your offseason preparation for this season, or is your success a direct result of better protection?
“For me, it was learning the new offense. That was my big area this year. I was getting used to how we were going to be doing things. I think our guys up front have played really well, and we’ve set the standard and expectation there.”
You are crediting your offensive linemen for your success, and the offensive linemen are crediting you for getting the ball out quick. Which is it, or is it a combination of both?
“Yeah. That’s how you want it. Our guys have done a great job. For me I understand when we’re protected, when we’re not protected and when we’re ‘hot’ and different things. I can get the ball out of my hands, but we’ve just got to keep it going.”
What makes Carolina LB Luke Kuechly so good?
“He’s so instinctive. You can tell how much he studies and how his first step is so quick. He can get to the ball really quickly. That’s what makes him such a good player. He’s smart and understands what the offense is trying to do. His instincts take over and he makes plays.”
What other player or position group has jumped out at you from watching Carolina’s tape?
“I think with their front, you really see it. They’re big, they’re fast, and they’re physical. It really shows. Guys get to the right spot a lot, and they just make plays.”
Does the offense change at all without HB Joe Mixon?
“We still have guys that can do everything of what we were doing. Obviously we hate to lose Joe for the time, but for us, we’re going to keep doing what we were doing.”
How impressive was the job Trey Hopkins did, coming in to play center in place for the injured C Billy Price last week?
“It was huge. I think it’s an underrated thing to have a backup center come in and play. Especially a guy like Trey, who has played all over the line and it was his first real game action playing center. For him to step in, I felt like we didn’t miss a beat. He was quick with his calls and did everything we expected. I thought he did a great job.”
Have you noticed a change in mentality in the locker room of, ‘We’re just going to do it and stop saying we’re going to do it?’
“Yeah. I think that’s how things are around here. Things needed to be different than what we had been doing. I feel that around here. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you say or any of that stuff. It just matters what you put out there on Sundays, and so far it’s working for us.”
The Ravens defensive linemen seemed like they were getting tired and subbing a lot with your tempo. Have you noticed the impact the offense’s tempo is having on the game?
“It shows that what we’re doing is working. That’s what’s so good about this offense. We can do so many different things, so many different tempos and so many different ways. Any time you can wear down the defense and guys have to get out of there, it gives us the advantage.”
Besides WR John Ross’ touchdown in Week 1, he has not been involved much. How do you approach getting him involved, and is that something you talk to him about?
“You never know in these games who’s going to be the guy to get it more. With A.J. (Green) doing what he did last game, every ball he caught ended up in the end zone. He’s going to get doubled at times and be taken away, and then it’s going to be the other guys. With A.J. and what he did scoring, and Tyler (Boyd), we had a good plan inside there. You never know who’s going to be the one to get it. I think John’s fine and his time will come.”
Are defenses treating you differently with just the threat of John Ross on the other side, or is their approach looking the same?
“Everybody is different. I wouldn’t say things have been drastically different or anything like that. I think it’s been the same.”
All three of your tight ends have made plays for you. How comforting is it to have that group?
“We have one best tight end groups out there. All three of them are really talented and can do so much. We’ve been able to get all of them the ball, and they’ve made big plays. They’re a big part of this offense.”
You said on SportsCenter after the game on Thursday that Billy Price would look good in purple, referring to a friendly bet you guys may have had on the Ohio State-TCU last weekend. Since Ohio State won, have you had to wear any Ohio State gear?
“I haven’t. I think I will be at some point.”
Was that part of the bet, to wear something scarlet and grey for Ohio State?
“I think I will have some Ohio State something on at some point (laughs).”
During warmups on Sunday, probably?
“No. It won’t be (laughs).”
It will probably be posted on the internet somewhere…
“Yeah, it will probably get posted on the internet somewhere (laughs). The bet was just for halftime. We were up at halftime. So, he (Price) will be wearing purple (laughs).”
The offense has scored 34 points in each of the first two weeks. How much better can the offense get moving forward?
“Even with 34 points, we haven’t played a perfect game. We left some stuff out there. We can definitely improve and get better. If we’re saying that and scoring 34 points, that’s a good thing. We just have to keep playing the way we have been and fix the little things. I think we can improve and do better than we have.”