MARVIN LEWIS (with Cincinnati media)
ML: "We'll return Pat Sims to practice today. He'll begin his three-week window of practice opportunity. That's really it for roster moves today.
"Obviously this is an important week for us, with another AFC opponent, and one right now that is currently leading their division and is very hot right. Over the last 10 days, we've had a good opportunity to evaluate ourselves and look at what we're doing. We've got to continue to look to create the unscripted plays, whether it be on offense, defense or special teams. Generally you're going to get those plays when you know what you're doing inside and out. Things become natural and they just occur. In some football games earlier in the season, we got some. Over the last couple of weeks, we haven't made any of those unscripted type of plays. We have to do that. We have to do it with a creation of them offensively, and with creation of an opportunity on defense and special teams. Make sure those things still become a part of what we're doing.
"Looking at the Broncos, they're obviously playing very well. Over the last six quarters, their defense has played well, the offense is playing well. The ball is getting spread around offensively, based on coverages that they do. Peyton Manning is doing a nice job. They ran the ball very effectively last week against New Orleans, and really pounded them in the middle of the field. So it's going to be important that we do a great job of being stout inside. The play-action pass then comes off of the run, and you have to do a good job of being in vertical leverage on the routes. It's going to be a great test, a good, fun thing. It's where we are in the season, and it's where we need to play good football.
"Defensively, they have two good pass rushers in (Von) Miller and (Elvis) Dumervil. They've done a nice job in the back end; Champ Bailey is still playing very, very well and doing good things. It's going to be a test for our offense. We have to go out and get after them offensively."
What have you seen out of UC product Derek Wolfe?
ML: "He's doing a good job for them. He plays hard. He's doing a good job inside – those guys don't get the attention, but a lot of the outside pressure comes because these guys are doing a nice job being stout and getting a push in the interior. He's generally to the closed four-technique side."
What would be an example of an unscripted play on offense?
ML: "The quarterback has to move, scramble, then makes a throw with a catch. Whether it be a big play on first down, it's that kind of play. Defensively, a turnover or interception return, something like that. Special teams, a big return or blocked kick or whatever it may be, based on the opponent or what we have going on."
Everybody on the offense has said that you guys have to make plays. Are you confident you have the playmakers on offense that you need to make those plays?
ML: "Yes, to flat out answer the question. From opportunity and finish of it, that breeds the confidence. When you lose football games, you have to shake it and move forward. We joke that these guys were all said to be great playmakers three weeks ago, and now all of the sudden they have gone dry a little bit. They just have to go back and go do it. But as coaches, it's our responsibility to create it as well. We have to create the opportunity, then in that opportunity – quarterback, receiver, running back, offensive line – we've got to make it happen. We've got to have those plays. When you create those opportunities and make good on them, then you feel good about everything."
You guys were able to make a lot of chunk plays in the first three games that weren't necessarily scripted, but you have struggled recently making big plays of any kind:
ML: "There were a few that were unscripted, but yes, we hit some that were scripted. A scripted play keeps the drive alive. The unscripted play may come on second down and long, and now you're looking at third-and-one or third-and-two. The quarterback steps up in the pocket and scrambles through. We're trying not to press – that's the other side of it – we're trying to show our guys where we need to improve to do the things we need to do to be successful."
Wesley Woodyard, a college free agent from the University of Kentucky, has been very productive for them:
ML: "He's a good prospect. He got an opportunity to play there on special teams early on. He's played some defense through injury. That's not the first chance he's had to play defense there. He's got good explosion. He's a very athletic guy with good explosion. He takes advantage of it. They're doing a good job of coaching him."
What makes Peyton Manning so good?
ML: "He has such an awareness. That's one of the things Andy (Dalton) has a great concept of, and he'll continue to improve and get better. Peyton has an ability to conceptually understand where everybody is on the field. He'll know that, 'My read is over here, but you took that away so I'm going to come back and throw the ball right over there.'
"That's the thing that he's able to do – the anticipation. The field is split in half, and my initial thing is to go over here, but I come back and throw the ball out here to (the other side). Those are the things that you've got to be able to do. And that's what he does such a great job of. Live to play another down. He makes the defense basically defend the field. If the first read is taken away, you see a lot of guys that tuck the ball down and get into the crouch a little bit. Peyton doesn't get in the crouch, he comes back the other way, and he has a great knack of moving away from the rush to find the next progression."
There was doubt about his comeback because of his health issues, but he seems now to be back to where he was. Does it seem that way to you as well?
