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Lewis, Dalton News Conference Transcripts 9/20

Marvin Lewis News Conference

Sept. 20, 2017

Paul Brown Stadium

Opening comments…

            "We know what this (game) represents and the football team that (Green Bay) has there. The offensive football team is led by Aaron Rodgers and the skills guys. It's a game that we have our work cut out for, no doubt. We have to be productive on offense and score points, and we've got to limit their offense as much as we can throughout the day. It's a big football game for us, obviously."

What do you hope that new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor can bring to the team?

            "We need better direction and execution. That's what we have to have."

What is Lazor's role, and what would you like to see from him?

            "He's now in charge of the offense, along with my direction and what I'd like to see. It's now turned over to him."

What would you like to see from the offense?

            "As I've said, better execution and to score points (laughs). It's plain and simple."

How do you do that? Do you simplify the offense?

            "I'm not going to sit here and elaborate on anything. (Better execution on offense) is our mission."

What was the tipping point for you with the offense?

            "I just wasn't pleased with our direction of things. I wasn't pleased with our execution. I've tried to voice my opinion and be helpful, and I just felt like we needed to move forward (with Bill Lazor as offensive coordinator)."

Is that difficult for you, letting go of a longtime coach like Ken Zampese?

            "It is very difficult. (Ken Zampese) busted his tail here. He's been with me since I started (as head coach in Cincinnati). Even when I had been involved in jobs prior to here, I had been in contact with Ken. He and his family are tremendous. They've been great friends. He's a fine football coach, and he'll get another opportunity to knock it out of the park. This just didn't work."

Is that one of the hardest things you've had to do in your coaching career?

            "It was very difficult. But, we have a lot of people in this building. We have to look out for everyone. To Ken's credit, he understood completely.

            "Now we've talked enough about (the offensive coordinator change). Let's move on. I've said what I'm going to say, and I'm not going to elaborate any more."

How much of a challenge is it for the offense to right the ship against a team like the Packers?

            "It's (difficult). They have good, explosive players, like (Nick) Perry, (Mike) Daniels, (Clay) Matthews and their secondary. They do some different things. They've undergone a bit of a shift in philosophy under (Packers defensive coordinator) Dom Capers, from a lot of zone pressures and zone stuff to more man-to-man. This is a defensive football team that's making a transition. They played very well in Week 1, and obviously some people saw the game Sunday night. There's opportunity there, and we have to make it happen."

What makes Aaron Rodgers so good?

            "He has been in this offense for a while. He grew up in it, and has been there since he was drafted into the league. He understands the ins and outs. He's been with (Packers head coach) Mike McCarthy the entire time. He understands the ins and outs of things they're doing and where guys should be. He gets their guys to their spots, and they're pretty much interchangeable in the West Coast system. It's repetitive that way. He knows where they're going to be. He can extend plays. He's very athletically talented and gifted. And obviously, he's very football-smart. He's the total package."

Have you ever seen a quarterback able to throw the ball on the run to the right and left like he can?

            "He does a great job. He's able to open his hips, get his shoulders open, launch the ball, and throw it accurately on the move."

Are there throws this week that you have to be more aware of, that you don't have to pay as much attention to other weeks?

            "What you have to be aware of is that, if I'm covering you, I have to cover you (laughs). You can't get caught looking around and wonder what's going on back there. You have to do your job, plain and simple. It comes down to doing your job."

The team has played pretty well defensively in the first two weeks, outside of a couple of plays…

            "You can't have those couple of plays, though."

But is this the ultimate opportunity for your defense to prove what they can be?

            "It's an opportunity for us to get our first win of the 2017 season. That's a good opportunity for the entire football team. It's going the entire group (to accomplish that)."

Is this a game where you can learn a lot about your defense?

            "We're going to be measured against a good group, no question about it. It's a group that is as well put together as any team in the National Football League."

You don't have many players on your roster that have played at Lambeau Field. Is it one of the hardest places to play? The Packers' home record is great…

            "Their home record is very good because they have a good team (laughs). It's amazing how that works (laughs). It doesn't present any more problems than any other place. I've made the statement that, 'They kick your butt and give you bratwursts afterwards.' I said that the last time we were there (laughs). It's a different environment. These players come from these major colleges and have never seen a stadium in the middle of a neighborhood like (Lambeau Field). Everything comes together on Sunday afternoons up there."

Do you think the 0-2 start has gotten the attention of the players?

            "I don't think that (our record) has been any more attention-grabbing to the players. When you're pushed with your back against the wall, you have to get going. And we have to get going."

You mentioned execution at the beginning. I know practice time is limited, but are you expecting practices to be sharper? That has to start this week, right?

