Lewis, Dalton News Conference Transcript 12/28

Marvin Lewis News Conference

Opening comments ...

            "With Baltimore, since we played them a few weeks ago, they've won two and lost two, and obviously they lost a heartbreaking game at the end last week. Offensively, they've picked up and improved a little bit in their yards per carry, and also a little bit in what they're doing in the passing game. Since we've played them, I think they have 10 touchdowns and five interceptions in the passing game.  Pitta (TE Dennis Pitta) has probably been the leader, with 25 catches in those games. And then Steve Smith is probably second. Their production seems to have picked up.

            "And then we go to the defensive side of the ball. They've probably given up a little bit more plays than they had when we previously played them. Both sides of the ball have improved a little bit on third down.

            "For us, the biggest thing is to focus on us. The thing that killed us up there (in Baltimore on Nov. 27) was the turnovers. You can't have that against this team. We want to possess the football. When we have the opportunity, make sure we get the ball taken away. That's really important. Be sound, and do a good job versus their running game. They continue to do a good job with that, and as I said, they've improved from where they were the first time we played them. So it's going to be important for us."

Yesterday, Chris Cooley said that somebody he knew inside this organization said that you would retire at the end of the year. Do you have any thoughts on that report?

            "You didn't respond to it yesterday, so why would you today? It's unfortunate that you can have somebody do something like that, I guess, and cause you guys work. So that's unfortunate."

Somebody did respond yesterday and had a counter story, saying that that you were not going to retire...

            "That's good. Then you guys can talk about that. But if you want to talk about the Ravens, we can talk about that. If you want to talk about the other (story), maybe you should talk to Chris Cooley or somebody else."

So I would assume you're not going to retire...

            "Again, if you want to talk about the Ravens, we'll talk about them (laughs)."

Is that type of stuff frustrating for you?

            "It's not what I have to deal with. You seem to have to deal with it more than I do."

Last week, you said it was going to be too big of a risk to play A.J. Green, but he's still on the active roster. Would an extra week help? Is there any way he plays this week?

            "No, he's not going to play this week."

What about Vontaze Burfict? Is he still in the concussion protocol?

            "He's in the concussion protocol, yes. He's progressing through it."

Is not putting A.J. Green on the Reserve/Inured list just a matter of not having to because of the inactive list?

            "It's not whether we do it or not. It'll be determined at some point later, maybe, in the week."

Given that this is the last game of the season, and that Baltimore doesn't have playoff possibilities to play for either, how do you get your players honed in on one more game left to play?

            "It's a game against a division opponent. These are professional football players, and they're judged on what they do, day in and day out. So that's what counts for them and their career and their futures."

Aside from a victory, is there anything you'd specifically like to see on Sunday, whether it's the quarterback, the young guys or some defensive players? Are there things you'd like to see?

            "You want to get the victory, No. 1. And No. 2, some young guys have been getting opportunity throughout the season. So that's positive for their future."

Andy Dalton News Conference

Has it been a strange week? You're used to the playoffs ...

                "Yeah, it's been different. I've never had a week like this before."

Is there a mental challenge to stay on point?

                "You're still playing for pride. You have to treat it like it's a normal week and prepare the same way. There's part of you that thinks you're not playing for anything, but that's what you have to fight. You have to do things the same way you've done them the whole year."

Does it really make a big difference to end the season with a win?

                "If you win this game, even if it won't help the playoffs, it helps the feeling going into the offseason. Technically you're not playing for anything, but there's still a sense of pride and finishing on a high note."

What are some takeaways you have from this type of season?

                "It comes down to little moments in games. Every year up to this point, we've been able to finish and make the play. This year we haven't done it. It's evident this year that all those little things matter."

Is that frustrating week-to-week?

                "It can be frustrating. You have to see the things that didn't go right, and try to improve on them. You try to talk about different situations and try to do better, and hope the preparation you put in will allow you to overcome it the next time. Unfortunately for us this year, it hasn't worked out that way."

The wide receiver core seems to be coming together ...

                "With A.J. (Green) going down, different guys have gotten in there. More guys have been relied on instead of A.J. With the amount of practice and game experience they've had, I feel like everybody has gotten better."

How has you and Ken Zampese's relationship evolved over the course of the year?

                "We still have the similar relationship that we had. He's still around and in meetings and communicating what's going on. For him, it's a little bit different role now. He's not just in the quarterback room, it's with everybody now. We still have a really good relationship."

Have you seen him grow into the role?

                "I think he's gotten more comfortable with being out there and calling plays, and knowing which plays to call in certain situations. He's gotten a better feel for what he's doing."

What goes through your mind when you hear coaching rumors?

                "You can't look into every report. If something came out yesterday, it's already changed today. You can't worry about all that."

Does that surprise you?

                "It's already been refuted."

Do you feel good about your individual season as you look back?

                "I feel like I've done some things well this year. I've built on what I've been able to do in my career. At the end of the way, the wins are the most important thing. Regardless of things I did well, it wasn't enough to get the wins we needed to have a chance at the playoffs. It's still tough."

How do you want to see the offense evolve going into next year?

                "It'd be nice to have everyone healthy. For us, we have to just get better. There were a lot of young guys that played. They hadn't been here a whole lot. At times, we had three rookie receivers out there. Everybody is going to get better with time."

Were the injuries a blessing in disguise for other players looking to get a shot?

                "I think we can build on it. This year, we wouldn't want it that way, but definitely this year. Every snap those guys play, the better they'll be."

Brandon LaFell said people were looking for someone to make a play. How do you look to increase the play-making mentality for next year?

                "I feel like Brandon did a good job of making a play last week and being a spark. We have to make more plays. Not necessarily like his, because that was an unbelievable run after the catch, but stuff like that needs to happen to get that spark."

Does your off-field work put the bad season into perspective?

                "It definitely is a perspective thing. Obviously we wish the season would have been different, but the things we were able to do through my foundation, and the things that guys on this team did with their own charity work, we were able to make an impact on people's lives. You can look at that and see all the good that has been able to come from this season."

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