What Zac Taylor And Ryan Finley Said After The Oakland Game

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor during a news conference after an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor during a news conference after an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron)

BENGALS HEAD COACH ZAC TAYLOR

Opening Statement: "I think that one really hurts because we went into that last drive expecting to win the game. We played that whole game expecting to win, there wasn't a point in the game where I thought it was going to get away from us. I thought we were going to take a lead, our defense was getting some big stops, they were doing a good job in the run game, we just couldn't do enough in the fourth quarter, offensively. Our defense came out in the second half and held them to three points and really did a nice job and gave us an opportunity. On offense we just — we are going to look back on that tape and be really, really frustrated at some of the big plays we left of the field. Particularly in the screen game, there were some monster plays that we didn't make. I think just about everybody can look at themselves as say, 'There was a big play there in the game on offense that I could have made, and I didn't make it.' So that one really hurts but we have to go get on the plane and get ready for a divisional game against Pittsburgh, a team that got us pretty good last time. We have to find a way to win, and that's what hurts the most is right now we just haven't figured out a way to win. These close games that we have been in, a lot of them this year, and I think that's what really gets us the most."

Q: Do you have any update on Auden Tate? Can you confirm he was taken to a hospital?

Coach Taylor: "No, I don't. I can't. I can just tell you, he was responsive to me. He could talk and motion and all that. Hopefully it was just mostly precautionary, but again, I don't have anymore details on that."

Q: How does an injury like Tate's, affect the players and the coaches? What is that moment like for you?

Coach Taylor: "It's hard because it's a guy who really embodies everything we are trying to build here, in Auden Tate. That's why he plays and why he's been productive for us because of the way he has approached everything since the day he walked in the building here. And really, today I was reading over my notes and everything that was said about the players since I got here, and I noticed he is a guy that the receivers' coach and the special team's coach said, 'He's got all that right stuff.' So when something like that happens to him, it's hard, it affects us."

Q: How would you assess Ryan Finley's performance?

Coach Taylor: "I just think overall, offensively, it wasn't enough. He tried to keep some plays alive there and get us some plays but it's hard. Right now we are not creating a lot of separation and, as you can see, there are some guys that get in the backfield pretty quick, so it's a hard day for most quarterbacks. There are some plays that he has got to learn from and he would like to have back, but again, it's the whole unit together and that starts with him."

Q: The run game started strong, why did the team shift to throwing the ball?

Coach Taylor: "Eventually, they started zeroing in on the run, and as you can see, you got to try and stay one step ahead. It's not trying to overthink it, we just felt like there were some opportunities there in the pass game, play actions, to compliment our runs. Sometimes it went accordingly and sometimes it didn't. But again, I thought our run game was really helping us today.

Q: Right now, moving forward, is Finley still the starting quarterback of this team?

Coach Taylor: "Yes."

Q: Is accuracy an issue you see in Finely?

Coach Taylor: "I'll have to watch this tape of this game. Last week I did not think accuracy was an issue, I think there was just getting on the same page with some guys, at times. But again, we will have to see this week and evaluate it once we get a better look at it."

Q: How would you assess the defense today?

Coach Taylor: "They created some turnovers for us, got some keys stops. I mean, think about, they had the ball on the 1-yard line and they got the false start. They bumped it back to the six, and they got a stop, and kicked a field goal. So, it gave us an opportunity, down one score, to drive and we really put ourselves in a position. We just couldn't convert there on that fourth down. I thought overall that the defense played with the energy that we've expected them to play with all year. They were swarming to the ball which we challenged them to do as a group, rushing attack we were facing, and then they created the turnovers that really should have given us an opportunity to win the game and we just couldn't get it done."

Q: Is it concerning that quarterbacks are having hot starts against the defense?

