Marvin Lewis News Conference
Paul Brown Stadium
October 28, 2015
Opening comments …
"It's obviously a big football game for us, a divisional game on the road. Our guys are excited to play, and we have to have a good week of preparation, and go play hard and fast. We're excited to get going and do that."
This use to be the "big brother vs. little brother game". We used to measure the Bengals against Pittsburgh. When did that change?
"I don't know about measuring. Obviously, Pittsburgh won the division last year, and that's what I remind our guys of all the time. They beat us twice and won the division. That's what our number one goal is, to win the division. They're still holding the crown over there, so it's an important football game."
Buddy Dupree is leading their team in sacks. It's not often you see a rookie flash his ability. What have you seen out of him so far?
"He's done a good job. I think he fits well to their scheme. He's come in and made the adjustment to NFL football. I thought the key for Buddy, down there at UK, was that he got the opportunity to play at different spots. We talked to (Mark) Stoops about that. He had some versatility in the things they asked him to do, prior to the new staff getting there. Then, making the transition with a new staff. He's made a good transition into the NFL."
What do you see as the biggest improvement for Carlos Dunlap from his rookie season to now?
"He does what we want to see much more often. He's matured as a man and as a player. He tries to do things the right way, and that's been key for him."
Alejandro Villanueva made his first start with the Steelers. You guys had him for a short time. Do you remember anything about him while he was here?
"He was here on a rookie tryout. He was trying to figure out if he could be an NFL player. He had his service commitment that he had to go back and do. He was very conscientious the three days he was here, and he did a good job. He was a big-boned, physical looking guy, and that's why we brought him in for the rookie tryout. He did a good job while he was here."
You've built a very sound culture here, one that the players believe in and respect. Is it similar to the culture that's been built in Pittsburgh?
"Obviously my roots in the NFL started there. But, it's been a while since I've been there, 20 years. So, I'm sure some things have changed. I still think the fundamental things for Mr. Rooney is still the same. It's about hard work, what you are doing today and not yesterday. That was the key element for Pittsburgh. Never worry about yesterday. It's all about today. That's the one thing the Rooneys stand for."
How would you sum up your view of the culture here?
"We work hard. Guys know that when they come into this building, you work hard, you stand out."
Is that as easy as bringing in the type of guys that will work hard?
"It's part of the process. Some guys are obviously on the fence, and they've got to move over to that side or it's hard to stay. They are going to be urged by their teammates to get in step, or at some point, we know we have to move on from that player. That's what it takes. There is no shortcut to winning in the NFL. To win week after week, you have to have hard work and tough people. They have to play smart, and you have to be physical."
You seem to have shrunken the number of fence setters?
"Yeah, I don't know that I shrink them, but they get shrunk."
It seems like Pittsburgh and others, New England, not only have the character players, but the mix of the veterans mentoring the young guys …
"Every year you have 6-10 players that are drafted or come here from college, and they obviously all come from different backgrounds, different programs and so forth. I think veteran players recognize that when you get to a certain point, there are guys with ability and talent that might be missing chip. If we can get that instilled it in them, and taught, and learned and reinforced the right way, then we benefit from all that ability they have. You're always kind of running that line and riding that to push them to the good side."
You grew up in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Is the whole hard work, blue collar, keep shoveling mentality just kind of in the DNA of that region?
"People were coal miners, and they went from coal mines to the steel mills and so forth, and they worked on the ramp at US Air until US Air left. It's a tough life. The people before my father worked in the coal mines. My father's generation went to the mill, and guys that didn't go onto college that I grew up with went to work on the ramps for US Air. You learned as a laborer, so it's inbred, hard work and earning your way, and I think that's important. The great Steelers teams of the 70's were part of the whole environment in Pittsburgh at that time. There I am in junior high and high school, so you're part of it, part of that fiber."
I don't expect you to throw a party on the plane on the way back if you win, but would you take pride in a head coach being the first team in franchise history to go 7-0?
"We haven't thrown any parties yet, and this wouldn't be party time either. That's our goal to be 7-0, and it would be a good thing, and it lasts about five minutes and then we'd be on to whoever we play next, which I believe is the Browns. You take satisfaction in our guys being 7-0. That's where the satisfaction is for their work and what they've accomplished and move on to the next club and get ready."
The guys say they are celebrating wins less this year. Does that start with you, or is it just kind of the thing they've all bought into?
"Go back to 2005 in Detroit (when the Bengals clinched the AFC North Division title). The celebration is one leg in the deal. The culture has been changed here. They do expect to go out and win every week. There needs to be no celebration, it's on to the next opponent. You did what you're supposed to do. I think everybody expects that, and part of it is, whether you are up or down in the football game, to have the same calmness, and the same emotion about it, and the same attention to detail."
You've done both things, you've turned the franchise around when you came here, and here lately you've maintained a level of success. Which is tougher to accomplish, the turnaround or sustaining it over a period of time?
"I think the hardest thing in the league is to sustain things over time, because of injuries and attrition and graduation. When a team does that, it's the organization, it's the players, it's the management, it's everybody that really should get the credit for that. The players have to understand this is professional sports, guys are going to come and go, and every year we're going to put out a different football team. Every week we could put out a different football team. We've got to adjust to that and win at the task at hand."
Patience and extending plays are the hallmark of this Steelers team. How difficult is it to game plan for something like that?
"You've got to do a good job of staying in your responsibility. That's the key element. With Le'Veon (Bell), as a runner, he's got great, great vision. He's a great runner, maybe the best in the league right now with his patience and his ability to cut and run downhill to accelerate. The same thing with the quarterback -- Ben (Roethlisberger) -- his ability to ward off an ongoing rusher and keep his eyes down the field and make a big play. Their receivers do a great job adjusting to that. We have to do a fine job of being disciplined on defense."