Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com sat down with head Zac Taylor this week to discuss talent, technique, learning the nuances of post-game press conferences and Boomer and Burrow.
Last week you said something interesting. You said, "We can't wait for the wins to come to us, we've got to go get them."
"There were opportunities where we could have gone and built a bigger lead in the second quarter, and we didn't capitalize on those opportunities. That's something that playoff teams do, championship teams do, and we've got to get to that level."
How do you instill that mindset in the players?
"It's part of our daily process with guys understanding how important the technique is. We have plenty of guys who want to be good, give great effort and believe in what we're doing. We just have to have better attention to detail in some areas."
As you said after Sunday's game, with five turnovers, you're not going to win anything.
"There's certainly a lot of positives we can point to, but at the end of the day, we didn't take care of the football. That's the common denominator in a lot of losses in this league."
It was one of those games where you were in it, and then suddenly you weren't.
"We've got to get over that hump. We're in a lot of games, but that's not good enough in this league. We've got to figure out a way to start winning some of these."
Do you think that game came down to technique?
"In some areas, absolutely. That's a championship level team that plays with great technique, they're very situationally aware and they capitalize on a lot of those opportunities."
Your team has an interesting mindset. They don't play like a one-win team.
"I agree with that. Obviously that's a credit to our players and coaches that they've been able to put forth the effort they put in and not throw in the towel because we're not going to the playoffs or playing for a championship. That's a credit to the culture that we're trying to ingrain in this organization and it's been very well received."
Do you have enough talent here to win?
"Yeah, we've got a lot of players that are here to do it the way we want it done. We've got to keep improving our technique and making every player we have better than they were the day before. When we achieve that, we'll be in good shape."
Do you think you've got a good core here that you can build a team around?
"We've got a lot of guys in this building that we believe in, that believe in what we're doing and that have shown us a lot of really good things throughout the season."
In what way have you seen guys step up this season and take a leadership role?
"When you face adversity, whether it's on the field or on the sidelines, getting everyone pointed in the right direction. There are a lot of encouraging things to be shown there. When a game turns like that, that dramatically and that quickly, that's when people tend to get emotional, myself included. I thought our guys did a really good job of handling that. Guys were fighting until the last whistle. Despite the fact that we were down 21 points, we didn't see any quit from anybody."
After the game, you said the receivers got bullied. That's something that you have since said you wish you didn't say.
"The culture we're trying to build, we're trying to be accountable. There's a lot of things that need to be said face-to-face and don't need to be aired in public. You get frustrated, we all do. You get emotional and it's one of those things I take back."
That's part of the learning process for you?
"No question. You have to correct the mistakes you make. It doesn't matter who you are, if you're a coach or a player, there's always areas to improve. You've got to be critical of yourself and not make the same mistake twice. That's something we preach a lot."
It had to be frustrating for you because you put together a game plan that worked because you ran the ball.
"When you're playing a championship caliber team, that's usually how it feels. You feel like you have a great plan and we executed it for two quarters. But at the same time, we lost by 21 points. Two quarters isn't good enough. That's what we all need to understand is that it takes much more than what we came out of the gates doing."
Why did you give the players the day off on Monday?
"It's that point of the year where guys are fighting through a lot of stuff and we're getting good work when we're out there at practice. To throw them a bone and make sure they're healthy when they come back, focused and ready to go. This is a game we need to go win. Just to give them that 48 hours to clear their heads to come back ready to work on Wednesday."
What is your assessment of the Dolphins?
"We see a good football team on tape. Guys that are doing things the right way. They've got a good coaching staff, players are playing hard. It will be a tough test for us."
Do you think all of the talk about the first pick is a distraction for you guys?
"It's not. There's things like that that happen over the course of the season that you just have to tune out and focus on what's important right now. What helps us go beat the Miami Dolphins, that's the things that are important to us right now."
Did you know that Boomer Esiason gave Joe Burrow a Bengals helmet on the CBS pregame show?
"I'm aware because people told me. That stuff is not important to me. That's fun for everyone to talk about outside of the building, but those are things that don't have significance for us right now."