Taylor's Thoughts On The Team's Mindset, The Ravens And A.J. Green's Status

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor speaks with reporters during a news conference in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor speaks with reporters during a news conference in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

ZAC TAYLOR

Head coach

Initial comments ...

“From an injury standpoint, Alex Erickson had a concussion, so he’ll go through the protocol. We’ll see where that’s at. He’s seemingly responded well today, but he has to go through all of those tests and get through the week. Shawn Williams had some (injury) issues in the second half. He’s really fighting through it. We’ll see where he’s at this week. B.W. Webb played with a cast and came out okay with it. That’s where we’re at from an injury standpoint. Andre (OT Andre Smith) got banged up at the end of the game and he’ll be day-to-day – that’s how he’s been each week. We usually give him some time (off in practice) on Wednesdays. That’ll be no different this week. I don’t expect anything long-term there. Those are some guys that will have to get through the week, but for the most part, we came out without any major injuries.

“We have another tough test this week against Baltimore in a divisional game. It’s the first time we play them this year. They’ve had some good success this year. They have some good weapons on both sides of the ball. I’m excited for another opportunity. This is a divisional game. It’s an easy one to get up for. It’s on the road. It’ll be a tough environment. Meeting with them today, our guys still have the right mindset that we’re going to go out and attack this week and get together a good game plan and execute it the best we can and get out with a win. We’re fired up for the opportunity.”

Are there any updates on the statuses of WR A.J. Green or OT Cordy Glenn?

“No update on Cordy or A.J. We’ll get A.J. through this week. He will not practice this week. He’ll be on the rehab field. He’s making good progress. And Cordy, it’s the same report that I usually give.”

Considering the injuries at the wide receiver position, does “11 personnel” still give the team the best chance to win?

“We keep looking at what personnel groupings will give us the best chance. We carry four tight ends and we have four running backs up right now, so we continue to look at how to give ourselves the best chance.”

Will Green play on Sunday?

“He will not play in Baltimore, no.”

How much do you need to see a player like Green practice before inserting him into a game?

“I’d like to see him at least once (laughs). Each player is different. It depends on the injury. I watch him every day on the rehab field, so I’ve seen him do some good things. There will be some things that we ease him into. You don’t just go into practice full-blown on your first day after being off for two months. There will come a time where we start working him into individual work and then ease him into practice. We’re encouraged with where he’s at. He’s not going to take any reps against the defense, but I would like to see him do some individual work when he feels like we’re ready to make that move.”

Green has indicated that there have been some talks between his agent and the franchise regarding his contract status. Where do you feel that process is right now?

“That’s something that happens with a lot of players as we go on, to be honest with you. He obviously means a lot to this organization. It’s something we continue to talk through.”

Did Green experience a setback after his initial injury?

“No. There was no setback. I’m not a doctor, so certainly be careful with what I say when it happens early in training camp. That’s all that comes down to.”

How did the offensive line perform against Arizona?

“We did a better job keeping guys off Andy (QB Andy Dalton). There were a couple times late (in the game) where they threw a lot at us in those last two-minute drives when they were trying to create some pressure. We weren’t going to let Suggs (Arizona LB Terrell Suggs) and (Arizona LB) Chandler Jones dictate that game. That just wasn’t an option for us. (The offensive line) did a really good job responding. That was the tight ends and the running backs too — they played a big part in that. And also Andy getting the ball out of his hands when we did drop back and pass. It wasn’t too far off from the type of game that we wanted to play. There were two opportunities where we had first-and-goal, and really it was on those third-and-goals where we lost out on eight points. That’s the difference for us right now in some of these games. We can’t miss those opportunities. We scored on five of the nine drives on offense. We had opportunities to score touchdowns on most of those drives. We ended up kicking a couple of field goals, and that’s where this game got us on offense.”

Are the struggles in the red zone due to a lack of execution?

“Yeah. You look at the two third downs, and it’s pretty easy right there. That gets hard. We need to step up and make some plays when we’re in those situations.”

