Marvin Lewis News Conference
Paul Brown Stadium
December 2, 2015
"As we begin preparation this week, we know the task at hand is we're going on the road to play a division football game against a team that we know plays a very physical game. Each and every contest we play against them, we know it's a physical game, and it's a game we have to go into on the road and work hard to play error-free .
"That starts with our ability to control the ball and run offensively and protect our quarterback, and be able to throw very efficiently. On the other side of the ball, limit any gains in the running game and do a great job in leverage and coverage and play against these guys. In the kicking game, be very sound and not allow any kind of plays. Hopefully we'll work hard to control field position with that. We have to be fundamentally sound in every area."
They had an anomaly in the kicking game last game, allowing two special teams touchdowns, the unscripted scores, but their special teams are in the top 10 in three of the four categories and are pretty good …
"They've got a good group of core guys who are very good at what they do, and so we've got to be alert and be sound and block up their three guys – the one kid, 24 (Johnson Bademosi) has done an excellent job in covering kicks – so we just need to be on point in everything."
Does having Austin Davis at quarterback as opposed to Johnny Manziel or Josh McCown change what you guys do?
"You've got to defend the offense. As I tell you every time you ask me a quarterback question, we've got to defend the offense in what they do in run and pass and work from there."
How pleased have you been with that, because you guys have had multiple situations where you didn't know until game day who the QB would be …
"Well, we pretty much know by Wednesday usually, but we can't get caught up and worried about that. That's not our issue. Our issue is us, and our preparation and the things we're doing defensively, and then applying it to the opponent. Once we get into the game, we're going from there and making the revision and adjusting. I think that's important once we get a feel for their plan against us. It's kind of two-fold and kind of always in motion."
If Davis gets nicked up, with Johnny (Manziel) you've seen some snaps of him already …
"We know his abilities and ability to avoid (rushers) and make plays. We have to take care of us and do our thing and play defense the way we need to play defense. They've got explosive guys like (wide receiver Travis) Benjamin, and the tight end (Gary Barnidge) has done a nice job of catching the football. Duke Johnson, they're using him now coming out of the backfield. They're doing good things with these guys. We've got to do a great job of defending them."
When you first drafted Carlos (Dunlap), could you have imagined us sitting here and talking about him as the team's nominee for the Walter Payton (NFL Man of the Year) Award? His growth both on and off the field has been pretty remarkable …
"I sure hoped so when we drafted him, or we wouldn't have drafted him in the second round. There might have been a few moments after that with a little bit of doubt whether we'd be having this conversation, but let's credit Carlos with what he's done in his development and his maturity over time.
"I can sit here and laugh about it now. There have been a few sit downs (with him). The one thing that's been consistent is his ability to give to others. He's been well-raised – a great kid deep down. He's always been helpful and wanting to do for others. I can remember when he was a rookie, and we would ask the rookies to go to the Ronald McDonald House and visit, and he was one who didn't shy away from that.
"I'm so pleased. Obviously it's a great recognition for him and hopefully he ultimately wins it."
Are you proud that this nomination could have been give to any number of people in this locker room?
"I think the exciting thing for this new class, whether it be Cedric (Ogbuehi), (Jake) Fisher, (Josh) Shaw, (P.J.) Dawson, guys all down the line, they're seeing this just like Carlos witnessed it with (Andrew) Whitworth, Leon (Hall), and Michael (Johnson). They see the things they took part in, led by a John Thornton and Robert Geathers and guys that came before them. That's the good part; they're emulating their peers and what went on before them. So they're stepping up to the plate, which I'm pleased about."
Leon Hall has had a great year so far, and just got AFC Defensive Player of the Week …
"He's so instrumental in everything we do defensively in that positon in the nickel. His ability to apply the game plan to the opponent each and every week, and the communication with the secondary and the front group that Leon has to have, because it's two-fold, is excellent. He becomes an extension of the coaches on the field."
Does Leon's approach have a ripple effect with the team?
"Well, its been such a mentoring for the young guys. From watching Adam (Jones), who came in before him, but watching him grow and get it. Along with Dre (Kirkpatrick), Darqueze (Dennard) and Reggie-(Nelson), who came in the same year as Leon and have played here for a long time, since 2007. To watch the growth of those guys is a good thing."
Is this the type of culture you wanted to establish?
"You have to. That's what the Rod Woodsons of my day in Pittsburgh were able to pass on to the young guys, and there were guys before them that passed it on to him. Obviously we brought Rod to Baltimore in 1998, and it was great what he was able to empower Ray Lewis to do, when Ray felt like he was doing it all by himself.
"And then with the other guys there, like Tony Siragusa; other smart guys who can help young guys grow and develop; Chris McAlister, Duane Starks that Rod mentored in Baltimore with me. He wouldn't let me take them out of practice. I remember one time I took them out of practice on a Friday and he comes over to me saying, 'You cant do that.' He never wanted me to relax the standard on those two. I had to keep pressing my foot on them all the time.
