Taylor And Dalton Discuss The Team Heading Into Week 8

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton attends a news conference.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton attends a news conference.

ZAC TAYLOR

Head coach

Initial comments …

“OK, back at it today. Today is the first real work day to get ready for the Rams. We’ll travel tomorrow afternoon, head over to London, land Friday morning and get another practice in. We’ve been educating our guys on what this is going to look like and feel like so we can prepare ourselves to play the best game possible on Sunday.

“From a roster transaction standpoint, we’ve re-signed Anthony Zettel along the D-line, and we let go Damion Willis. That’s a move we had to make to get another D-lineman. We’ve got some guys that are still day-to-day up front, and we need to make sure we have another defensive lineman up. That’s why we had to make that transaction.”

What do you expect out of OT Cordy Glenn this week?

“We’ll see. We’ll take it day-to-day with him, starting today.”

What has his attitude been like over the last 24 hours?

“It was a player day off yesterday, so I didn’t talk to him yesterday.”

Do you anticipate WR A.J. Green practicing this week?

“We’ll see what he can do today. We’ll try to get him over there to do some individuals, and start progressing him that way.”

Will the team sign Willis to the practice squad, if he clears waivers?

“We’d like to have him around. He’s a guy that we have high regard for. Unfortunately this is just one of those moves you have to make. We have a lot injuries right now, so sometimes you have to make some moves that you just have to – you have no choice.”

Why do you think he struggled after having a strong preseason?

“He’s still a talented player. With a lot of rookies in the first two or three months, that’s kind of the way it is. It’s just the consistency that you’re looking for from all the young players. He still has a lot of traits that we value, and we’ll see how it goes the next couple days with him.”

What did you see or hear from Glenn that made you activate him back to the 53-man roster?

“He had his suspension (last) weekend, and right now he’s part of the roster. We’ll just take it day-to-day with him. He’s coming back eager to practice, and we’ll see what he looks like in practice.”

Did you consult any team leaders or captains regarding how the team would accept him back in the locker room?

“No, not specifically with any individual players.”

Do you expect him to practice today?

“I do.”

Did he break your trust? Does he have to work to earn that trust back?

“With all of our players, we want them to operate within the culture we’re setting forth. We communicate with every player on this team daily of the things that we want. So, we’re looking forward to getting back to practice today.”

Is it possible to preach accountability and have him on the team?

“Everything is really a case-by-case basis. That’s the approach we’ll take today, and we’re excited to see what he can do at practice.”

Why has QB Andy Dalton struggled at the beginning of games?

“I wouldn’t say that it’s all Andy’s fault. And again, he’s the easiest person to blame. You can look at various reasons for the starting drives in the last couple games. You could say that a couple other people could step up and do their job better to make it easier for him. He’s always going to take responsibility for it, and he’s going to take the blame. That’s part of playing quarterback, and everyone understands that. Again, it’s all 11 (players) being on the same page and helping him.”

Where is G Michael Jordan in his development?

“He’s still a young player that we’re very excited about, and he still has all the traits that he had when we drafted him. It was good to get him into some action earlier in the year, and now he’s a backup guard for us at the moment. We’ve got Billy (G/C Billy Price) and Redmond (G Alex Redmond) back. John Miller will be back. He’s day-to-day right now, too. We’ll see if he can go this weekend. We’ve got some guys we can look at. To keep rotating players through, it hurts the consistency in the run game. I know you guys are aware of that at this point. He’s certainly a guy we don’t have a low opinion of. He’s a young player, and we took him in the fourth round for a reason. We love all the traits about him. His approach every day has been really good. He’s going to get another opportunity with the way these seasons go. There’s no question we’re going to be depending on him at some point. That’s just the way it always goes. He’s had a great attitude.”

Do you expect DE Carlos Dunlap to play on Sunday?

“(It’s) day-to-day with Carlos. He’ll be very limited today with what he does with the trainers. We’ll kind of get through these next few days and see where he’s at.”

Do you have an update on OT Andre Smith?

“Same. There is a chance – talking specifically about the two offensive linemen, John Miller and Andre Smith – we have them back this weekend. In what capacity remains to be seen.”

You coached with the Rams the last two seasons. Did you have this game circled on your calendar at the beginning of the year?

