Taylor: "Our Team Has More Fight Than Anybody Around"

190821-Taylor-Zac_press_conference (AP)

Head Coach Zac Taylor

"Frustrating loss. Our guys gave us a chance in the second-half defense. They scored on the first three drives of the game, and we thought it was going to be tough. I don't care what the stats say; they buckled down, and they gave up two field goals in the remainder of the game. That's what we needed from them. That's the response we needed. That's not the response from a team that's 0-5 at the time and giving up as many rushing yards that were given up. The response was to buckle down and step up and make some plays, and they did that. Brandon Wilson's kickoff return for touchdown was the spark that we needed. Then, on offense, we continued to search for that identity. It didn't really feel like we had any drives in the second half. I think we had two — an 11-play drive and then a four-play drive, and then, all of a sudden, two-minute drill. So, it was a strange game in that respect. But, again, we had guys trying to get us back in it. There was no quit. It's frustrating, trust me. You can throw out every stat that you want. We're not scoring points. We're not scoring touchdowns. Our red zone efficiency is terrible. But, the bottom line is, we're 0-6, and our team has more fight than anybody I've been around. I just told them when we do find that win, it's going to be the most rewarding win you've had in your entire life. Because the guys are still fighting. The leadership is starting to step up. We have a group. It's tough, and this one hurt probably the most it feels like. But we gave ourselves the chance at the end when it looked really bleak. We've fought back now two weeks in a row. Again, we don't put ourselves in the position in the first half to win the game, and that's disappointing, but it's going to come. And it's going to be very rewarding when it does. And this is a group that I'm very proud of."

On why the team is having so much trouble against the run?

"There's a lot of things that are tough right now, and we'll have to watch and figure out what that reason was. This was a unique offense we faced. They present a lot of challenges. Again, it's a silly thing to say. After the first three drives, they gave up some plays, but, again, they buckled down and kept the points off the board, and that's what we needed from them. We lost at one point three starters in the secondary. We had three D-linemen inactive, and we've got a bunch of guys out there fighting like crazy against an offense that's really well put together and, at the end of the day, they gave us a chance to win."

On rotating a lot of guys

"That's everything. Let's find the most energy we can find. Let's find the healthiest guys we can find, and let's just find a way to get a stop. In the end there, they found some ways to make stops and give us a chance."

On their third-straight game without an offensive touchdown

"I can point to everything. Our rushing efficiency has not been very good. We're still trying to find our identity there. That part has been frustrating. Our red zone efficiency — we get a turnover there in the first half. We started to have momentum at the end of the second quarter. I think that was the fourth possession we had in the game. We felt like we were moving the ball, and the field position was starting to turn in our favor. We get some momentum there, and the ball gets tipped and intercepted. Then again, we get down there at the four. Tough call, and we throw the ball to [Alex] Erickson on the sideline. That looked like a tough one. I thought we should have had the ball on the one, and we didn't. So, we kicked the field goal. The second drive, the defense gets the stop. And, again, the offense [has an] 11-play drive — no points. It's killing us. You get these drives that start to flip the field, but we need the points that come with that. Again, just a very frustrating loss."

On what the Ravens did to take away the Bengals' ground game

"They were just being physical up front. That's what it was. I wouldn't say they were doing anything schematically."

On the challenge of facing Lamar Jackson

"Very challenging. That's the most frustrating thing for a defense. You have a play covered, and he's an elite athlete. We've played a couple of good athletes. He's one of the rarest I've seen in person. Just one little crease, and he's got 30 yards on you."

On the three players hurt in the secondary

"Will Jackson was out for a little bit. I couldn't tell, to be honest with you. I saw him coming off. I wasn't sure if it was injury-related or fatigue."

On relinquishing play-calling duties

"I have not. We still feel like we have a good plan going into every game. We haven't scored enough points. We feel like every game we're going to score plenty of points and give ourselves a chance to win. We just haven't gotten it done."

On how he evaluates himself as a play caller

"We've won zero games and have not scored enough points. And that 100 percent falls on me. But I do like the communication we have as a staff. The play calls come out of my mouth. We have great chemistry as a staff. We put a good plan together, and we are all on the same page when the calls come out regardless of whose call it."

On WR Tyler Boyd being taken out of the game

"They usually do that with Marlon Humphrey. He usually covers who they think is going to be the best receiver. He's certainly been our leading receiver these last couple of games. So, that's what they like to do. They put Marlon Humphrey on him and they've still got eyes on him from everyone because he's a dangerous guy."

On not playing WR A.J. Green

"There's no reason for that."

