They've gotten better. It's definitely a much improved group than we saw in Week 2. The secondary has gotten a lot better. You get the feel that they're starting to figure out that 3-4 scheme, where everybody belongs, what everybody's responsibilities are. It may not look that way looking at the numbers, but the group has improved since Week 2.
Q: They play well as a unit:CP:
They just have some good players. There are a lot of young players there, and then there is Robaire Smith and Willie McGinest, guys that have been there and done that and been successful. But you can't really pick a superstar on defense. Like you said, there are just a bunch of good, solid players that are really starting figure out where they belong on the field. You saw it a couple of years ago when Coach Crennel came in and installed the 3-4, and there were some guys out of place, and they weren't sure, but they are really starting to figure it out, and they're playing as a unit.
Q: If you could take back one INT, would you take back the one on third-and-16 you threw in Cleveland?CP:
You can never pick just one, but that's definitely one I'd like to have back.
Q: Did the Cleveland loss take momentum away and set the tone for this season?CP:
Definitely. I think it kind of set the tone for both teams this season. They had just lost at home to Pittsburgh, badly, and they really kind of went on a run after us and got some confidence. Maybe we lost a little and we went downhill.
Q: Going to Seattle at 2-0 would have been a lot different:CP:
I think this whole team thought we'd be 2-0 walking into Seattle. We were all shocked and we needed it. It knocked us down a little bit and made us realize we're not that good.
Q: The offense hasn't really looked anything like it did since the Cleveland game. Do you see any reasons why?CP:
No. I don't have an answer for that.
Q: Cleveland is another team that plays a 3-4 defense. Do you see it as an advantage having played so many teams with the same defense?CP:
I think you can use it as an advantage. Being in this division, we see it. We've seen it from the NFC West, and there are a lot of games where Baltimore and Pittsburgh are just confusing everybody, with guys running free and sacks coming where guys come off the ball and nobody is touching them. We definitely have an advantage seeing these types of defenses, but you still have to figure it out. In a matter of 10 seconds, you have to figure out exactly who is blocking who, who's unblocked, who's hot when the unblocked guy comes. We do have a little bit of an advantage but it still doesn't make it easy. They have fronts where the whole defensive line is on the left side of the field and it's all DBs on the right. There are different defenses where safeties are coming and ends are dropping.
Q: What do you like about Derek Anderson?CP:
I think he's played well all year. He's gotten the ball to their playmakers in Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards, and done a good job of getting them into the right running plays because Jamal Lewis has obviously had a great year.
Q: Marshall Faulk and Deion Sanders (commentators for Saturday's game at San Francisco) called your offense 'predictable.' What are your thoughts on that?CP:
I don't think it is, but that's something I'd have to ask friends that play defense against us for other teams. Those guys probably haven't watched a Bengals game all year, so I don't know how predictable it can be, because we've only had a couple of nationally televised games. As far as knowing if we're predictable, the only way to figure that out is from opposing d-coordinators or opposing players. I know guys on other teams, and nobody has ever said anything that made me think we're predictable. Nobody wants to give that away, obviously, but I haven't felt or come across anybody who has said that, and I don't feel that we're predictable.
Q: Does it bother you when people say that?CP:
Not personally. There have been a lot of naysayers outside of this organization to our offensive coaching staff, our special teams and our defensive coordinator. You can't take it personally. It's a business and that's how it is. When you lose they'll be talking bad stuff and when you win they'll be talking good stuff. You can't take anything personally.
Q: Aside from the Tennessee game, the offense hasn't been great. People are asking what's wrong with Carson. How would you respond?CP:
I haven't played as well as I should have in games. It's obvious anytime you don't win a game and you play quarterback, there's obviously something you did. But I'm fine. Don't worry about me.
Q: There's a lot that goes into an offense struggling. Do you think that's all a part of it?CP:
There's a number of reasons why offenses struggle. The first reason that I always point to is the quarterback. It's the quarterback's job to make sure everybody's running the right route, to make sure everybody's blocking the right guy, and to get it to the right guy. So it always needs to fall on the quarterback, and it does here. I take all the blame for every struggle we've had because I play quarterback here, and I haven't played well enough to get us in winning situations and win games when it comes down to it.
Q: What's your motivation at this point?CP:
All I want to accomplish is a win. I'm not worried about anything else other than that. And as far as motivation, I'm mainly motivated off of the last 13 weeks. It has nothing to do with their playoff chances, of them knocking us out of the playoffs a couple of years ago, or that it's our in-state rivalry. I'm motivated, and I feel for my team that we're motivated just to play. Just to get the bad taste out of our mouth, get a win. Get back on track and score points and stop them in the run game and stop them on defense and all that. So the most motivation it seems with this team is just coming from just trying to get a win. Just find a way to get a win and put the past behind us.
Q: When the Browns didn't clinch last week, we're hearing that Bengals fans put tickets for sale. Looks like this stadium could be 50-50:CP:
That's just how this game is, it's how this league is, and it's how fans are. We're going to show up to play regardless. They're all going to be wearing orange, so that's good I guess. Whether they're loud or not on third down ... should be a good atmosphere. Their fans are going to be intense, they've got a lot on the line. We've got nothing on the line. They've got everything to lose. We've got nothing to lose. We're in a pretty good situation coming into this game.
Q: Eric Steinbach is a good player and has played well for them. When you lose a guy like that, is it a tough thing to take?CP:
Yeah. I mean, you never want to lose one of your best players to a division team. But we have no control over that, you know. And Cleveland knew what they were doing, they knew what they were getting from who they were taking it from. So you never want to lose a player that has that much of an impact on the game like Eric did. But sometimes you just can't keep them. Sometimes the numbers don't work out and that's the worst part about this league - losing guys like that. It's part of the game.
Q: Can you hear Shaun Smith from a defensive tackle position?CP:
Yeah. All game long. It looks like he'll be in there a lot more. I'm looking forward to talking to him.
Q: Does he try to throw people off and make them laugh?CP:
To be honest, I don't remember. I don't think he played a whole bunch the last time we played them. But when he was on the field he was running his mouth, so we can expect that. We're used to it in practice. He was always talking during practice, so our front guys are used to that.
Q: What do you think he'll be saying to you personally?CP:
Who knows. Anything can come out of his mouth. A lot of stuff I probably can't repeat in here, but who knows what he's going to be saying.
Q: Do you worry that him knowing what you guys do or worry about changing things?CP:
I'm sure they know a couple things, but we've changed up enough stuff and we've got enough wrinkles for them to keep them off balance.