Marvin Lewis News Conference
"After watching the tape of yesterday last evening, the things that I wrote down that struck me was that we can't have the pre-snap errors, both offensively and defensively. Those are things that are easily corrected, and things that we can't let creep into our football at any point. And then we've got to take care of the ball on offense, and continue...it just become fundamental things, to stay after it on defense, and then we had balls in our hands on defense, and we've got to make the plays, and make the plays on contested balls. They got two touchdowns on contested balls, but we've got to come down with that ball in both situations. I thought some guys did some good things. I thought our third down rate on offense continues to get better. We've got to keep it higher and above that. Defensively, we had a good first half, and we've got to be just as consistent in that third quarter as we were in the first half. I thought (Jermaine) Gresham did a good job catching the ball yesterday on third down. (Brandon) Tate had a big third down catch, (Mohamed) Sanu. The quarterback has got to keep working the football based on leverage and coverage, and do a good job that way all the time. Those are big points. I thought Geno (Atkins) continues to come. He did a nice job yesterday in the run game. We've got to keep coming that way."
Comments on the Cleveland Browns...
"Cleveland is playing good football. They've won the last two games they've played. Their quarterback is doing a great job of taking care of the ball. He hasn't had that many turnovers--I think four. That's a key to the success that they're having. They're able to move the ball by getting it into the receiver's hands. They're running the ball productively--I think about 111 yards a game. That's helped them to do things. Defensively, they're staying pretty consistent, as we know how Mike (Pettine) would play it with the defense with the looks, and pressure, and so forth that they're going to bring. We've got to do a great job of protecting our quarterback this week, and continue to be productive in the run game, and really be fundamentally sound in football."
Is it hard for you to watch film of Andrew Hawkins and have to prepare to play against him for the first time?
"We know Andrew and how much heart and what a quality person and player he is. He's leading them in receiving, and I don't have to look at the program and see what number he is when I see him run. He's doing the dirty work for them. He's cutting off linemen on the backside. He's doing all the things we know Hawk can do."
Do you feel like you're more prepared trying to go against a guy like that? It will really be the first time you actually have to try and stop him...
"We're going to play against the offense, and Andrew is a big part of their offense. We've got to defend the offense all the way around."
Nico Johnson started for you. What have you seen from him since he got you that made you comfortable putting him in that position?
"That's why we made the move to bring him here. We felt like he was a good in-line linebacker, and he would do a nice job playing downhill and doing the things that he did in college. Matt Burke had the experience of coaching him down in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. We were able to watch him play at Kansas City in the snaps that he got in their games. We felt good about him with his skillset and how he would play. The timing worked out pretty well."
Is there something that you needed to see from him mentally?
"We had no questions about him mentally. We had done enough work on him. We knew what kind of player and what kind of aptitude he had as a player."
How do you like to handle the short week? What's your approach?
"The big things is they have to get their bodies back physically. When you play a game on Sunday, and you turn around and play a game on Thursday, a lot of weeks guys don't do anything for us until Thursday. That's the key element is we've got to get guys feeling right as quick as possible. We've got to get the blood flowing back through the body. Blood flow helps eliminate soreness, so that's key. And we have to continue to press ahead and grind mentally on this game. It's a big game for us. It's Thursday night here in Cincinnati. We haven't had one of these at home for a while. That's huge. We need that crowd to continue to be as loud as they've been, and come out here and have a great night. It's a battle for first place here, so it's a big deal."
There's a lot of players and coaches around the league that don't think Thursday night games should be played. What do you think?
"You must be new here (Laughs). It's none of my business. It's the game on the schedule. We're going to get ready and play this game Thursday night."
With the physical toll it takes, can you get done in practice what you want to get done?
"Well, this is a different week of practice when you get ready for these games. It's not the same kind of practice week."
How much have coaches been pre-planning for this game?
"We looked at the Browns during our bye week. The coaches looked at the Browns during the bye week. The assistant coaches got on the latter part of last week, and the coordinators went to the Browns immediately after the game last night. The rest of us that don't want to fill our heads with other thoughts went right to the Browns last night after the game was over. That's kind of how you have to do this. Hell, its toll on the players. It's worse on the coaches."
Were the interceptions by Andy Dalton the last couple of weeks just fluky plays?
Well, it doesn't matter if they were fluky. We can't have those either way. We've got to do a better job with the football. Again, we can't make a bad play worse. If we don't have what we want then let's get away, let's get down and take care of the football. Punting the football is not the worst thing for us at any point. That's what he knows is his job, is to have each one of our offensive series end with a kick. If we do that we have a great opportunity to win football games."
The kicking game has helped carry you the last couple of weeks and has had some big moments...
"This is a football team and we've got to win all three phases all of the time. We've got to take advantage of the things that we have. Our guys, they're obviously well coached, and we've got to keep at it, and keep grinding at it, and execute our plan each and every Sunday out there, and in this case Thursday night. If (Travis) Benjamin goes back there this week, or whatever returner they've got back there, we know they've got a great threat at returner in playing the Browns. It was a big part of their team a year ago. So, we've got to do a great job in coverage this week. That means great ball placement by Kevin (Hubert) and Mike (Nugent) because that's a lot of it, too. We've got to get the ball where we want it and where we expect it, and we've got to do a nice job."
Do you anticipate Giovani Bernard getting back to practice this week?
Can you talk about Andrew Hawkins doing a nice job for them"
"Yes, I think I spent five minutes talking about Andrew. He does. He's leading him in receiving. He's getting the ball on the screens, he does the dirty work cutting off the guys on the backside, he's blocking in the running game. He took a couple of real physical shots in the last game, and bounced right back up, and got back in there and came at them. He's what we know he is. He's such a competitor."
The Joe Haden matchup with A.J. Green has been a special one since A.J. has been here. Why is that?
"I think that matchup goes further than that, so I think they've been playing against each other for a while. I think Joe is an excellent, excellent player. He's very competitive. He's got great speed, great feel around wide receivers, great hips to transition to run and does it in a great job."
How have things changed for them since Alex Mack went out?
"This is probably their second or third game with this group of guys out there, and they've been trying to find what's the best setup in there. That's a hard thing. It's your center but also such a great player that they had at center. But they've won the last two football games, so they've done a nice job of doing what they're doing."