Head coach Zac Taylor sat down with Bengals.com senior writer Geoff Hobson as his team prepares for Sunday's game (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) in Indianapolis. The two talked about culture, the improvement of the defense and how his offense is ready to take on the blitz.
GH: Culture is a tough thing to get a handle on. There's no stat sheet on culture. I guess you can look at the scoreboard, but we're talking stuff that goes beyond that. Do you still feel you're on the right trajectory there?
ZT: Yes. Small things that are going to add up to equal big things. And you have to continue just winning these small victories over the course of the week in your preparation and the way guys approach things. The way that the leadership handles things that go on. That stuff all adds up. We feel like we're going in the right direction. I know that the score was not indicative of where we think we're going. We have to put that one behind us and look forward and learn from our mistakes and have a better week this week.
GH: They say there are days like this. How much does last Sunday's game in Baltimore shake you on what you've got going offensively? Or does it give you more resolve that it can get going?
ZT: I think that's what people tend to do. They panic over one performance. That is absolutely not what we're going to do.
GH: When you looked at the tape, what did you think of Joe Burrow's performance?
ZT: I think that whole unit just has to work in unison. There were certainly some positive things you saw from Joe. We just have to do a better job all the way around.
GH: How about your wideouts? Was it they couldn't get open or didn't have time to get open?
ZT: I think we have a really good receiving corps. Again, it all works together. There are times you're going to have time to get the ball out and there are other times we just have to do a great job of working together as an offense. But I think we've got enough talent in that receiver room to go make plays.
GH: Of those 15 hits on Joe, you felt like there were three free runners that were not good?
ZT: That were part of the protection mistakes. There are going to be other times where they bring DBs that you sometimes don't have enough for and you just have to play ball.
GH: Do you expect teams to now try to replicate what Baltimore did with that constant blitz?
ZT: Yeah, I hope they do. That would be good. Because we feel like we'll be prepared for it and we look forward to that challenge.
GH: You've also said you're not going to play scared. There were some people who said about Burrow, if you can't protect him, get him out of there. That doesn't seem to be your mind frame.
ZT: That's not our mind frame. It takes everybody. It's all 11 guys working together to make sure that we get the ball out on time and we're protected and move the ball down the field.
GH: Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo had wanted to make the scheme faster and more flexible this year and with guys like the rookie linebackers and DBs Darius Phillips and Shawn Williams playing specific roles, he seemed to get that in Baltimore.
ZT: They're much improved in that regard. They did a good job believing in and executing the plan and I was happy to see that. Baltimore made some plays. They've got a lot of talent over there on offense. Those guys are going to make plays. You have to minimize them when you can, but I thought overall our guys had a good plan and we did a good job executing.
GH: Do you think Geno Atkins can play more snaps this week? He took about a quarter of them in his season debut on Sunday.
ZT: We'll see. I don't want to make any predictions. That was his first game back from really over a month of being out. So you don't want to rush somebody back into play. We'll see how he feels this week and what the flow of this game is.