TE Todd Heap On the emotion of Brian Billick being let go: "It is hard seeing our head coach go. He is somebody who gave me a lot of opportunities. I'd like to express my appreciation to him for the good things he's done for me and for this organization. It's tough to see him go."
On what this feels like for the team: "It's an emotional day. We just got done meeting with all of our position coaches. They are like our family. It's a tough business to be in, and they all know this is part of the business when they get into it. But at the same time, it doesn't make it any easier when these days come. To look my tight ends coach, Wade Harmon, in the eye and see him go through that, it's tough."
On if he had any idea coach Billick would not be back: "Our only indication was what he had been saying all year, and that was that he was going to be back and that our corps guys are going to be back. But obviously, that changed today. That's why it's such a shock."
On moving forward: "It's hard to put those thoughts into words right now. You don't think in terms of that right now. More so right now, you just kind of wait and see what's going to happen. Steve Bisciotti and Ozzie Newsome, they have got to go through their process right now. Then, we'll more forward."
On how he learned about the decision: "Steve came in and told us. He was very contrite about it. You could see his passion and emotion, as well. It definitely was a tough day on him, a tough day on Ozzie and tough on all of us."
On if he felt coach Billick had "lost the locker room": "You try to be a professional. You try not to let those thoughts creep in. I can say for myself that I was not feeling that. I don't want to speak for anybody else on this team."
On if he would like to see Rex Ryan become the Ravens' new head coach: "I think we are premature in saying anything like that right now. I think that is a question for Ozzie and Steve."
QB Troy Smith
On how tough it is to lose both Rick Neuheisel and Brian Billick: "Very tough. This is the first time I've ever been a part of decisions like this, but decisions have to be made, whether it is for the betterment of somebody else or the betterment of yourself. I've tried to look at things in a positive way all the time, and I've learned an extremely significant amount of things from Brian Billick. He's a great man."
On if he is shocked at all: "Yeah, but like I said, I think in this business – and when you get older – in life you have to be a man. And it's about professionalism. It's about things and situations that happen like this, and you have to roll with the punches."
On if he got a sense that coach Billick was "losing the locker room": "No, because this is my first year. I'm really feeling things out, trying to understand and learn things the best way I can. There are a lot of things swirling in my world – as a quarterback and as a player – and things happen."
On if this is a fresh start, and if he thinks about the positives: "I think about the positives all the time. I thought about them with coach Billick and Rick Neuheisel and those guys, and I'll continue to think about all of the positive things."
CB Samari Rolle
On how shocking this is: "This is the first time I have been on a staff where everybody was let go. It's a very humbling day for everybody."
On if he knew this was going to happen: "You hear stuff, but for it to actually happen… You just feel for everybody. For all the defensive coaches, the guys who we are very close to, it's a very sad day."
On if he got word early on that coach Billick would be let go: "No. None whatsoever. I think you just sit back, play and do what you're told. I definitely know we underachieved this season. Everybody knows that. But you never thought it would happen."
On if he would like to see Rex Ryan become the Ravens' new head coach: "I'd love it. Not to disrespect coach Billick or anything, but I'm sure everybody around here would love that."
On if he got a sense that coach Billick was "losing the locker room": "I am going to be respectful of coach Billick. That's not my job to speak out of line. It's his day, so I am just going to be respectful of him."
On winning yesterday and coach but being fired today: "I think everybody was happy to get a win yesterday and end the season on a good note. This is the reality of the business. At one point or another, everybody will be fired one day."
WR Derrick Mason
On the firing of Brian Billick: "For all that we went through as a team, I think coach Billick stood in there. And for all the verbal lashings from all the fans and the media, he stood in there and took it. That says a lot for a man, for his character, no matter what's going on, [that] he's going to take it.
Yes, it was shocking, but the organization had to make a decision, and they felt this was the best decision for this team to move forward. So, I had fun, and I appreciate coach Billick. He was one of the guys that brought me here as a free agent, as well as Ozzie [Newsome]. So, I appreciate him. He was willing to bring a guy in to be a part of a very good team. But I know he will get a job somewhere else. He'll be fine."
On the reports that Billick had "lost the locker room": "I couldn't say whether or not. But when you go through a [tough] season that you went through as a team, as a player, you start to question things, and some people might have been questioning his ability. But like I said, coach Billick hung in there with us, and he always made sure that we were taken care of as players. That's something that you don't see from coaches, so I enjoyed him, I really did. I know we had our moments."
On if he agreed with the decision: "It's not for me to agree or disagree. Mr. [Steve] Bisciotti and Ozzie and Dick Cass make the decision. And as a player, you move with the ship when the ship is going. You move with it, whether you disagree or agree.
