Taylor: "We have a big week with Jacksonville on the horizon"

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 ...

“I hope everybody got some rest after that trip yesterday. We have a big week with Jacksonville on the horizon. They’re a physical team. They’re going to present some challenges. Our guys are excited for it. We’ve had good meetings this morning in response to yesterday’s game against Baltimore. Again, it was another frustrating loss. There are certainly things we could have done better to give ourselves a better chance to win. There were some plays we feel like we left on the field on both sides of the ball that would have given us an opportunity (to win), but we didn’t make them and that’s where we’re at right now. Our guys are excited, and they’re encouraged to get back to work and keep finding a way to get that first win so we get some momentum going in our direction.”

Why is this defense having a difficult time stopping mobile quarterbacks?

“These last two (quarterbacks) have certainly presented some tough challenges for us. The guy yesterday (Ravens QB Lamar Jackson) had, really, three carries (that amassed) over 70 yards. He had three scrambles for 50 yards. One of them was at the end of the half on a meaningless play that really helped us, quite honestly. The remainder of the game, he had 20-something yards. It’s those big plays. We lost leverage on three of those quarterback-designed runs (that garnered) 70-something yards. That really killed us. (It only takes) one guy being a yard over in the right spot that has the chance to limit a 30-yard gain to a three-yard gain. We knew that was going to be critical against a team that runs the triple option, to an extent. We didn’t get it done, and they did. That’s the challenge. They do it really well and they did it really fast. Now we’ve seen it, and we need to make the corrections and be ready for it again in a few weeks.”

How would you evaluate the pass rush through the first six games?

“Not enough sacks. I can remember a week ago, (Arizona QB) Kyler Murray got (passes) out of his hands quickly. (Jackson) was a little more play-action, and less drop back. There were several times when our coverage was doing a great job and we were staying pretty disciplined with our rushing lanes, and he was dancing around the pocket and buying a lot of time. That gets hard. One time he burst it out of there on a third-and-16 and got the first down. That part is challenging. Our guys were tested for the entirety of the game. We’ve played four quarterbacks – Russell Wilson, Josh Allen, Kyler Murray and now Lamar Jackson – that extend plays as well as anybody in the league. That’s been a real challenge for our guys up front. It’s obviously not as good as we want to be in any area, in any phase of the team right now, but we’ve given ourselves a chance in the fourth quarter. We’ve had some really rough games, especially in the first half, and the team keeps fighting and gives itself a chance in the second half. Someone needs to step up and make that one play that changes the game for us.”

Is it surprising that DT Geno Atkins has only one sack this season?

“Four of these six quarterbacks we’ve faced run around like crazy. There aren’t a lot of sacks against them, period. We’ll see. We’re six games in. I expect the production to still be there from those guys on the interior. I know Geno’s still working hard and presents a lot of problems for the teams that he faces.”

Do you expect WR A.J. Green do be a full participant in practice this week?

“We’ll see. I don’t want to make any declarations on that right now. He’s certainly progressing.”

CB Darqueze Dennard is eligible to return from the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list. Could he have a role this week against Jacksonville?

“We can start the 21-day window here (to reinstate him from Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform) this week. We’ll get a chance to see him in practice and then make that decision. That’s something we’ll consider. We want to see him in pads and running around. He’s a player we anticipated coming back and being ready to play. We need to see it live and in person, and then make that decision at the end of the week.”

Is there an injury update on CB Dre Kirkpatrick?

“We’re still waiting to hear on Dre. We’ll see this afternoon, I would imagine.”

HB Joe Mixon played 21 snaps yesterday at Baltimore. Was that situational?

“It was. We got into some passing situations where Gio (HB Giovani Bernard) was in there and did a great job. Obviously it’s clear that we had a difficult time running the ball yesterday. It was a difficult front to run against, and they gave us a hard time. We felt like we were having success on the edges in the pass game. That was one of the areas we leaned on to try to get us back in the game.”

Can this offense be consistent if the offensive line doesn’t play better?