ML: "He and they have done a great job of recreating the atmosphere of the offensive schematics that they had in Indy. By bringing in (Jacob) Tamme, by getting (Brandon) Stokley, they brought in some guys that were familiar with their system and familiar with him. Then they've been able to use the big guys on the outside – (Demaryius) Thomas and (Eric) Decker – to fit right in. (Joel) Dreessen is a good receiver of the football. (Willis) McGahee is rejuvenated. Obviously Peyton is playing well. He's taking shots, he's getting up, he's moving in the pocket. People may have doubted if he can still move in the pocket the way he always has, but you saw that against San Diego, where he steps over the guys, re-sets his feet and makes the throw. That's always what he's been so good at. It's a great thing, because you're obviously talking about a future Hall of Famer, but also a guy that for young guys coming up is an incredible role model."
What makes Champ Bailey so good?
ML: "Just tremendous athleticism, great ability to study and understand and wants to be the very best and has done it for a long time. So just speed, athleticism, long arms, hips, feet – all that goes into it. Great vision, great ball skills, he tackles, he's physical and likes to play that part of the game. As I said when I got to coach him, it was a lot of fun. He comes to work every day ready to work with a perfect attitude. A stud."
How much has his game changed since you coached him the one year at Washington?
ML: "It hasn't changed much. He's been through a bunch of different coordinators out there, and schemes and styles, but you still see that length and that athleticism and the feet. With his vision on the ball and the receiver, he's got a great knack of being able to play the receiver and have vision back to the quarterback. I trained him as a safety as well. A lot of times I'd move him inside – he and (Fred) Smoot and Darrell (Green) out there – and he'd be safety on the inside. So we could blitz and do things off the slot and keep base defense out there. He can handle all that. He can play quarters coverage and different things. He was a great blitzer for me. He's a lot of fun. Talking to Dave (Bengals Radio color analyst Dave Lapham) earlier when doing the TV show, I remembered being in Georgia at the workout when he came out. I just shook my head: 'Won't see him (still available on draft day).' But there's no question that he's played to his ability."
With Jack Del Rio taking over the Denver defense, how many changes have you seen? Is there a lot of new stuff, or is it mostly a mix of his philosophy with John Fox's?
ML: "It's really what we came to be in Baltimore. It's a combination of things John did in New York. John and I used to talk quite a bit about it. In fact, the year Peyton Manning came out of Tennessee, there were a zillion offensive coaches there, and it was me, Foxie (John Fox) and two other slappies like us. We were in the defensive staff room watching one-on-one tape. We were having a coaches clinic, and we were sharing ideas. It's kind of funny, because he hired Jack to be his coordinator down there in 2002 in Carolina, and they basically took the defensive playbook we had in Baltimore and installed it there in Carolina. I know they're different now, but there's a lot of similarities. Jack's done a great job. They've got good players, and they're fitting the right guys in the right places."
Is there any update on Kyle Cook's progress?
ML: "I had a meeting this morning with the doctors. He's coming along well. I believe they're going to remove the pin in his ankle either this week or the first part of next week. That'll give us an indication of that. He's just got to let that heal and come back. But he's doing very well. I watched him work yesterday. So he's to the point now where he'll have the screw removed, then move forward."
Will Marvin Jones probably be out this week?
ML: "It's slim. He's very cloudy right now (laughs), like the weather outside. He won't participate today, I'll tell you that. But he's coming along well. He's ahead of where they initially thought he was on the Monday after the (Pittsburgh) game."
What can Pat Sims bring to this defense? When he plays, he can help:
ML: "(Laughs) That's a good statement. That's exactly what I tell Pat: 'When Pat plays, Pat can help you' (laughs). He's a factor when he's playing. When he's being Pat, he's a factor. What Pat can give us is that, No. 1, he really complements Domata (Peko) and Geno (Atkins) inside. He helps bring our two young guys along – (Devon) Still and Brandon Thompson. They're going to be excellent players in the NFL. He helps bring those guys along, because they're seeing from somebody else how you do it. He's kind of a combination of the other two guys. He's got the strength, he's got the balance of a big man and he's got athleticism for a big man. For a 327-pound man, he's got a lot of athleticism. We've been slow with Pat, but I think we're to the point now where, if he's ready to go, we'll get him up to the roster."
Could he play this week?
ML: "There's a possibility, but I'll wait until you ask me those on Friday."
When you think of QBs who are good at being unscripted, you think about someone like Ben Roethlisberger:
ML: "Ben is the best. I think Aaron Rodgers does very, very well."
