The first thing I want to do is to remind everybody that we have the Bengals/Hoxworth Blood Drive going on today up in the East Club lounge. At 2:30 they were about half way to their goal of getting 600 people processed today. Also, there's an opportunity to be checked for a bone marrow transplant screen. Particularly here in the African American community, they are really putting a big push on that. We've had a number of players do that as well today. They've had a big day, but they're asking for more people to come out. You can get screened and give blood until 7 p.m. today. We appreciate the people coming out in numbers.
Also, again, for the (record) crowd Monday night. Just an awesome crowd. They were loud and very effective, and we appreciate our fans coming out that way.
Which leads us into where we are at the bye. Which, as I said Monday night, is not where we want to be. But it is where we are. That's the number one thing to take notice of, then go about it and make the corrections, which we did yesterday and today. There's a lot of football left with 12 games, and a lot of opportunities. But we need to play one play, one series, one possession at a time, and then move forward. That's what we began to do. Take a look at what we're doing, and why we're not as efficient in some areas as we've been, and try to keep moving forward that way.
Q: Do you ever feel your message isn't getting through?ML:
Oh no, I know it because I can hear it. It comes back loud and clear, so the message is getting through.
Q: Marvin, you set a high bar this year and the fans went with you:ML:
I set the same bar every year, right? The bar has not changed. It never has changed.
Q: What do you want to tell them (the fans), because we know you have higher expectations for the second half of the season?ML:
The message hasn't changed. That's why we get to coach, that's the fun part to this. The coaching and playing, the challenge of it. If we were sitting here with the opposite record, we'd still have the same challenges in front of us. It doesn't change. That's the fun of it, that's why we do what we do and that's why the players play. That's the challenge of it, to continue down this path. They keep doing things correctly. More correctly, more consistently. To understand, to overcome injury, to overcome a bad play. All the things that come about in a game and an NFL season.
It's human nature (for fans) to question and doubt. But as a coach or a football player, you can't have that doubt. I know it's human nature, but you have to ride the wave. It's fun at the top, and down at the bottom it's not as fun. There's no question about it. It doesn't change. The worst part about it is we have to wait a while, before we get a chance to get back at it, and go out there and put it on tape and do it right.
Q: For a couple of years you've talked about selfishness at various points, but you have to keep going back to that:ML:
That's part of what goes on. It's going to be culture. You have young guys with a lot of outside pressure and everyone tugging on them. 'Why didn't you do this, why didn't you do that?'? At this time last year, we were 3-0, and Iast year I was dealing with the same issues. You hope guys mature through that, but that's part of what you deal with. The frustration comes out when you don't win.
Q: When the word selfishness is used, it seems like all eyes focus towards Chad Johnson, rightly or wrongly. Is that unfair?ML:
It is unfair. Eyes are focused on him for a lot of different reasons anyway. But it is unfair.
Q: The national perception is that this team is in disarray.ML:
That's a good perception, if that's one they want to have. Hopefully, the Kansas City Chiefs feel like we're in disarray. Or the team after that. We'll play uphill, we'll be fine. We're going to play with a chip on our shoulder and we'll get after it and be fine.
Q: How much of what you do, especially now, is psychological?ML:
I don't know if that changes. Half of this thing is always psychological. It's physical, it's mental. It all goes hand-in-hand. These aren't a bunch of little girls. I don't think we have to go out and raise up their psyche. They're generally big, bold men. Which can sometimes be our issue. Big bold men have to do it right all the time, consistently. We didn't beat our chests when we were 1-0, and we're certainly not beating our chests now. My message doesn't change, it's consistent all the time. You just choose to spin it differently after a loss than you do a win.
My message to our football team doesn't ever change. It never has and it never will. We just have to keep playing. There's always things to correct, to change, and do better. As well as things to applaud. We did a lot of good things on Monday night, and we're overcoming some things. Hopefully we can settle in with some same guys in some spots. That's important. That's the thing, as you follow up to finish out the rest of the season. As we gain some guys back from injury, we can settle some guys in the same spots. We get guys healthy, and you continue to play better and better because guys are becoming comfortable with the guy around him or next to him and so fourth. The same guys are lining up in that huddle. That's important in all three phases of what we do.
Q: Talk about players questioning play calls:ML:
In their minds, they're always open. Everything's always there. There isn't quite the understanding all the time with everything that goes into play. More than anyone in this building, our coaching staff wants to win. I don't think a guy ever needs to question that, nor worry about that.
Q: How much do you wish the walls were a little thicker (regarding media hearing the postgame address Monday)?ML:
We had a little problem out there. We won't do that anymore. You'll never hear what I say again. You can write that down. Maybe you needed to hear it. My message doesn't change. You just happened to hear it, and it was something you wanted to hear, so that's good for you.
Q: In some ways, do you think the fans appreciated it?ML:
Yes ... I'll stop myself right there.
