* *"The Rams, last week, lost a close football game. Have had some ups and down to their season. They got going through the middle part with the runner (Todd Gurley) doing a very good job. Their quarterback has done a really job of not turning the ball over. They're really low on interceptions. That's what was carrying them through when they got going.
"The last few weeks, they haven't had as much production. Teams have limited them in the running, and they had a change in quarterback last week.
"Defensively, there are statistics that stand out. They're doing a great job on third down. They have 30 sacks on the year. Those are things that they are doing a good job of. They've caused 16 fumbles and recovered 10.
"Those are the things that stand out when you look at them. They are really talented. The other thing is the special teams area. They really do a great job of keeping you alert and on your toes with many different looks in punt and punt return. Everything they do. They make you stay sound and defend the ball all the time."
Some of the guys were saying that Aaron Donald is about as close as it gets to Geno (Atkins). What do you see out of him?
"Well, he's a good player. He was a good prospect coming out. He's done a nice job since being there in St. Louis."
What does he do for the rest of the defensive line when he can move around and be disruptive inside?
"He's has an ability to win in one-on-one matchups. When you get a defensive tackle like that, just like the kid down in Tampa (Gerald McCoy), it does give the rest of your group more opportunity."
Coach (Jeff) Fisher said they've had to shuffle so many injuries in their offensive front five. What have you've seen is there a lack of continuity up front for them?
"Well, they've had some injuries. I can tell what they do, and schematically they are doing a good job. Again, they give you some different looks. You have to stay disciplined to what they are doing. We're going to be challenged that way, and we're going to have to tackle this guy (Todd Gurley). He's explosive, he has speed, has the ability to cut, and he's strong. When you look at him, he's a handful. We have to do a great job."
You've faced Jeff Fisher for a while and you've sat in meeting rooms with him. What makes him a good coach?
"I think he really does a great job of getting the most out of the players. Guys enjoy playing for him. But, on the other side of it, he's demanding of them and gets the best out of them."
Is this another type of AFC North game with a good running game and a talented defense?
"It is. They're well put together that way and they're well coached."
It's been an odd schedule the last couple of weeks. Do you feel that has taken a toll on your team in any way?
Carlos Dunlap said that some of the crews are seeing this team as a little bit chippy on defense, and they are watching them more closely with penalties What is your take on the penalties?
"We can't throw a ball back at a guy who is taunting. If you hit a guy with all four (both players') feet in the white, you are going to get a penalty."
You want your defense to have an edge, right?
"I want them to play within the rules."
What kind of challenge does a guy like (Tavon) Austin present?
"Tavon has good speed. He's very comfortable with the ball in his hands. He carried the ball a lot at West Virginia. They've given him the ball some, even as a halfback. With the jet sweeps and the screen, and then in the kicking game. Again, he's a guy who has explosive speed and ability to accelerate. You have to be in great leverage and really get 11 guys in pursuit. We have to be disciplined with what we are doing."
Marvin, do you do anything special for Thanksgiving?
Case Keenum may not play, is there a difference between him and (Nick) Foles?
"Foles has a lot more experience. Obviously played quite a bit. Case played a little bit before in St. Louis, he does have some experience, but Foles has more experience this year in their offense with their coordinator. Their offense starts with the two players we spent time talking about, and their tight end (Jared) Cook is a big, fast guy who has great range. He can catch the football. (Kenny) Britt is another player on the outside. They have these big weapons. We have to do a good job defending."
Their punter, John Hecker, is having a heck of a year and puts their defense in good positions ...
"We kind of look forward to getting balls down the field. We have to do a great job of getting him to have to punt the football and being alert when they do have to punt it for all the different things they do. He's a talented player. He's got the ability to throw the football. They've run a number of fakes this year and in the past. Jeff's always felt comfortable with that, trying to take advantage and make you defend the entire field."
Do you notice buzz around town from two losses compared to the 8-0 start?
"No. I haven't been around town."
Not at all?
Doing any grocery shopping?
What are your thoughts of Cedric Ogbuehi in practice?
"We feel good about him. When we bring Ced to the roster at some point, and if he ever gets the opportunity to play, he'll do a good job."
Is that a hard thing to gauge because you can't gauge until he gets game experience?
What are your thoughts on playing London?
"The NFL had to do what they do. It's a great opportunity. Nobody is promised next year around here. That's the first part of it. But it is a good opportunity for the fans and organization to take the show overseas on the road. A lot of the teams, almost two-thirds of the teams around the league, have already done this. We are taking our turn and our hand in it.
"It will be an exciting time for our fans. With the companies and corporate headquarters and things that are here, a lot of people in Cincinnati travel around the world a lot. I think it will be a good thing for fans to have an opportunity to go to London and watch us beat the Redskins over there."
Have you ever been to London?
What did you think?
"Back in '86 or '87, I traveled with the San Francisco 49ers there for a preseason game with the Dolphins when I was in the Bill Walsh Intern program. They started the program that year. I've always taken away from London that it was neat to travel outside the country and yet be somewhere that everyone spoke the same language. While we were there, a lot of the time the weather in fall was damp and cool.
"I've spoken with a lot of coaches who took their teams over there the last two or three seasons. We will sit down here and do a plan in the next month or so. I don't know exactly what we'll do, but I've tried to gain a lot already from others who have done it."
Was the preseason game at Wembley Stadium?
"Yes, it was."
Do you feel that there is a competitive disadvantage because you lose a home game?
"It's not my decision. So you can answer that question there yourself, too, because I'm not going to (laughs)."
Would you say the Rams' defensive line is one of the best?
"It's up there for sure, they're really good. They're able to get pressure with just four guys. They do a good job. They're really talented up front. So another good task for us."
