Bengals.com senior writer Geoff Hobson sat down with head Zac Taylor to talk about getting that first win, how Bengals icon James Brown (J.B.) led him through his first victorious Who Dey chant and why A.J. Green is about the only topic in the future he'll discuss. And it's just fine if they win and don't get the first pick.
You prepare for everything. Did you prepare to address the team after the first win?
You think through the messages you want to send the team, but the raw emotion takes over in that situation. Everything goes out the window and you just say what you feel. It was a good scene.
You probably thought about that moment for some time.
There's no question. You always think about winning football games and what the message is going to be. That one was a little different.
Did anyone have to walk you through the Who Dey chant?
I tried to step aside on that one and let J.B. take the lead. We did it in the preseason. We won a game in the preseason, so we have done that before.
J.B. wasn't there for that one. Who led that chant?
I don't remember. That seems like it was three years ago.
So that was a new experience for you?
That was a new experience. It was good. I want more of those experiences.
J.B. wasn't rusty.
J.B. probably practices daily getting ready for that moment, so it was good having him around.
Andy said he had about 200 texts after the game. How about for you?
Somewhere up there.
Did you hear from people you hadn't heard from in forever?
Yeah, all sorts of people. I'm not going to say any names. The whole gamut.
Knowing you, you probably answered them all.
Still working through it.
What was the best thing about Sunday?
The locker room. You could feel it. Pressure is not my favorite word, but it is to an extent. Guys were feeling the pressure a little bit. So that relief of, 'OK, we checked that box, now let's just go play football like we're supposed to,' and kind of get that out of the room. You take it for granted. When you have it, as much as a lot of us have experienced winning, you take it for granted. When you lose it and get it back, it's 'OK, I know what it feels like to not have that feeling and I don't ever want to lose that again.'
It was an interesting dynamic where you gave a game ball to Andy Dalton and Andy gave a game ball to you. You had made a tough decision to make a quarterback change a few weeks ago, but you guys seem to have persevered through that.
It's never an easy moment when you have to deal with stuff like that a couple of weeks ago. But Andy's character shows through in that moment. He and I have obviously had a great relationship since I got this job. We've sat here at this table many times over the last three weeks talking through situations. It was good that he broke the records he did and led us to a victory. He's the leader that we all expect him to be.
Has Andy asked you about his future role on the team?
There is a time and a place for that. We both know that. Now we're just focused on winning each game every week.
The way he plays the last four games, could that dictate what you do in the future?
Those are all off-season conversations that we don't have to have right now. We're focused on beating the Cleveland Browns.
What if he plays you out of the first pick?
Great, we just want to win.
Your defense has quietly emerged this last month. What are they doing better?
They've put together really good halves at points in the season where if we had scored more points offensively, they would have been able to play more aggressively. You look at some of the halves against Jacksonville and Arizona and some teams like that, where if we scored more points and played with a lead, it's easier to be consistent over the course of a game.
When we get behind and have to throw the ball every snap on offense and the other team is running the ball down your throat constantly, you get a little worn down on defense and some things break open. They've had some really good moments that I've seen, so I've known this was coming. I know the players have felt this work for weeks now. It's just a matter of the whole team putting together a complete performance and getting a win.
Some things I've noticed is Darqueze Dennard came back, Germaine Pratt is playing more and better, the big package personnel is effective.
It takes time. You never know what's going to click in Week 3, Week 9, Week 12. The bottom line is we want to be consistent going forward and through the future and let this lead us to great things. I certainly feel like we're heading in the right direction.
You go to Cleveland this week in what is one of the league's more intriguing rivalries given that Paul Brown founded both teams. Can you tell it's a different week for Mike Brown?
Mike usually plays it pretty close to the vest. Every division game is equally important. Whether it's Pittsburgh or Baltimore or Cleveland. He wants to win them all.
We've talked about balancing the future with the present. Is putting Michael Jordan back at left guard a move for the future?
He did some good things on Sunday. We'll just continue to evaluate as we go through the week. We certainly think he's got a lot of potential and he's got a bright future ahead of him. We talk about the consistency of the units, but the consistency of the young players as well.
Is A.J. Green still in your plans for this season?
A.J. is still in our plans. He's doing everything he can to get back and get healthy and be able to help us on the field.
I know you don't want to look into the offseason, but I think you believe he's a linchpin for the future.
He's a huge piece of what we want to be. He's a great player. I like having him around. Can't wait to call plays for him.