Marvin Lewis News Conference
Paul Brown Stadium
January 5, 2015
"I don't want to sit here in front of you and talk about it, but again, to reiterate what I said yesterday, it's disappointing for our football team, for our city, for our fans, that we weren't able to get it done. I told our coaches today, that moving forward we're going to find a way to do better. We've got to do better. We've got to find a way to get our guys through the little things, the critical moments of the game, to get those things done in a game that has the importance of a playoff game.
"You're fortunate to have earned your way into the playoffs again, but we're not here just to go to the playoffs. In fact, that's not even a goal. Our goals are to be undefeated at home, win the AFC North, and be world champions. We don't talk about going to the playoffs, except that we talk along the way about the things that give you the opportunity to control your destiny.
"So we're not satisfied with just being in the playoffs. There's a lot to be proud of for our players, the things they've accomplished, but there's more to it than just getting there. And that's why we do this.
"I thought yesterday the Bengal fans in Indianapolis were outstanding, and it was a big day for everybody, and everybody was looking for a win, and we failed to get it done. We failed to make plays in critical moments that controlled the football game, and that was disappointing."
As far as getting over the hump, can it ever involve more than just working harder?
"It's not about working harder. We work hard. I didn't say work harder. I just said do the things, make critical plays in critical moments. And that's what counts. I don't question the work ethic of our group ever, and I don't think anybody that plays us would question how we work, how physical they are, and how hard they go about it. That's not an issue.
"But they (Colts) make two critical plays on deep balls, and we don't make any plays. Those things stand out. We don't get field position flipped over in the third quarter. I think the second-half field position was the 19 to the 37, the 35. That's a huge part of the football game. That comes from us getting a penalty, getting a play called back, another penalty, and those things. We get a penalty in the kicking game. On the other side, I see things that just affected us and we didn't overcome them. A lot of times we didn't overcome them yesterday."
Making adjustments of adjustments is what football is all about. When you have guys with so little experience out there, is it tough to make those adjustments?
"Obviously you're going to make adjustments, but the thing is being able to recognize on the move, and make things happen positively on the move when it's not unfolding exactly the way it was drawn up on the board. You've got to do that execution-wise. It's critical that we do that."
What did you learn about Andy Dalton this year?
"He takes another huge step forward of handling the ups and downs of playing NFL quarterback. I think that he continued to grow, which is great. He worked with a new influence above him with Hue (offensive coordinator Hue Jackson), and we saw that relationship continue to grow.
"Andy had a lot of pressure on his play coming into the season, and he dealt with it and handled it. He won another 10 football games. He continues to be very durable and resilient in everything. I'm glad he's on our team, and we continue to move forward, and I'm looking forward to him having his best season ever next season."
Do you need more from him, or is it just a matter of him doing what he has been doing?
"We always want more from all of our players, but that's staying within the moment, though. That's part of the moment. We want to have less interceptions. We would all recognize that. Touchdown passes can only be a function of what we do, and if we're running it in for more touchdowns as we did this season, we may not have as many touchdown passes. And it makes our linemen feel good about things when they can run it in.
"Hue (Jackson) likes to reward the linemen with that, and he likes the feel of that. We're going to continue to work at that, but I do think we want to drop our interception numbers. And that comes not only from the quarterback, but from the perimeter around him, and it comes sometimes from our protection. All those things play a part in any turnover the quarterback has."
When you talk about making critical plays in critical moments, how much is that the quarterback, in the postseason particularly?
"Yesterday, I don't attribute it as much to the quarterback as guys at other spots, because I think the quarterback did what he could do to get it done. I wasn't really pointing to that."
I'm just thinking in terms of Andrew Luck, who made some huge plays yesterday, difficult plays...
"His receivers went up and made big plays, too, in catching the ball. That's part of it as well."
Does the public have unrealistic expectations of quarterbacks, especially Andy Dalton, and especially if you take away his best receiver and tight end? I think everybody expects him to be a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning...
"Well, until they took Tom Brady's people away, then he was a little different a year ago, right? I think that's the difference. Everybody understands that. Publicly people are going to judge how they want to judge. Our goal, our job, is to get Andy to do it regardless of who's out there, and however we have to get it done. There's no reason, there's no excuse, we want to get it done. The thing that we try to tell Andy is, you can't worry about who's out there, you just have to go about your job, and do it to the best of your ability, and allow us hopefully to get them coached up on how to do it, and we can get them in a winning position for you.
"That's the most important thing for us as coaches, to get whoever we have out there on the field, to get them in a winning position where they can win the matchup, and then they follow through with winning that matchup and making the play. And that's what we're looking to do all the time.