            "It started on Monday."

Did it start the way you wanted it to?


Geno Atkins has a six-game sack streak, dating back to last season. How important has his play been?

            "Geno has done a great job for us as a leader and as a player within the defense. As I said early in the season — starting out, we have to lean on those guys. We have to lean on those young guys that came in here in 2010, '11. '12, and they have to be the catalysts for us all the time."

That sack streak is hard to do. People just see the numbers, but that's really hard to do…

            "It shows not only his ability, but him being able to do it week after week after week. And that's what we need to have. He's one of the best players in the league, and he has to continue to put the team on his back all the time in those situations."

No quarterback likes a guy in his face, so having a guy like Atkins who can collapse the pocket figures to be important in this matchup. Would you agree?

            "It is. (The Packers) are probably going to do a lot of things to not let (Geno Atkins) get a one-on-one chance very often. We have to do a good job with the (rest of the defensive line). And that's why they're here. They have to do a good job of chasing the quarterback."

How do you think the younger guys on the defensive line have played?

            "I've been very pleased."

How important is their role going to be on Sunday playing next to Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap?

            "It's important. I've probably said this more times than you've wanted me to say, but you play a defense with 11 people, and everything has to fit together all the time. If one area breaks down, then you're susceptible to big plays, and big plays get you beat. So it takes everybody working together all the time. Not only – as you're talking about – the pass rush, but the coverage. Whether it be zone, man, pressure, all those things have to fit together. We have to keep them at proper leverages, and everything we do has to fit together. We have to continually rehearse, and then put it out there on Sunday and be good with it.

Is Packers head coach Mike McCarthy as good a play caller as any?

            "He does a great job. Their offense fits together. They attack (opposing teams) and what they feel like their tendencies might be, and then counter with some of (their strengths)."

This may be the most traumatic 10 days that Andy Dalton and A.J. Green have had in their Bengals careers. How do you think they've handled it?

            "I think they've been fine. I don't understand why A.J. should have said anything different (than his comments after Thursday's game). He said, 'I'm one of the better players here, and I want to do what I can to help us win.' I had to go back and listen to what he said, and I don't think he said anything out of the ordinary whatsoever. And that's the way it is. If you ask any (of the players) how they feel, they all want to win, and they all want to do their part. We give them the opportunity. (A.J. Green) plays a position where that is a little harder, so we have to get creative and provide opportunities to (get him the ball)."

It was a pretty tame reaction compared to some you've seen in the past…

            "That's what I said (laughs). But, we won't go there (laughs). Paul (Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty) will be writing a new book (laughs).

A lot of people think a new coordinator means a new offense, but it doesn't work that way. Explain the gradual nature of that process.

            "It doesn't. Bill (Lazor) has done a great job of staying in his spot. He's provided input and been a part (of the offense). Now he gets an opportunity to put a stamp on it, under the direction he's been given. He knows the abilities of the players, he knows what we've been dealing with. He's been part of it. Now he gets to put a new face on it. It's a step. I told the players that Monday morning. This is not magic. You have to do the work. Offense, defense and special teams alike. We got (Ken Zampese) out of here, not Ken. We (helped cause it). The players have to understand that — they were part of that. The next time, look around and there will be different guys sitting around (in the locker room). They realize that. The other day, I had one of the defensive players come to me with that. They understand that. Pretty soon, everyone starts looking around and looking the other way. That's the part of it that everyone has to understand. We have to do it together. We had a period where I felt like this was the time (to make a coaching change). We had an opportunity to make it right, move forward, get back in this division and AFC race, and do what we set out to do."

Was the fact that Bill Lazor had been an offensive coordinator before helpful in making that decision?

            "I had an opportunity to look, watch, and see his past. I had a chance to look at the tape and watch what he had done even before he was hired as a quarterbacks coach or recommended to me. You have some familiarity that way. We don't have to reinvent it from somewhere outside (the organization). He's had the opportunity to be a play-caller, which is one of the most important things about being a coordinator. It's not just about the coordination and development, it's seeing the plan, executing, and seeing how the plan unfolds and calling the plays on Sundays. That all has to fit together."

"I'm back to talking about this again, even though I said I wasn't going to (laughs)."

You have a longer week this week, after playing on Thursday night last week. Did the longer week play a part in the timing for letting go of Ken Zampese?

            "That was a factor, yes."

Andy Dalton News Conference

Sept. 20, 2017

Paul Brown Stadium

How have the meetings gone with respect to the changes at the top for the offense?

      "I wouldn't say things are completely different. There is some emphasis on different things. We may have a little more time with our position coaches, but there is not a huge change to the schedule of everything or how we do it."

