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Marvin Lewis Press Conference Transcript

Opening Comments:ML: "After looking at the game in all three phases, the biggest thing we've got to do offensively is fix these procedure penalties and delays. We have to do a better job of getting in and out of the huddle, getting them to the line of scrimmage, getting their identifications done. We know that's a challenge against the Ravens defense. But it's only going to help us. We have to do a better job of that. They cause issues. We make a play and then we set ourselves back five yards.

"Defensively, overall, we did a lot of good things but we had some errors. Fortunately for us, we were able to limit, other than three plays, the gains. We've got to do a better job of that. We didn't play as well assignment-wise as we had been. It's important that we take a critical look at that and figure out why. We ended up being fairly efficient on third down, but we could have been a lot better.

"In the kicking game, we have to improve a lot. We have guys who are capable of doing that. We have to do that from the standpoint of making tackles, the efficiency of our specialists and get back to fundamental things and do them better. We're surviving some of these things, but to drive the field and make a score and then to have the errors were having there – whether it be on the PAT, field goal or covering the kickoff – we have to do a much better job.

"It's good to win, but as always, there are a lot of things that have to be corrected and built upon. Some guys did an excellent job in some areas, but we still have to improve in some areas."

Q: Dennis Roland played a lot at the RT spot. How do you think he held up? ML: "I thought we did a good job on the offensive line. We have a couple things we have to do better, identification-wise, but overall, the group played pretty well and gave Carson (Palmer) the opportunity to deliver the football when we needed it, particularly on some big third-down throws down the stretch."

Q: When you were looking for a defensive coordinator, why was Mike Zimmer an attractive candidate, and has your impression changed in any way? ML: "Mike and I have known each other since Idaho State and Weber State, back in 1982 or '83. I came to the NFL in '92, and he did in '93. We've been in constant contact all the way through. When Mike became the coordinator in Dallas, when we were both position coaches and we (Steelers) played them quite a bit. We coached the Pro Bowl on opposite sides. I remember riding the bus with him and Adam (Zimmer's son Adam) when Adam was just a little guy. We've been friends for a while, always sharing family stories and talking about his girls, who were dancing and modeling.

"We've spent a lot of time talking football, at the combine or if we ran into each other at workouts. 'How are you guys coaching this?' or 'Here's how we're coaching it.'  When he became the coordinator in Dallas after his first year, he came to Baltimore. Everyone knows this, but we spent the whole weekend together talking football. We've been talking football for a long time, so when he was available and we were making the transition we were, he was one of the first people in my mind. Hue Jackson had the year working with him in Atlanta. As close as I am to Hue, he confirmed everything I knew. It was good.

"We were fortunate to get Mike here. It's been great since, because we see things very similarly defensively. It's his ball to run with it. Every once in a while I say, 'What about this, or what about that?' And I see him at the end of the week and I tease him and I say, 'You can take that out if you're not going to call it.' We have that kind of relationship where I feel good about it that way. He comes to me with something where he knows that certain principle I believe in. If there's something that I believe in that's different than what he does, we sit down and talk about it and try to decide what's the best way as we go forward. It's a good, healthy relationship that way."

Q: So you felt like the relationship was going to work?ML: "Oh, yeah. When I brought him in to spend time with him, we started ... and then it was six hours later. We put on a tape, and we watch two plays and we start talking. The next thing we know, we've covered the universe. For the most part, we see it the same."

Q: Why do players relate so well to Zimmer?ML: "He's got no B.S. He tells them what he thinks. He doesn't sugarcoat it. I think players respect that. Good NFL players want to be coached. When guys (coaches) get intimidated by players, it starts to erode."

Q: Players talked about wanting to win that game for him. Is that kind of emotion sustainable for 60 minutes?ML: "No, I don't think that is. I think that's a great thought -- obviously an awesome thought and a great tribute -- but I don't know that that is a 60-minute thing that happens in an NFL game."

Q: You mentioned yesterday that Brad St. Louis' problems are mental. How tough is it to fix something that is mental?ML: "Well, I think it's a lot easier. Things that are mental, for whatever reason -- you could walk in here today and you could feel good about that sweater, and if you feel good and you look good, you get that smile on your face. If you aren't so sure about that outfit, you don't feel as good, you know? I think mental things are much easier to adjust and deal with than physical things. Right now, we expect to win, and that's a big deal. That makes you feel good about things. It makes you feel not as anxious, so you can concentrate on the things that you need to concentrate on, the little details of your job. Brad has to relax. There's been a common thing in a lot of the bad snaps, and we've got to -- we can fix that. It's something we'll address as we go through the week."