"Andy can't be concerned with that. If Andy's concerned about who's out there, he might as well not even take the field. You can't play quarterback concerned with all these other things around you. You've got too much going on. You've got to get us in the play, you've got to get us in protections, you're doing all those other things all the time, and if you're worried about that ... that's why it's critical for us to have guys who know how to get lined up. That's why we have to be very short-triggered on people who can't do it the right way for us, because we feel like it affects the quarterback adversely when he's worried about all that, and he's got to come out, and get guys lined up, and as you saw as we went through the season, and we lost players who had been with us through time, we had to do more things out of the huddle. And it's hard enough to do your job, and now you're down on the play clock, and you're trying to get this guy lined up, and now you've got to take a look, and scan and look at the defense, and do all the things that you're asked to do."
Was that a problem yesterday?
"I didn't say that."
I know. I'm asking...
"I can't tell you (laughs)."
Injuries aside, was there any one area you would have liked to have bolstered?
"Oh, again, I'm not going to sit here and make excuses about anything. That's not a good question for me to answer."
Do you anticipate any coaching staff changes?
"I haven't gotten to where we're talking about any of that or thinking about any of that. I think for the most part, our coaches are under contract."
Hue (Jackson) is going to be having some interviews...
"I understand that Hue may have an opportunity to go at least to interview at one spot, and hopefully there's more opportunity for him too, because I think he's deserving. Obviously it would be a big loss for us. It is unfortunately that time of year, from my standpoint, where we, cause, what's the word? Change. That's not the word I'm looking for, but that's a more simple word. Hue deserves an opportunity, and hopefully if it's what he wants, and if it works out, it works out."
How do you think Paul Guenther handled his first year as defensive coordinator?
"Well, I think Paul did a lot better than this guy did (speaking of himself)… I was pleased with Paul. I was pleased with his demeanor. I was pleased with his ability to handle the ups and downs of injuries, and the things that we've had to overcome all year. That part is a real positive. There is no question in my mind that as a play caller, in your second year, you're so much more calm at what you're doing, and how you do it, and things unfold so much better for you. You get a better sense of how much you need, and what you need going into a game, and how all of that works, and comes off the sheet and so forth. I think there's always going to be a big jump, just as there is from a rookie player to his second season. There's such a jump in that. You look forward to good things that way."
Do you still enjoy the week-to-week process of coaching?
"That's the only process you have control of, week to week. I think you do enjoy that. That's what drives you. That's what keeps you here at night. That's what keeps you here overnight. Whatever the situation is, that's the thing, that when everybody goes home, that's what has me upstairs. That's part of it. I'm getting worse at it, because I can't sleep without knowing. That's the one part of it that drives you even harder. I used to be able to put it behind me. I can't put it behind me anymore. I guess that comes with age."
How bad was last night?
"Well it's bad. It's horrible. I can't use those words here or I get in trouble. I've been in enough trouble this year in these (laughs)."
Last night you don't have anything to prepare for...
"Yeah, I know, but I can look at us, and I can look at the future, and I can do all of those things. I can plot for the future. I can plot for my meeting with every player today and everything that way, their direction and my view of them for the future, and leave them with thoughts and leave the team with the thoughts, and the fact that we failed to get it done for you. We failed to get you in position to make plays to win the game. That's part of my responsibility. All of the things that people are saying 'You did this, you did that,' but at the end of the thing is we want an opportunity to play to be world champions. That's what it's all about. We're going to figure out a way. Everybody in this building, there's a lot of positive, but yet everybody feels the hangover of it today."
When you looked at tape, were you thinking about needs?
"I think about needs all of the time. Mike (Brown) and I have talked about that -- you know Mike -- for two months now."
What do you think your top needs are?
"Come on. It's been a dozen years (of questions like that). I'm not going to tell you anything (laughs)."
When you looked at the tape, did your opinion change?
"No, it didn't. I don't have a great view from the sidelines at times of what happens and how something unfolded. How we ended up out of position? How come we didn't make that play? Did we get knocked off the route? Those kinds of things. Did we get grabbed at the line? Those kind of things. Those are things I want to look at. I don't feel any better about it, but I have an understanding."
Were there one or two players who maybe exceeded your expectations from back in August?
"I think Ryan Hewitt. I don't know if he exceeded my expectations, because I thought as far back as May and June that he was going to be a very good NFL player. But yeah, I would say I think he exceeded them. Because he did it quicker than I expected. I didn't know his role was going to be as big as it was this year. So I was really pleased with him.
