Here is the transcript from Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis’ press conference the day after the team beat the Indianapolis Colts 24-23 at Paul brown Stadium.
Opening comments …
“As I said after the game yesterday, obviously it was a good football game to win. We probably didn’t execute our best throughout the day in all three phases at times. And at (other) times, we played very well and did good things. We’re right in the thick of the season and we have to work hard at getting better. (We need to) make sure we stay on the same page with whatever it is. Whatever play — on offense, defense or special teams — (we need to) all fit together the correct way, all the time.”
I don’t know how much tape on Jacksonville you’ve watched so far, but what do you think of their pass rush?
“I’ll be brief, because what are we going to talk about on Wednesday if we talk about that now? (laughs) We’ve seen them a lot (on video) since our division plays their division this year. I’ve been very impressed with the guys they have and what they’ve been getting done.”
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Guys mentioned after the game that the Colts gave them some looks that they had not seen on tape. Were there communication issues on the field?
“That was probably (the players saying) ‘it’s never my fault’ after the game (laughs). We just have to do a great job of identification and communication all the time and be thorough throughout.”
How does this offensive line improve on blocking stunts from opposing defensive lineman?
“A lot of times we were spot on. We just have to be consistent all the time, and make sure everything matches; you’re right. There are downsides to things, but we just have to keep being spot-on. We have to do a little better job on third down. We took away two of our own possessions with fumbles, and it kind of ends up being a different kind of game (after those). We’ve had four turnovers the last two weeks, and they make a difference in your possessions and what you can get done on offense. Being able to possess the football gives you the opportunity to move the football and score points. (We have to be) able to convert the third downs. Part of what you’re saying, though, is we have to make sure we can make those third downs when we get there. They’re manageable because we haven’t gotten out of sequence because of a miscommunication or not identifying things the same way. It has to be (improved) across the board.”
Say Cody Core comes back this week. Where does that leave John Ross? And how do you find plays and roles for all of the receivers?
“We have 53 players, and 46 of them get to suit up. So, I’ll determine (who dresses) on Saturday. It’s good for John to get opportunities to play as he can since he’s playing catch up. We’d like to continue with that as much as we can. Every snap he gets now is a snap we would’ve liked to have had in the offseason, and frankly in (the preseason) when we were playing real football. These are real football snaps now, and it’s good.”
Is Josh Malone carving out an opportunity for himself with his play?
“Josh has (been with us and) played all the way through, and he obviously he made a big play with the touchdown catch yesterday. He has to continue to keep going any time he gets an opportunity, just like the young guys did a year ago.”
Does the fact that Malone and Core play special teams make them more likely to be active on Sundays?
“They’ve had more opportunity to participate — no questions — in certain aspects of special teams. But John can be compared the same way with those guys, with the possibility of him being a returner. That’s the thing we always tell the young players — ‘On Sundays, when it goes down to 46, you’ve got to be able to fill a role. So, every chance you get to prove you can get that done obviously is a feather in your cap toward suiting up on Sunday.’”
Is it harder to get a rhythm going on offense when turnovers and other aspects limit the number of snaps an offense takes?
“Yes. Obviously, with the touchdown return by Carlos (Dunlap) yesterday, we took (some snaps away from our opponent). I like those kind better (laughs).”
It didn’t seem like the offense met the standard with four minutes left in the game …
“No. We had a first down there to (start the drive), and then we had a third-down opportunity and we didn’t get it done. It’s another play to learn from. That’s what this is about — week in and week out — how (much better can you get from) week to week?”
How do you feel Vontaze Burfict did sliding inside and playing in the middle?
“He had some things that he can continue to do better, but it was the right move for us to make. It keeps his responsibilities basically the same throughout (the game).”
With Michael Johnson leaving the game with an injury, it looked like Jordan Willis and Chris Smith did a decent job filling in …
“I think there are always things we need to clean up and play a little better, but Jordan Willis has answered the bell every chance he’s gotten this year and done a great job. Chris had some big plays for us in the fourth quarter and probably what should have been a sack in the second quarter as well.”
Carl Lawson was flagged for putting his full body weight into a hit on the quarterback. How do you tackle someone without putting your full body weight into them?
“Stay tuned (laughs).”
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It doesn’t help you when you get word back from the league office, does it?
“It doesn’t, but we just have to keep learning from it. I thought the big point for me that I made to Jerome (referee Jerome Boger) as we ‘strolled’ into halftime (laughs), was that the quarterback was jumping into the air as he was throwing the ball. He was literally leaving his feet, so there was no other way to bring him to the ground. He was tackling him as he was throwing it and as he was arching up into the air. Anyway, he didn’t drive him into the ground, he didn’t hit him with his helmet — the head was to the outside. Sometimes there can be errors made. Hopefully we’ll continue to coach our guys the correct way and try to minimize and avoid those types of penalties. That was a three-point swing (in the score) right there, and it was a huge play in the game.”