Those QBs are obviously very confident in the outcome of the play. Where is Andy Dalton's confidence this year?
ML: "We're looking for our quarterback and our middle linebacker to take hold of our football team, and I think that's important for us. I think both guys are such good people, that you've got to be a little bit of a (jerk). You do. That's what these guys we're talking about have. That's part of it.
"Andy has a great deal of confidence, self-confidence, internal confidence, confidence in the guys around him. But at some point you step out of your skin and you go. And it's time to go. It's time to step out of our skin, both places, all throughout. We've wallowed around here in mediocrity. Let's go. That's the thing we've got to do. These guys that have it, they've got it and they've done it. And everybody around them, there's got to be a confidence level, too, of anticipation and then clicking on those things."
Has he shown any sign of doing it?
ML: "We have to really look in the mirror and move forward. That's big for us."
So if I write that Marvin Lewis says Andy Dalton needs to be more of a (jerk):
ML: "OK (laughs), let's clean it up. We're looking for Andy to take the next step of being the leader of this football team. Confident, vocal if it needs to be, but grab this football team by the back of its neck and let's go. Let's move forward."
Have you guys talked about that?
ML: "The offensive coaches, yes, have been visiting with him about it all the time. Over this period of time, having looked back at where we are and where we want to go."
"The two days that New Orleans was here (practicing in Cincinnati in August due to weather problems in New Orleans), I couldn't wait to go out just to watch Drew (Brees). From when he was here before, and to watch Drew now. You know, Drew post-Super Bowl compared to Drew pre-Super Bowl, and how Drew does things.
"And I got to visiting with him on the sidelines, while the defense was working, about that. There's a lot we took from that and shared that with Andy. We've just got to keep pressing that. When you have a good player, you can keep pressing the envelope. We did that with Ray Lewis. Don't go to the Pro Bowl and have a good time, or the Super Bowl and have a good time. You go and you suck the knowledge out of everybody there. When your good, young players have the opportunity to learn from that and be a part of that, then you've got to take advantage of that. And then it spreads throughout the football team. Terence Newman is a guy on defense like that. He's got a lot to offer. Be comfortable with us now, and let's go."
ANDY DALTON (with Cincinnati media)
What do you remember about being at the Manning QB Camp?
AD: "It was a cool camp to go to. Being in college, you go in and there's about 20 D-1 quarterbacks there, guys you watch all the time on Saturdays. You just get to hang out. Then there's Peyton, Eli, Archie – all the Mannings are there. So it's fun just to hang out and be around them. There is some coaching going on. I remember I was coaching a screen drill or something like that and Peyton came in and kind of just took over the drill and started coaching it up. You can tell they love that and have got a passion for it. It was just a fun time."
Did you learn from that? Were there any principles that stood out from the camp?
AD: "It was just cool to kind of hang out with everybody. There was a time where we went in and people could ask questions about Peyton and Eli about the next step, but a lot of it was about the draft process and stuff like that. So it wasn't like something huge that took away from it."
How much have you thought about getting to that elite status like Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and other elite QBs?
AD: "That's why you play the game, because you want to be the best, you want to win games, you want to win the Super Bowl. I mean, if not ... You've got to have the passion to play this game. And for me, I've got to be more consistent playing out there. I've just got to play my game, do what I'm capable of doing. I feel like I can get there. I'm going to put in the work, I'm going to put in the time. Hopefully I'll get to that point."
Peyton Manning studies harder than almost anyone. Is that what separates him?
AD: "Yeah, I think so. Everybody says he's a coach out on the field. So I'm sure he's putting in a lot of hours to figure out what's going on, how he's going to attack defenses and things like that. That's what it takes to play quarterback."
If you could wave a magic wand and change something to make yourself and the offense better, what would it be?
AD: "We've just got to be more consistent. That's the biggest thing. We've got to play full games. We haven't done that yet. If we do that, good things will happen."
Why haven't we seen the offense that we saw in Washington?
AD: "It's not like there's one thing that's happened that's completely different. It just comes down to consistency and playing with an edge, playing with fire, playing all four quarters. We've got to do that. Having the bye week and having time off to sit back and look at things was good for us. So we've got to put our best foot forward now. There's nine weeks left and we've got to do whatever we can to win these games."
Through all of the developments and trends in offensive philosophy in the NFL over his tenure, Peyton has done the same thing his whole career, at Indianapolis and Denver – finding holes in the defense and taking advantage:
AD: "That's a big part of what they do and what he's done for a long time. If they're not in a good play, he's getting them into a good play, a play that should work against what the defense is doing. And it's obviously worked for him for a long time."
