Dalton, Lewis News Conference Transcripts 10/18

Posted Oct 18, 2017

Andy Dalton, Marvin Lewis news conference 10/18/2017

Opening comments ...

        “As we go into this game, obviously for us it’s a big football game being on the road and in the division. It’s one that can get us back to .500 on the season — so it’s really important. The key element is our preparation throughout the week and doing a nice job (in practice) and staying within ourselves and go play.”


Pittsburgh’s defense has been playing well this year even though, like the Bengals, they’ve gotten younger. How has their defense changed in your eyes?

        “They have three new guys in their back end, and they’re doing a great job. (Pittsburgh CB) Artie Burns, the safety from Maryland last year (Pittsburgh S Sean Davis), (Pittsburgh CB) Joe Haden — those three guys give them some versatility. (Pittsburgh CB) William Gay is playing a different spot. He’s giving them his knowledge. (Pittsburgh LB Vince) Williams is doing a great job at linebacker for them, and (Pittsburgh LB) T.J. Watt is doing a great job. So, their young guys have stepped up and played well for them.”


Even though you’ve faced the Steelers so many times over the years, is it different this time with all of their new pieces?

        “The scheme doesn’t change. The zone blitz started in 1993, and they continue to plug guys in while everybody else stays in their spots. So that helps you play well. As they plug in new pieces, they’re able to use their abilities as best they can within the game plan.”


Is it especially important against Pittsburgh for your team to stay in character?

        “It is. It’s really important. Just stay within ourselves and keep playing. For whatever reason, there’s an excitement that builds up (for this game). We just have to stay within (ourselves) and play. We know it’s an important game for both teams.”


How do your reinforce that throughout the week?

        “I always do it. I just tell them not to listen to (the media) as much as they can (laughs). It’s just a football game, and we have to go play.”


How successful has that message been over the years?

        “Staying within it throughout the game is what’s important. Throughout. (Keep) the focus, stay the course. They’ve been 60-minute games, and we have to stay in the ebb and flow. If we get up, you got to get up. If we’re down, we have to fight back in it and not worry about it until the end. The outcome is what matters.”


What do you tell the players who haven’t played in this game before?

        “I recognized those guys this morning. They all know the message.”


What is the message?

        “I’m not going to tell you (laughs). You aren’t in that group (laughs).”


There are a lot of outside elements that go on with this game every year ...

        “The outside elements don’t affect what we have to do on the field.”


Is there a sort of balance between saying “it’s just another game” and letting the players that have been in this game before use that energy to gain momentum going into the game?

        “That should be part of competitive, professional sports. That’s part of it. Guys try and drag themselves (to the game) with one leg, if they could, because of that. The people within the football team feel that. It’s important to them. Injured guys that are hurt on either team are going to work their way and try to get back. It’s a division game. This is a physical division and a physical football team. They’re well-stocked, well-coached, and they play well.”


Can you ever emphasize the “it’s just one more game” message too much?

        “I don’t know. Division games get weighted a little heavier, but at the end of the season, they’re all just one football game. If go 0-6 in your division and win your others, you have a chance. They don’t have as much bearing.”


Do you think having players on your roster that have won in Pittsburgh several times helps you out?

        “Every time out, you have to go play. It’s a new day, it’s a new game, it’s a new series, it’s a new play, and we have to make the most of each one of them.”


What’s your feeling with Tyler Eifert having to be put on the Reserved/Injured list?

        “You’re really disappointed for the player. We’ve tried to (hold) this off as long as we could, to try and allow him to come back, feel better and get right. We conferred with different people, and it just didn’t work out that way. Things went well. He got back here yesterday. He’s good — he feels good. He was told this was needed. Now it’s his opportunity to continue to get himself healthy. He still young in his career, and he can continue to blossom.”


So will he do his rehab here?



Do you think the increase in penalties from last year to this year has anything to do with the youth of this team?

        “We’ve had some things — particularly some fouls on special teams — that we want to avoid. We had a few fouls in the secondary on a couple young guys that we want to avoid. Those are things that matter. But, overall, we’re not far from where we were. Penalties are up (league-wide), and we’re still below the average. That’s something we have to keep working at.


How do you think the team chemistry has grown over the past two or three weeks?

        “That’s a hard thing for me to judge. All in all, when the guys spend the time they have — we had nine weeks in the offseason, we had six weeks of the preseason basically, and now we’re six weeks into the regular season — there’s been an opportunity to (build chemistry). The goals we had as a football team, they’re still out there. I think the guys realize that. We’ve had an opportunity to right our course a bit, and for everybody to understand what has to be done and the urgency it has to be done with. That draws the football team closer together. When you sit out, you don’t know how it’s going to end up. When as many of the young guys as we have end up being part of the 53 (-player roster), the six-and-seven-year pros that we have, it shows them how important their leadership is on this team with the direction of this football team. And they take responsibility for that now. That’s good. There’s so much they invest up to this point, you want to do everything you can to make sure the reward of it all is getting as much as you can — I’m looking for the word, but it just won’t hit me — that you reap the benefit of everything you’ve put into it.”


Is there any point of emphasis with the officiating this year that maybe they didn’t hit quite as hard in the past?