What do you think this offensive coordinator change could mean for this offense?

      "Yes the change happened, but regardless of the change, we still have to get the job done. It comes down to us executing and making the plays that will allow us to win these games. For us, that's where we are at. It doesn't happen automatically, you still have to go out there and make it work."

Is there anything you feel good about that you want to see run offensively?

      "I always felt like that. We will see as time goes. This is really the first full day with Bill (Lazor) now. I'm sure things will change and adapt over time as we keep going through these weeks."

Does Bill Lazor have any plans to change or simplify things with the offense?

      "You can't come into this and completely change everything that we have been doing on terminology. He will obviously have his twists on what we are doing. You just can't change everything in just a couple of days."

More people probably are going to have to think that it's going to be a bigger change since you guys have had three days to implement the game plan for Green Bay ...

      "You're limited on time with this. There will be some things that are a little different and some things that will be the same."

How comfortable have you felt in these first two games?

      "I feel like I've been seeing things. It's just the way we have gone about doing it — we haven't executed at a high level. ... We're trying to get where we're making the easy things look easy. That is where we are at. For me, I feel comfortable with what we are doing and been doing. Now it's just time to go prove it out there."

Has simplifying things been the theme?

      "That is just part of playing football. You don't want to overthink when you are out there — you just want to go out there and play, and trust in your abilities. Just have everybody play great and do their job."

How difficult is Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers' defense schematically?

      "The big thing they do is they play some of these nickel fronts and dime fronts to the bigger personnel. You just have to be prepared for that, and know who is in the game and what's out there, because it changes the way you do some things. I think it's just understanding the personnel because they put a lot of defensive backs out there. A lot of different guys."

Has any input from the players changed at all?

      "I feel like we've always had input. Everybody is trying to do what they can to help turn this thing around. Everybody needs to focus on themselves. That's what I've been doing. If everybody does that, we will be all right."

Have you seen a change in Bill Lazor after he has become the offensive coordinator?

      "He's obviously got to be out there a little bit more with the way he's doing things because he's the one in front, leading the meetings, leading the group, so, from the aspect he's doing more than he was doing in the quarterback room."

What was working so well in 2015 that the offense might need to return to help this offense out?

      "You just have to make the plays when they're out there. That's some of the things we did, when we had the opportunities — we made them. These first two weeks, we haven't done that. You can go back to 2015, you can go back to different times last year. Whatever it may be, there have been times in my career the last six years that have been on teams where we got to go make those plays. That's what it comes down to."

How important is the involvement of A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert?

      "Any time you've got guys like that, get the ball in their hands. They are some of the most talented players, so anytime you can to do that, obviously things can change. You have to rely on those guys — the guys who can make big plays for you to help turn this thing around. We're going to trust all our guys to build on the process and go get this thing, where we are back on track."

What do you think the quarterback has to get things jumpstarted?

      "Sticking to your process. Knowing what you're going to do is going to help get us out of it. Making sure everyone is on the same page with what we are doing. And being accurate, and getting guys to play to the best of their ability."

How much would you attribute your struggles to timing?

      "There's been so many different things that have gone on. You can't put your (finger) on one thing. We're moving forward about what we are doing this week. We just to have to make sure everyone is on the same page and we're out there executing."

You guys have a game plan for Green Bay, but as the game goes on, will things change?

      "Absolutely. You can practice all the plays, but you're going off the script. You're going off what you think you're going to get. You don't know until you get into it and plays are actually getting called. Things will change over time. We'll see how it goes."

In terms of leadership, is it a challenge to get things going?

      "I think we have the right type of people here. At the end of the day you have to look into the mirror and make sure you're trying to do everything you can do to make things work and make sure you're putting in the time to allow this team to win. I think we've got a great group of guys. There's still a lot of season left."

The biggest advantage you have against the Packers is that they don't know what Bill Lazor will do. Do you guys look at it that way?

      "I guess you can say that. Again, we really don't know anything until we get out there on game day."

There have been a lot of changes. What has been like for you personally to navigate through them?

      "You just have to be you. That's the biggest thing. You have to trust the guys around you. I still feel confident with the guys that we have. We're going to get this thing turned around and get back to where we know we can play."

Is there any similarity with what the Packers are doing defensively to any group that you have played in your career, or do you feel like they are a little bit different?

      "I feel like they are a little bit different. They probably use a little more nickel or dime packages than other teams do. They play a lot of different defensive backs and do some different things. I wouldn't say they're necessarily similar to a certain team, but they do what they do, and it's worked for them for a while."

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