Coach Taylor: "Of course, we have got to affect the quarterback. I thought as the game went, we started to really apply pressure. I thought they did affect him, I haven't actually seen what his final numbers were, but I thought there in the second half, we held him to three points, did a really nice job affecting him and made some good plays that gave us a chance. But again, we have got to start faster on both sides of the ball. We didn't score on the first drive of offense either, so we have got to do a better job there."

Q: What do you think the difference in your defense was when you got an effective pass-rush?

Coach Taylor: "I think any defense, that's the whole deal. If you can stop the run and affect the passer on third-down and passing situations — that's what we expect to see. We have faced a lot of quarterbacks this year that use their legs and that has put us in a bind. I thought today they responded the right way, how we expect them to play. Holding them to 17 points, that should be enough for us to win, we should be able to put more points on the board."

Q: How much does the 10-game losing streak bother you and knowing it is equal to the worst start in franchise history?

Coach Taylor: "That's not something we can worry about, it really isn't. We just have to focus on finding that first win and breaking this dam. It's been frustrating for all of us. This is our tenth loss today, and I saw no quit from one coach, one player, we are on the road in a tough environment, and in the fourth quarter we all believed that we were going to win this game. We just didn't get it done. I think that says something about the character. I know everybody in here asks, 'Is there going to be in-fighting?' and there hasn't been, guys still believe. We practice like we are going to win the game, we prepare like we are going to win the game, we come out here in the fourth quarter, expect to win the game and for a number of reasons it just hasn't happened yet. That's the part that's frustrating. I am not going to worry about what everybody says about us right now, because like we said, we have got great character and we are going to build off that right now. And this year is going to be that foundation for some great things that we do in the future. Unfortunately it hasn't started the way any of us anticipated but we are all going to keep a positive mindset and keep going off this and learn from everything we have learned in these losses. It is important that it carries over, for me as a coach, for our coordinators, for our position coaches. It's not failure that we are experiencing, it may look like it sometimes but we have to learn from all these defeats and help make us stronger for the next six games this season and in the future, down the road."

Q: What the fourth play pass to Damion Willis designed?

Coach Taylor: "It's a play that we have a lot of confidence on, and really all five eligible have a pretty good shot there. He gave somebody the opportunity to go make a play and it didn't come down with it. But he's got a lot of options on that play."

Q: How much did you think about kicking the field goal late in the fourth?

Coach Taylor: "Obviously a conversation we had. Ultimately we were going to need a touchdown either way you cut it, and so, their strength has really been to run the ball really well and you are concerned that that can bleed some clock off if they get a first down or two. It just felt like we are going to need a touchdown either way, we're down here in position, it's a manageable situation, with a play that we felt good about. That factors into it as well and we just didn't convert on it. "

Q: The fourth quarter play to Giovani Bernard, did that look like he got the right depth on it?

Coach Taylor: "He got banged coming out of the backfield by the defensive end so that affected his depth a little bit."

Q: How much solace do you take in the fact that even though you didn't win, you played well in a tough place to play?

Coach Taylor: "I think it just confirms what we are seeing during the week, that the players are still with us, they are still together, that we are still a connected team. That's what it confirms, you can't really take solace in losing close games or else you are never going to achieve the things you want to achieve. What what encouraging today, was the things we have really stressed to our defense as a starting point — create turnovers and swarm to the ball — we saw that today and they did enough. Offensively we really wanted to be an impact down the field at receiver and on the perimeter on the run game and I saw that today with some explosive runs there. We are just not getting enough explosive passes, it's got to be so methodical coming down the field, to get the points, and that has really been the story of our year to an extent. Being explosive down the field and getting those long touchdowns. Again, I think we are going to look at some screens and think maybe we had a shot for some big touchdowns and we didn't get them. It's tough"

 Q: If you had to boil down the pass game, would you say it's separation and protection?

Coach Taylor: "I would."

Q: Is it problematic saying that you need big screen plays, what does that say about your offense?

Coach Taylor: "It's not easy, it's not easy. We are just trying to find ways to give our guys a chance to be explosive and we are going to keep searching. The guys understand what they are being asked to do and they are going about it the right way, we just have to keep finding a way to get those explosive plays."

