Andy Dalton News Conference
Paul Brown Stadium
December 18, 2014
What particular problems does the Broncos defense give you?
"I think they're really good upfront. Both pass rushers that they've got are really good. And they've got (Terrance) Knighton in the middle who's big, hard to move. They do a good job of getting to the quarterback. It's not that they blitz a ton, they just trust those guys to get there, and they do a good job of it."
What's it like going into weeks like this, knowing you'll be asked about primetime?
"We're treating it like just another game. We've got to come play our best. We've been able to do some really good things the last couple of weeks, so we've got to keep moving in that direction and play our best game."
Can you put your finger on why you've played the way you have in primetime?
"It's not just one thing. Different things have gone on. It doesn't matter what we've done in the past, it's what we're going to do on Monday night, and that's our focus. Regardless of when we're playing, we know it's a big game. Like I said, we want to be playing our best on Monday."
Will you catch yourself taking an extra glimpse of Peyton Manning from the sideline?
"Yeah, growing up I was watching Peyton play, so it's fun to be able to go up against these guys. You definitely want to watch what they're doing, see how they play, because he's a guy that has been one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. It's cool to get to play against a guy like that."
What has this team done this year that gives you confidence about Monday night?
"Regardless of what's gone on, regardless of what's been said, we've put ourselves in a really good position, and we know what we're playing for. We know where we are, and we have a lot of confidence that we can go and play our best game on Monday."
A lot of guys have talked about how you've had a businesslike approach the last few weeks. How can that carry you into this game?
"I think it's the importance of the way we practice, the importance of all the little things. The stuff that's going to help you out once you get to game time. Like you said, the more businesslike approach, we're getting back to the way we know we can do it, and I think that's carried over to the game."
Is that something you have all week long or just before the game?
"No, you've got to have it all week long. You've got to prepare the right way, you've got to practice well to play well. I think that's what we've done."
How much do you need a signature win to believe you can do something in the playoffs?
"We believe, so you want to win every game that you play, so I think that's more for everybody else to believe. We understand what we're playing for, we understand that we've got two big games, and it starts with this one on Monday, but we believe we can do it."
Does this doubt motivate you?
"Yeah, you can look at it however you want, everybody can say certain things, but all that matters is what this team believes, and we've got confidence in what we're going to be able to do."
Has the mentality of knowing you have to fend off Baltimore and Pittsburgh every week helped you guys?
"Yeah, you know every ballgame's important. You know everybody in the division's been winning, and they continued that last week. It's just the way it is. Like I said, we understand the position we're in, we understand what we're going up against, and that's why these games are important."
Given the way the night games have gone this year, what has to change this week?
"We can't make mistakes, we can't turn the ball over, we've got to be sound in our execution, and if we do that, we'll put ourselves in a lot better position than we did in the other ones."
Preparation-wise, what changes?
"Like I say, getting back to the way we know we can practice, being sharp with everything, not leaving any details out. That's what we expect."
Do you have a favorite Christmas memory or gift?
"Favorite Christmas memory? I remember growing up, I'd go over to my aunt and uncle's house on Christmas eve, we'd go and do our Christmas with them, and then we'd be driving back home. It was about an hour drive, and I'd be looking out the window to see if I could see a red light up in the sky, see if I could see Rudolph with the sleigh or whatever it was, and that's something that's stuck with me."
Did you see it?
"I would see red light, but it would be like those, electrical, you know, big poles or whatever they were. Obviously grew up and figured it out (Laughs)."
Who gives the best pregame speech on this team week in and week out?
"I think Whit (Andrew Whitworth) does a good job. When we get into the huddle, he's always got something to say. So I'd definitely say Whit."
Does that get you guys going a little bit?
"Yeah, I think when you've got a guy like him who's passionate and can say certain things to get guys fired up, that definitely helps."
Do you ever get the nerves going when it's your turn?
"Not really nerves. I feel like when you have that opportunity, just say what you need to say, and hopefully some guys feed off of it."
Do you ever wonder what a guy is going to say that doesn't necessarily always give one?
"It's one of those things where you kind of pass off the duties, so when you get certain guys that maybe aren't always the guy that's going to be doing it, you wonder what they're going to say. So we have fun with it."
Is there a memorable speech that stands out to you?
"I don't know. Kind of put me on the spot there. Not one that just sticks out to me right now."
Do you have total trust for Jeremy Hill? It's odd for a rookie to do this in a playoff run...
"Yeah, I think he's done a lot of really good things, and he's playing with a lot of confidence, the coaches have a lot of confidence in him, and a big part of what he'd done is what we've been able to do upfront as well. So it's fun to see the way he's evolved as the player he is, and hopefully he just keeps improving."
What kind of edge does he bring to the offense?