“Not really, to be honest with you. Obviously you have familiarity with the people you know, but at this point, with seven years in the NFL, there’s always relationships you have with other people on other staffs. I’ve played my brother multiple times. This one, when you watch the tape, you have a better understanding of the players you’re watching. But at the same time, they’ve already got seven games of your tape, and you can see everybody evolving over the course of the season. I had the Seattle game circled in Week 1, then San Francisco, and so on. They just happen to be the next team on the schedule.”

Have the Rams looked different this year, compared to when you were there last season?

“I wouldn’t say that. But every team has new wrinkles as the season starts. As you get four games in and eight games in, you have different personnel that starts to move around. They have different offensive linemen that are playing this year. It’s nothing substantial. Teams evolve over time.”

How much have you communicated with Rams head coach Sean McVay? Has he given you any advice?

“Sean is always someone I rely on. Obviously as the weeks got closer to this game, you start to eliminate contact with anyone on that staff, including players. He’s always been a great resource for me. In this coaching fraternity, just because a team is on your schedule five games down the road, doesn’t mean you shut off all contact. You still help each other in certain ways, and he’s always been encouraging – especially in this touch stretch. He knows the culture we’re working to build and the approach that we’re taking. You just have to continue to be yourself and keep preaching the things that you believe in.”

When was the last contact between you two?

“I think I talked to him probably three or four weeks ago. That was the last time we spoke.”

What was the biggest thing you learned from him?

“Culture. It’s what you value in the players that you want to build the program around. It’s always a process, and the way he treats people – everybody: players, coaches and staff members – everybody feels valued. You know what you’re role is, and you feel like you need to do it to the highest degree because of the confidence that he has in you. That’s a great trait for a leader, and he exhibits that to the highest degree. I’ll forever be grateful that he gave me an opportunity there.”

What are you looking for in leadership and locker-room presence?

“You’re looking for a guy that sets the standard and holds everybody to that standard. As we get seven weeks through, players are starting to understand what it should look like in all areas. I’m not just talking about Sundays and the game field. What should it look like at practice, and what should it look like in the meetings? I know we say that a lot, but it’s a constant ongoing process. It doesn’t happen overnight, it doesn’t happen Week 1, Week 5 or necessarily Week 7. But at some point, it clicks to where more and more guys start to understand it, and the standard is raised. It transfers over to Sunday, it transfers over to wins and it transfers over to championships, and that’s what we’re striving for.”

What impact did T Andrew Whitworth have on the culture when you were with the Rams?

“His work ethic was really good. Number one, he’s just a good leader. He’s just one of those veterans that’s just as old as I am. I think he’s six months older than me (laughs). I think he was the only player that was on the team that was older than I was. I think through all the life experiences I’ve had. I’m 36 years old, and there’s a player still playing that has the same impact. He’s sees things a little bit differently than some of the younger players.”

We’re entering Week 8 of the season, and Green is still hasn’t played in a game. What went into the decision to not just place him on the Reserve/Injured list at the beginning of the season, which would have held him off the active roster for the first eight weeks of the season but also opened up a roster spot? Were you optimistic he could return earlier than Week 8?

“Of course. If someone tells me that there’s any chance you’ll get him for even a game before that eighth game, I think you’re willing to take that with A.J. Green. It was an injury where there was no exact timeline. You try to be as vague as possible because you really don’t know. At the same time, you’re trying to give some helpful information to everybody. As you see, we’re in the eighth week, and we’ll see where it goes this week. I don’t disagree with your point. It’s been good, and he’s been working every single week. Here we are in the eighth week, and we’ll figure out where he’s at in practice today.”

Have you encouraged him to take more time with his rehab?

“I just want to make sure he feels comfortable and confident when he walks on the field. I think we’re getting very close to that point. But again, you have to see him in a full practice, which we haven’t seen yet. I wouldn’t put him in a game if he hasn’t gone through a full practice. We’ll see how much he can do today.”

Is keeping him sidelined part of maintaining the trust and relationship with him going forward?

“No. He wants to play when he is 100 percent healthy and ready to play. None of that other stuff has any bearing on it. He approached every day like he’s getting ready to play on Sunday. He’s been doing that for weeks. I know he’s been disappointed that he hasn’t been ready enough to play. I saw him at halftime of the last game and I said, ‘What if we just ran you out right now in full pads? How would you feel?’ Of course he said, ‘Aw, man. That would be unbelievable.’ We just weren’t quite there yet.”