        “Every year, the point of emphasis seems to be secondary penalties. In the kicking game, hands on the jersey and the hand placement has been a point of emphasis. The understanding of that all the time, and guys realizing that (is important). They’re busting their tails trying to get to their fit or their position, but we also need to make sure we’re in the right position. ‘(Penalties) are not going to go unnoticed,’ is the message all the time.”




Was it a productive bye week for you?

        “Yeah, it was. Didn’t do much. I was around here. It was a good week.”


When you look at how you play and how the team has played, is that part of your process?

        “That’s part of what we did when we came in here. We looked at what we’ve done, the positives and the negatives and where we can do better, things we’re doing well. A lot of times during the bye week, it’s a self-scout week and see what you’re doing.”


Any lingering pain from your ankle injury?

        “No, I’m good.”


Were you sore for a few days?

        “A little bit, as anyone would be. I’m good.”


Do the veterans talk to the rookies about this Pittsburgh game being a rivalry game?

        “I feel like the city and everybody puts more into it (the rivalry) than what it is. It’s a game — a division game — it counts just the same. Obviously we have a lot of guys that haven’t played in these type of games. At the end of the day it’s just another football game.”


What did you think when you watched tape of them? Pretty much do the same?

        “They are sound at what they do. They’ve done a great job going against the pass, I think they are No. 1 in yards per gain. They are playing really sound defense and running the ball and making tackles when they need to.”


As much as their defense does the same thing, they have a lot new personnel. Does that make that more of a challenge?

        “There have been some guys that have been around, and some new guys playing. For us, we know the guys that have been there for a while. For what I feel like they do, they can just plug guys in, and obviously they are having the production statically, but I wouldn’t say it’s an advantage or a disadvantage. It’s hard to tell.”


It looks like Pittsburgh got faster on defense. You think so?

        “They play really fast. If you check the ball down, you see a bunch of guys running to the ball and going in to make the tackles. You definitely see their speed.”


When you play the Steelers, is it especially important to stay in character?

        “That’s how you go into every game. You want to play your game — do what you want to do. It’s obviously how the game is going. The flow of the game will determine how things get called. But at the end of the day, you want to be who you are.”


Even more so for this particular game?

        “You can’t worry what’s happened. You just have to go play.”


Is there a different tone about this game from the coaches?

        “No. At the end of the day, this one counts as every other one. We’ve played Baltimore, we’ve played Cleveland, and now we’re playing the Steelers. It’s the same thing. All of them count the same. It’s just how you have to look at it. Obviously we’ve had some good games against each other — some hard fought games. At the end of the day it still counts as one.”


In the division, the Steelers are 2-0 and you guys are 1-1. If you guys pull even with them in terms of divisional record, that would be big ...

        “Yeah it would be. Where we’re at now is we want to keep doing what we’re doing. We’ve won the last two, and we want to keep that going. This one would be a big win for us.”


With those games at Pittsburgh, it always seems like you are scraping for points. Do you have to take that into account?

        “That’s how I feel about how our games have always been against them, (whether) it’s at the end of the game where you need to make the play, you’ve got to hold on to the ball, or whatever it may be. But any time you can get points, it’s big.”


When you play against teams that are as good as Pittsburgh, do you always take into account that games are mostly decided on who make the least mistakes?

        “That’s part of playing the game. Different defenses do different things. You just want to keep getting positive plays regardless of what it could be. It could be a check-down or whatever — you want to keep gaining yards and eventually that will turn into points.”


How unique is Ryan Shazier?

        “He’s really talented. Talking about speed, he’s a guy who has lots of speed. Plays hard. He’s one of the best linebackers in the league.”


Is there something Bill Lazor has talked with you about in connecting with A.J. Green or is it something you two have figured out together?

        “I think it’s been a mixture of everything. For us we got back to playing how we know we can play. We’ve had a good connection. Any time I can get him the ball, I’m going to try and do it. I think it’s part of who we are — what we’ve done — and we’ve gotten better over the course of the last couple of weeks. We just want to keep doing it.”


In a game like this, how big is the trust factor?

        “It’s big. You have to make sure you’re doing it the right way at all times during the game. Especially in a game like this, you want to be at your best. You want to put your best foot forward. I think it’s the trust, but I think that comes with everybody. It’s just the way you play the game.”


With respect toward the word “trust,” with Tyler Eifert out, it seems like you’re building more trust in Tyler Kroft since he has become the starting TE ...

        “He’s a guy who works really hard. For him, before he was even playing as much as he has been with Tyler Eifert being out, I feel like he didn’t get enough credit for what he’s been able to do. I think you are starting to see what he can do. He’s a guy that’s reliable. You’ve been able to see that the last couple of weeks.”


Have you talked to Tyler Eifert since the surgery?

        “I have, yes.”


What did you say to him?

        “At the end of the day, I just said to him ‘You got to get healthy man. That’s the biggest thing you need to worry about — yourself — and everything else falls where it falls.’

        “It’s been tough for him. I feel for him. Like you said, he’s had injuries that have held him back from a lot of games, a lot of chances to play. It’s tough, but the biggest thing he can do is get his body feeling right.”


Have you had as much chemistry with Eifert in the red zone as any other player?

        “He’s such a great route runner, he’s got a great feel for getting open. He made it easier for me because, in him, you’ve got a target that’s tall and can jump. We’ve been able to put together a lot of good plays together, especially down there in the red zone.”

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