"It's big. You see why we drafted him and why he's here. Guys can feed off his energy and when he's having a lot of fun, usually other guys are having a lot of fun as well."
Marvin Lewis News Conference
Paul Brown Stadium
December 18, 2014
"The Broncos offensively are doing a pretty consistent job over the last few weeks, rushing the football, and obviously complemented by the pass game. They're very effective. They've got the tight end (Julius) Thomas back now. That made a big difference in their offensive schematics last week, because of his physical tools. (They have) the receivers (Demaryius) Thomas and (Emmanuel) Sanders and (Wes) Welker, and obviously the back (C.J.) Anderson. They've done a really good job in what they're doing. We've got to really play well defensively and be sound. We've got to do a great job in the run game up front and limit the catch. There's going to be completed balls. It's just the nature of their offense they way they throw the ball underneath. We're going to have to tackle the catch. There will be wide receiver screens and the things they do off the run action, so we've got to do a great job of that, being sound in that, and making sure we get in the right spots and hustle to the football.
"As for their defense, they limit teams rushing the ball against them. They've done a good job of it all year, so we've got to make some hay in the running game to create opportunities in the pass game. They're obviously talented, adding DeMarcus Ware and putting him with Von Miller gives them two outstanding outside rushers. They've got the big guy in the middle (Terrance) Knighton. Their one linebacker who I think is injured right now, Brandon Marshall was having an exceptional season. So they're well put-together on defense as well. We've got our work cut out for us."
Over the years, what's been the most challenging aspect of putting together a defensive game plan for Peyton Manning?
"You have to just stay sound, and limit opportunity and make plays."
Are there things about how this team is playing now that give you confidence that it's ready clear this primetime hurdle?
"Again, we just have to go play. We've got to win the football game, and that clears the hurdle that you think that's there. There's really no hurdle there. We lost the last four, I think, and won the two previous to that. All you can do is go play them. If we play better than the other team, we win. If we play worse, we don't. It's plain and simple."
When you go back and look at the experiences you guys have had during primetime games, is there something you've learned?
"The other team's quarterback has played better. We haven't had any effect on the other team's quarterback. Their rating has been about 100, and that's huge. We've turned the football over, we've given up plays in other parts of the game that have hurt us in those games. That makes a huge difference. So we haven't done a very good job of defending the other team's quarterback, we haven't made enough plays effectively on offense, we haven't been very good on third down in some of those games, and they make a big difference."
I guess the question is why?
"Why? If we could turn a thing we'd fix it, but you don't turn a knob, you've got to go out and execute better and do it better. That's all. I don't know why we haven't played as good on defense in those games, but we need to. I don't know why we haven't played as good on offense, or why we've given up a play on special teams in those games, but we need to do better. We don't need to worry about what time it is or anything. Half these guys, it's all new for them every time they go out there. That's the one thing that I'm pretty sure of. It's basically brand new for them every time they go out there."
Andrew Whitworth suggested that you haven't seized the game. Whether it's playoff games or primetime games, you guys have kind of waited for someone else to make the play, rather than you making the play yourself. Do you buy that?
"We haven't won the game, whatever the reason. That's all part of it. We're certainly trying to seize it, and we need to seize it. It's not like we've gone in any differently, we have to make the plays when they come about. There's no doubt about that. If you don't make the plays, then yes, you've left opportunities out there that you don't want to leave out there."
What in your mind makes Peyton Manning so good?
"He has a really good understanding and command of the offense he runs, but secondly, he's good at looking at what you're doing and getting them in what they feel is the best play against the particular look that you're presenting. And then it's about one-on-one matchups, and defensively you've got to win those matchups."
He hasn't looked like the same guy, statistically or on the field, over the past month or so. When you look at film earlier in the season compared to the past couple of months, have you noticed anything different?
"From what I've read, they felt like if they were just one-dimensional … but they've only lost three games this year, so they haven't been that bad."
It seems like their approach has changed...
"Their approach has changed a little bit. They felt like guys teed off on Peyton a little bit in St. Louis, because they became a little bit one-dimensional. You get off track if you're throwing the ball a little bit, you get out of sequence, and you get behind a little bit, and you're looking at second-and-10, and then third-and-10, and that's a little harder to make that yardage back up, but if it's second-and-four or third-and-three, now you've got an opportunity to convert those better. I think that's what supposedly they felt like, so they've tried to make a commitment that you're not going to talk them out of running the football. They're going to find a way to run the football more often."
Can that be scary for a defense when you have to stop the run and Peyton Manning's just sitting back there, where guys can almost forget about him, because they run so much?
"We've got to defend the guys around him regardless, so that doesn't change. Whether they run it or pass it, we have to do a great job on defense. The old saying goes as someone said on the headset last week, 'Watch the run, watch the pass.' I said, 'Ok we got that covered.' (Laughs)."