Aaron Donald kind of does for them what Geno Atkins does for the Bengals. Does it help that your offense practices against Geno all the time?
"Well, obviously our guys have gone against Geno quite a bit. So they understand that type of player. We feel like he's similar to Geno from a skills standpoint. I think it will help some, but we've got to go out there and prove it on game day.
How much does it change your view as a quarterback when you know the pressure can be coming from up the middle?
"Yeah, you've got to move around. It may not always be in the same spot. You've got to move, make plays, maybe slight movements in the pocket or getting out of the pocket, and making plays down the field. But you've got to go in there not thinking that you're getting pressure right from the start. Our guys have to go out there and block him, and that's the mindset that we have."
You've gotten a lot of pressure the last couple games, what can you attribute to that?
"I think it just comes down to if they're doing something different than what we thought they're doing, then we've got to make adjustments on the sideline. For the most part, we've got the right number of guys blocking the right people. Defenses get paid, too. They've got schemes that are good against picking up certain protections. You've got to make adjustments when stuff like that happens."
Will the Rams bring more than four guys in the pass rush?
"They're not just a four-man rush all the time. They're definitely bringing guys, so it's not just the same thing all the time."
Running the ball helps to negate the pass rush. Any idea what's holding the run game back?
"Different stuff happens each week. But I thought for the most part, Jeremy (Hill) ran really physical last week. Gio (Bernard) has made some big plays, especially this past week. So it's going to come. I think it's sticking with it. There's going to be holes out there. Guys are going to do a good job of getting these guys open, and we're going to break tackles and we're going to make some big runs."
Are you more confident in your scrambling as you've gone further in your career?
"Yeah, I think it's just part of it. I've made some plays when I've gotten out of the pocket. I've been able to run for some first downs and different things. It's not always going to happen exactly how you draw it up. So when that stuff happens, it's kind of backyard football at that point. If I can scramble and get good yardage, I will. If we can get guys open when I move around, that's how you hit big plays."
Is there anybody you've watched at quarterback for how they get out of the pocket?
"There's not one person in particular. You can watch highlights each week and you see guys, it's not everybody just standing in there. It's guys moving around. There's not one person in particular I've watched to see what they do."
When things broke down on scrambles against Arizona, could there have been more people to throw to?
"There were times when we wished we could have had something that was a little bit more open. I know I missed Tyler on one of the scrambles -- I probably could have thrown it to him. But sometimes they do a good job of taking things away, and so that's just part of it."
When you feel pressure, is the normal reaction to go back and around?
"You've got to feel the pocket. Sometimes you have to go up and under, and sometimes you have to go around. It just depends on how guys are getting blocked and where they're coming from. But yeah, you have to have a feel for where you can go and when you can push up and run through the pocket."
That's where Geno Atkins and Aaron Donald come into play. When they're pushing from the middle of the pocket ...
"Yeah, it's the little movements that you've got to be able to do. And so it's part of the game. You've got to be ready for it."
How much more hungry does losing two in a row make this team?
"We're wanting to get back to our winning ways. I think the big thing is we've had two close ones and we didn't come out on top, so we've got to do whatever we can to flip that around and get things back to the way we think they should be and win these games."
What are your thoughts on playing in London next year?
"It will be cool. Obviously we're a year away from it, but it's obviously something that I don't know if this organization has ever done. Is this the first time? Yeah. So it'll be something different."
Have you ever been to London?
"I have not."
What kinds of challenges does a trip to London pose?
"Obviously I'm sure the schedule will be different. But again we're a year away from that. We're not even thinking about that right now."
Is it nice to be playing a home game at 1 o'clock again, and getting back into a normal pattern?
"Yeah, for sure. For the most part, you play at 1 o'clock on Sunday and you kind of get into that routine. Our schedule's been different, but you've got to adjust, and now we're getting back into it. For us, it's a six-game season now. The schedule kind of works out where we're going to be playing those 1 o'clock games for what, the next three weeks?"
What did you learn from the close losses to Houston and Arizona?
"We fought to the end. I think that's the biggest takeaway that you can get from these games. There wasn't any quit in us. Again, both games, we had a chance at the end to win it. So it's good to see there isn't any quit and we're playing all the way to the end. But when you get those chances, you've got to make those plays, that's what it come down to. Both games we had chances to win and we didn't make the play or whatever happened. I still think there's a lot of positives you can take from it."
Do the missed plays linger with you?
"I mean, you think about them. Obviously you put it behind you, you've got so much other stuff you've got to focus on and think about. Obviously if I'd have thrown a better ball on that last play we could have won the game. And so obviously I think about it, but you move on from it and you move past it. It's something you can definitely take back and learn from when you're in that situation again."
Gregg Williams, their defensive coordinator, has a little bit of a reputation. Do you guys even think about any of the stuff that he's known for?
"No, we haven't even talked about it. We haven't even thought about any of that kind stuff. We're just focused on the scheme and what they're doing."
Is their scheme similar to any other team you've faced?
"They're a little bit different than teams we've faced. Obviously with their front being so good, they've been playing some zone coverage, some soft stuff just because they're going to try to keep everything in front of them. I wouldn't say there's one defense they remind me of."
Do you have any special memories of Thanksgiving growing up?
"Oh geez, I don't know. Just spending time with family, I think that's the biggest thing. Always be at home, eat a lot and watch football."
Is this the second Thanksgiving with your son?
"Yeah, this will be number two."
Do you two watch football together?
"He'll probably watch for five minutes and then he'll get distracted and want to do something else. But it'll be fun."
Do you have any family coming in?
"No family coming in. We just kind of do it here ourselves."