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Postgame Quotes: Bengals-Broncos Week 13

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jeff Driskel speaks to reporters during a news conference after an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Jeff Driskel speaks to reporters during a news conference after an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)


DEC. 2, 2018



Head coach

Initial Comments ...

"I'm disappointed with our football game today like that. We have an opportunity to get things done, and we shot ourselves in the foot with the penalties that we had today. We took back offensive plays throughout the day and that really, really set us back on offense for the day. We'd get positive plays and then set ourselves back, and then, obviously, we can't drop a punt. And then we allowed a 60-yard touchdown run. It boiled down quickly to about three plays in the football game. We knew (we didn't want to) be behind against the rush. We had to keep running the ball on offense to keep those opportunities going, but the penalties, it just set us back. That hurt us bad.

Defensively, we've got to keep playing better, and we can't allow a run like we did today. And we allowed two third-down conversions that make the difference there at the end. We had a chance to get the ball back at times, and they make the third down and make the touchdown catch after the fumble. That's a catch that we've got to make."

Did A.J. Green re-aggravate his toe?

"I haven't heard anything about A.J. It looked to be that."

If that's the case, do you think his season over?

"I don't know that."

Did you feel you made the best use of Jeff Driskel's athleticism today?

"Well, it's different. We did do some things to use Jeff's athleticism, but we've also got to play to against the defense. You just can't really draw it up and say, 'Hey, Jeff's going to run around,' because of the edge (rushers) that they have. They ended up staying in base defense against us. We had some throws in there, but the penalties just set us back. We hit some runs, and we hit some throws against the base defense early in the game. They've got this symmetrical defense, so it's a little different."

You've had 20-25 penalties the last two weeks. To what do you attribute that? Is that due to the new players that are in there?

"The special teams guys are trying. Again, it's hard to say because some of them aren't fouls, but some of them are. We've got to do better, that's all. We've got to do it the right way, the way they're coached to do it."

On offense, you went with Clint Boling at left tackle today. What was your thought process with that?

"We felt like with Cordy (OT Cordy Glenn) out, that was our best lineup and gave us the five guys on the field that we felt the best about."

Going back to penalties, you said they need to do it like they're coached to do it. Do you think because it keeps happening that maybe there should be a different approach to it?

"If your hands are on the outside of the framework of the body, they're calling holding on you, and you've got to do a better job. We've got to invent another player. I don't know if we can do that right now to go in there. But that's the thing — we've got a block in the back, and we've a hand on the outside on the draw. Billy Price is a young guy — he's going to keep learning, understanding it and do it right. There's no other way for that. We're going to have to grow through that. He's going to have to grow through that in his career, and that's part of it. Some of the penalties we had on offense today — we had a false start reacting to the rusher — I can't recall them all, but I know the special teams penalties particularly hurt us when we're returning a punt. We don't ever need that. We think those should be let go. Let the returner make them miss. They're giving us the ball. We don't need to get set back."

Alex Erickson is as consistent a guy as you've had. Is what happened out there today with his fumble symbolic of the way things are going right now?

"We just need a clean catch. That's what Alex does. It's unfortunate, but we've got to go stop them on defense. We can't stop them on first down and then give up a throw over the top. We can't do that. We make a big stop on third down, and then we're driving and we throw a ball up again (that was intercepted). That's just understanding to live and make the next play. You can't have the turnovers we had today on offense."

You have to look at the tape, but overall how did you feel Jeff Driskel handled things?

"Well, he put the ball at risk, and you can't do that. He's trying to throw the ball away, and you just can't throw it away in the field of play. He's got to understand that. He took a grounding down there in the red zone, and all those things (hurt). Again, you've got to play on time, and that's what we'll look at when evaluating him."

With a new quarterback, were turnovers a concern?

"Jeff was going through the progressions. That's what the quarterback has to do. But we do have to get the ball down the field, there's no question about it. We've got to be able to drop back, handle the pressure and get the throw down the field, or else the whole thing squeezes in on you."



