BENGALS POSTGAME QUOTES
NOV. 25, 2018
CLEVELAND AT CINCINNATI
Initial Comments ...
"Obviously, we didn't start the football game off well enough. We let them go down and score the first drive like that. We had some things going on offense, and we don't finish it off. And then again, we end up getting the ball back again and scoring, and then unfortunately we have the turnover. That's about all I remember at this point here. We've got to settle down and just do our jobs. That's disappointing, no question about it. Just settle down and do our jobs. The plays are there, everyone's just got to make them. Defensively, we've just got to settle down and execute and do our jobs. We're really struggling with that."
Why do you think the team is struggling to do that and making mental errors?
"We're just pressing to make plays instead of just relaxing and (doing) your job. We relaxed more and did a better job of that defensively in the second half, and things are going to come to you. They went four wide receivers and we were a little off balance there for a bit — then we fixed it, and we're good. We've got to just understand that things are going to happen in the game that are going to be a little different. We've got to make the adjustment and then play to it."
What about the mental errors, like the false starts on the last few drives?
"Again, I can't tell you what happened in that area. The communication — whether it was the center or whether it was the line, I don't know. I can't help you with that. That's the point. It was huge. Billy's (Price) got to wait for the signal — we've got to get it from the quarterback — and we've all got to be on the same page, no question. We can't have (those mistakes) in the critical moments. Those are the things that we did very well to open the season. We didn't have those things, and today we had too many."
Did you have an issue with effort from the team in the first half?
"No. I did not have any issue with that."
Is there any concern that Andy Dalton's injury is serious, and might cause him to miss the rest of the season?
"On first look and everything, it's not. But they're going to do some further tests."
Did he have an MRI during the game?
"He's had some scans. But again, they're going to continue to look."
Why do you think you've had to come in here week after week and say the same thing about what went wrong?
"It's three weeks in a row. It's unfortunate, so that's the bad thing."
Is the slow start a preparation issue, or a discipline issue?
"I think I said it about three or four times over — it's not. Our guys just need to relax and do their jobs. Just execute your assignment."
The season's not over. Are there any adjustments that you can make, and are they more difficult to make at this point of the season than they are earlier?
"We've got to bear down. We've just got to bear down and relax. We don't have to press. We've just got to bear down and relax and get it done. I've got to do my job. I've got to do a better job. I've got to prepare them better. They've got to go out, and they've got to execute their jobs better. Okay? It rests squarely on me."
Did Billy Price say anything about what happened on the snap that got away?
"No. I haven't talked to Billy."
Was that pretty much when the game got out of hand?
"Well, we don't want to give up the score there right at the start of the third quarter."
Is it possible to get a team to stop pressing and relax when they realize the season is basically on the line?
"We've got to right the ship. We will."
You said they came out with four wide receivers ...
"Four wide receivers in the first half, and the defense had adjust to it. We talk about it on the sideline, and then just execute. It doesn't matter if it's a wide receiver, back or tight end, we've just got to execute things."
If the team can't relax at home against an opponent it has been traditionally pretty good against, when might it relax?
"I don't know that the opponent matters. You've just got to do your job. Whether you're on the road, whether you're at home, they're playing football. It's just the execution of football time and time again."
Does something like that fall on the team leaders and captains?
"It falls on everyone. This is not the time for them or anybody to point fingers at this or that. It's time to self-correct and get it done correctly."
Do you have an update on Tony McRae's injury?
"Things were positive at this point."
What were you thinking when Andy goes down and you had to go in? And what about when you got into the huddle?
"You never want to see anyone go down. Unfortunately, that's part of the game. I was ready to go. I've been ready all year long. I told those guys, 'Hey, we're going to come back and win this game.' They had full confidence in me and, on our sideline, everyone had the mentality that we were going to come back and win that game."
Do you think you were able to create a spark when you came in? If so, was there any reason behind that?
"When I came in, we went three-and-out, and that's not any way you want to start. The defense did a good job getting the ball back to us the whole second half, really. We got some things going there, and had a couple long drives we were able to cap off with touchdowns. Unfortunately we just came up short there at the end, but I thought we competed. We've just got to make a few more plays."
Andy isn't a quarterback that gets injured all that much. How difficult is it to be ready? How surprised were you when they said, 'Hey, Andy's gone. Get in there'?