When you look at a guy like Terrance Knighton, is he one of the biggest reasons you drafted Russell Bodine, because those are the type of guys that he's supposed to be able to push around?
"Yeah, we felt like in our division with Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, that we had to have a center with a physical strength in the core to block guys like that, and Terrance Knighton is at the top of that list of guys right now in the league, the way he's playing. We felt that a center here had to have that characteristic, or we wouldn't be fulfilling the pick."
You've asked a lot of Bodine this year, so how have you felt about his progress?
"I've felt really good about Russell. There's been obviously a lot of correction he gets each and every week, but he's become one of the guys. He's what we hoped he would be: a really, really tough physical guy that's going to do nothing but grow and continue to get better, and be like the top centers in the league we hope -- the (Eric) Wood's and Alex Mack's and these guys who have excelled. They're big guys, physical guys. You like to be around that, and that's what you want in the center of your football team."
How has Jeremy Hill matured, not only running the ball, but in blitz protection and things that you're trusting him with now?
"He's a work in progress, let's just say, in every way. But he's got great physical tools and abilities. He's been very mature for a young guy, for the most part. We try to limit what he says to you guys as much as we can. He's constantly under that microscope, because he is a good kid. He's a very earthly guy. He just wants to talk. He wants to give you what you're asking. Sometimes I tell him, "It's not to our best benefit for you to think out loud."
Did you talk to him after Cleveland - the first time they played?
"We talked to him after Cleveland. I didn't have to, it was already taken care of."
He's very passionate and likes to celebrate. Would you rather he not do that, or do you embrace it?
"I'd rather it be very quick, and get back and figure out how he's going to get the next one. But I want him to be able to celebrate in the end zone. That's a key goal of mine, to let Jeremy celebrate in the end zone as much as possible. Just make it quick, and then let's get back and figure out how to get the next one."
Do you understand any of the dances he does?
"I don't understand much of that, but he's good. That's what you want. You want to have guys like that. He's been good for the team, because I think they respect his maturity and how he's handled things. He's one of the guys. He's out there, he's a backup still on punt returns, he's a backup on kickoff and kickoff return. He's doing what he's supposed to do as a young player here. He's learning how to grow in the NFL as a young guy. He's doing it the right way."
You've been around a lot of big-back closers. Is he that type of guy?
"He's done that for us throughout the season. The running out of bounds like he did early in the year, to now coming over and sliding down. Watching our guys do that makes you feel good that they understand the situation in the game, and they break the run, they get close to the boundary, and they slide down. Rather than trying to pick up the extra three or four yards, they know the situation in the game and understand that. What we can't do is put the ball on the ground in those situations. We don't want him reaching for extra yards and exposing the football. That's important to grow up in that area, too."
Do you have a favorite Christmas memory?
"Dick LeBeau reciting "The Night Before Christmas" is one of my favorites. You talk about a surreal one, when you're sitting in there with an NFL football team (Steelers), and Bill Cowher asked Dick to recite "The Night Before Christmas." That's pretty cool stuff. For the rest of the country it's a special time, and for us it's another work day. I've had some good days on those days, and I've had some bad days. I remember when we flew to Seattle one time on Christmas Day, and it just looked like it was a ghost town. The next day we lost to the Seahawks. I've had some good days and some bad days."
Did you see enough out of Eric Winston Sunday that he'll get more snaps or start?
"We're pleased with Eric's progress. We'll keep going and moving forward. We've been pleased with him. He's been what we expected. Like I said when we signed him, I've had an opportunity over the last four or five off-seasons to spend some time with him in our meetings, and for whatever reason we were sitting beside each other three, four, five years in a row and just visiting. I wasn't by him this year, but I sat with him at lunch. He brings a great maturity, a competitiveness. He's been a good player. He wants an opportunity to continue to play, and help us to win games, and get in the playoffs and go through the playoffs. So it was a good fit for us and I'm glad it worked out. Like any good pro, he's embraced the learning part, and spent the time and everything to get up to speed, and put in the effort to do that, which has been good."
How have you seen Giovani Bernard handle this year, being out for a while and now in a situation where Jeremy Hill is sort of 'the guy'?
"Well, we've got two guys, and I think Gio understands that. Gio's been that way throughout the two short years that he's been with us. There's a lot of opportunity for both guys, and Gio created some big plays in the last game. He'll hopefully continue to do that for a whole lot over this next period of time.
"We need them both, and we need Gio to do his special things both in the run game and the pass game. He was a tick from breaking a couple of those runs last week, where they just ticked an ankle, and he can turn that into a 70-yard run very quickly. We have to keep after it. It's been good. I think he's getting himself healthier. His injuries beat him up a little bit, so he had to have the time that we gave him to come back and work his way back into it."