"And obviously, Jeremy Hill. His role became bigger and bigger, and he assumed it quicker than we expected. I thought Dre Kirkpatrick showed everything we thought he had. And I'm pleased that he got the opportunity that he got. I thought Darqueze (Dennard), every time he got an opportunity to play, he made significant plays. It was a group of guys who got some opportunity, and we've just got to keep moving forward. But those young guys in particular that came here as rookies – or Dre, who hasn't had a chance to play nearly as much because of injury – I'm pleased with what they were able to do this year."
History tells you that windows of opportunity don't really stay open long. How do you keep this team's window open?
"That depends on the age of your football team. The challenge of the NFL every year, which I think we have done a very good job of, is staying young. And we'll continue to stay young as we move forward. We mature on one side, but we continue to churn the other side. We've got to continue to draft well and develop our young players.
"The coaches know that we're going to play young players. Marquis Flowers yesterday goes into the game and plays significant snaps that are meaningful. Those are things that we're going to have to continue to do with guys like that, who get an opportunity to go in and play and make significant contributions."
With the injuries to the perimeter and skill people, talk about the significance of the big boys and how important that was going to be. Did they answer the bell in your opinion?
"I thought when we had the opportunity in the first half, we did some good things. I thought in the third quarter, we came out and ran the ball on first down, and we had an opportunity to gain a little bit more there. I think we ended up with two or three (yards). Then we came back, had a run at some point that gained four. But we led off a couple of the series with the deep balls, and they didn't come out the way we wanted, so we got out of sync. Then we had the big play on the screen, and we get it called back. Now we're behind the eight-ball again, where that was after the run.
"So again, any time you get out of sequence, it's going to be hard. People say, 'Well, you didn't run the ball.' Well, we got out of sequence, and then we're down by more than two scores, or by two scores, so we're going to have to make up some ground fast. Sometimes you're going to get a little off kilter that way.
"Up front defensively, we have a crack toss we didn't fit right, but other than that we played pretty good against the run in the first half of the football game. When we lost Rey (Maualuga) we had to change a little bit. I wasn't disappointed in how we did."
You mentioned the future of the franchise. What do you see the definition of the future of the franchise being?
"The definition of the future is to be world champions. There's nothing short of that. That's what the definition is."
Do you see this team doing that next year with the talent you have?
"I think we have the ability to do that. We've got to go about winning the football games. We're not going to do it talking about it in here or talking about it on paper. We're going to have to go back, and we're going to have to win the regular season and go from there."
You mentioned yesterday that tomorrow isn't promised to anybody. How happy are you that you get another chance next to come back and get done what you haven't got done to this point, where some guys might not get that chance?
"Well I don't know. Do you think people are releasing people that put a team in the playoffs four years in a row?"
The swing pass to Giovani Bernard for 30 yards that went to midfield and got called back. Was that a momentum killer?
"Yeah, likely. But again, let's not put ourselves in that position. That's another small detail that we've got to coach better, that we don't get our hand where there's no question about this. Now, do they run the play and kind of grab us a little bit? Luckily, Darqueze (Dennard) caused the fumble, but we were engulfed. You've got to make breaks, and we didn't make any breaks yesterday. We made few breaks. Not enough."
Do you feel like the six playoff wins obscure the 100 wins for you, and everything you've been able to do here?
"I don't know. My job is to win games and get the team to the Super Bowl. And win the Super Bowl, not just get there. I can't worry about the other things. I'm disappointed for the football team, as I said opening this thing up. I'm disappointed for the team. I'm disappointed for our fans. I'm disappointed for the city. The city needs to win on a big scale. Big time. They deserve it. And that's what I'm disappointed in. It's not about me, it's about them. One day when I walk out of here, hopefully I leave that trophy in here, and I just keep on stepping. That's all I want to do. I'm telling you, that's all I want to do. And you'll never hear from me again."
So you'll retire if you win the Super Bowl?
You'll be on your own island somewhere….
"Anyway, that's all I feel. And I've never felt any different about that. I really haven't. I never felt any different about that. It's not about me. It's about these guys, and their opportunity, and how good it will feel for them, and how much the city and the fans are deserving of this. They need that feeling again.
"And now we've got to wait eight months to build it back up again. But we will. And I think that part will be exciting. We're going to tread new ground. We're going to have some new people. We're going to be better. We're going to be better than we were, and we're going to be even more focused than we've been. We're going to be more experienced with some of the guys, be less experienced with some of the others. But you know what, at the end of the day we'll be OK and we'll be ready to go."