BENGALS POSTGAME QUOTES
OCT. 20, 2019
JACKSONVILLE AT CINCINNATI
Initial Comments ...
"It's a frustrating loss. We knew this game was going to come down to field position (and be a) turnover battle. The way the field position (turned out to be) was the way we thought this game was going to be played in the first half. The defense did a good job getting some stops and minimizing the points, and on offense, we didn't do enough to take advantage of it. We had several three-and-outs there in the first two quarters — one was a four-and-out, but it kind of feels like a three-and-out — and we just didn't stand up and make enough plays. That was frustrating. That was very frustrating because that was the type of game we envisioned it was going to be, and there were opportunities in front of us and we didn't do enough to take advantage of it. Give them credit. They did a nice job, and we didn't make enough plays to get going."
Andy Dalton threw three interceptions in the fourth quarter — was he pressing? What was going on in your view that resulted in the turnovers?
"I think everyone could have done some things a little bit better, and we'll watch and see what exactly happened there. They're just tough plays. The turnovers ... they hurt us. We were driving there, and we had a fumble on the first drive of the second half that hurt us, (too). We had some guys go the wrong way in the run game — (that) hurt us, at about every position. So, you know, it was not the way we anticipated playing that game, and, really, it's everybody. Every single player on that field, particularly on offense, has got to step up and do a better job."
Could rookie quarterback Ryan Finley see some time this season, given how things are going?
"That's not something I'm going to talk about right now. You know, it's fresh after the game, (and) when the (starting) quarterback has a tough game, it's the first question. But we're just going to keep it steady now."
Could a game like this cause you to seek changes?
"I think we do have to look at everything. We have to look at our overall approach, because it's frustrating. We can't have big enough egos to where it's like, 'Oh, this player's been playing this position,' or, 'We have to continue to do it this way as a coach.' We've got to look at everything, and make sure that we're giving ourselves the best chance to get a win."
There was a report this morning A.J. Green is going to be out until after the trade deadline. Is there any truth to that?
"No, because I've been sitting here being honest with everybody every single day. I don't know where that report came from. Again, the answer I've been given is we're going to take it day-to-day and see when he can practice. Obviously, this week he didn't practice, so we'll see where it's at next week."
When you say examine the approach, does that include your approach as well?
"Oh yeah. We all have to be accountable on this field. We're 0-7. What we just put on the field is not good enough. It was tough. It was not how we planned the game (to go), and that's how it went, so we've got to own up to it and figure out ways to fix the errors that we had."
Andy has thrown four interceptions inside the opponent's 30-yard line this year. Is that troubling?
"Well, some of those picks, the ball slipped out of his hand. I wouldn't say he's throwing it right to guys (on the other team) — some of those have been a little unorthodox. Today, those were picks. The ball left his hand and the guys made plays on them. One guy undercut (Tyler Boyd) and made a good play; the next one, I think there were two cornerbacks back there — we (need to) see the tape — and the other was a screen pass. It's tough that that (the screen pass) got picked. That was a screen, and he's got to get the ball out of his hands, and there's a guy right in his face. That's one of the ones that goes down as an interception, and really, that's on the whole unit right there."
Do you think the lack of the running game being effective, coupled with having Andy drop back to pass 43 times as he did today, is leading to the offensive ineffectiveness?
"There's no question. There's no question. We don't want to play the game dropping back (43) times. We've got to be accountable in the run game. We called some runs — we get the pictures on the sidelines — (and) they're good runs, and we lose the point of attack right as the (running) back is hitting the line of scrimmage. There's a big hole there, and at the last second, they're beating us up front one-on-one. That's what's frustrating because you're in second-and-nine, second-and-10, or you get an efficient play on first down and then call a run, and it's everybody — the linemen, the backs, the tight ends, the play call — it's everything, (and) it (all) factored in to this game. We're going to look at that tape, and we're all going to have to take ownership of how we ran the ball in that game."