Q: How are you going to remember Vikki Zimmer?ML: "I think I and everyone will remember just how excited she was to be here. When you coach somewhere for a long time like Mike did with the Cowboys, they made Dallas home and set some roots. Their kids grew up there, and you remember that as a special place. So when Mike went to Atlanta and (had) a very short-lived stay there, coming here, it was a new beginning for them. Their youngest daughter was moving on to college, so it was a whole transition era, the empty nest, et cetera. So I think Vikki was excited about being able to settle down, put down some roots and see what occurs. I'll remember just her passion for being here in Cincinnati and the excitement of being here, and just how thoughtful she was. If you ever did anything nice for her, she wanted to right away in turn do something nice for you, and a lot of people don't do that. She wanted to always reciprocate right away. I think that's what we'll all remember about her. She spent just about every game upstairs with my parents and my family, at the games here at Paul Brown (Stadium), so they have a special bond."

Q: She seemed to understand the coach's life: ML: "She really did. And obviously she's new to the city, we were 0-8 at one point last year, so it was a tough year. Unfortunately, both of her parents passed away last year during the fall, so it was obviously a very difficult time for her. Mike is a coach's coach. His dad was a coach. So he's got that mentality. He's always a coach, so she was a coach's wife. You have to have your own independence. You have to be supportive. It takes a unique personality, and I think she had that. She was one to want to have the wives to her home for things if we were away on the weekend, the whole condo unit over there where they live. And just how thoughtful she was to everybody. The candy dishes out front for Halloween and everything. Just amazing. I think everybody that she met, they left her feeling good after they had a chance to meet her. That's how I will remember her, the smiles she brought to people's faces."

Q: Did you expect Mike Zimmer to coach on Sunday?ML: "I didn't know what was going to occur. That's what I said yesterday, we just left it up to Mike. We all were kind of waiting to see where we could help out and what we could do. We didn't know. The only thing that Mike said to me is, 'I don't want to be a distraction.' I had to assure him, 'You're not going to be a distraction. You just decide what you want to do, how you want to do it. You can come over with us. You can come over later Saturday night. You can come over Sunday morning. However you want to do it, we're all set up to help you do this, whichever way you feel best.' "

Q: What was postgame like?ML: "Well, it was very emotional. Obviously it's a big win on the road in the division, but that was second to the Zimmer family. We know what Mike had to be going through and thinking about in the quiet times prior to the game, and I'm sure right afterward, and maybe at times within. So I think that was second to that."

Q: How did you come out of yesterday on as far as injuries?ML: "Well, we're a little sore. Chinedum (Ndukwe), again, I'm taking my hat off to him for what he's doing. Roy (Williams) bumped his forearm and came out of the game a little bit, and Chinedum stepped up and I thought did a fine job, again. Maualuga, again, played through his injuries. Brian Leonard has a little bit of a groin issue. We'll see how he is on Wednesday. Frostee Rucker sprained an ankle. We'll see how he is on Wednesday. Tank Johnson was inactive, but was pretty close, probably could have played, but I chose to give him another week's rest. So hopefully he'll be able to play this week if Frostee (Rucker) can't, and we'll fill the void that way."

Q: Carson Palmer?ML: "Oh yeah. Carson's left thumb will be a little sore and we'll deal with that as we go through the week, but obviously he was able to continue to play. I think the rest of his body is good. I think he's finally getting over the ankle injury. It seems less and less bothersome to him."

Q: Will Palmer get time to work on handoffs this week?ML: "Well, we're getting good at handoffs, and that's a good thing. I thought Cedric (Benson) played his tail off yesterday. He keeps coming up big when we need him to, and I think that's good. The offensive football team, again, driving the length of the field like that, being very poised and calm throughout that, that's big to go 80 yards like that. So we've just got to keep doing it, if that's what it takes."

Q: Is the attacking philosophy of Mike Zimmer's defense something that leads to plays like Johnathan Joseph's interception?ML: "Well, we weren't really attacking very much there. But I think what goes underrated for a guy who is a coordinator is your ability to teach your guys the situation and make them  understand the ins and outs of what you're doing. When guys understand that, and they understand the opponent, they play a lot better. You just played against a team yesterday that knows how to do that, because it's been that way for a long time, and it takes steps to get through that process. And people think that's overrated. Unfortunately, people come to the NFL thinking that's overrated, but it's not. That's why Hall of Fame players are generally your smartest players. That's why they play so long and play so well. And Mike has instilled it in them. They've got some great leaders who have taken it and run with it, and it's a challenge each and every week, and I think that's how you get plays like that."

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