Carlos Dunlap: don't blame coaches.
The hits, the tweets, the posts are coming fast and furious for Bengals veteran end Carlos Dunlap.
"What's going on with the coaching?" "Time for a change." "Fire coach."
"Blasé, blasé, blasé, blasé," Dunlap said Monday, barely 24 hours after their worst home loss of his career.
"But yesterday I honestly don't feel like you can put that on the coach."
Welcome to the last month of the Bengals season with questions swirling around head coach Marvin Lewis.
The Bengals have been here before, but that was seven long years ago during Dunlap's rookie year, when social media was an infant and Lewis eventually re-upped after that 4-12 season.
Now thanks to what has grown into a cyberspace beast, Lewis' fate will be decided a million times before Jan. 1, the day after the Bengals finale in Baltimore and when the club and Lewis usually deal with such issues. (That was also the site of the 2010 finale.) But Dunlap and his mates are now seasoned vets of the new age and are letting the buzz roll off their backs.
Since the 33-7 loss to the Bears, the defensive players have been quick to defend their coaches in the light of a decimated depth chart that left them with six unseasoned starters. On Monday Dunlap endorsed the coaches' preparations.
"We had young players who had a whole week of practice to prepare the way they want to prepare, but they didn't go out and execute the game plan," Dunlap said. "Sometimes that disconnect is simply because they are young players. The bright lights on the cameras in front of me right now, they can affect you. I feel like these guys are strong guys and they'll learn from that experience, but I can't put that all on him."
Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther marveled at the crushing amount of mistakes and while he didn't want to make any excuses for youth, it's hard to give up 23 plays of at least 10 yards without being confused.
At one point they lined up on defense with four first-year players up front, a rookie linebacker, a first-year cornerback, and a second-year safety. How many NFL snaps from scrimmage among those seven players when the Sunday's dust settled? Its 2,002, or less than 300 snaps per man.
"Players messed up plays they worked on," Dunlap said. "It's not like (the coaches) didn't give us the look that week in practice. We talked about it. We slowed it down, but we didn't execute. That's on the players. Coach is going to have his days, his moments where it might be his mistake, his problem, and he'll own up to it as he has. Yesterday I take that on as players because we didn't do enough to win the game. And as one of the veterans on defense we didn't lead the defense in a way to win the game."
But Dunlap doesn't want the vets to be somebody they're not. Up front the vocal leader is Michael Johnson while Dunlap prefers to let his play talk. But he says he'll say something if he sees a reason.
"I can't say we have to do things differently because that would mean we're not doing things correctly," said Dunlap of the vets' leadership. "I feel like we're taking the right steps, but on Sunday for some reason we're not executing. We're being prepared properly."
Cincinnati Ben-Gal Cheerleaders perform during the Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals game - 12/11/2017 *Photos taken by Steve France