SANTA CLARA – Donte Whitner spoke in the locker room Thursday afternoon. This is what he said.
Q: You said Joe Flacco has made improvement. Can you put a time stamp on that? Did you see a change when Jim Caldwell was made the offensive coordinator, or just during these past playoff games?
WHITNER: I don’t know if you can say that, but I know since they changed offensive coordinators he’s been throwing the ball deep. They’ve been connecting on a lot of their plays. I would say that’s a testament to them changing offensive coordinators and Joe Flacco being aware and into the game plan and out there making plays.
Q: Some people question Flacco’s “eliteness.” Is that ridiculous?
WHITNER: Yeah, that’s ridiculous. When you look at the playoff wins in the first five years, he’s a top quarterback in the NFL. He needs this game, he needs this ring to get his stamp of approval and we need it to get our stamp of approval, so we don’t want him to get it.
Q: What do you think of the fact that your quarterback is making his 10th career start in the Super Bowl?
WHITNER: I think it’s pretty cool. I think that he’ll be ready. He’s pretty headstrong. The moment won’t be too big for him. We expect him to go out there and really shine and do what he’s capable of doing, and that’s leading our offense, running the football, throwing the football, just being an all around good football player.
Q: What were your observations of LaMichael James earlier in the season when he was on the scout offense in practice?
WHITNER: Extremely quick. Extremely talented. Once he starts to get more and more comfortable out there, you’re really going to see a dynamic football player. It’s a testament to him to be able to sit on the sideline and be on the developmental squad for so long actually knowing you can play football, actually coming from a big university, playing in a lot of big games and being a big time player. To have to sit out and be humbled like that, it’s a testament to the character he has. He’s done some good things for us since we’ve lost Kendall. We expect him to continue to do those things. As far as the look that he gave us (in practice), there’s nobody us in the NFL who can give us that look except for starting running backs.
Q: What your impressions of Ray Rice?
WHITNER: Extremely physical. Small guy. Extremely quick. In the passing game he will get out and catch the football, make big plays. He is really the heart and soul of their offense. If he gets going, then you’re going to have trouble on defense. We have to know where he is, we have to take their running game away and make the one-dimensional. That’s each and every week, but that’s difficult with a guy like Ray Rice.
Q: You’ve had some up-and-down games recently – against the Patriots and against the Falcons. Have you looked at the film and isolated the reasons?
WHITNER: Miscommunication. Miscommunication is why we had difficulties in the first half last week. Everybody being hyped up, pumped up for the game, really not paying attention to the small details. We went in in the second half and were able to make that change. We don’t think that’s going to happen this time. We’re ready to play football. We understand we have to do whatever we have to do to get one win and get a ring.
Q: Why are you so sure you won’t have those mistakes in the Super Bowl?
WHITNER: They were minor mistakes. If I were to take you in to watch film right now, you’d see minor things – one missed call and we give up big plays. But that’s any team around the NFL any week. If you go out there and don’t take care of your responsibilities, you can give up big plays and be embarrassed on defense.
Q: Can you talk about the halftime adjustments you’ve made throughout the season?
WHITNER: We made a lot of adjustments throughout the season. Coach Fangio is one of the best at making adjustments. He’s one of the best at keeping it brutally honest with his players. We come in and our rush is not good, he’ll tell us our rush isn’t good. If we’re not fitting our blocks like we’re supposed to, he’ll tell us. In the secondary if we suck, he’ll tell us. That’s what they told us last week. It was up to the secondary and it was up to the rush to get the win. That’s the only adjustment we made. It wasn’t x’s and o’s. It was cleaning up communication, understand what you’re doing and go out there and get it done.