After a game like this, is there anything you change in your approach or demeanor?
"No. The demeanor — again, what kind of character we are, you've got a choice right now. A lot of people are going to choose to be negative and talk about how bad we are. That's' fine; we're 0-7. But we're going to keep our heads held high, and we're going to keep growing as a team, and keep working to find our identity. We're going to find the right leaders in this locker room, because a lot of them have stood up recently. We're going to make sure everyone's pulling in the same direction because right now, you've got two choices: You can (1) quit, start complaining and pointing fingers at everybody, or (2) take ownership and try to build your unit up, your position up, yourself up. And those are the only two positions we're presented with. It's easy.
"You have a choice: You either stand up and do the right thing and keep fighting for all the work we put in — players, coaches, everyone in this building — or you start quitting, start giving less effort, start pointing fingers, and start complaining about everything that's going on. Those are the only two choices we've got right now. I know a lot of guys I'm counting on in that locker room to pick the right one and keep building this thing, and find our first win."
How limited are you in what you want to do when you can't find your running game?
"It's hard. It is hard, but it's on all of us — we've got to figure it out because you don't want to drop back every snap, especially against that (defensive) front. That's a tough front. They did a nice job up there, so it was frustrating."
Were they doing anything special to take out Tyler Boyd in the first half?
"No, they were just playing physical. It's a good unit; we knew that. We knew it was going to be a field-position/turnover battle. It's one of the best fronts I've seen in a long time, and they can get after the passer, and they can stop the run and their guys outside. With or without the guy (Jalen Ramsey) they just traded, it's a good defensive backs group. Those guys clamp you down and make you have to make some contested catches. There's not guys running wide open. You want to point fingers at the quarterback ... there were probably six or seven drops, I felt like. And maybe they're not always perfect ball position, but (others have) to step up and make some plays too. This is one of those games where every play mattered, and everyone had to step up and make some plays, and we just didn't do enough of that today."
Have you noticed any frustration with Joe Mixon setting in?
"I've never been around a running back that wasn't frustrated with the type of rushing performances we've had. Again, there are areas he can improve on, and there are areas we can improve on up front. But I've never met a back that wasn't frustrated with the way our rushing attack is going, when you have 30/40 yards a game."
For this team to keep playing, you've said you'll choose the right leaders in the locker room ...
"No, I won't choose anybody. They (the players) are going to step up. It's who the players turn to and gravitate toward, who are doing things the right way. And when you're doing things the right way, your voice will be heard, and heard the right way."
Is that going to come from the players or you?
"The players. It's all of us in this together. This coaching staff, who I believe in, we're leading the ship in the right direction, but the players in the locker room ... We've got the right ones. I've seen in the last 2 weeks some of the most encouraging things I've seen since I've been here, in terms of a leadership standpoint from some veterans and some young guys who are stepping up and calling things how they see it and leading the way in practice, (but) unfortunately, it hasn't carried over yet to a win. That's what's frustrating. But that's where we're at."
With the team being 0-7, fans booing, and the stands not being full, do losses like this take a toll on you personally?
"Well, we put in a lot of work, so it's hard when it doesn't show up in the win column. That part is frustrating. It's difficult, but that's on us. We've had opportunities. We haven't taken advantage of them. It shows in the stands, it shows in the streets. We've got to do something to change it. That's on us. That's on nobody else but the guys that come to work every day and put in the effort that we put in."
Was it part of the game plan to use Alex Erickson as much as you did in the passing game?
"Alex really just took advantage of all the opportunities (he had). Andy did a good job of finding him — Alex really made some good plays that gave us an opportunity, particularly at the end of the first half ... He really showed up in a lot of different ways, but that's Alex. He's a guy you can depend on. He always comes to work, and he's the same guy every day. He's very consistent with his approach, so that's not surprising.
As a former quarterbacks coach, when you have a quarterback have a game like that, is there a certain response you want to see from him?