"It's a challenge. At the end of the day, that's my job to be prepared if Andy goes down. That's what I've been doing since I've been here. For the past three years, I've been preparing and making sure that when it's time to get in there, I'm ready to go and give our team a chance to win."
After a 4-1 start, this team has lost five of the last six games. What do you say to fans that might have lost hope of making playoffs?
"We're definitely not out of it. We have five more games, and we have to come out and win those games. We've put ourselves behind a little bit, but we still have five more games to go out and compete. Like I said, we thought we were going to come back and win this game. We think we're going to win the rest of our games this year and give ourselves a chance at the end of the year."
On that final drive with a couple false starts, were you guys out of sync or trying to go too fast? Was it a miscommunication?
"Definitely miscommunication, and that's something I have to get cleaned up. I haven't had many reps with those guys, and whether it's the way I'm telling them the snap count or just my tempo with the snap count, I've got to get that cleaned up. It definitely hurt us today, but that's something I'll get cleaned up and something I've got to be aware of."
Marvin Lewis was understandably exasperated with the slow start. What do you attribute that to?
"I'm not sure. I thought we had a good week of practice, and I thought we were ready to go. Our guys were ready to play. For whatever reason, we came out and we didn't execute. They got a big jump on us, but we weren't hanging our heads on the sideline and we were competing the whole four quarters. I don't have an answer for that."
How would you characterize the difference between Andy's setup and when you come in. And how does that change the offensive attack?
"I don't think that changes. The game plan was the game plan for Andy (Dalton), and we went off the same sheet for myself. I've just got to be able to execute at the same level as him. In the NFL, it's the next guy up, and that's for every position. You've got to be able to go in there and execute the game plan. That's what we've been working on all week, that's what I've been studying, and that's what I was ready to go in and do. I don't think it changes at all."
Weren't there more designed runs?
"We didn't have any today."
In developing that game plan, how much input do you guys specifically, as quarterbacks, have with the coaches? Do they seek your input?
"I think so. We're working together to get the best plan together and give ourselves the best chance to win. It's definitely a back-and-forth. It's an open dialogue, and they want some input. What we're most comfortable with is what they're going to call. We're definitely on the same page there."
Is there any difference in planning for the last half of the season, as opposed to the beginning? Is it harder or easier to institute changes and put in new wrinkles at this particular point?
"Every week is different, just because the defenses we're seeing are so much different week in and week out. We always have those plays we've been working on since training camp, and those are going to be the type of plays we hang our hats on. In the NFL, you have to be able to adjust, and you have to be able to install plays on a week-to-week basis so they can't know your tendencies and know what's coming."
You haven't been in there that much, but from the outside looking in, this game looked like it was above and beyond the chippiness a normal NFL game would have. Did you notice that, and what kind of reaction did you have to some of the stuff going on out there?
"It's definitely a rivalry we have going. Yeah, there's going to be chippiness. There's guys out there competing. That's just the nature of football — guys are going to be on edge and feel like they have something to prove. That's just the nature of the game. It doesn't affect me either way."
How much confidence does this performance give you? What do you know about yourself now, after finally getting a little game action?
"I know, personally, what I've known all along, and that's that I can play at this level and give our team a chance to win. We had a couple drives there, and at the end of the game we were rolling to come within striking distance. With more reps and more game action, you're going to get on the same page with your guys — whether it's the line with the cadence, or the receivers and tight ends, or with the route tree. I don't think I learned too much about myself. I've known that I can play all along."
Marvin Lewis talked about this team maybe trying too hard and needing to relax. Do you feel that?
"I don't know so much about that. I think we have a lot of guys that are very talented who get very impatient with getting an opportunity. They want to get it so bad that they might make a mistake."
Looking at the first half; how hard is it when you look and things are just starting and it's already kind of getting away from you?
"It was tough. Like you said, it's very hard to start very slow and start to pick it back up so late. The margin of error is very small in our league. In order for us to start like that, we have to finish strong. We started to but we have to start that in the first half, not the second."
Where does this team go from here?
"Tomorrow we get ready for Denver and that's all we can really focus on. There's not too much we can say about the losses we have or really even the wins that we have. We have to continue to progress and get ready for next week."
Marvin Lewis and the coaches can only say so much about getting this team ready. Who is the voice right now that is going to get this thing turned around?
"I wouldn't say it's just one guy. I think we have a lot of guys that step up and want to be a voice. I wouldn't pinpoint that on one guy. We have a lot of leaders that we expect to step up and they do. It's just tough right now."