"He was right, because he saw them all the time, and he never wanted us to relax. That's the same thing here; Leon and Adam have been so instrumental in developing and pushing Dre, even though sometimes Dre wanted to push back. At some point you learn that it's in our best interest as a team that you get this. They brought you here for a reason, you have the ability to play, now lets get it out of you."
It seems you have every position covered that way …
"We do. hopefully it continues to cultivate that way."
Andy Dalton News Conference
December 2, 2015
Paul Brown Stadium
What do you remember most from the first game vs Cleveland?
"I think for us, we were really efficient. I felt like we kept having positive plays and really kept things going. We played until the end. It was a good win for us."
They've had a lot of injuries in the secondary, are they doing pretty much the same things though?
"Yeah, obviously it wasn't that long ago that we played them. There's similar stuff; that's their style of defense that they play. We're going to be ready for everything they've done throughout the year. We're looking at everything. We're going to be as prepared as we can going into this one."
It was 14-10 at half, what happened in second half?
"We kept playing. I think in the first half, we scored on two of the three series. Just kind of how some games go. But we played well in the second half to keep the lead and it was a good win."
Your first start was in Cleveland, is it a special place for you?
"Yeah. I also think it was 9/11 too, and the first start on the road. There was a bunch of stuff that was going on, so I've got good memories there."
You came out with a win, too, even though you only played a half.
"Yeah, I ended up getting hurt right before the end of the half. But I got my first touchdown. There was a lot of positive things coming from that game."
You've been so durable, why is that?
"I feel like I've been fortunate I haven't taken too many bad hits, I've been able to get the ball out of my hands quickly and been able to get away from some of the bad ones. So hopefully we can keep that up."
This team is to the point it can start clinching playoff berth and division title in next two weeks, do you even think of that at all?
"Yeah, our goals are bigger than that. The thing that's nice is we've put ourselves in a position where we can start handling that stuff as the season goes on. But our focus is getting this win right now and that will set us up better for the end of the season."
You're 9-2, they're 2-9, how do you make sure there's no letdown?
"It's a division game. These count. For us, we know the mindset, we know what we're trying to accomplish, we know our ultimate goal and this is just another step along the way. I think there's a lot of importance going on in this game. The focus is there."
The fans can be pretty crazy in Cleveland, what is different about playing in that atmosphere?
"I think first of it being a division game. In-state, as well, with a rivalry. So there's a lot of passionate fans over there. They try to do whatever they can to cheer for their team."
You paused before you said rivalry, does it still feel like a rivalry?
"Yeah, it definitely still does. There's still a lot of things for state pride and all that kind of stuff. So it definitely still is a rivalry. There wasn't supposed to be any pause there. I'm sorry if you read into that."
Your former offensive coordinator at TCU, Justin Fuente, went to Virginia Tech, and I know he was an important part of your development …
"He's a big part of the reason that I'm the player I am today. He was the coordinator and quarterbacks coach my junior and senior year. He was able to teach me a lot of things, with the style of what we were doing. The offense I was in in college was similar to what we've been doing here. I think he prepared me really well for the next level. So I'm happy for him. He's one of the most deserving guys. I think he's going to do a great job there. I'm going to be rooting for Virginia Tech now."
What's it like to watch a guy you worked with rise up so quickly?
"I think it's fun to see, just going back and talking about his ultimate goals. It was kind of cool because when he was at Memphis, whenever I would drive back to Texas it was a stop along the way. So I'd always stop and see him and his family. Now it's not going to be as easy getting over there. I think that's one of the things I talked to him about going into this thing; what are the long-term goals. I'm happy he's at a good place."
Jay Gruden said you were the most NFL-ready QB for his offense. Do you appreciate how Fuente got you so NFL ready?
"Yes. I think a lot of the stuff we were doing was really similar. Obviously there's new terminology and we're doing some more things here than we were doing in college, but a lot of it was very similar so it made the transition easier."
Do you listen to music before games?
What gets you going?
"I listen to Christian music before games."
Does that calm you down, get you pumped up?
"Both. There's stuff that's more upbeat and there's the other stuff that's pretty calm. It just kind of depends. I'm not like superstitious and have like, 'Oh I've got to listen to this song or I've got to listen to different things.' It just puts me in a good state of mind."
This team has talked about wanting to play well in December/January, has there been more discussion about that?
"Yeah, it's definitely been a focus. We feel we've handled things pretty well throughout the season, so now we've got to be playing our best because everybody knows the team that gets hot at the end of the year usually ends up winning the Super Bowl. For us, that's our goal. So there's a lot of focus going into this time of year."