"Sure. Sure. It's the hardest job in all of sports. There's no doubt in my mind about it. To stand back there and have to weather that storm and have to make quick decisions and not point fingers when things aren't going the way they should be, you know — Andy has exhibited all that stuff, and today was tough. It's tough on the whole unit, and so he's the one the interceptions come (down) on. They come (down) on him and his stat sheet, but there are a lot of things we could have done better on offense to take the pressure off him."
How do you evaluate Andy so far this season?
"He's done a good job keeping us afloat. It has not been easy. We've rushed for what we've rushed for, so you have a quarterback that's going to stand back there, knowing he's going to face a fierce pass rush — he's going to stand back there and make some throws. I'm proud of him."
Has this job been any more difficult for you that you anticipated?
"No more difficult. No more difficult. I think I learn something every single day, and I would hope we all do in whatever profession we're in. You know, personally, you just make sure you don't make the same mistakes twice. You learn everyday, but I don't know everything at 36 that I'm going to know at 66, so you just continue to try to learn and ask for advice and not have a big ego about it. Be honest with your communication, be honest when you make a mistake. Those are the things I think are important for myself and the whole staff."
How would you describe your performance?
"It has to be better. There were times we moved the ball well. But negative plays hurt us. You can't turn the ball over, I know that."
The lack of rushing game is tough ...
"We have to be better. We know that. When you're one-dimensional, it makes it easy for the other side to know what's going on."
What did you see on the first interception?
"I left it a little behind Tyler Boyd. Myles Jack made a great play. I have to put it a little farther outside, and it's a completion."
On the second one, were you trying to hit a spot and nobody was there?
"Yes. Sometimes you have to anticipate those screens. You see him get out, and then he runs into a lineman."
Why has the offense struggled so much?
"It's tough when you're behind the chains. We tried to run the ball early, and it didn't gain us yards. It makes it tough. (So then) you have to be very efficient in the passing game, and we didn't have that today."
How hard is it to not let drops affect you?
"You have to keep playing, and trust that our guys will make the play."
How do you characterize this season emotionally?
"It's very tough to be in the position we're in right now. To not have won a game at this point, the standard is higher than that. All we can do is put our head down and go to work."
The margin for error seems so small ...
"Absolutely. Where we're at right now, everything has to be perfect. One little thing goes wrong, and we're not going to have a positive play. We understand that. We have to be better."
What do players cling to, to see the light at the end of the tunnel?
"I think for us, we're staying together. It's a long season. All of the work we put in is to win on Sundays. Regardless of what the record is, we still want to win. It's easy to hold on to that."
How do you balance making a play in the fourth quarter versus making a mistake?
"You still want to be aggressive, and take chances when they're there. There's a balance of wanting to take a shot (vs.) progressing and checking it down somewhere else."
The first drive of the second half like a microcosm of the entire season ...
"Absolutely. The play where we get the chop block, there was an offsides on them (the Jaguars). We get a free play, and take a shot on it. Then we get a chop block call that disregards the five yards we gained. Then we're back 15 yards. And (then) the fumble. It goes down to the margin of error. It's so small."
How much pressure do you feel on yourself? Is it the most you've had?
"I'm going to do everything I can to prepare each week to win. That's all I'm focused on."
After the third interception, was there a question in your mind if Zac would turn to Ryan Finley
"No I didn't think that.
What does that mean to know you would go back out there to try to bounce back?
"Yeah, it's a positive. You want to score every time you have the ball. We were at least able to do that the last drive."
What are conversations like with Zac in the fourth quarter?
"How we score on the next drive. That's all we discuss."
Is this the most difficult stretch for you emotionally, as a football player?
"It definitely has. This is what pulls at you. When things aren't going how you had them envisioned, it shows the true character of me and the guys on this team. It's been good to see everybody sticking together. In tough times, your true character is going to show."
You had 100 yards in the first half. But it seems like there were a few other plays that, if you had them, your numbers would have been off the charts ...
