Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson sat down with Bengals head coach Zac Taylor to talk about Sunday’s Paul Brown Stadium matchup (1 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Channel 19) against another rookie head coach in Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury and how he can get that cherished first victory against a guy he considers a good friend.
You and Kliff spent time some time with Winnipeg in the CFL as back-up quarterbacks when you got right out of college.
We were there for about three months and became good friends. He was third string and I was fourth string. Neither of us played. We fought over scout team reps. We didn’t really fight over them. We wanted the other guy to get them. We were both at the end of our careers and ready to move into coaching roles. We were on a really good team that went to the Grey Cup. Our starting quarterback was the league MVP that year (Kevin Glenn) and was really good. Kliff and I were fighting over scraps.
Sounds like a reality check.
It’s a real reality check to spend November in a Viscount Gort Hotel in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I knew I had a coaching job after the season at (Texas) A&M but I didn’t tell anybody. There wasn’t a lot to do. The practices were 30 minutes long, if I remember. The day would end at noon, the movie began at about 12:30. It was right next door. So any movie that came out in 2007, I’ve seen it. Probably a lot of them with Kliff. I spent three months there trying to find something to do from noon to midnight.
He must have been your best buddy up there.
He was my only buddy there. He’s the only guy I could relate to. He’s a good guy. We’ve long stayed in touch. We worked some camps at my high school and he’s flown in for them. Two years in a row we’d have camps where I’d invite some coaches from around the country and he would participate.
Will you talk this week?
When’s the last time you talked?
Probably at the (NFL) owners meeting (in March). We don’t talk much, but I consider him a good friend.
One of the good friends is going to get his first NFL victory at the expense of the other needing the exact same thing.
That’s the way it goes.
With your team trying to get your first one, do you think it’s a personnel issue? What’s the next move?
No. We just have to make sure we don’t keep making the same mistakes twice and keep raising our standard. It’s a new opportunity this week. If we change the momentum, get a win this week, start going in the right direction, we’ll feel differently. But right now we’ve put ourselves in an 0-4 hole and it doesn’t feel great.
Nick Vigil was talking about how the Steelers made it easy for quarterback Mason Rudolph after Monday night’s game. Are there any ways to make it easy for Andy Dalton?
We’re always trying to evaluate the best scheme to put us in good positions.
Hard to point the finger at him Monday night, isn’t it?
It’s on the whole group. It’s hard when you’ve got guys in your face. You’re getting hit quite a bit and you’re getting sacked eight times. That’s not easy for any quarterback.
Something you talked about going into the game was after a couple of flat starts, to make sure they came out ready early. And they did. The defense stepped up and gave you plenty of chances. The offense came out rolling, too, but paid the price on that first series for a miscommunication on protecting a blitz.
I really thought in the first quarter and early second quarter we gave ourselves opportunities. We just didn’t capitalize. Offensively it was that sack in the first drive, not scoring a touchdown on the second drive and the sack fumble in the red zone in the second quarter. Defensively we made a big stop early on fourth and 1 and gave up ten points in the first half but they got stuck with bad field position throughout the first half, so that was tough for them.
The red zone has been a problem with three touchdowns in 11 trips. Is there anything you can put your finger on?
Yeah, turnovers and minus yardage plays really hurt us. Those two things have killed us.
In Pittsburgh and Seattle. Same thing. Turnovers in the red zone instead of touchdowns.
It’s a different game. It’s easy for me to sit here and say without really knowing how it’s going to play out. (Monday night) was one of those games I felt like if you could take the early momentum and grab a 10-0 lead, which I felt like we were in position to do, then it plays out differently.
The miscommunication on rookie linebacker Devin Bush’s sack on the first series of the game, who is that on?
Up front they just have to a better job of communicating.
Anything to do with the shuffling? Left guard Michael Jordan (knee) was healthy this week after missing last week.
No, we should have been OK. That would have been a standard protection issue.
Billy Price came in for Jordan late in the game. Was that for injury or a move?
Just to change it up a little bit at the end.
Does Price start this week?
We’ll always evaluate the way it goes.
Another trend has been giving up one wide-open long pass a game on defense.
Miscommunication in the back end. We had safety pressure (a Shawn Williams blitz), he was a split- second away and busted coverage. It bit us right there.
Were you surprised how much the Steelers changed up their offense from last week and pretty much used the Wild Cat as a staple against you?
They hadn’t shown it. In this league, you can never be caught by surprise by anything. You have to be ready to adjust. Whatever they show you, you have to be able to adjust to it and that’s why we’re in the NFL. (Rudolph) had a high completion percentage. About 90 percent of those throws were under five yards. I thought our defense in the back end did a nice job except for that one miscommunication. On offense we have to score points to so that it takes pressure off the defense.