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Lewis, Dalton News Conference Transcripts 12/7

Marvin Lewis News Conference

Opening Comments:

                The challenge this week is playing a Cleveland team that has played much better than their record shows. They have been in these games and continue to play very hard. They are coming off the bye week, refocused for this last quarter of the season. It's important we do a great job this week in detailing our plan and the execution of it come Sunday. It means being productive and taking care of the ball on offense, and being very sound on defense and special teams. "

How do you prepare for someone like Hue Jackson, who has his own special of ways preparing, and now has had two weeks to get ready?

                "No team takes two weeks to prepare. We can dispel that fallacy. I do think we'll get some different things. We got some different things the first time. He's done that throughout. It's been part of their offense, to give the opposing team new looks each weeks. Our guys will have to stay sound through our rules and how they are coached and taught. They have to communicate well, see it through the same eyes, and play sound football. It's 11 guys lining up certain places, and then it's just go and play."

How much different is it to for someone like Robert Griffin, who has missed all this time?

                "He's a little different. The first game of the year, they had their preparation in for the season, and for what they wanted to do with Robert at quarterback. You had an opportunity to see the things that were going to be part of a staple in their offense."

How much respect do you have for someone like Joe Thomas?

                "I think he came in in 2004, and has been from day one not only the starting left tackle, but also a great pro and leader for the football team. Regardless of how the season is going, he's out there playing his tail off. All of us as coaches take our hats off to great pros like that. He's still doing it at a high level, and really carries what the word 'pro' means.

Are Jeremy Hill's recent struggles a product of defenses stacking the box with A.J. Green out?

                "It's product of us, too. It's both ways. We have to do a better job of creating opportunity in runs. We've had a free-runner or two jump underneath us.  Our execution hasn't been great. When Jeremy had something going the second play of the game last week, we erased those when we leave the free on the back side. That's not Jeremy's fault. We want to continue to push Jeremy to do it and stay on track and have great tracks in the running game all the time, which will create more and more opportunities with it."

Will it be a big lift to have all the tight ends healthy?

                "It will be good. It just comes down to if we can suit everybody up. We'll have to see as we go forward."

*Is tight ends a hard position to keep guys healthy? A lot of them seem to be hurt … *

                "I don't know if there's a trend or anything, but it's guys that are involved in both the physical part of the game and also the open field part of the game. They're kind of like linebackers on the other side of the ball. On some teams, depending on their offense and their wide receiver position, the tight ends become larger portions of the offense.
                "These are good athletes, and the way the college game is structured, they fit into these slots to play and have production with the wide-open offenses we see in college. Very few of them play a traditional two-back, one tight end, two-receiver offense. They more play of the open spreads with these guys. Sometimes they are big wide receivers in college and they come to the NFL and their niche ends up being a tight end."

So it's important to have multiple tight ends ...

                "We think it is. They're used in the backfield. With Ryan Hewitt being a fullback, Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, and CJ Uzomah, they provide a body that serves as a protector, a lead guy, or a receiver. There's a lot of different variances they can provide."

Was last week's success a result of the Eagles' coverage or your receivers clicking with Andy?

                "It's a combination of things, just like running the ball. Andy uses the power of choice up there to put us in passes and runs based on the looks. He did a very good job, and the young receivers did a fantastic job of responding. Brandon LaFell had another big game for us and kept the first downs coming, which provided more opportunities for other guys."

Any A. J. Green update?

                "He's doing well."

Is wind a big factor in a stadium like Cleveland's at this time of year?

                "It does affect you. I think of all our division opponents, on most days this time of the year, they may have the most differential, with their stadium off the lake. It's a factor, depending on which way the wind is blowing and how strong it is. It's also a natural grass field, which is not very natural at this time of the year. It all plays a big part there when you play on the road like this later in the year against Cleveland."

Is playing in the snow a difference?

                "I haven't had much experience doing that. It depends on what kind of snow it will be. It could be that cold damp snow that will slow everything down, or it will just be flurries. It depends. It will be great Bengal weather on Sunday regardless."

Have you talked with Hue Jackson since you last played? Have you given him any advice?

                "All we've talked about is what went on in their football game. I'm not involved in his situation whatsoever."

Did you try to boost him up a bit?

                "We talk like all coaches talk."

Andy Dalton News Conference

What does the Walter Payton Man of the Year nomination mean to you?

                "It means a lot, because for us as professional athletes, we have such a big platform. We have the opportunity to reach a lot of people that a lot of people cannot reach. People look up to us; kids and people in general. For me and my family, it's really important for us to give back and do as much as we can in the community. It's great for that to get recognized. Football is bigger than just a game, and I feel very fortunate to be in the position I'm in to help a lot of people."

Is it notable to see how much your foundation has grown?

                "It's one of those things where you have a vision for a foundation and want to be able to help, and then you see that a lot of the city and people are getting involved. They want to support what we're doing. It's great to see the growth we've had since we started."

Has it been exactly what you thought, or has it changed course at all?

                "I wouldn't say it's changed course, but we've figured out what we want to do. To be in the position where we are right now, where we're providing grants for families where insurance may not cover full payments, or provide medical equipment or money to families that weren't expecting to get it, that's where we've put our focus. We have been able to see a great impact there and help a lot of families."

The last time you played the Browns there were a lot of big-yardage plays ...

                "Yeah. I feel like we were able to get a lot of stuff working. Jeremy had the long run, we had the Hail Mary and other big plays down the field. It helps your average when you can have plays like that."

How different do they look personnel-wise, with some players returning?

                "They've got two really good players that didn't play against us the first time (CB Joe Haden and LB Jamie Collins). Anytime you can add two guys like that, it will help your defense. Those guys are great players, and I'm sure the team is happy to have Joe back and Jamie with the team."

Does it seem like they're getting better as a team?

                "Yeah. They haven't won the games, but have been in them. They look like they've improved."

Do you have to remind yourself to not ease off the pedal in a game like this?

                "You definitely can't. We have to go out and execute and put the same focus we have every week. You can't let their record slip into your mind. You have to be ready to go."

Have you played in a snow game before?

                "I think it snowed a little bit during a game, but never one that has been snowing the whole time. We definitely didn't have any of those in Texas."

Have you ever wanted to play in that kind of game?

                "Yeah I think it would be fun. There's always a chance up here. We may get to experience that on Sunday."

Was last week a reminder of what this team could be? What was working so well?

                "We got into a rhythm. Everybody was on the same page. Guys made plays with A.J. (Green) being out, and we had new guys step up. The more that we are together, the better timing and feel we are going to have. Our guys did a great job of making those big plays."

It all seemed to click at once ...

                "It's something that we definitely are going to build on. We just have to keep improving."

Could you feel a difference in your rhythm last week?

                "Yeah. It felt like I was in a good rhythm and the ball was coming out of my hand well. I just wanted it to keep going."

How much of that was developing more trust in your young WRs?

                "It's a big part of it. It wasn't one guy stepping into A.J.'s role; a lot of guys had catches on Sunday. It's about building that chemistry, trust, and timing with those guys. They did a great job."

Are you trusting Tyler Boyd more on third downs?

                "Yeah. He's done a great job and been able to get open and convert these third downs recently."

It seems he's running crisper routes lately ...

                "It's his understanding of the way teams are playing him and the way defenses are going against him. He's got a good feel for how to run certain routes versus different coverages. Over time, you get a better understanding of what's going on."

If you were to make a postseason run here in the end of the season, do you want that pressure on your shoulders?

                "Yeah, absolutely. I don't think any quarterback would say he didn't want that. We're going to do everything we can to win out, and we'll see what happens."

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