Marvin Lewis News Conference
Paul Brown Stadium
June 16, 2015
You had another big event last night for your foundation. You have become quite a staple in the community. What has that meant to you and your family?
"We've been blessed to be able to do the things we do, and to award something like 7000 kids who qualified for the Learning is Cool, the celebration last night. The Zoo has been a tremendous partner. And other groups around the city lend a hand. It's a great time for the kids to get to go to the zoo. Some maybe can never afford to go any other way. All of our players that turned out last night, probably 40 or 50 guys to help with that, is amazing. All of the volunteers. I know that Toyota has really stepped up and made it easier for me. They've made it very efficient. It was very cool. A good night. A great night for the zoo, and the people at the zoo were really pleased."
Is that the most players you've had at the event?
"It's probably about the same we usually have. They have fun. I think the zoo has enhanced it for them because they get to do other stuff. It's not just standing and taking pictures. These guys are getting to be around and with the animals and so forth, so it was pretty cool for them as well, how to handle certain things and see these animals in a different environment."
How much more comfortable are you this year, compared to last, when you had two new coordinators?
"I don't know if it makes the job any easier. Now it's the revisions and the other things that we know we have to do. Paul (Guenther) has had a season of play-calling under his belt, and Hue (Jackson) had been under this before. So you learn your strengths, your weaknesses, the things you need to do better, and certainly as coaches we learn things all the time."
In hindsight, given two new coordinators, were you pleased with last season?
"Again, you're not pleased until you're holding that trophy. This morning the Chicago Blackhawks are pleased, and that's what it's all about. Only one group gets to be pleased in the NFL each and every year. I think the coaches, as I said at the end of the year, all handled things well. They worked through some adversity, they worked though some things that you do all of the time, the plusses and the minuses of players. You learn a lot, and the next time around, you've got to work harder at being better at it and better at it. That's where we are as a football team. We can't be satisfied with anything. We've got to be better at what we do."
What's it like for Paul Guenther, going from first-year to second-year defensive coordinator?
"Well, I know after my first year, the first person I called was Tony Dungy. I said, 'Hey, can you come spend some time with me?' Tony had a lot of wisdom about a lot of things. I remember talking with Bill Cowher. You go and you reach out to people that you're comfortable with. Those were two people who were kind of sounding boards for me that way. Just my first year experience and bouncing ideas off them."
Do you have a sense that the offense has come to know what Hue wants it to be?
"There's no doubt that it's something that's really important to him. It's something he tries to carry on with every day -- a mindset for them to go in and attack. Be an aggressive, attacking type of offense. Be physical at the line of scrimmage and so forth. And then we've got to go out and do it play after play after play. That's what is important. We get to do those things once the fall rolls around."
Do you sense a difference with that this spring, compared to last spring?
"I don't think you can judge that. There's no way to judge that during the NFL offseason. I think we feel good about where we are with our guys, with the revision, with the addition of new guys and so forth, but you can't go out and judge physical. We're not going to judge that until we end up in Oakland (for the season opener). That's when we get to judge it. That's what's important."
Did the coaching staff succession and transition turn out how you thought?
"Both coaches having been here, I think they knew what was expected. It was easy for me to make additions or revisions when things maybe weren't moving in the direction I wanted to see them move. I think that's an easy fix, as opposed to the emotion of others from outside and things that you don't know. I think everybody knew each other well enough, and they knew what I expected, and I know where they were coming from. When they see something differently than I do, I think they feel comfortable coming in and talking to me about it, and we get it into one direction."
What are your expectations of the intern coaches working with you in the minority fellowship program?
"I want to teach them how to be able to coach at this level. It's everything. I want to them to learn how to do the breaking down of things. It's not just hanging around the players. You're looking for someone who at some point, you would like possibly as a member of your coaching staff. Or someone else's staff that I could recommend them to, if a particular job that fits their capabilities comes open.
"Not every job is for every person. We have different strengths and weaknesses on the staff that we're always trying to fill as far as other roles and responsibilities when a job becomes open. It's not just cookie-cutter, because we have certain guys who are really good at certain things, and sometimes you want to add a guy that's better at something else. But to me that's the expectations of the program, to bring coaches in that aspire to coach at this level. They aspire to get better as coaches, and we can help them do that. And then how do they communicate, how do they teach, and so forth."
Of course you have a former Bengals player here this week in the coaching program, T.J. Houshmandzadeh …
"I've had enough contact with T.J. since he finished playing to feel good about him doing this. I felt very confident in him as a player, that his maturity and his ability to help others in the room to get better was a great quality. I think particularly when you brought in younger players, you saw he had ability to mentor them. He's a guy that would be here late all the time, so it's just a decision he has to make in his life going forward, because he has young kids and they're busy with activities and so forth. At some point in his life, he's got to make a commitment about what he wants to do as well."