As a player, you just wait on the next coach to come in or the next decision to be made, and you go from there. You just try to prepare yourself in the offseason to have another good season. Whether you agree with it or not, it's done, and as a team and as an organization, you move on. I know this is hard for coach Billick, but he's been in this a long time, so he understands. And, he's able to move on. You never know, you might see him again next year somewhere."
On his reaction when he found out: "I just found out, actually, as soon as I came into the building. It's one of those things when it hits you, out of the blue, you don't know how to react.
You just listen to what management has to say when they address the team, and you move forward. I think if you give yourself a couple of days, then you'll start thinking about it. Right now, my first thought is, get my stuff out of my locker, take my little man [his son] here home and enjoy the day."
On if there is apprehension for players about who the new coach will be: "There will be changes. It's not going to be the same way next year as it was this year. But as a player, the only thing you can do is go out and prepare yourself to go out and have a very productive and injury-free season.
You can't necessarily get yourself all caught up on worrying about who they're going to bring in, because ultimately, whoever they bring in is going to be best for the team. Whether his philosophy is the opposite of what coach Billick's was or if his philosophy is close to it, as a player, you've just got to prepare yourself for any coach that they bring in and be ready to adopt that coach's philosophy."
C Mike Flynn
On the announcement: "Obviously for me, personally, having him go is a tough situation. I wish him well and I'm sure he'd do the same for me. But, I can't speak for other players."
On if he got a sense that maybe it was just time for coach Billick to go: "It's a different game – the pro game. But he's been here nine years. Maybe it was time. And we didn't have a good year, but whenever you have these kinds of years and you come in with expectations, you need to perform well.
And usually it starts with the coach. The coach will take a lot of the blame and sometimes he'll take credit when he doesn't deserve as much. But, like I said, he's been good to me and I've enjoyed my time with him as coach. I wish him the best. Steve [Bisciotti] made the decision he thought was best for the organization."
On what he is going to do about a possible retirement: "What am I going to do? I'm going to go home and play with my kid. That [retirement decision] is the farthest thing from my mind, obviously. It was a great win yesterday. My focus now really is just healing over the next month. This will be topsy-turvy for about two months.
This coaching change – obviously they'll bring in new coaches, the personnel evaluations – so what anybody's going to do or who's going to be here or who's not going to be here is so far away. I mean, it's close but it's going to be so far. There's so much more they have to do. But, I'm just going to do what I always do. Go home, relax for a month, enjoy the time off and either prepare for the next season or move on and do whatever it is I'm going to do. I'm looking forward to it.
Change, it's always going to be different. A lot of these guys have never been through a coaching change. A lot of these guys don't know any other way. Fortunately, I've had a different coach. I've been through a change. It's going to be different for guys and some guys will adapt well to it, and some guys it may be a big change for them and they may not adapt well. They better be prepared when the new guy comes in here."
On if he talked to Brian Billick: "No, I didn't talk to him, but I would. Brian and I have gotten along fine over the last nine years. I've had a good time since he's been here. He put me in a position to succeed.
I would have no animosity to him, at least personally. I'm going to miss him. He did a good job. But, you know, Steve thought it was the best decision for the organization. This is not something he just woke up this morning, had a cup of coffee and decided to do. I'm sure he's been agonizing over this. You could just tell from his demeanor."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On if he was shocked to hear the news: "I don't really know. You always kind of knew that it could've been a possibility, but you never know. I mean, I didn't know, but I don't like to deal with that part of this business. I just pretty much take it in stride."
On if he thought Brian Billick had "lost the locker room": "I don't know. I can really only speak for my coach's [defensive coordinator Rex Ryan's] standpoint and the defensive side of the ball. We never [got] lost in touch. You could tell, pretty much every time that we lined up, we were passionate about what we were doing."
On if he would like Rex Ryan to get a shot at the vacant position: "Definitely. I think, pretty much, that all of you have been here since I've been here. And before Rex Ryan took over full-time working with me, I was a certified bust.
I think, if it wasn't for Rex Ryan and Clarence Brooks, Mike Pettine and Dennis Thurman, I could safely say this, and I truly believe this with all my heart, that I would definitely be out of the NFL right now or on another team. So, everything that I've achieved and that I've accomplished has solely been because of Rex Ryan and his defensive staff.
I think it's fair. That's the one thing about numbers: They don't lie, and we've been in the top five in defense every year since he took over. I think this year, we were six or something, but numbers don't lie. Rex is an amazing coach, and the coaches on that side of the ball are amazing coaches. I think he's just as big of a candidate as anybody out there."
On if the coaching change affects his free-agency status: "I think it's still too early. I've always said and believe in my heart that I'm a Raven. I love the City of Baltimore. On the front office side, we're decided by the decisions and moves they make, on whether they see me as a Raven."