“We’re still working to find that chemistry up front. These guys need reps side by side. That hasn’t happened. Billy (C Billy Price) and John Jerry, side-by-side, have probably gotten a day together. Redmond (G Alex Redmond) – zero days. They’re not mistargeted in the protections. There aren’t guys running free. We had a sack against Arizona on a shovel pass which went down as a sack. It was a run call and they tackled us in the backfield. In this game, we got sacked twice in the two-minute drive when they were just teeing off because they knew we were throwing the ball every snap. Overall in the last two games, especially in the protections, they’ve been targeted. They’ve done a nice job. Andy (QB Andy Dalton) gets hit occasionally, but they’ve prevented the sacks. We just need to get the run game going. We talk about it every day. We’re trying to find the best answers. We’re trying to find the best rhythm for the five guys that are (on the offensive line). ‘What do each of them do best? What’s the best way to find success?’ It’s an ongoing conversation that’s nonstop.”

Do you feel limited as a play caller?

“We’re just trying to do what we have to do to win. We’re trying to find any formula we can to consistently score points. I’m sure the next question is, ‘Why don’t you score in the first half?’ We’re trying to find the way to do that. We analyze everything that happens during the course of the week to find improvement so we can score points and take the pressure off of our defense. I say that a lot, but that’s the truth.”

Is it possible to scheme-up a running game, or is it paramount for the offensive linemen to win their matchups consistently?

“It’s a combination of both. We’re constantly looking at different schemes, and we employed a lot of different schemes yesterday. At the same time, it’s on the players. They need to win some one-on-one battles. They need to move guys. We can’t always be in combination with one another. There are some times where you’re one-on-one in the run game and you need to move somebody. That’s everybody. That’s the running back setting it all up, that’s the five guys up front, that’s the tight end doing his job, the quarterback getting us into the right runs, receivers blocking on the perimeter. It’s all of them. Everybody needs to continue to improve.”

Did Billy Price show you enough to start at LG this week against Jacksonville?

“Billy Price will start next week at left guard.”

You alluded to wanting to see more consistency, in terms of offensive line personnel. Does that mean you need to talk to offensive line coach Jim Turner to try and lessen the tinkering with the personnel there?

"It’s not possible to not tinker. We lost a guy on the eighth play of the game, so Redmond jumped in there. He had four practices under his belt, and he did a really good job. He was physical. He brings energy to that line. With injuries, we can’t make an excuse for it. We need to find a way to get those reps together and find that consistency. I have full belief that we will. There’s no one that doubts that. We face some tough times in some games. We just need to find a way to get through it and find an answer.”

Does it send a message when quiet, veteran leaders speak up in the locker room?

“It does. There are a couple guys that fall in that category who have said some things that we really needed to hear. Some of those veteran leaders might be described as quiet guys that have stepped up and said some things that needed to be said. That’s been really encouraging. That’s when you know this team is still going in the right direction. It’s frustrating not having any wins to show for it, but if you could be in the locker room with us — after a game, and the week leading up to a game — then you’d see the things that I see. There’s a reason to keep fighting, and things are going to get turned around.”

What needed to be said in the locker room after the game against Baltimore?

“Let’s just hold everyone accountable, and make sure that everyone is held accountable. (We want to) make sure that we correct things that are easily correctable. There are things that the opponent does that stop us, but there are some things that we do that hurt ourselves. Playing with better leverage on defense will help us in the run game. That’s been something that’s happened the last couple weeks. Guys haven’t been where they’re supposed to be on the perimeter, and (teams) haven gotten some big runs when they could be shut down. Again, there are some one-on-ones that we have to win, and we haven’t consistently done that. There are some guys that are stepping up and saying the things that everyone needs to hear.”

How active will the team be at the trade deadline?

“I really don’t have a comment on the trade deadline right now.”

Have you attempted to utilize tight ends more often?

“Trust me, we carry a lot of different personnel groupings in a game. As the game (move along), we make decisions on what we think the strength is. We felt like we were throwing the ball pretty well on the outside out of 11 personnel. That was something we were having success with, and we continued to do it.”