Q: How do you evaluate the defense today, there were a lot of big chunk plays?

Coach Taylor: "There were. We have got to keep making steps in their direction. Oakland is really top-10 in a lot of categories on offense this year, they have really had a good year on offense. So they have had a lot of those against a lot of teams. The important thing is keeping points off the board, and that's what our guys did."

BENGALS QB RYAN FINLEY

Q: How tough is a game like that where you guys are right in it up until the end?

Finley: "Yeah, that was a tough one. You can't turn the ball over. We had a chance to drive down, score and tie it up, but we just didn't get it done. Tough one."

Q: When we talked last week after the game, you said each one of these games is a learning experience and you take something away. What would you say you took away from this game?

Finley: "I've got to be better. I don't think I played well enough for us to win this game. A lot of these NFL games come down to one score, and you need to score in the two-minute situations. Just got to be better, all around. I thought we did a really good job running the ball, and we got into a rhythm on offense. We need to be better at not getting behind the stick, we need to be better on converting third downs and we need to be better in the red zone. That falls onto me and I'm going to get better. I think we're all going to keep getting better."

Q: The fourth down throw to Damion Willis at the end, was he your first guy?

Finley: "We had a play call. I love that matchup, but I need to give him a catchable ball. Those plays are bang-bang. I would have loved to have left it a foot outside to give him an easier catch. It was bang-bang and those are plays we need to make if we want to win these games."

Q: With some of the struggles today all around on offense, how confident are you that you can be the guy to step in and get things going in the right direction?

Finley: "I'm confident. We're going to get this thing going, and we're only going to get better. These are all learning experiences for us and no one is going to give up, that's for sure. We're going to keep getting better. We're back to the drawing board and still trying to get this first win."

Check out the game action photos from the Bengals' Week 11 game against the Oakland Raiders.

Q: Ryan, how tough was it seeing Tate go down like that in the fourth quarter?

Finley: "Any time you see a guy get carted off, that's scary. I'm praying for him and really hope he's OK. Hopefully we'll know pretty soon about that, but you just hate to see that. Tate is an awesome player and an awesome guy so hopefully he'll be OK and make a speedy recovery.

Q: What was the play call when Tate got hurt? Was it basically a crossing pattern?

Finley: "It was a good route by Tate. Those are plays that you need to step up and make those. That was a good play for us but we just didn't have enough plays. We need to find ways to make more [plays].

Q: When things go wrong, has [quarterback] Andy [Dalton] been there to provide advice along the way in games like this when you need a couple of drives late?

Finley: "Andy has been awesome to me. I can't say enough about how he's treated me throughout this whole thing. I trust what we have going on here and we're going to keep getting better. We're going to keep fighting. You're not going to see anyone give up and we're going to move in the right direction."

Q: What was it like on third down? What were you seeing on third downs?

Finley: "They did some good stuff on defense. I thought they rushed the passer pretty well. A couple of times I needed to be better by getting out of the pocket and make it easier on those [offensive] tackles. They did some good stuff, but at the end of the day we need to execute our stuff. We need to be better with what we do and do our jobs."

Q: Zac Taylor was talking about the screen game and trying to fix the screen plays, what do you guys have to improve on?

Finley: "I think we just need to hit them. Hit them when the opportunity is there. Screens need to be a big part of what we do. If teams are going to press you, you need to build in some screens. We had a couple set up, a couple looked good and a couple didn't. That's something we need to work on.'

Q: What's been different about the run game the last two weeks?

Finley: "I think we're putting an emphasis on it. We're running the ball really well and giving the ball to [running back] Joe [Mixon] a little bit earlier. We're clearing up his vision and he's running really hard. We're blocking really well and these are all things we can keep building on. When you run the ball well it opens up a lot of things. We ran the ball well, so it falls on the passing game and it falls on me to make us more balanced."

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