What's the trademark of Denver's defense?
AD: "They're a speed defense. With Von (Miller) and (Elvis) Dumervil on the edges rushing the passer, their whole thing is speed. You've got to find ways to slow those guys down. There are some holes in there once you get it all picked up. It's just executing at that point."
In their nickel package, they have some linebackers that can really fly around the field:
AD: "They do a good job. Obviously they're doing good things. You see what they did to the Saints offense. The Saints offense has been one of the best offenses in the league for a while. We've got to come out and play, that's what it comes down to."
Denver seems to have a strong pass rush:
AD: "They make you move around, they don't let you stand in one spot in the pocket. It's going to be big for us, big for me to move around and hit our guys. If you find the lanes in there, there are spots to hit, but they do a good job of making you move around."
Marvin Lewis has talked about just how important quarterback play is in the NFL. Over the bye week as you reviewed your play through the last three games, is that something that is evident?
AD: "You can't turn the ball over. I've known that. There's been some kind of fluky things that have happened. But you can't turn the ball over. That's what it comes down to. If you win the turnover battle, you win more games than you lose. For me, I know that. I've definitely taken a look at that and I'm going to do a better job of that."
Has there been a common thread to the interceptions that you've thrown thus far this season?
AD: "Sometimes it's taking a chance or maybe it comes down to the mechanics a little bit. And there have been some crazy things that have happened."
The team self-scouted during the bye week and tweaked a few things, but you can't have many major changes, right?
AD: "Yeah, having a bye week it's not like you're putting in a whole new offense or anything like that. Find plays we like, find plays that have worked for us and calling them."
How much confidence do you have in yourself and the offense this year? More than last year?
AD: "Yeah, I have full confidence in my ability, I have full confidence in this offense and in this team. I feel like knowledge of the offense, we're a step ahead of where we were last year. And so we should be playing better and I think having this time to relax a little bit, it's going to be good for us."
How important is it for you to show leadership when things aren't going so well?
AD: "You get a true picture of a man when things aren't going well. The QB position, he's leading the guys out there. For me, it's got to find ways to get the guys to rally around me and lead the guys. It is tougher when things aren't going well, that's for sure. Your true character comes out."
Champ Bailey has been very good for a very long time, and it appears as though he will cover A.J. Green:
AD: "We expect Champ to follow A.J., and that is going to be a good matchup. But I'll take A.J. against any of those guys. He's got the talent. He's one of the best receivers in the NFL."
Do they still put Bailey in a lot of one-on-one coverage, or are they giving him a lot of safety help?
AD: "It kind of depends on what they're doing. There are times when he's 1-on-1. It kind of depends on the situation."
You threw to A.J. Green only three times in the first three quarters against Pittsburgh. Why?
AD: "Some of it was just some of the designs of the plays. And I could probably have thrown the ball to him a couple of times. Just kind of how it was."
Is there a balance between getting rid of the ball quick and letting the play develop?
AD: "It's knowing when you hold onto it a little bit longer. Maybe on third and a little bit longer where you have to hold onto it longer to try to get the first down. I'm still going to play my game; I'm still going to get the ball out of my hands quick. It's just knowing when you can hold onto it a little more, and there were times when I can have done that. It's good to go back and watch those times to know to let things develop a little more."
Ben Roethlisberger is so good at moving around and improvising. Have you ever seen a QB hold the ball as long as he does?
AD: "Yeah, he does a really good job. He's holding onto it even when guys aren't blocked, he's moving around and things like that. And his receivers do a great job of getting open, not always running exactly the route they're supposed to run. They're moving around. He's one of the best at it."
It's almost like practiced chaos:
AD: "They must. It's hard to tell. Seem to be on the same page."
ANDY DALTON (with Denver media)
On coming off of three losses in a row:
AD: "We feel like we need to come out and we need to get a win. We have had three losses in a row but we've got to find a way to turn that around. This is a make-or-break part of the season. We've got to really come out and play our best and win some games."
On what has been happening in the past three weeks:
AD: "We haven't been consistent. We're putting some drives together and, maybe it'll be a ten-play drive for 80 yards and the next we're three-and-out for a couple drives. We can't have that. We just need to be more consistent, that's the biggest thing."
On what has been the biggest jump for him this year:
AD: "Knowledge over everything that's going on. I feel like I've got more control of the offense. I feel like they're asking me to do a little bit more. The more I'm playing, the more comfortable I'm going to feel and the more comfortable the coaches are going to feel with what I can do."