What do you expect from him today in practice?

“We’ll see. We’ll recap it after today and see what’s on the schedule for Thursday.”

Do you expect him to do individual workouts?

“Yes.”

How similar is this week, compared to the average road game week?

“It’s not similar. (Players) have to be able to adapt, and it becomes about which team adapts. You see a lot of different styles of games that happen in London. Some of them go one way really bad either way, and some of them are really close because both teams are well-prepared. We have to make sure our guys understand what it’s going to feel like to land at 1 in the morning (Cincinnati time) and go practice. They have to find a way to sleep (on the plane). These are all things that we educate them on. Like anybody who sits in class or a meeting – you say, ‘Yeah, yeah,’ and then all of the sudden you don’t do what you’re told and the next day you realize, ‘Oh, that’s what he was talking about. Next year I’ll be better at it.’ We’re making it very clear to our guys that it’s not next year. We’ve got to make sure that on Friday, we feel the way we should feel.”

Did you take anything from Sean McVay on your last trip to London?

“No, not necessarily. This is my fourth time going, and I feel like every team I’ve been on has had a good plan to get over there on Thursday night and do the things that we need to do to get ready.”

Is it an advantage for the Rams that they’re staying in Atlanta and not traveling back to L.A. before heading to London?

“Is it? They’re in a neutral site and they’re in an unknown city. You never know (laughs).”

What have you enjoyed most about your trips to London?

“One year, I went to Parliament. They gave us tour, and it was pretty neat. I really didn’t know what I was in for, but there were some really cool things that you learn. There are some sayings (you learn) – ‘in the bag,’ ‘toe the line,’ and all these that come from decades and decades of things that have happened in Parliament. I think that was four years ago, when I was in Miami. We got a tour of it, and it was pretty neat.”

This team is 0-7 and has dealt with some adversity so far this season. What did you take away from dealing with adversity while working for the Rams?

“You can’t change who you are, and you can’t change your attitude. You can’t lose games, and then all of the sudden change all the things you’ve preached all offseason and all regular season and say, ‘Now, we’re going to be negative. We’re going to criticize everything you do, and everything you do is bad and terrible, and now we have to fix it.’ We are the same people every day we walk into this building. Just because we’re facing some difficult games that are behind us now, that doesn’t mean that we compromise our core values, beliefs and the approach that we’re taking. Sometimes this thing happens instantly. You start out 4-0 with new systems, or a new team. Sometimes it takes seven games. We just stay the course and keep believing in each other, and keep working hard. The payoff comes at some point. We’re certainly focused on it coming this week. We’ve identified good people in the locker room that are going to keep staying the course and preaching the things that the coaching staff is preaching, and approaching practice the same way. We have to keep fighting. There’s 16 games this season, and unfortunately, we’ve lost seven of them, but we still have time to salvage this thing, and do some good things this year.”

Do you like bangers and mash, or fish and chips?

“I’ll say ‘fish and chips,’ because I don’t know what the other thing is (laughs). I don’t think I went that far. I think it was usually the hotel food. That’s as Americanized as I could get it. I’m pretty picky with my food choices.”

Is DT Aaron Donald the best player you’ve ever seen at any position in the NFL?

“Who (laughs)? He is someone you have to be aware of on every single snap. I certainly think we have a pretty good D-tackle (DT Geno Atkins) as well. When you’re around him and see how he works, he’s a special player. He can wreck a game if you let him. You have to pay attention to where he’s at.”

ANDY DALTON

Quarterback

How would you assess your performance to this point in the season?

“There are some things that I wish I could have back, and there are some things that I’ve done well. The big thing for me is being consistent and making plays when they’re there.”

Do you think you’ve been consistent enough?

“There have been times where I’ve given us a chance to be in these games and have the chance to win. And there’s a couple of them – last week was unfortunate with the way things turned out. The ball was in my hands, and I need to make good decisions. You need to put it in the right spot. Obviously, other things can happen. At the end of the day, the ball is in my hands and I need to make those decisions.”

Would more two-TE schemes benefit the running game?

“We’re trying to find the answer to the run game. The plan we put out there is the plan we think is going to be most successful for us. We would love to run the ball better. We’re looking at ways to do that.”