What was the plan for TE Tyler Eifert entering the season?

“Tyler has held up well in the run game and in protection when we’ve asked him to do it. Everyone has always looked at Tyler as a mismatch in the pass game, and we still feel that way. You see him on third down, and you see him in the red zone. We targeted him a couple times in that game, and he came through for us with two big third-down conversions, and that’s what we expect from Tyler.”

How would you assess WR Auden Tate’s performance yesterday?

“It’s arrow up every week. He’s a competitor and loves football. He’s tough and can catch. Those are two traits that, as a receiver — it sounds crazy to say — but when you have a guy that is physically and mentally tough and has great, aggressive hands, those are two really good qualities to have. And he has those. He won a bunch of 50/50 balls yesterday. Andy (Dalton) did a great job with the ball placement on some of those (throws) to give only Auden a chance, and Auden came up and made those plays — some big-time plays. I think he was targeted 12 times, and he only caught five —when I saw that stat after the game, I was surprised, because it felt like there were more plays there. There were some that were pretty tightly contested that didn’t go his way, and there were some where he drew some penalties down the field. I thought he had a good game.”

How did G John Jerry play against Baltimore?

“John Jerry did a nice job. We didn’t help him at the end of the game on the two-minute drive, so he was caught on an island and the guy was teeing off pretty good. I thought overall, John held up and did a nice job over there.”

Does OT Andre Smith have a shot at playing on Sunday?

"We’ll see as we go through the week. He’s been a guy we’ve gotten through practice without during most of the weeks anyway. This last week he couldn’t go, so we’ll see — as we get back on the practice field — what his status is.”

Is he day-to-day?

“I’d say day-to-day.”

Is OT Cordy Glenn week-to-week?

“Cordy is week-to-week.”

How serious is G John Miller’s groin injury?

“I’d say he’s doubtful right now, but we’ll see as the week goes.”

When was the last time Cordy Glenn went through concussion protocol testing?

“He’s seen doctors in the last couple days. That’s what I’d say about that.”

How tough is it being one of two winless teams in the NFL? Does that upset you?

“Yes. We go through the week with a great sense of urgency. At the same time, you don’t want to put all that pressure on the shoulders of everyone in the locker room. You want guys playing loose. We don’t want guys that fear failure, and when they go out there, they’re so tight that they fear making a mistake. That’s not what we want. We want guys to be playing fast. The mistakes are going to happen. How you rebound to the next play? We want to have that aggressive mindset. We need to attack teams like we’re 6-0 right now, and not 0-6. We have to approach practice like we’ve won every game, and in a sense, we (need to) have that way about us that we know we can go out and win this game. I expect our mindset to be great, and I expect our practices to be sharp and have great energy. These guys will respond the right way.”

How do you keep the atmosphere fun?

"There’s the balance of making sure that everyone is on top of the details and keeping a high standard, but at the right moments, it’s OK to laugh. It’s OK to not just dread (things). We don’t want guys to dread walking into this building every single day. In our own ways, there are moments when that can come up, but our focus is on change. I appreciate the focus that our guys have had. It’s been a winning focus. We haven’t gotten it done yet, but it will come. This will be the toughest stretch that we’ll ever experience — that’s for certain. We’ll look back on this as a spring board for great things to happen in the future, but right now, this is the toughest stretch we’ll face.”

Have you tried to switch things up intangibly?

“There are some things. Nothing that I want to speak publicly about, but there are some things. We look at everything to make sure that we aren’t just stubborn in the way we approach it. There are things that have worked in the past that maybe we just tweak. Whether that’s practice or the way we game plan, there are things that we try not to have too big of an ego. ‘This is the way I’ve done it, and it’s worked. This is how it has to be done.’ There are certainly core beliefs that we believe in that we don’t stray from schematically, but at the same time, we look at the fact that we’re 0-6. We need to make sure that we are turning over every rock to make sure that we are giving ourselves the best chance to be successful.”

Is there an update on DE Carlos Dunlap?

“We’ll see. I think I’ll learn more about that one today too.”

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