On the mood in their locker room being 0-6

"I told these guys, 'For an 0-6 team, you wouldn't know it.' No one has quit. There's not one person in this locker room who has quit on us. The mood is still pissed off that we haven't found a way to get the win, but everyone still believes. I meant it when I told them, 'This is two weeks in a row now where most teams that haven't won a game would shut it down and go ahead and take the 25-point loss and move on. Woe is me and point fingers.' I haven't seen it. I haven't seen it from one guy. They've all responded the way you want them to. It's going to be very rewarding when this thing clicks. It just hasn't done it yet, but when it does, it's going to be very rewarding for you guys in this locker room."

On the excitement with the game plan

"The whole plan we get excited about. We go into the game thinking, 'Alright, this is the plan that's going to give us the chance to win.' Again, when we get to 10-plus-play drives, we have to score points. We can't just get down to the 40 and have to punt it. That's really what has killed us; the turnover. You can say the guy made a great play from the back side and tipped the ball. That's a tough one to stomach. They made a play, and we didn't. Those are just the times when you get down there. And we've had this conversation all year. It's the red zone efficiency that's killed us."

On the Bengals' running game

"We're trying every combination we can possibly imagine to try and get this run game off the ground. It is frustrating."

On doing some different things with RB [Giovani] Bernard

"We're working on it. It's hard when you are running for a yard or two per carry. And you do want to stick with it because you have to. But, at the same time, we found some great matchups in the passing game that we liked, and it was giving us 10-yard chunks. So, that was the direction we were heading in the second half. I don't know what the final rush total was. It's not good, probably not a lot of carries. But we found out if we want to give ourselves a chance to win, it needed to be covering some ground through the air."

On, as a play caller, how tough it is falling behind

"It's not necessarily the defense. We're not scoring on offense. If we could have matched them score for score and been in it, and be able to call our stuff. I've said it many times standing at this podium, 'We've got to be better in the first half. We have to put points on the board and take the pressure off the defense.'"

QB Andy Dalton

On if the Ravens' defense took WR Tyler Boyd away in the first half

"Yeah, they did. They had a plan for him. He got a bunch of double teams in this game. That's how they were playing him."

On what's keeping the offense from getting off to a good start

"We obviously got the return for a touchdown, and then we went three-and-out. We had a chance, but the ball got tipped at the line of scrimmage – it was one of those things where we had a good play … That stuff happens, unfortunately. That's why we ended up going three-and-out on the first drive."

On why he spiked the ball after he scored the rushing touchdown

"I scored a touchdown. It's not my first time spiking it when I scored a rushing touchdown."

On if teams are playing them differently without WR A.J. Green

"Absolutely. [Because] he's not on the field."

On what they need to do to get off to a faster start on offense

"That's what we're trying to figure out. For us, we've got to take a hard look at everything that we're doing. We've got to make plays. We've got to have the right plan going in – not saying that we don't - that's not what I'm saying at all. We have to look and see where we're struggling, what can we do better? Everybody's got to do that. It starts with me, and it starts with the execution."

On what the Ravens did to stop the rushing attack

"They had all their guys in the box. They made it hard for us to run."

On if he's surprised with how the team is taking being 0-6

"I'm not surprised at all. We've got great guys here, we've got guys that are sticking together. For us to get things turned around, it has to be that way. I think the culture that [Bengals head coach] Zac [Taylor] has set here – everybody is buying into it and has bought into it. So that's why guys are sticking together."

On if he's talked to the coaching staff about picking up the tempo of the offense

"Obviously, we've done some good things, and we've been able to pick up the pace … Obviously when you get to the end of these games, we've been able to move the ball pretty well, so we'll take a look at it and see if we feel like that's an area we need to go, then we'll definitely do it. I like it. Whatever is going to put points on the board."

On his rapport with WR Auden Tate

"He played really well. Auden's a guy that's so big, you've just got to give him opportunities to make plays. You can see with a lot of the catches that he had, using his size and with the ability to track the ball, he was able to make the play."

S Shawn Williams

On the defensive play

"We are getting better. We came out at times, and at first, it was a little shaky. We had to figure out what they were doing, but when we did, we did a pretty good job of adjusting. One thing I feel like we could have focused on more was keeping Lamar [Jackson] in the pocket. He is a good athlete, a good quarterback. He makes that team run. In the second half, when we made our adjustment, we really played well. We held them to three [points]. They are in the NFL too, so they are going to get their yards, but at the end of the day, we did get stops on third down, and we held them to three when they did get in the scoring zone."

On Lamar Jackson

"He is a really great athlete. He is special. He can hit the edge and run like no quarterback I have ever played, at least that I can remember at this moment. We just have to go back to the gameplan for when we face him again. We kind of know the recipe. We have to stop them on first and second down, get them in third down, third down and long, keep [Lamar Jackson] in the pocket and make him throw to beat us. When he steps outside the pocket, he is as good as anyone. And today, he also made throws outside the pocket. So, they kind of won that today."