Does it make any difference if the quarterback is out of the pocket?
“No it doesn’t.”
So you can’t drive the quarterback no matter where he is?
So in your conversation with Jerome Boger, was that what he was saying? That you can’t drive him into the ground?
“They (the officials) really don’t (say much). They’re good people.”
So it was mostly you doing the ‘talking?’
“Yes, I did most of the talking (laughs).”
“He said, ‘coach, I just thought …’ And I said, ‘You ‘thinking’ hurts me, you know?’ (laughs) We’ve just have to keep grinding on things, in every way. We have a lot of corrections to make, as I said last evening. We just have to keep going.”
What was your impression of the running game?
“It’s the same thing. It’s the same thing with our defense. We have to make sure we stay on the same page all the time throughout the games. We had some runs where we did a great job. Fine. But, we have to be consistent. It has to be the guys up front, the tight ends, the receivers, the backs — everything has to all fit into place. We weren’t consistent enough long enough to get things done. Whether it was our pad level, whether one guy falls off the back side, whether we weren’t true to the track — we just have to stay consistent and keep working at it. Bill (offensive coordinator Bill Lazor) is putting things together a little differently, and there’s an adjustment to make with the adjustments we’re making. We’re having to do them on the fly, with real bullets all the time. It’s live football out there, and we’re having to (make adjustments) as we go through the games. We basically had 1000 snaps this offseason and 1000 snaps in training camp, and we’re (making adjustments) in the season where every game matters and every play matters.”
How do you think Andy Dalton played?
“I thought Andy did a really good job of not putting the ball in harm’s way. They had a couple of guys fall off on plays, where they drop back into coverage from down spots, and he did a really good job of recognizing it and reading it. Those were bigger plays than anyone else seems (to give credit for). The one thing that he has done regularly over his career that he probably didn’t do as well yesterday (is throwing on the move). He had those two scramble throws where he didn’t quite get the ball to his guy. He had the one big run the one time, but those are things he usually does pretty well. He hung in there throughout the game and took care of the football. Even at the end of the game when he took the sack, even though we punted from further back, it was probably better than an incompletion when you get right down to it, because it put the pressure back on their offense (by giving the punter the space to pin them down deep in their territory). He did a better job of recognizing what the defense was in the coverage. As long as he keeps doing his job and staying on point, we will keep getting better (so that he) can play at a high level and do a good job. We just have to keep making sure that everyone around him is playing up to his standard all the time.”
Joe Mixon has fumbled two games in a row. Does that affect the level of trust you have with him?
“Joe has to protect the football, just like any of our guys. He has to understand that when you get in traffic, you have to protect the football. (He needs to) understand that everyone in this building is with him when he’s carrying the ball.”
He caught that pass one-handed. Should he have secured it with two hands?
“He was able to reach out with one hand (and make the catch) — Andy made a good throw over the linebacker, and we could do all that better as well, to get him a cleaner look at things. From that point, as you get into traffic, you have to understand you have to protect the football all the time. Brandon LaFell had (a fumble) on our sideline. Those are things you can’t do. Same thing with Alex Erickson. We had the ball on the ground four times yesterday. It’s hard to overcome those.”
Any idea how serious Michael Johnson and Trey Hopkins injuries are?
The trade deadline is around the corner and a lot of people always talk about how teams should go trade for guys. First off, how hard is it to just insert a player onto a roster midway through the season, especially with position groups like the offensive line where there is so much chemistry involved? How realistic or unrealistic is it for that to happen?
“You would have to tell me who’s available to trade for that’s going to upgrade our football team at that spot. I don’t know of any team that has a player standing on the sideline like that — someone who would come in and upgrade you right away — a team who is willing to sacrifice their own QB. Generally, guys who are traded are players who are disgruntled or are underachieving in some way — players for whom a new address may be good. Also, in those cases, teams are clearing off cap room to make available for a young player the next year, or whatever it may be. There is a lot involved in doing trades. But yet, there are some trades that may surprise you. But those aren’t my worries. My worries are the guys we’ve got in this building.”
How did you feel your defensive backfield played?
“I think those guys have answered the bell the last couple of weeks. That’s part of why they’re here. William (Jackson) got out-positioned once and made a great play to come back and knock the ball down. That was a great football play. He didn’t panic and showed his ability. That’s what NFL corners have to be able to do. They have to be able to track and play the football in the air and don’t panic. He did a nice job. George (Iloka) was in as good of position that he could be in on the top side of that, and got over there and had a presence in that play, and we had Dre (Kirkpatrick) running in from the back side. There were a lot of good things on that play that go unnoticed. We just have to keep doing a good job of playing together and understanding that. Good coverage enables the rush to get (to the quarterback) and vice-versa.”