What is it like being both a play caller and a head coach?

“The preseason is really good in that regard. If it’s your first time doing it, you need some reps at it. With those four preseason games — and I know everyone talks about cutting down the preseason — but as a first-year head coach, I’m really thankful we had them. You get a chance to work through a lot of the kinks in that regard. When we were in Week 1 at Seattle, I feel like every week has been the same since then. You feel like you’re in a good rhythm because you have those first four games out of the way. Had I not had those this year, then it might have seeped into the regular season a little bit. For me, that was good. It was good for the whole staff to get on the same page. Once the season hit, we’ve felt great about all of that stuff. Me, particularly.”

Did you speak with L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay about being both a play caller and a head coach?

“(I spoke with) a couple guys. Everyone has to do it a little differently because your staff is built differently. I’m always open to taking advice where I can get it. I feel comfortable with where we’re at.”

Is there anything you can do to help your playmakers make plays?

“(I can) make it easier to get the third-and-goal on the one (-yard line). There are ways I look at, ‘What calls can we make earlier to put ourselves in a better position?’ But ultimately, that’s where we’re at. We’re 0-5. It’s 0-5 because we all need to do a better job. We all need to be better at our jobs. That’s what we really challenged the guys with this week. Let’s spend the extra time making sure we’re communicating in all facets with each other. We need to get that winning mindset back. We need to get back on track. We’re 0-5. Everyone evaluates where they’re at right now. We’re not pointing fingers. Figure out what you can do better. That’s me, that’s the coordinators, that’s the players, that’s the leaders at each position group. What can we do to ramp it up a notch to go get this first win?”

How much does losing games undercut the culture you’ve tried to build?

“That’s the emphasis right now. We always say it’s about us. From Day 1, it’s listening to what’s going on inside this building. Rightfully so, we’re 0-5, and we’re going to take a lot of shots right now — that comes with the territory — (but) we have to make sure that doesn’t seep into the minds of everyone in this building. Let’s close that off, listen to each other and know that each of us can do a better job. That’s what it’s going to take right now. Again, that’s what comes (when) we’re 0-5 — that’s what’s going to happen. Let’s make sure we are doing our best.”

What was the mindset behind speaking with individual players directly after yesterday’s game?

“You lose a tough game, and everyone feels it. I feel it, and the coaches feel it. It’s still about connecting with the players, and getting the most out of them. The easiest way to connect and be critical of guys is when you build a relationship with them. That’s just what the process is. You don’t lose a game, shut everybody off and start blaming everybody, and (then) they start blaming me. That’s not the way we’re going to approach this. Sometimes when it’s fresh like that, you want to make sure you connect with the guys and make sure that we’re all still on the same page. That’s what I feel from them.”

Was it impromptu? What made you want to do that?

“I did my interview with Dave (Bengals radio color analyst Dave Lapham) in the locker room, and I saw some of the guys around that had a big role in the game. I can’t say that there was any thought that went into it. It just is what it is sometimes.”

Is now a good time to lean on the veterans you have in the locker room?

“Yes — (lean on) the leadership at every position. It’s not just the unit, it’s every position. Let’s get every position group to ramp it up a notch. Can each group do a little bit better? Is that more prep work during the week off the field? Is that better communication on the field during practice? Whatever it is, we have to find that extra notch that ramps it up. We’ve been close in a couple games, and it’s not good enough. It doesn’t make you feel better that you’ve been close. Again, we haven’t won a game yet, so we’ll look at every single way to find a way to get a little bit better, so we can get over the hump.”

What adjustments did Arizona’s defense make to the running game after the first drive?