On defending the entire run game, not just Lamar Jackson

"We cannot just tee off and rush. You have to be disciplined in your rush lanes. [Lamar Jackson] does a good job of extending plays on third down and getting them the extra first down that they need."

S Brandon Wilson

On his kickoff return for touchdown

"I had some great blocks. I read my keys and just went for the score. There were some good blocks up front. Clayton [Fejedelem] and the guys up front did a great job opening it up for me."

On if he thought his touchdown would provide a spark

"It would provide a spark because it was the first play of the game."

On whether he anticipated a short kick for the opening kick

"Yes, kind of close to the goal line, somewhere around that range. I really only had to make one cut because they blocked it up so well. I do not know if I was touched or not."

On defending the Ravens' offense

"We just wanted to keep him [Lamar Jackson] in the pocket. That is what we really had to do. You just have to keep your eyes on your keys and do your job. Yeah, do your job."

DE Carl Lawson

On the defensive play

"We have got a lot of things we need to fix. There are things we have to correct. At the end of the day, the only thing we can do is go back to the drawing board and keep fighting and do not quit."

On whether the defense played better as the game went on

"We definitely did. We settled down and did what we were supposed to do and play how we needed to. We had to play a great player [Jackson] and we have got another chance to play him again. When that opportunity comes, we need to do better."

On the Ravens' running game

"Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram II; that combination is dangerous when you have a running quarterback and a Pro Bowl running back. We have to keep [Jackson] in the pocket. We would rather him throw than run because he is so dangerous running. We just have to keep working."

TE Tyler Eifert

On the offense

"We fought hard. We had a couple short drives and three-and-outs. We just didn't get many opportunities in the second half. We had one long drive that we didn't get points on and they had a couple long drives, so we just got to keep battling. I feel like at times, we look pretty dang good, and then others, not so much. So, we just need to find some consistency."

On what they can take away from this game moving forward

"Not very much. We just need to make the corrections. We're professionals, we'll come back to work on Monday, and we'll have a good week of practice and get ready to play another game next Sunday."

WR Auden Tate

On his personal performance

"I think I played fairly well. When my number was called, I just tried to make a play. I did that on some occasions. Andy [Dalton] just trusted me, so I appreciated that. I wish we would have just came out with the win."

On if the Ravens' focus on WR Tyler Boyd opened the offense up more for him

"Yeah. that was a big thing we talked about all week. We knew they would be keying in on 'TB' [Tyler Boyd], so it would be on me and 'AE' [Alex Erickson] to kind of step up."

On losing

"If a couple plays turned, we could easily be 3-3 or 4-2. It's not like we just get blasted. We know we can do it. We're all grown men. There's not any point in giving up, so you do your job."

LB Nick Vigil

On the defense

"We gave up a lot of rushing yards. We let No. 8 [Lamar Jackson] get loose a couple times, but I think we did pretty good in the red zone. We held them to six points in the second half and it gave ourselves a chance."

On QB Lamar Jackson

"He's a good player. He's tough to contain. We didn't do a good enough job setting edges and that was a lot of their run game – him getting outside."

On being 0-6

"We've got to win a game. That's the thing, we've got to put it all together, especially stopping the run. On defense, if we don't stop the run, we don't stand a chance."

LB Preston Brown

On QB Lamar Jackson's play

"It's tough, they did a lot of empty stuff, so he [Lamar Jackson] got easy reads and if they weren't there, he was going to take off. He does a good job of making people miss. He's one of the most elusive, best players. They did a good job utilizing him and having him with a lead blocker. He was cutting it back, throwing outside and running around. He was just having fun on us, and that's what you never want to have done."

On the team's rush defense

"It's tough. You think you have stuff idled up, guys are going another way and sometimes you just miss tackles. We've got to go to the drawing board and see how exactly people keep getting these runs. Every week you look up and there's a lot of rushing yards. That's something you never want to see. I don't think it's a scheme thing, coaches do a great job every week of preparing us. We've just got to make plays. So, we've just got to find ways to beat our blocks, to beat our man and tackle the man with the ball."

On being from Cincinnati and playing for the Bengals

"I grew up seeing 2-14 teams and it's something I never wanted to be a part of. Now, I'm trying each and every week to get that first win. We know what the whole city wants, and we've got to get this win."

CB William Jackson III

"We want to win. That's what we care about the most. The guys that are out there are the guys that want to win. We just go out there. We never quit. We believe we're going to win. The whole time, it could be 40-0, and we still believe we could win the game. I just love playing with guys like that, play through injuries. It's always frustrating, we're competitive and we always want to win. We're here to do a job, but we'll keep moving forward and get that first win."

On CB Dre Kirkpatrick

"That's devastating. He's one of the leaders in the locker room. He's a good guy. It's football, it's what we signed up for. I'll be glad when we get him back."