Lewis News Conference Transcript 12/18


Head coach

Initial comments...

"After going back through and reviewing the tape from yesterday, it's been two weeks with not getting off to a very good start. Early in the football game, we had some opportunities to continue to keep field position with positive plays. Defensively, Geno (Bengals DT Geno Atkins) starts the game with a sack on first down, and we get second-and-long. We allowed them to convert that with the screen. There was the quarterback scramble, then we drop a coverage and so forth. Then it just transpires. We do a lot of good things, and then we have a play where we break down. That was the consistent thing that was disappointing and unfortunate defensively yesterday. On the other side of the ball, we go first down with a gain of nine yards, then on second down we have a (two)-yard loss, then we have a third-and-(three) and don't convert. Third and three, I guess it was. ... We weren't converting those third downs, and that was a significant part (of the game).

"Obviously, with the interception for the touchdown and the later interception, those are the things that we aren't fundamentally getting done right. It's hurting us, and we're getting ourselves behind in the football game — like yesterday, which what you don't want to do on the road with the crowd like that. There are things where we have enough players to do it right and do it correctly, and get done right. We have to continue to refine who we're doing it with and how we're doing it, so that we're better. We have to give the offense the opportunity to make first downs, we have to give Andy the ability to stay in (the pocket) and make the correct throws, and for our guys to make the plays and catches when the opportunities arise, both in the passing game and the running game. Those are things that are going to be important in similar situations this week when we play the Lions."

Do you feel like this team has checked out?

"No, I don't. Not at all."

With no playoff implications, how do you prevent the players from checking out over the next two games?"

"This is the professionals. There are things that drive (the players). They are driven, a lot of them, to be the best at what they do in their craft — to be held in high esteem, to earn playing time. All of those things. Those things are all there. We had nobody check out of that game yesterday, even when I made the change at quarterback. When we got stopped there on offense and I told them to warm AJ (Bengals QB AJ McCarron) up, the rest of the group wanted to stay in the football game. Nobody has checked out, or will check out. We've had some guys that have been injured, and we are trying to overcome some of those things, and there are a lot of new faces that are popping up and playing. Unfortunately, injuries are part of the game."

Did you go to McCarron and pull Dalton so that Dalton wouldn't get hurt? Was it to see if McCarron could provide a spark?

"I just wanted to give AJ an opportunity to play at that point. We weren't going to win the football game, so we might as well give AJ an opportunity to play."

Is there a confidence issue with Dalton? This stretch seems very similar to the one at the beginning of the season ...

"No. I think they surprised him with the coverage on the interception. They made a good play, and we didn't make a good play. The ball to LaFell (Bengals WR Brandon LaFell) is right where it needed to be, and the guy grabs his arm, they click heels and the ball goes down (to the ground). That was the second third down. Those are things we have to do better. We had a ball down the sideline that we have to make sure we get. We had a lot of good throws, but, right now, when you're trying to play from behind, all those things count more."

More than once Vikings HB Jerick McKinnon was so wide open, how frustrating was that for you?

"Obviously, there were different defenses (on different plays), but guys have got to get their jobs done. We had some different guys in there — young, different guys. They all have to communicate and make sure they stay on the same page. There were plays where we were great at it, (where it) caused some sacks. It's has to be consistent throughout."

Regarding guys who have been injured, are you going to make roster moves to get healthier guys on the roster?

"It's not that easy to do. There are certain specifics you have to (have) to make moves. You have to hit certain criteria."

A number of players did go out in yesterday's game, are any of their injuries to the point where they aren't going to play for the rest of the season?

"You know me and injuries — it's best not to talk about them. We'll see what happens."

Now that it's been 24 hours since the report came out that said you were leaving after the season, did you feel like you had to talk with your staff about it? Have you talked with your staff?

"I addressed it to the team yesterday. I literally can't control things some things that are said. Just block the noise out, play football, coach football, do what we do."

Have you set a date to talk about your contract with Mike Brown?

"Mike and I speak every morning."

Have you talked about the contract specifically?

"No we haven't."

Now that the chance to make the playoffs are gone, why not talk about your contract status now?

"It's not the pertinent thing right now. The pertinent thing right now is to coach the football team. That's what my job is, and that's what I am supposed to do."

At what point do you think it should be addressed?

"I don't know. It will be addressed when we address it."

Do you want to be back here next year?

"I want to coach football."

Do you want to coach football here?

"Sure. Are you making an offer today? (Laughs) We're really wasting time talking about this right now. Just let it die down. Let's go win these football games, and let things happen the way they do."

When you look at next year, do you see yourself coaching or do you see yourself doing something else?

"Again, we're going to address next year when next year comes."

Did you investigate today where all the information came from? You seemed annoyed by the inaccuracy yesterday?

"I don't need to investigate anything. It's a waste of time. Just let it go."

The whole thing is regrettable, basically?

"It's an unfortunate thing, because it causes a lot of people a lot of angst for no reason. It's not going to change anything that occurs. Do you know what I mean? Let's just get to the end and see what happens."

I know your mom believes a lot of what she reads in the press. Did you have to explain anything to her today?

"No. I haven't spoken to her today, or yesterday."

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