What's the biggest difference in the style of Andy Dalton and Jeff Driskel?
"It's hard to say. They are two great quarterbacks. I think the biggest thing is Jeff can run a little more than Andy. I think that's one thing that sticks out. They obviously both do things that are really good. Andy has a long, great career doing the things that he does. Jeff comes in and fills that void when he needs to and can do things with his arm and his legs. Jeff fits right in when he comes in."
You guys have made changes. Teryl Austin is no longer here. What's it going to take, is it going to be more changes to get this thing turned around? What do you think it's going to take?
"That's not my job and that's not my thing to focus on. I think everyone in this locker room needs to focus on doing their part and see where that gets us."
Marvin Lewis said in his press conference that guys aren't doing their jobs. Is that something that you see?
"We all just have to do our job and be on the same level. I feel like sometimes everybody is doing it right and one guy is doing it wrong and that just hurts you. Like I said, at some point we as players have to step up. We can make all the changes, but if we aren't playing hard, that's the kind of stuff that's winning games."
Is there any point where it's a feeling of shock in the first half when you can't believe your eyes a little bit?
"Anytime you're down 28 points, you get knocked back, but it's all about how you respond."
How do you deal with that as a player?
"I think the biggest part is just worrying about yourself and what you can control. We have to come together as a team, but unfortunately, it's hard to do that when you're down 28-0. You just have to play play-by-play."
On Marvin (Lewis) saying the losing is on him ...
"I don't like the fact that Marvin keeps saying it's his fault that we are losing. At some point, we as players have to step up and say it's our fault."
What was it like for you guys when Andy Dalton went out? What kind of impact does that have?
"It hurts. The most important player is the quarterback. (Jeff) Driskel came in and did a pretty solid job. The most important thing is not turning the ball over and he did a good job there."
How much does Baker Mayfield change things?
"He did a good job of getting out of the pocket. When he extends the play, now we are looking for our guy whoever is in our zone or we're looking for our man. He was able to make completions while getting out of the pocket and we can't let him get out of the pocket."
Marvin Lewis said it and has said it for years; do your job. What does do your job mean to you?
"Do your job to me means whatever you are called to do in the defense, whatever your job is, do your job, don't do anything else. Because if you don't do your job, then who will? The time on third and short; we were playing run and they had their run guys in. And they had a play action complete to 85 (TE David Njoku) from the off side. They had 24 (RB Nick Chubb) in and had 82 (TE Orson Charles) at fullback and they complete that one and that one's on me; I wasn't doing my job. So everybody just needs to look themselves in the mirror and say do your job. Don't worry about what the coach calls or about what the offense is doing or what they're not doing. Just do your job man. Because if you don't do it, then who will?"
Then why hasn't that sunk in yet?
"I just think that sometimes it's pointing the finger at somebody else. If I'm a linebacker, oh it was the defensive line's fault or it was the safety's fault or it's the offense or the special teams. No, it's no one else's fault but your own. Take accountability and then we will be more consistent in our play. Anybody can go out there and make a stop here or there, but how about you be consistent. When they hit the red zone, you consistently don't let them get them seven, make them get three. We have to be more consistent."
Do you think it's too late for this team to make a run?
"No, it's never too late. I remember the Giants going 9-7. They got hot at the right time and beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. We can do that; we just have to get together now. We have the players to do it. We just have to get players healthy and get the players that are playing motivated to get back to the same goal. We just have to figure things out."
Marvin Lewis said in his press conference the responsibility falls on him. Do you think that's fair?
"That's definitely not fair. Me myself, every play (that I don't make) I have to take fault. We just have to come back together as a team and figure things out and start looking forward to the Broncos."
Is it hard to not let losing five of six fracture a group?
"It's hard, especially when two losses are division losses. We just have to figure things out."
Images from the week 12 matchup between the Bengals and Browns in the "Battle of Ohio."
It's been mentioned several times that the team is killing itself with penalties, which led to you having some of your kick returns called back today. How demoralizing is that to the team?
"It's deflating, you know? You get a big play, and then you look back and see the (penalty) flag. It's just deflating. Obviously, losing the yardage (hurts) because then you're looking at first-and-20. It's tough to stay ahead of the chains when you're at first-and-20, so it just puts you behind right away, and then the trickle effect from there. We just have to look at ourselves, be more disciplined and just find a way to not make those penalties."