How would you assess your first start?

"I just didn't do enough to get it done. The job of the quarterback and the offense as a whole is to score enough points to win a football game, and we didn't do that today. Not good enough."

On the interception, did you think you had a play you could make there or, once you let it go, did you think, 'Uh oh?'

"That was a play that I could make, it was just a very poor decision. When you get under pressure like that, you just have to be smart with the football, especially when you're down there getting in position to score points. That was just a really poor decision, and it hurt our football team. Just a bad decision and bad throw."

You didn't get a lot of opportunities to get out and make plays with your feet. Was that a product of the game plan or what the defense was giving you?

"I thought Denver did a nice job of not giving me the looks to really get out on the perimeter and run the football, but that opened up lanes for our backs. They hit the holes really hard and ran through tackles. That was a product of how they were playing us."

What's that like, spending the whole day with Bradley Chubb and Von Miller coming after you?

"They're premiere edge guys, and we knew that and it's tough. It makes it tough. At the end of the day, you have to be able to play on time, get the ball out and not take sacks and strip sacks, like I did at the end of the game. You've just got to be able to get the football out and get it in your playmakers' hands early, because we knew they were coming at the edge all day."

How difficult was it to keep the offense on track, given the number of penalties by the O-line?

"It's always tough when you get behind the sticks. We preached all week about being great on first and second down and not setting ourselves back. As an offense, I thought we were in some tough spots. As a play-caller, when you're third-and-long, that makes it really tough. There's not that many calls on the sheet when you're third and ten-plus. We didn't give ourselves enough opportunity to really convert on third down, and that was tough."

It appeared early in the game that they had you doing a lot of short passes, and that that might have been progression stuff. Would you have liked to have rip it down the field earlier than you did?

"Early on, we had a really nice drive there. It was (11) plays, 60 yards, and then we stalled out. We were moving the football in third-and-manageable, and we were moving the sticks, so it was working."

Did you think you would get more carries as a runner?

"I don't know. Sometimes, those things happen naturally. The way that Denver was playing defense today — they were playing a lot of single-safety, box-type looks and that happens sometimes. You've got to be able to throw the football for them to back off, and for there to be more running lanes."

You guys had a new quarterback, new left tackle and new left guard. Is that part of the reason for the penalties?

"I think that's part of it. That's not an excuse. We've all got to be out there and be on the same page and eliminate those penalties. It's something that we worked this week, all throughout the week. We knew it hurt us last week, and it hurt us again this week. We've got to continue to work on it, and we can't let that affect us in games to come."

A.J. Green went down with a foot injury today and didn't return. Considering he's a leader on this team and a prime target for you, what were you thinking?

"The play he went down on, that was one of the first plays he had single coverage. When you lose anybody, especially a guy like him who can take over a game, it makes it tough. I'm just hoping for the best for him and his health. Any time you lose an A.J. Green, it takes its toll on the football team."

You were sacked on the play he went down. But if you had been upright and he wouldn't have pulled up hurt, you probably would have had him ...

"It was a one-on-one look, and I'm going to take A.J. every time. My eyes were down the field, I looked over, and unfortunately he was down. Like I said, I'm just hoping for the best for his health."

On the intentional grounding call, did you see C.J. Uzomah and throw toward him? It looked like he was there. Were you surprised by the call?

"In that situation, we knew we had points. We were down in the lower red-zone. I was just telling myself, 'No sacks here. Get the ball out.' I thought there was somebody over there, but obviously they weren't close enough."

It looked like you were having an animated conversation with OT Bobby Hart after that play. Was that confusion there?

"You know, we were out there, we were battling. Sometimes, you get a little heated and you have to talk things out, and we did. We moved forward. It was really no big deal."

Have you ever faced a third-and-39, like you did at the end of the second quarter?

"That's tough. That's tough when you're behind the sticks like that. You can't really put yourself in that situation — that's the best way for me to explain it. We've got to clean some of that stuff up. In weeks to come, give ourselves better opportunities on third down, because I thought when we were third-and-manageable we did a good job of moving the chains."