How would you compare T.J. as a player to T.J. as coach?
* *"Well, T.J. knew more than all the coaches anyway (laughs). Now you get to show it. I think the opportunities that T.J. has had have prepared him well if he does want to continue to go further in coaching, because he's had good experience. He left here and went on to another club and learned from other coaches. He had experience that gives him a base of fundamentals he can do. He was a smart player once he got into the NFL. He had to learn quickly, because he started a little bit behind everybody else (due to an injury), so he had to catch up."
Andy Dalton talked a lot about the work he did this offseason with Tom House. When you look at all the work NFL players do in the offseason, and when you look at those few months they are by themselves, how important is it for Andy or anybody else in the NFL to take it on their own to get better in that down time?
* *"I think that's the key to a pro's pro – a guy who wants to be at the top of his game has got to spend time, just a like professional golfer does. They go to different people all the time, they're always searching for answers and wondering, 'What is out there that can make me better?' You're not trying to re-invent the wheel, but what can I do to enhance the things that I currently do and make me a better player, and make me more efficient at my job? Turning over those stones is an important part in Andy's maturity and development moving forward."
Are you able to tell anything from Andy's work with House?
"I think all of our guys believe in Tom and the different things he has given them to help them. They believe wholeheartedly in it and they've stayed true to it. I think we see that in every area of their football."
What's the biggest message that you will have for your players for the next five weeks – the dead period?
* *"Don't get hurt … and stay away from the knuckleheads. There's knuckleheads around every turn. Make sure those people that you're around think your career is more important than you do. You have to make good choices, good decisions. They'll leave here with a great baseline of conditioning at football level right now. We don't want to lose it. We want to continue on it. We're at this point and we want to come back at this point and we want to work at that point. They've got a great baseline right now of where they are in conditioning and so forth, so we want to continue on with that. Their body fats, their weights and so forth are all monitored and checked, so that's an easy way to continue with them. This has been good. They need a little break from the coaches, and I know the coaches certainly need a break from them. That's good time for the coaches to be away."
How good was it see Devon Still back here for the camp?
* *"It was good to see Devon. He's got that twinkle in his eye. We can't get him back fully in football right away, because he's not been with us. We'll check his level and get him going back physically, but he hasn't been out there with us every day, so we're not going to subject him to possible injury over these three days."
You've got young coaches here and also young players. Are the characteristics you're looking for similar at all?
* *"I think it's a little different. With a player, you're looking to see where he'll be 2-3 weeks from now. With a coach, you're not looking at that time frame. When you're deciding between players, you're making decisions based on the immediate, and also the future down the line."
What would be a tiebreaking characteristic of a coach?
* *"Work ethic to me is the most important, and people willing to be an expert at what they do. You want to be the very, very best at what you do, and you have to be willing to spend the time to be an expert at what you do. You don't have to know it all, but what you know, you have to know very soundly, and you have to be able to confidently communicate it. Coaching people at this level it's no different than coaching eighth-graders or eight-year-olds. The thing is to have sound teaching fundamentals and skills, and be able to communicate to the player and have the player go out and exhibit and refine and go back and do it again and again."
From year one to year two, what kind of improvement are you looking to see out of Darqueze Dennard?
"Well, he didn't get much of a chance last year to play, which was kind of by design. It worked out that way, but he's not satisfied with that. He's had a really good start to his second year, which I think all rookie players do. They spend so much time trying to prepare for the draft prior to that rookie season. They don't really do football. Now, once you've seen what the NFL is about and the grind of the NFL, you are able to train for that. He's done a really good job of that. He's done better on how he eats and the things that we ask him to do with his body, and that's key. We've got a really good player, and the good thing is, we still have a competitive group where the best guys will play. But we know we need a lot of them back there."
Given Devon's current situation with his daughter, was it a surprise to see him in the locker room?
"Well, if he had needed to be there for Leah, he would have definitely been excused, and I told him that. He's been consistent with wanting to be here, and frankly he was going to be here a week ago, but things change. It's good that he's here now, and I do think there's a little bit of him needing to get away for a bit (into football). She's in as good a place as she could be at this point right now, and hopefully it continues to get better."
Now that it has been a year for Devon and his circumstances, how have you seen him grow as a person?
"He's really had to grow up and mature very quickly. I haven't seen that jovial guy. I don't think those times exist for him. Every waking moment for him is for his daughter and her future and health, so that's a hard road. A lot of the camaraderie that happens with an NFL group, he's not been able to experience that part of the offseason to grow that way. He's been busy dealing with real life stuff. That makes you grow up in a hurry and almost calluses you some. I hope that he's able to get that smile and bounce back full-time in his life."