Marvin Lewis News Conference
Paul Brown Stadium
September 28, 2015
"We had a lot of good strong performances yesterday, and you don't want to take away from what a lot of guys did, but we still have a lot of improvements to make. We need to really do a better job of coaching them. On the other side, we have to do a better job of playing and executing. We have to play better; we can and will play better.
"We have to eliminate some of the penalties we're having. Overall, we need to play better situational football; understanding a situation fully whether it be field position or time. Our guys are well schooled on tendencies, personnel, and formations defensively. Same with the offense on the variety of looks. We make a lot of positives, but we need to nail them 100 percent. We can take strides and improve with that moving forward. Those are the biggest things coming out of yesterday, that we have to coach hard, and work harder to get things right."
You talked a lot about great players making great plays. Was this game an example that?
"Yes. I thought with the two touchdown drives when we were behind, what the offensive players did was great. We stepped up the protection, the quarterback improvised, and Gio (Giovani Bernard) made a great run after a catch. A lot of those were big plays."
There was some shaky tackling. Is that more their ability, or your team's mistakes?
"Steve Smith is a good, strong runner, we know that. We have to stay in the right leverages, and we cant miss and leave our hips behind. We have to be technically sound when we tackle. We got him on the ground a bunch, but the couple of times we didn't, he made explosive, important third-down plays."
So you're still okay with Steve retiring after this season?
You shut down the running game well …
"I think the way the game went, them falling behind, led a lot to that."
First glimpse of Brandon Thompson, how did he look?
"He was part of some positive plays for the defense. He did a nice job staying on his feet in the running game and made a couple plays there; like the screen play. There were some positives from Brandon yesterday."
Is this about as well as Andy has played?
"He's done that a lot. It's just another one of the string of good ones he's had. He had one throw we need to take back, and one he needed get rid of a bit quicker. It still holds true that if those possessions end in a kick, then we're in good shape."
Have you seen anything different from Andy during this stretch?
"I can't evaluate that. He played a nice ball game yesterday."
Do you sense there is more confidence from the team in general?
"We've had this start before. The guys feel good about it, they've worked hard to be here. They know the work ahead of them week to week and day to day. They have history with this, and know how to build upon it.
"They know what it takes, and I think that gives you confidence. It's like going to take an exam; being well-prepared and sitting in the front row as opposed to not and sneaking into the back of the class. That's the way they should be; prepare well, play confidently, and expect the guy beside you to make the plays, so you do your job to the fullest of your ability."
Is it easier for players to buy-in to what coaches are selling when you are winning?
"I think the coordinators in all three phases have done a nice job of previewing the openings of the games. Through execution, it gives you as a player confidence that the time spent on task during the week will pay off. Then it's about handling the unknowns; what happens outside the box. You have to make the proper adjustments, revisions, and additions on the sidelines, and move forward. I think those things are all positives that we should continue to build upon."
How do you explain the hot start to the game?
"Lets keep that up, but it's to their preparation and knowledge of the opponent."
Do you think the penalties are getting overly judicious?
"I think they would think so. The officiating departments are working hard to get things right. They're trying to find their strike zones as well. That's a common thing at the beginning of each season."
What have you seen from Andy's decisiveness lately?
"He's been the same with that throughout. Every year is a new year. Everyone wants to compare year-to-year, but that's one of Andy's best qualities, his decisiveness and his ability to feel the spacing on the field. Those were good throws. He has to continue to do that and make sure the ball goes to the right spots."
Did the amount of explosive plays surprise you?
"Well, you don't get many 80 yard plays. It was a great effort by AJ. The ball was on the money, he was able to break a tackle and spin out of another and keep rolling. Those are big, and you don't see it happen often. You always strive for that, but those are difficult things. You don't see that happen many times versus the Ravens defense."
How underrated of a quality is Andy's ability to make a change or see a defense?
"That's a part of his description. It's based on the role we give our quarterback in certain situations. It's important that he has a couple of options, and he has to take advantage of those options when he gets a chance. To me, that's so important for the quarterback to do that and nail something like that."
How is the dynamic in the AFC North now that Ben Roethlisberger is hurt?
"I have no idea. Not my concern. Ben doesn't play for the Chiefs."
What do you want to see from the running game going forward?
"We've had penalties that have hurt us in those situations. They put you behind the count, but also take back positive yards you've made. You want to eliminate those and avoid have guys falling off blocks, and continue with yards at the line of scrimmage. We have to keep it up, and we'll be better."
Gio Bernard played more than Jeremy Hill in the second half, was that because of his blitz pickups?
"No. Both do a good job of that. It was just the personnel Hue wanted at that time. We were behind, so in that situation It was going to be Gio."
Your advantage in field position to start drives was big yesterday …
"It helped that area that they had to start at the one or two-yard line after we didn't convert the fourth down. I thought (P Kevin) Huber had a strong game."