Q: Two offensive formation penalties, two twelve-men-on-the-field penalties. How disappointed are you, and how do you correct that?ML:
Sometimes you have to call time out. We had them once with twelve men on the field, but they called time out. Basically, we had some injured guys, and when they're in the scope of the drive, that's what happens. Also, the officials didn't quite handle it the right way, because they substituted late, which allows us by NFL rule to match the substitution, and that was not handled correctly. We should be able to match up. Just like they do, when we go in that sequence, when the umpire stands over the football. So that wasn't handled correctly. We also had one in Seattle that wasn't handled correctly. After the fact, 'My bad' doesn't help much.
That was obviously a critical down there. That was a critical play. When guys get injured, it takes guys being in tune. You change the personnel and so forth to get the correct guys on the field. Again, this comes back to repetition, having the same guys in the same spots. We had an offensive alignment penalty in the kicking game which was corrected in practice. Unfortunately on Wednesday. It's a young guy playing that spot for the first time. With the new personal protector in there, on the punt game, because Landon (Johnson) was out. Things added together and didn't bode well for us in that situation. Luckily it didn't hurt us on those particular plays, but obviously you don't want that to happen.
Q: Can you talk about the linebacking corps and if you expect Rashad Jeanty and Ahmad Brooks to be back?ML:
You know what, I'm not going to make any of those determinations until I have to. We hope to get the guys back. I would expect Caleb (Miller) to be back, and Ahmad at some point here quickly. Same with Rashad Jeanty. But I don't have to do any of that this week and I'm going to reserve my opportunity until it's time.
Q Does it bother you, back to Monday, when T.J.(Houshmandzadeh) questions the play calling?ML:
I coached a group of guys that every play, we've got to do this, we've got to do that, and that's the thing. You don't make the first down, why don't we do this? Well you know what, T.J., let's do this right. And he understands that. T.J.'s been consistent. (laughing) He's been consistent in the four years it's not out of character. It's consistent in his four years playing.
He's actually gotten a lot better with it, and I appreciate that. He gets about one a game. But I wish we could eliminate them all, because they don't understand the unnerving effect they have on other guys at times. OK, I got you T.J. He gets held every play, and he's open every play. And every play is not understood, and we've got to run this play, and I understand that. And we go into the game that way, and you can ask his daughter about that, even. She knows. Those are things ... you know, we love T.J. for his fire and his passion about it, and you know what, we're going to keep building on it. I don't want him to back down. I expect him to want the ball every play and I expect him to get open every play, just like our other guys do.
Rudi wants to carry it every play, Willie wants to block the power every play ... that's what they want to do. Carson wants to chuck it when he can. So it's good problems to have. Let's just have everything channeled in the right direction, let's get back on track. Let's run the football better, let's defend the run better, let's not turn the football over, let's win the third downs, both sides of the football. Do those things and you'll be talking in superlatives again and I'll be telling you no again.
Q: How is Chad Johnson doing with the emotional aspect of the season?ML:
Again, let's keep working. Again, we're not satisfied with where we are as a football team. From that first player to the 53rd player, which we just added today.
Q: Willie Anderson is not 100 percent. Are you concerned he won't be right all year?ML:
Well, there's a chance that this could happen. What happens is, you compensate for one thing and you've got a chance to get dinged in another area, which is what has occurred with Willie a little bit. But we've got a little time here. And we're trying to do what's best both for Willie for the long haul and our football team for the long haul.
Q: Is injured reserve a possibility for Willie?ML:
I wouldn't say that, no. I would hope not.
Q: You talked about continuing to make changes, but this isn't like baseball, where you can go sign a closer:ML:
There is ability to keep shaping the roster. Because of the guys we've had injured, we've had to do a little more than we expected this early. We'll keep doing that, as I said last week, to keep getting guys to fit in their roles. We had a lot of guys doing that. We had Alex Stepanovich come out there and he has done a great job for us with Eric (Ghiaciuc) being down. Anthony Schlegel. We've had Dhani Jones. These guys who've just come in have stepped up and done a lot of good things. It's not all one way. We do have guys accepting their roles.
Jeremi Johnson had to step into a special teams role he's not been put in many times in his career here. He had to answer the bell. He did a fine job on Monday. Herana-Daze Jones fills in for Landon (Johnson). Guys are having to do that, and that's a good thing. We just have to keep doing it better. Our specialists have to keep performing better because we expect great things from those two guys -- actually three guys, including Brad (St. Louis). Those used to be non-issues for us. We have to get back to 100 percent execution in all three phases of that.
Q: There is the video that showed Chad and Carson bickering:ML:
That was an important play in the football game, and both guys were disappointed. There's got to be a trust in the passing game, in the timing of things. It's got to be 100 percent. If it's a little bit off, there's a chance for not a good play. As I told you guys after the game, their guy made a hell of a football play. I'm going to leave it at that. On that particular play, he made a great football play. Had anything else been done, it would have been a different story. In both cases, maybe we do it a little bit better. But on that particular play, he made a hell of a football play.