Without changing personnel, how can linemen do a better job of winning matchups up front?

“There has to be importance to everybody. Everybody has to do their best to do their job. That’s what it comes down to. Zac (head coach Zac Taylor) has said it, and I think we all understand it. It’s only one guy at times. That one guy that’s missing on his assignment is affecting the whole play. If everybody can focus on what they’re doing, making sure they’re doing it to the best of their ability and exactly how it’s being coached, that’s all we can ask.”

What’s the most difficult part of playing in London?

“Getting used to the time changing. We’re getting over there and having an early day on Friday. We’re leaving Thursday night, getting there, and then having a full day. It’s just getting used to the time change and trying to stay on the schedule they’ve given us. They’ve prepared us pretty well — ‘This is how we want you to do things with sleep and rest and all that kind of stuff.’ That’s the biggest adjustment.”

Did you enjoy the experience last time you played in London?

“Yeah, it’s a cool experience. It’s cool to go over there. For me, I had never been over there a couple years ago when we did it for the first time. It was cool to play in Wembley (Stadium), and we get the chance to do that again. I did enjoy it. We would have liked to have a better outcome than a tie, so it was a weird feeling after the game. But I did enjoy it.”

Does it feel odd that there isn’t one specific fan base in the crowd?

“People ask about it all the time. I remember we were on defense to start the game. Our defense got the crowd into it. They were really loud. The ball was snapped and it was silent. Then they completed a three-yard pass and the crowd went nuts (laughs). The understanding may not be there all the way, but they’re just ready for a good time and ready to see some action.”

In the first half of last week’s game, you had a stretch of incompletions followed by a stretch of completions. What is the difference between the two?

“You can look at all the different factors. I get hit on one, so the ball doesn’t go where I want it to. Another one gets tipped. There are different things that happen. For a lot of the game I put the ball where I wanted to and gave our guys chances to make plays.”

OT Cordy Glenn was suspended for last Sunday’s game vs. Jacksonville. As a captain, are you willing to accept him back to the team?

“For us, we want everybody that’s out there to be ready to go and to give full effort and to be all-in on everything we’re doing. If he’s up to that and doing exactly what Zac wants and doing what this team is built on, we’ll accept him back. We want everyone to buy into what we’re doing. I’m not saying he is, and I’m not saying he isn’t. You want everyone to be on the same page.”

There has been outside speculation of a potential change at the quarterback position. How have you handled that?

“It hasn’t been spoken in this building.”

How big are the challenges that DT Aaron Donald and CB Jalen Ramsey present this week?

“They’re two really good players. Both of them are some of the top in this league, not only at their positions but in the game as a whole. It’s a big challenge for us. You watch tape and Aaron Donald is all over the field. Jalen Ramsey has obviously only had one game there, but we know his past and his history. Two really good players.”

How much does this franchise miss what Rams T Andrew Whitworth brought to the field and community during his time here in Cincinnati?

“Whit was my guy. He was the first guy that I talked to when I got drafted. I stayed at his house during the lockout when we were doing some workouts up here. He’s meant so much to this team and this organization. He had a great career here, not only with what he did within the organization, but with what he did in the community. Whit was a guy that had an unbelievable time here in Cincinnati.”

How much have you stayed in touch with Whitworth?

“I’ve talked to him throughout the years. It’s been good. I’ll be happy to see him over there.”

What’s your favorite part about the London trip?

“It’s cool being in a different country. I think that’s the biggest thing. It’s a different fan base. It’s cool to experience.”

Does this week’s schedule feel similar to a typical game week?

“There are some things that require adjustments. For the most part, they’re trying to make it as similar as you can. With the time change, it affects some stuff. They want it as close to the same as they can.”

Have things changed in this building since the departure of Whitworth?

“Whit was really good for us. I loved every year that I got to play with him. You see the business of it. He had an opportunity in L.A., and he took it. Is he the reason things haven’t been exactly the same? I don’t know. Whit was a big part of this team and a big part of the leadership on this team. I’m happy for him that he’s had the success he’s had.”

How often do you check in with WR A.J. Green to see how close he may be to returning?

“I talk to A.J. all the time. When that time comes, that time comes.”

When Green does return, how big of a spark will he bring to the offense?

“When you add a player of his caliber, it changes a lot of things. I’ll accept him with open arms whenever he’s ready.”

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