Lewis News Conference Transcript

Marvin Lewis News Conference
Paul Brown Stadium
December 24, 2014

Initial comments...
    "It's been obviously a quick turnaround to prepare for the Steelers again. There are things that we have to do better than we did in the first football game. Obviously take care of the football, continue to defend the running game and be consistent with that, and defend the explosive plays. Those things are critical in defending this offense. They've got skill guys on offense that are making plays. We've got to do a great job of limiting their opportunities. We've got to do a good job of protecting the ball, being able to run the football, and obviously protection becomes paramount always. Those things are things we have to do consistently throughout the game."

What makes Pittsburgh's run game different from other teams and so difficult at times to stop?
    "They're working with a good scheme. I think they're doing a good job, and they guys are executing it."

Any concern about Andy Dalton with his illness?
    "No."

Monday night was your 100th win. Is that of any significance to you?
    "My first loss was against Denver, that's all (Laughs). A lot of the coaches have been here the whole time with me, so it's great for them as well to be a part of that."

The team has gone to the playoffs six times under your regime. It happened only six other times total with every other coach that's been here. That's pretty significant...
    "That's part of what my job is. But it's not finished. We've got work to do. We still have an opportunity to win the division, which is first and foremost. That's a big goal for us, and then we go from there. We've had good steps along the way, and it all leads up to bigger opportunities and more opportunities. We've got to keep each lesson, and keep using them, the great lessons and learning tools, and put them under our belt and continue to move on."

Did you sense that these guys needed this primetime win?
    "Well, we needed a win. That's all. We needed to win. It was an important game for us to win in order to ensure that we were in the playoffs and then go from there."

What do you know about A.J. Green's arm?
    "I think A.J. Green's arm is coming along fine."

Improved? Progressing?
    "Progressing. That's a good word."

Does he have a shot at playing?
    "Yes."

You mentioned that it's a short week. With an opponent like Pittsburgh that you're familiar with, is that a benefit to you guys?
    "It's a short week, but only two games played since we saw them the first time, so it's not like there has been a lot of new data created. We've got 16 games of football to look at, but only two since the last time we played."

What makes Ben Roethlisberger so different than other quarterbacks?
    "He has great skills: accuracy, arm strength, vision, stature, and then his ability to avoid the rush. He's very dangerous if a guy misses him in the pocket, and if he moves out of the pocket he's got an uncanny ability to get his eyes focused down the field and make a play. These receivers do a good job of uncovering that way and making plays down the field."

Dallas' triplets in the NFC -- quarterback, running back, and wide receiver -- all made the Pro Bowl. Pittsburgh's in the AFC all made the Pro Bowl. Is this about as good a set of triplets you've seen in a while?
    "It is. They're obviously very good, and they're playing at a high level both production and winning."

Regarding Andy Dalton, can you divulge any more about his illness?
    "He's got the flu...like a lot of us."

Are you worried about any preparation?
    "I think I already answered that question. He's been here all day."

More of a quarantine deal so it doesn't spread?
    "We just do what the doctors tell us to do, and we're not going to elaborate on anything more."

Do you think Emmanuel Lamur will be able to play Sunday?
    "We'll see."

The third phase is special teams, and those hidden yards are always huge in these division games. You had an unbelievable game in that phase on Monday night. Is that critical in this one also?
     "It's huge. We've got to do a better job. We can't relax. What we did last week really isn't going to gain us anything this week. We've got to go back to work, and have great execution both in our coverage and ball placement, and also obviously in our return game. Last week's done with, and that was very helpful to us, but we have to make it happen again, and we can't allow anything to put us behind on the other side."

What is the message to Jeremy Hill after the fumble the other night?
     "Well, he's got to take care of the football, that's the message. If you don't take care of the ball, you don't get to play. It's plain and simple. We can't fumble the football. If we fumble the football or turn the ball over, you lose in the NFL."

He doesn't have a history of that though does he? He had a pretty good history of ball security in the NFL and high school ...
     (Nods assent.)

Will you have a little time tomorrow for Christmas and family?

    "Our guys will have some time in the morning with their families, and we'll come in and kind of shorten the day down, and get in and get some work in, and put things on video for us to analyze, and then get them out of here, and the coaches can finish up, and get home and enjoy their families as well."

How important was it to kind of stay on schedule this week?
     "We really got dealt a short straw with the Monday night game around Christmas week, because we could have done what you do most of the time, and that's let the coaches plan on Monday, and bring players in on Tuesday, and then go Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday back down and off. You can't ask the coaches to plan ahead and get different things in your head with a different team. The position coaches did all their planning they needed to do, but the coordinator can't look ahead. It's impossible for them to develop a plan (ahead), and then you go to play call at night."

You're always good at having a comparison to a guy. Who does Le'Veon Bell remind you of?
     "I think he's a lot like the guy who was in Seattle, Blair Thomas, or Ricky Watters. Guys like that were very balanced runners, have enough strength and durability, because they're bigger guys as well. They're great receivers of the football, and so they're just very, very talented all around."

What do you think the key is to your pass rush the last couple of weeks?
     "Whatever the key is, it's got to continue. We've got to work hard at it, We've got to work hard at the things we do, and it's important time of the year for us, and those guys have got to continue to lead us up front both sides of the football like always. It's a time of the year where it's critical and that matters. I think they've done a good job of taking ownership of that and moving forward with it."

How important was Monday night for Dre Kirkpatrick, as far as keeping him focused, not letting his mind wander?
     "It continues to affirm what we already know, what I already know for him, so he doesn't have to ask me, 'Why do you have me here anyway?' (Laughs). That game is why we have you here. He's a young guy, and opportunity's coming. He just has to keep technically staying sound. He plays a position where if you make a mistake, they find you in a hurry."

Was that his best effort in that regard, in terms of staying with technique?
     "Again, I thought he did a good job. We've got work to do."

When you take a step back from all that's going on right now, it has to mean something to you to have this franchise in four straight postseasons...
     "Our players understand the task at hand each and every time. We've been disappointed when we haven't got to the ultimate goal, so you have to credit them for how they go through the offseason, how they come back and work, how the coaches prepare to keep our eye on the target and come back. There's highs and lows in every season, and its to their credit that they've been able to smooth them out, and keep working, and keep on track, and come back after a loss and play better."

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