"Obviously that 'seam' ball is going to stick out. That has been our problem, we can't make the plays. I'm looking at myself right there, and I have to make that play to get us jumpstarted in the second half. That has been sort of our season — not being able to make enough plays. Today was no different. Just pointing at myself, I have to make that play. I know a lot of other guys are saying the same thing about plays throughout the game. It's the battle of trying to get a win, and every play matters. We're not good enough to overcome the bad plays right now, so we have to be really locked in and make every play."
Is the mindset that there is zero margin for error?
"You don't want to press, and you don't want to do things uncharacteristically. Yes, that's the mindset. We're 0-7, so we have to find a way to make every play, and find a way to get over the hump. Every guy has to look himself in the mirror. Every guy has to stand up and be a man about it, and focus on what we can all do better. It's frustrating. Everyone is frustrated. Obviously we're all competitive guys. No one is going to quit. We're not satisfied. We're not good enough right now."
When the running game is struggling, how much does that affect the overall offense?
"When you look at the NFL as a whole, if you're able to run the ball, it opens up the whole offense. Obviously we struggled running the ball. We struggled throwing the ball. You can't point at one area. As a group, we have to be better. That's all you can say."
What went right and what went wrong? What's your assessment?
"I thought we did a really good job of holding them to field goals. It looks kind of bad on paper, giving up all of those yards. But we did a really good job of holding them to field goals and continuing to fight. At the end, it kind of got away from us a little bit. There's a lot of good and a lot of bad that has to be fixed, ASAP."
Jacksonville did a pretty good job of protecting the football ...
"Minshew (QB Gardner Minshew) did a pretty good job. But honestly, he gave us three (opportunities). We just didn't take advantage of those. They didn't do great of taking care of the ball, we just didn't make the plays, honestly. We knew it was turnover battle and that field position would be big this week. We lost that, and that's why we lost the game."
What type of running back is Leonard Fournette?
"He's a tough, hard-nosed, downhill (runner). And he has some shiftiness to him. They do a really good job of using him to his strengths."
What's the mindset of the football team
"Personally, I just think of it like one week at a time. You hear a lot of people preach that when you're winning. You want to go 1-0 every week, and unfortunately, the first seven weeks haven't gone like that. I'm just going to point the finger at myself, try to get better and create turnovers. That's what we need — continue to fight."
With the injuries in the defensive backfield, how do you think the communication went?
"It went really well. We're a close-knit group. It was never a problem."
How tough is it when your running game is struggling, and you become one-dimensional on offense?
"It's definitely tough sledding, especially against a defense like that. You don't want to be one-dimensional and give those guys the opportunity to tee off — that's what they're good at."
How tough was it with the three fourth-quarter turnovers?
"At the same time, it's all about the next play. That's one thing (head coach Zac) Taylor preaches — 'Don't be afraid to make a mistake.'
How do you deal with all the losses?
"It's tough. I've never lost seven games in my life. I think I lost five games in my entire college career. It's tough. It's been a learning experience. You grow as a person and a player handling this adversity. All I can do is continue working and continue fighting."
What has to change to get into the win column?
"Continue to look ourselves in the mirror, and continue to do more. There are plays I could have made, but left them on the field. It's just going to take 53 guys looking at themselves. There's no one thing. You can't blame other people, other positions. Everyone has to look at themselves and do better."
How has Zac Taylor's message changed?
"The message doesn't change, because we're still on the same mission. We're still fighting to get this first win. Every week, we want it more and more. His message doesn't change."
How tough is this stretch emotionally?
"It's tough. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. It's really hard. Dealing with this adversity has helped me grow as a person. But, it's tough."
Were you guys prepared for Jaguars' QB Gardner Minshew's elusiveness?
"We did a lot of things trying to keep him in the pocket. He's a good player, so credit to him for the way he played today."