K Matt Stover
On being jolted by the firing of Brian Billick: "Yes, you know, it's the business. Players come, players go. It's hard. It's a tough situation for all people. Change is always hard. It's always the uncertainty of it: ‘Who's the new guy coming in, but I do want to say this?'
This team has been incredibly successful with Brian. He's done nothing but great things for me and my career. If you look over my numbers since he took over, they've gone nothing but up, and I attribute that to him and Ozzie [Newsome] and to Steve Bisciotti. I trust Steve Bisciotti. I trust Ozzie and his staff to bring in a replacement that will do a great job.
If you remember back when we replaced Ted Marchibroda, within the second year of that, we won a Super Bowl. Sometimes it's necessary in this league to do this. I'm neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the decision. I am saying that change sometimes is necessary, and our leaders on this ball club felt like this was the way to go. I'm going to trust that, and I'm going to move forward with it."
On having built a relationship with coach Billick over the years: "I've learned how to get along with anybody and everybody. That's the art of being a kicker. You have to really understand your environment. You have to get to know the other coach quickly so that he understands that you have limitations.
All of us do. And Brian was able to accept those very well, after a little bit of a learning curve. But as it comes down to it, we had an unsuccessful year this year. [A record of] 5-11 just doesn't get it done, and a lot of questions were brought up, and our leaders decided to make a change. Are there reasons? Of course there are reasons when you're 5-11. In this league, it's part of it.
Kickers come, kickers go as well. I still have the desire to play, the desire to continue to compete, and the desire to lead too. Being [a leader] on this team, I'm excited for our future. I wish the best to Brian and his family. I love that guy. We won a Super Bowl together, and I'd go to war with him anytime."
On if the leaders of the organization spoke to the players before making the move: "No, I never got any conversation from any of the administration. I'm sure that they, through time, got a feel for it, because they were involved in everything. They were in the meetings; they got a feel. The record speaks for itself. You can't go 5-11 in this league. And when that happens, a change could happen."
On if coach Billick "lost the locker room": "Oh, I don't know. He didn't lose me, and that's all I can speak for. I had his back, and I would've still had his back if he was the coach here. I appreciate Brian. Anybody who can treat a man like a man in this league, I respect always."
Tight end Quinn Sypniewski: "I just found out about it. I think a couple other guys found out earlier and sent a text [message] around. But obviously, [team owner] Steve [Bisciotti] and [general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] and [team president] Dick Cass had a plan, and they're going forward with that.
So you have to respect that and you have to respect Coach Billick, and I'm sure he'll get an opportunity somewhere else. He's a heck of a coach. I'd love to go play for him wherever he's at. … He's a great coach and I'm sure Steve and Ozzie and Dick will put together a great search and bring in another great candidate and we'll go into next year with a new guy and be ready to go."
Kicker Matt Stover: "It's the business though. Players come and players go. I've seen four generations of players just with this team come and go. It's hard. It's a tough situation for all people. Change is always hard. It's always the uncertainty of it. Who's the new guy coming in? But I do want to say this: this team has been incredibly successful with Brian. He's done nothing but great things for me in my career.
If you look at my numbers since he took over, they've gone nothing but up, and I attribute that to him and Ozzie and to Steve Bisciotti. I trust Steve Bisciotti, I trust Ozzie and his staff to bring a replacement that will do a great job. If you remember back when we replaced Ted Marchibroda, within the second year of that we won the Super Bowl. Sometimes it's necessary in this league to do this."
Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden: "I think we were behind him. I think just that fact that the way this team held together when we were fighting through a lot of injuries and we weren't playing great football, I think we held together, and I think that was one of his strongest assets as a coach. He was able to keep the team cohesive and as a unit and keep us working towards the same common goal. He didn't always succeed, but we never frayed in the locker room. I think that was one of his best strengths as a head coach."
Defensive tackle Kelly Gregg: "There never was [friction between the offense and defense]. We know those guys are trying as hard as they can. It's hard to farm another guy's lane. You've got to take care of your own, and that's the way we've always done it here."
Wide receiver Mark Clayton: "I don't think we're going into a state of flux. We have a group of men on this team who are great guys and great players and know the talent that this team possesses. We're just sitting back and waiting for the new lead."
Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata: "I'd rather have [Rex Ryan] be our DC [defensive coordinator] than a head coach. But yeah, I think it'd be great. I think a lot of teams will try to get him because he's such a good coach and a great guy."
Tight end Todd Heap: "Steve came in and told us. He was very contrite about it. You could see his passion and his emotion as well. So definitely, it was a tough day on him. You could tell. Tough day on Ozzie, tough day for all of us."
State of shock following Billick's firing
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