Running back

When you get your chances, you really busted out a few times ...

"I'm just doing what I can for the team and trying to put them in the best position to win."

Third down situations were tough today. Were the penalties a big part of that?

"Yes. We can't have them. They hurt us. It's the little stuff like that that becomes bigger as the game goes on."

They're strong on the edge, but you were able to run on them a few times to soften it up ...

"Yes, but we only had so many runs. Plus, the penalties hurt."

Does it boil down to not beating yourself?

"Yes. We beat ourselves today."

The Bengals take on the Denver Broncos in week 13. Images from Paul Brown Stadium.



How do you move forward and try to snap out of this slump?

"It's frustrating just because we're putting time into this. We're so competitive and don't like to lose. Me personally, I'm a sore loser so its tough to lose."

How frustrating is it to feel things slipping away during the game?

"I try to take it one play at a time, one possession at a time. We're a good team. We have to control what we can. No one is going to feel bad for us."

Controlling what you can is tough with all the penalties you incur ...

"Yes. It's something we need to back up. It's part of our job to do it. It's frustrating."

How difficult have all the coordinating changes and injuries been to the continuity of the team?

"We're still running the same things from the first week of training camp. It's not an excuse for why we're losing."

How tough is it to see a teammate and guy like WR A.J. Green go down like that?

"He's one of our main guys. He's injured, but that's part of the game. We have to continue to address the problems. Prayers up for him though, hopefully he can get healthy."

Does it feel like the season is slipping away?

"No. That's not the way I'm looking at it. I'm sure that's not the way the other guys are looking at it. Our motto is to take things one day at a time and try to get better."


Right tackle

You had a bunch of penalties. Do you account all the new changes for that?

"There are no excuses, no matter who's in there or what's going on. It's your job to get things done. It's a bottom-line business. If your job doesn't get done, everyone is accountable."

You were animated after QB Jeff Driskel's interception ...

"Yeah, that's just part of the game. You get caught up in the emotion of being a competitor. That's all that was."

Were you telling him to get rid of it?

"I wasn't. That stays on the field."

That play was classic LB Von Miller ...Did he jump on the red-zone sack?

"I don't know if he was offsides, but he got a good jump. I saw him going, and was hesitant because of my first false start. You have to play through it. Later in the game, I feel like I got on it better. It's rough. He's a darn good rusher."

Are penalties contagious?

"No. It's a bottom-line business. You have to do your job. That's what it is at the end of the day."

Does it feel like the season is slipping away?

"No. It is definitely not. We just have to keep grinding and going at it. We'll keep getting better and focusing on the little things, and it will happen."

It was a tough assignment for LT Clint Boling going against LB Bradley Chubb ...

"I had my own battle going on. I couldn't see how he did."

How do you think Jeff Driskel did? What was he like in the huddle?

"He's a great player. I've known him since high school. He was in Florida, and then the number one quarterback at Florida. We go to all those camps, so I was around him a lot. I always thought very highly of him."

How was his cadence?

"I don't really remember."

When WR Cody Core got the touchdown, did you feel like things turned?

"Yes, for sure. We just have to keep doing our job and it will be alright."

You've lost four in a row and haven't won since October. What's the mood around here?

"We have to keep pushing. No one on this team will quit. We'll get back at it Monday, watch the tape, and get after it from there."


Wide receiver

Do you think the penalties on special teams are the result of so many new guys being added to the roster due to injury?

"I don't know. I think the new guys are just giving a lot of effort, scraping and scrapping to make sure the (opposing) guy doesn't make the play. They're riding that fence of penalty/no penalty, and we've been on the wrong end of it a fair amount."

For weeks, the team has been saying they can turn it around and get back on track and a playoff berth. Does that feel over now?

"Yeah, at some point, it's not even about that; it's about being a professional and being a competitor and just doing your job no matter what your record is. It's up to you to perform. If you don't, obviously there are going to be consequences. We just have to focus on our jobs, be professionals, and just prepare and play the (San Diego) Chargers to get a win."