It was awfully chippy out there. Was that a factor in this game?
"We knew it was going to be. Obviously, all the talk and all that stuff going into the game — we're all prideful men. (We're) competitive, and as much as you want to say (stuff), when you see it, you see it, and you know who said it, so that's just part of the game. We all know that. As long as it stays (there). Everybody knows what's all right and what's too far, and as long as you don't cross that line, I think that's football."
Did you see a difference in them and their mentality with Gregg Williams taking over their team as head coach?
"Obviously, they were confident coming into the game. I don't know. I didn't notice a difference from years past. It's just a matter of them jumping on us right away, and it was an uphill battle the rest of the way for us."
How would you rate how Jeff Driskel played after coming in due to the thumb injury to Andy Dalton?
"He's a confident player as well. I know he's going to come in as the top player he is. That's' why he's here. He came in and played a phenomenal game to me. Regardless, we were still moving the ball with him there. We just have to start faster, earlier in the game."
Did the Browns' smack talk before or during the game get under your skin at all?
"Nah, it didn't get under my skin, but I did feel some type of way (about it) because, how can you say one person (A.J. Green and his injury) justifies a win? But at the end of the day, we had to go out there and show them that wasn't the reason (we wouldn't win). I'm not saying it is, but, regardless, I'm going to go out there and fight my tail off and try to get a win."
Is it bewildering that the team was 4-1 at one point and it's since spiraled in a bad direction?
"Yeah, it hurt a lot, especially for me. I'm really mad, but it's football. It's the National Football League. It's hard to rally up wins consecutively. But we're a great team, and I believe that. We've got guys that can step in for the guys that are hurt, and we can still win. We've just got to play a little more perfect. We've got to play penalty-free and just play — just ball and make plays like we always do."
All teams face injuries, but it has to seem crazy with the amount of guys you've lost this season, no?
"I still feel we have the better team overall; we just started slow. We knew we had to outscore them. No matter what the defense is doing, we've got to score points regardless. But we started slow, and that's what we need to fix. That's what we've been trying to fix through this journey. Once we develop better efficiency, we'll start running (smoothly)."
When you look at film, Atlanta didn't get to Baker Mayfield and you guys didn't today. What made him so tough and elusive?
"Baker's always been an elusive type of person (on the field). Their offensive line has gotten better in the past couple of weeks with pass protection. They're doing better over there, so we just fell short."
What was the mood after cornerback Tony McRae went down?
"That's always tough, especially when people get hurt. You know it's going to happen, but you see the (medical) cart coming out there, and you get so scared for the person, and you just pray for the best. I'm praying for him right now. I just hope for the best for him."
What was Marvin Lewis' message to the team after this game?
"We just have to get it together. He's did his best coaching this week, and we lost, and we've got Denver coming up, and we can't sit around and cry about this and mess around next week. We've got to try and get back on track and win next week."
If anyone knows what Mayfield is capable of, it's you. Do you think he has given that team a newfound sense of confidence?
"Yeah, for sure. I just know that's what he brings to any locker room. That's the type of person he's always been. That's what he was at (the University of Oklahoma), and that's just what he's brought to Cleveland. You're obviously seeing it."
What have the injuries done to the mood of this team throughout the season?
"Yeah, there have been a lot. Obviously, you don't want to see anybody get hurt. The sad part is that's just part of what (life in) the NFL is. Obviously, we just want those guys to get healthy as soon as possible. Until then, we've just got to keep (going) out there and trying to perform."
What happened on the snap that led to the fumble to start the second half of the game?
"I just pulled it. That's it. I just pulled it, something that doesn't happen (normally). I've never done that. I just held on to it a little too much and just pulled it. It's a mistake on my part, and it led to seven (Browns) points ... It's my fault (in terms of) execution."
The last offensive drive had a few decisive penalties in it, including one that killed a long pass to Tyler Boyd. Were you guys just trying to get out of your huddle too fast?
"It was just a miscommunication. I have to be better. I'm the guy who's in the middle, so I have to be better."
That was a tough drive because of a couple false starts and an illegal shift penalty. Was that all the result of miscommunication as well?
"No. It's execution. I have to be better for this team, and I have to make sure, again, that everybody's on the same page. Some of those were me at the end there. I thought we were in a different type of hurry-up (offense) ... It's just a miscommunication. The responsibility is on me, and I have to be better."