View the best images from Week 7 as the Bengals host the Jacksonville Jaguars at Paul Brown Stadium.
What can you say to get this team up?
"There's probably not much you can say. It has to be within each person. I've always been the type of person that has gone through adversity all my life. I don't back down, no matter what the situation is. I've gone through a lot worse in my life. Losing a couple of football games isn't anything; it doesn't faze me. The biggest thing is that you go out there and continue playing. Give it all you've got. When things are going tough, it shows a lot about each person's character. I can only hope that everybody understands and knows my mentality every game, and I hope that's contagious to everybody. It's just something where you continue working hard and hope things make a turn."
What can be done differently to get the running game going?
"It's just a bunch of things. We can't get behind the sticks. We have to keep pushing. The running game is something where, if things are going right, it's not going to go right. The biggest thing is we have to keep pushing and continue to get better everywhere. 'What can I do?' Even from the sidelines. I just want to be able to help this team win. It's something we have to continue to work at and keep grinding."
What did it mean to the team to have Alex Erickson contribute so much offensively?
"The biggest thing is, 'Next man up.' That's kind of our mentality as a team, and it should be —'next man up.' Whoever's number is called, go ahead and make a play. Obviously Alex (WR Alex Erickson) is one of those guys that fit that description really well. He doesn't get a bunch of touches each and every game. Whenever his number is called, he makes a play. I don't know if it was last year or two years ago, but we were playing at Denver and he made a big play for us on third down, and that was his only reception of the game. He's one of those guys that continues to keep working."
With only 33 yards rushing, how much tougher does that make it on the receivers?
"Yeah, we've been struggling a little bit in that area. It is what it is. We've got to keep working on it. We have to keep getting better, (including) us blocking and helping them burst through the line. We're going to get it going."
Does the message change after each loss? 0-2? 0-7?
"It doesn't change too much. We have to do what we have to do. We're putting ourselves into a position to win; we just ain't winning. We're not making those final plays. We have to find a way to find those inches and find those yards."
You go into every game thinking you'll win. And, a lot of the games are coming down to one score. When you don't win, how do you process it?
"We just kind of take it how it is. It's heartbreaking and disappointing to lose games that closely. We have to give ourselves opportunities to win. The defense played great. We just came up short."
Is the most frustrating part of the game knowing the errors are self-inflicted?
"Yeah. It hurts knowing that we could have done better on this or that play. But that happens everywhere across this league. We need to find a way to turn a game and make those plays. We have to find a way to get the ball off the guy who was throwing the ball around a little bit. And we couldn't find a way to get the ball out."
Who, if anyone, stepped up and put a light into you guys?
"I don't know. I don't think you really need pep talks or getting cussed out or anything like that. You've just got to look at yourself and say, 'We've got to do better individually.' So everybody's got to pick it up. It's not good enough, because we haven't won a single game. So, what everybody's been doing across this locker room, we have to do better."
For a while, you held them to field goals when they were in position to score. How did you feel about the defensive effort?
"We did a good job of keeping them out of the end zone, even though they still had a lot of yards. we never want (touchdowns) — punts and field goals (are good). We did a good job on third down, but they were getting way too many yards on first and second downs."
What kind of difference did the field position play with the punts in the first half?
"The offense was doing a good job moving the ball a bit. Kevin (P Kevin Huber) does a great job of pinning those guys back. He got three punts inside the 10 (-yard line). The gunner, Stanley (WR Stanley Wilson), and the rest of the guys did a good job of downing the ball. Special teams had a great game. We almost had another kickoff returned (for a touchdown), because Brandon is one of the best in the league. So if we all find ways to work together as a team, we'll find ways to win these games."
Did you think that today is the day you could finally get that first win?
"Yeah. Every game, I think like that. We've always got a chance. Like I've said, we have to get back to the drawing board and go harder in practice. That's all I can tell you."
Do you think the run game is close?
"We don't get paid for it to be close; we get paid for it to be good."