How did Jeff Driskel handle himself in the huddle in his first NFL start?

"I thought he did great. Driskel's a guy that has really stepped up and taken charge of the huddle and kept guys positive. He has kept guys on the same page and displayed a level of leadership that you need and expect from a starting quarterback."

The depth of Denver's defensive talent really seemed to shine today. Do you agree?

"Yeah. They have depth at every position. They have talent at every position, and then came through today. It was really a battle up front today for us."


Wide receiver

It seems like you guys had chance to make some plays, but the penalties just killed any chance for momentum ...

"We left a lot of plays out there, for sure. I know I did. We just didn't play our best, man. (We had) a lot of penalties. We have to play perfect. We have to out-execute our opponents, and we failed. We have to come back next week, pick everything up and start rolling again."

It has to be tough to see what's happening with A.J. Green's injury. Did you get a chance to talk to him?

"Yeah, at halftime. He's a dog. A lot of us were worried about him initially, asking him if he's good — if he's fine. And he said he was good, he was feeling great, he was ready to go. He's the type of guy who's going to leave it all out there.

"When he says he wants to win, he really wants to win. He'll do whatever it takes to get on the field, make plays for us and help us any way possible."

Can you point your finger as to why this season has been slipping away for so long?

"Not really. I just thought we've got to play better games. We've got to win more battles, more plays. If we win more plays than the opponent, we'll win. We just keep getting beaten. We keep losing. We need to execute like I mentioned, each and every week. We've just got to find a way — whatever it takes, whatever the sacrifice is going to be to get back to the way we started our season when we started 4-1."

Are some of the mistakes just mental errors that come from having a young team?

"I think everybody's prepared well, each and every game. But a lot of guys are going to make mental errors, regardless whether it's a rookie or a veteran. We get that. It just can't happen consistently, because the margin of error in this league is very limited. We have to do our best. We've got to do our job. That's why we're here."

How did Jeff Driskel handle himself in his first start as the team's quarterback?

"I think he handled himself great, coming out there and having his first start against one of the top defensive lines. He delivered great balls at times. I know there are plays he (wishes he could) take back, but he did great, in my opinion."



You hate losing; how frustrating has this stretch of defeats been for you?

"It's very frustrating. I wish we could turn it around. We've have to figure out a way. We just have to come to work every day and prepare like we're ready to win. No matter what the outcome is, we have to go out there and do our job."

This third season in a row of losing ... how bitter is the taste of that getting?

"Yeah, it sucks. We just have to figure it out, man. Like I said, I just want to see us challenge ourselves to turn it around before the end of the season. That's the only thing I can say right now — go out there, week in and week out, and finish this year strong. We had a little burst last year, but we've got to be consistent with it. You can't just go out there early in the season and win a couple of games, you know. This (the end of the season) is when teams get hot, so we've have to pick it up."

The team has a lost a lot of key players this season. It's a young team, and there have been mental errors. Can you point your finger to the key to the losses this season?

"I'm going to point the finger at myself. I'm not going to point it at anybody else. You know, (I'm going to ask myself), 'What can I do to do my job better? What can I do to make this team better? Whether it's being hurt and still practicing, still playing, or whatever else I can do to contribute ... I don't have any control over anybody else, so I'm definitely going to point the finger at myself, because obviously there are things I could be doing better. It's frustrating, but it's where we're at right now."

Has it been challenging for the team this season with the change in defensive coordinators?

"Yeah. Everything's been challenging for this team. Putting in a new defense, having to learn it week-in and week-out, all the new things ... But at the end of the day, that shouldn't be an excuse. We're pros. We've have to be able to adapt and adjust. They pay us a lot of money not to go out there and be out of place or things like that. They pay us a lot of money to be in position, so that (change) shouldn't affect (anything). The coaches, the play calling, none of that. We're pros. We've got to adapt.