Bengals.com senior writer Geoff Hobson sat down with head coach Zac Taylor to unknot last Sunday's tie in prepping for this Sunday's game (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) at Paul Brown Stadium against Jacksonville.
GH: If a tie is like kissing your sister, I guess for you and your brother Press coaching for the Eagles, it's just shaking hands. Can you build on it for Jacksonville?
ZT: We have to. I think there are some positive things in all three areas. There was a moment there the offense scored on five straight possessions. There was a moment at the end of the game the defense got some critical stops in overtime and special teams came up big in overtime. You have to find ways to build on all that.
GH: You're a pretty upbeat guy, but that post-game Zoom was as down as I've seen you.
ZT: Yeah, you feel like there's a lot of opportunities there. When you walk off the field, you felt like you had the game in your grasp and you didn't finish it off. It's discouraging, but it's just temporary. You have to rebound the next day. If you see me, I'm as positive as I'll ever be. I think that guys feed off that and feed off each other. It was probably the most exhausting game I've ever been a part of because it was so close for so long and then you play the overtime. It's such intense situational football. And when you walk off the field and don't t win, it feels that more discouraging.
GH: What do you tell them when you stand up there after such tough losses in games that were right there? Like this one? The opener? Another OT in Miami for the last loss of last year?
ZT: You have to earn victories in this league and that we just have to get that first one to create that momentum and we'll continue to feed off that, but we have to go earn it. It starts with Wednesday's preparation and carry over to Sunday. And you have to find that one thing you can improve on to help the team and help us put it over the edge in the fourth quarter of these tight games.
GH: Do you buy this thing that teams have to learn how to win?
ZT: I do. You have to have that expectation when the game is tight. You're the guy that has to make the play. That doesn't just happen because you hope it's going to happen. You have to earn it with how you go about your preparation. That's just a challenge for coaches and players to find that edge within yourself that's going to carry over the course of the week. It doesn't happen over one week, it happens over a period of time. I know that our guys understand that.
GH: Is a win like getting a turnover? They come in bunches after the first one?
ZT: That's a good analogy, it really is. You get that first one, you see yourself do it, you see it on the scoreboard, you get on the plane and you're happy, you're excited, the emotion in the locker room. All those things are important. They all matter. You have to earn them.
GH: The last time this team didn't win a game with three sacks combined with a plus-two turnover ratio was 2011, which shows just how whacky Sunday was.
ZT: That's a recipe for success and we have to find ways to finish it.
GH: The 29-yard touchdown play with 16 seconds left in the first half, was that just a lack of communication in the secondary? Or did guys know what they were doing and they just didn't play it right?
ZT: It was a detail in the coverage (not lack of communication), of how we were exactly starting off the play with a receiver at the line of scrimmage and our responsibilities on the back end.
GH: I don't think I've heard so many questions about the right guard following a game. You seem to think you can overcome it.
ZT: It's early in the season. We can't overreact to any one position. We have to keep finding the answers and develop chemistry up front. And it will come up and we have to keep the faith and keep working at it.
GH: Alex Redmond has to be an option at right guard and Hakeem Adeniji has to be an option.
ZT: We have to keep looking at every guy in that room. Don't overreact and make sure we're making the best decision for the team.
GH: A.J. Green has said he was still rusty and he's still adjusting to a new offense. This is a whole new structure for him. I guess we underestimated what it takes to adjust to a new offense.
ZT: There are guys that didn't have an offseason and missed a good portion of training camp. Obviously everybody expects people to just jump in and have great success and sometimes it takes just takes a little bit of time. We've got a ton of confidence in A.J. and it's important to us that he's a big part of this offense.
GH: Do you still see him as a guy that can grab a 70-yarder at any point?
ZT: I do.
GH: Speaking of that, with wide receiver John Ross inactive is that going to be a rotation or a constant? Beyond Ross and Tate, it looks like all the other receivers are going to be active.
ZT: We just have to keep looking at the best way to go about it. It's not going to be a uniform decision over the course of the season. It will be a week-to-week decision that we have to make.
GH: Is John just trying to find that consistency he's never seemed be able to get a handle on?
ZT: It's a deep receiver room. I think that's what it boils down to is just making the best decisions for the team each week.
GH: I know you guys are dying for a big play and John's been known to get behind guys.
ZT: We have faith in a lot of guys at that position. Sometimes we're just a tick away. We have had some opportunities, we're just not quite there yet in terms of capitalizing on them.
GH: Has the run game been a casualty of the offensive line trying to find its way?
ZT: It's not always the offensive line. There are plenty of examples of them doing a great job. It takes all 11 guys to get this run game going and we have to be detailed at every single position as we call these runs.
GH: It looked like you stuck pretty much with the run in Philly even though it was not kind to you many times.
ZT: It's important to find that balance, for sure. I know sometimes it gets a little lopsided at the end of the game with the stats. But we're going to do what we've got to do to win the game and Joe Mixon and the run game are a big part of that. It takes all 11 guys to be detailed and help each other out.