On his relationship with Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden:
AD: "It's been great since the day I got here, since the day they drafted me. It's been nice to come in and have a coach like that where there's a lot of give and take, asking what I like, for him, making sure that we're on the same page at all times. It's been good."
On his second year in the NFL:
AD: "I don't know exactly what it is. It's hard to put a finger on one thing that makes a change but for me it's just trying to get better each week. I think that we've done a lot of good things this year. Overall, we have such a better feel of what we're doing, it's just going out and putting it all together. That's the thing that we get to test on Sunday. For us, I think that it is just trying to improve each week and hopefully that'll happen throughout the rest of the season in the next nine weeks."
On if it is frustrating that other teams have focused in on WR A.J. Green and taken him away as a weapon:
AD: "Yeah. Everybody knows how good A.J. is and know what he can do. Teams do know where he is. They double him. We still have to find ways to get him the ball. With that, our other guys are going to have to step up as well. There's been times where we've done that. It's an effort from everybody. We've got to make sure everybody's on the same page and everybody's contributing and when they are taking A.J. away, those other guys have to step up."
On his first time practicing with WR A.J. Green:
AD: "You could definitely see how talented he was. You see what he was the fourth pick in the draft. It was very well deserved. He can do everything you ask him to do. He's got great ball skills and he's got an extra gear when the balls in the air. He's one of the best receivers out there."
On if there is any situation where he would just throw the ball up and see if Green could make a play:
AD: "You really have to know when he can take your chances because a lot of the time he's out there making plays even when he is covered. You've got to know when he can take your chances but a lot of the time he's coming down with those."
On the dynamic offensive line:
AD: "They've done a good job. I feel like we're big and physical up front. [G] Kevin [Zeitler] was doing it in college and now he's doing the same thing here. He's a big, physical guy. Really good in the run game and so it's great to have those guys. And we're young. We've got the most experience is at the tackles. Even inside. Last week we had a rookie center come in to play. It's fun to see. Hopefully these guys will be around for a long time and we can all be together."
On going up against QB Peyton Manning: *
*AD: "It's great. I've watched Peyton for a long time, and the type of player he is, he is a future Hall-of-Famer. It's always a good test when you go against guys like that."
On Denver's defense: *
*AD: "They're a speed defense. With [LB] Von Miller and [DE Elvis] Dumervil on the edges, they really do a good job of disrupting pass lanes and things like that, and making you move around in the pocket. They are going to be a tough test. And you have [CB] Champ [Bailey] on the outside. He has been playing really well for a long time. Going to 11 Pro Bowls in 14 years, that shows you what kind of player he is. We have to be on our game. We have to execute. If we play our game, I think good things will happen."
On his composure in the pocket: *
*AD: "That's how I've always been. I feel like, kind of my attitude, it's how I've always played the game. I don't feel like that's changing. I still have to stay even-keeled throughout the game regardless of good or bad things happening. That's how I've always been though."
On neutralizing the Broncos edge rush: *
*AD: "You definitely don't want those guys 1-on-1 all the time. You have to find ways to chip them, or get two guys on them. When there is 1-on-1's, we have to win those matchups and do whatever we can to slow those guys down."
On WR A.J. Green looking forward to going up against CB Champ Bailey: *
*AD: "It's definitely going to be a good matchup. I know A.J. is looking forward to it. It'll be a good test for him to go out there and play against a guy like that. I feel like we match up well. I'd put A.J. against anybody. We'll see on Sunday."
On WR Andrew Hawkins: *
*AD: "He's such an explosive guy when he has the ball in his hands. We definitely want to find ways to get him the ball, whether on screens, bubbles, whatever it is. Throw him the ball down the field because he gets separation. He does bring kind of a new dimension to our offense. It's just finding ways to get him the ball in space."
On Hawkins's story getting to the league: *
*AD: "It's pretty crazy. It shows that if you put in the work, in time, good things will happen. He has done everything he could to get here. He's not wasting a moment, I can tell you that."
On holding on to the ball for a split second longer: *
*AD: "There are times when I feel like maybe I could have held onto the ball maybe a little bit longer. I'm still reacting, I'm still playing my game. You can second-guess things if you do hold on to the ball too long and bad things can happen. It's knowing when to hold on to it a little bit longer and things like that. The more I'm playing, the better feel I'm getting."
On getting TE Jermaine Gresham and other receivers more involved: *
*AD: "Yeah. All of those guys have made big plays for us. We need contributions from everywhere. It can't just be [WR] A.J. [Green]. It's got to be everybody."