“They really didn’t make a big adjustment. They probably expected us to throw the ball a little bit more. They played base to 11 personnel. That (was their) mindset — let’s get them out of the running game, and make them throw it every snap. We really went into this game saying, ‘I don’t care what they do. We’re going to make sure we run the ball.’ We probably has some tendency breakers early on that got them a little bit. Then it really became a normal football game at that point — we grinded, you might have a zero or a one- or two-yard run, and then you break off an eight- or nine-yarder. That’s what the game became after that first drive. I thought we did a better job of staying in second-and-manageable and third-and-manageable situations. There weren’t many third-and-long (plays) like we’ve had the past couple weeks, and those second-and-long (plays) didn’t happen very often. We played the game how we wanted to, and we stayed in our spots. Again, five of the nine drives we scored points, but we need more touchdowns than field goals, obviously. That wasn’t a high-possession game. That was one of the lowest I’ve ever been a part of.”

Did playing Seattle help prepare you for the tempo Arizona played with?

“It didn’t hurt. It certainly didn’t hurt. We’ve seen that before, and they put a little bit of it on tape. They haven’t majored in it the way they did yesterday against us. They showed it on tape, so we had a plan in place, and we knew to be ready for it. I thought our guys handled it well. They had maybe done 16 snaps (on tape) — I (probably) shouldn’t throw that number out there — (but) we had seen enough on tape to know that we needed to have a plan for it.”

Would you like to see more production from the tight end position?

“We can help them become a bigger focal point (on offense). Off the top of my head, I can’t say that they aren’t making the plays that are there. We have to make sure that we’re doing our best to get the most out of all of our guys at each position. Again, that falls on the play caller. We have to make sure that we’re putting guys in positions to make plays, so our playmakers are able to (make plays). As you know, we are down a couple guys at receiver, so we have to look and make sure we’re doing our best to maximize our ability on offense.”

Will you be evaluating talent over the next few weeks and figuring out what you have moving forward?

“No. It’s (about) trying to win a game this week. That’s the emphasis right now. We want to win. We all want to win, and we’re willing to do what it takes to win. It might be hard to believe, but I haven’t seen a change from anybody in the locker room that has a different approach, or a different agenda. We’re all on the same page here, so we’re going to do whatever it takes to win this game.”

How are you feeling, considering the team is 0-5?

“My mentality or personally has not changed. It’s because the people that I’m around constantly haven’t changed. We all go into every game thinking we’re going to win, and we are disappointed when we don’t. We haven’t entered a game thinking, ‘We have no chance,’ and then we don’t win. That hasn’t been the case. That part takes it out of you immediately after the game, but I wake up and have my Starbucks, and I feel ready to roll Monday morning to get excited and go attack the next team. The people around us feel the same mentality. It can be hard if you have the wrong people surrounding you, but we don’t. That’s what makes it easy to rebound. We have a lot of games left. We have 11 games left, and we have a huge one this week that we want to win. From a mentality standpoint, it’s pretty easy.”

Is there something a coach can do to get a team out of a rut?

"I think we analyze on both sides of the ball, and all three phases of the ball. We always try to make sure we’re doing the right things to make sure we’re putting ourselves in the best positions. I promise you, we do whatever it takes. We log pretty good hours, so I think that’s going to be tough to ramp up a notch. When you’re 0-5, you have to really look at yourself and figure out if there’s an area we can really improve on that we’re being stubborn at. That’s something that we’re all accountable for. Nobody has too big of an ego that they can’t take coaching from another coach, or from a player you respect. We all make sure that we’re accountable, and no one has an ego that’s too big to where we’re not willing to change. If ever we identify a problem we can fix, we’re willing to do it.”

Is there an advantage to playing Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson in back-to-backs weeks?

“It’s two dynamic guys. The traits (of Lamar Jackson) are similar to what we saw last week. I know the players in this building have seen Lamar more than I have. They both present challenges, and the sign of the quarterbacks that are coming into this league right now. They’re dual-threat guys, and they can extend the plays and make them really long, so you have to be on top of it. They’ll really challenge our guys, so let’s do a great job honing in on the game plan, honing in on the details and being great communicators, because these guys can really challenge you in that respect.”

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