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What Zac Taylor And The Bengals Said About The Ravens After Week 10

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor participates in a news conference after an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor participates in a news conference after an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)


NOV. 10, 2019



Head coach

Initial Comments ...

"(Today was a) tough loss. (We) lost to a good football team that's playing with a lot of confidence right now and they've obviously had a lot of success this year. They made a lot of plays. We challenged our guys at halftime (that) we're going to have to win some 50/50 plays, and I thought Baltimore came out and did a great job. They won those 50/50 plays in all areas — offense and defense. When there was an opportunity to make a play, their guys stepped up and played with a lot of confidence, and did a great job making those plays, so hats off to them.

"The quarterback on their side (Lamar Jackson) is a heck of a player. He's one of the most exciting players I've ever seen. (He's) dynamic. I'm interested to see what teams do down the road here to stop him, because he certainly is hitting on all cylinders right now, and the way they complement each other on offense there running the ball — throwing play action — they've done a great job. They've got some great pieces over there that make it really difficult on you.

"On our side, we made some progress. I felt the first four drives in the first half, aside from the first drive — the three-and-out — we were making some progress there and (then) they had the pick-six. Obviously, that killed some momentum there. We're down 21-3 and trying to make it down 21-10 and then (Baltimore defensive back) Marcus Peters does a great job (with the interception). He's made a lot of money in this league doing stuff like that. He jumped the route and had a pick, and it was a great play by them taking advantage. I thought our guys rebounded great. The next drive, we go down, score a touchdown, and we're down 28-10 at the half and have a chance to come out in the second half and get some momentum (going) there. We went for it on fourth down and didn't get it, and that was kind of the nature of this game.

"We didn't want to concede anything as the second half got going, and so there were some times you could kick some field goals and take the points, but I want us to continue having an aggressive mindset and go for it on some fourth downs when normally play wouldn't (dictate that). You're putting your defense in some bad spots if you don't get them, but I thought it was important to send a message to our guys that we're not conceding anything. This is a divisional game, they're a really good team, and they are going to go on to have a heck of a year. But we wanted to give ourselves every opportunity to get back in that game and give ourselves a chance to win. Again, (it was) frustrating, but we've got to get ready for a big one next week on the road in Oakland and get our guys refocused for next week."

The 30 carries for Joe Mixon — was that a commitment to the running game or a byproduct of today's circumstances?

"Well, we wanted to build on (the) last game against the (Los Angeles) Rams. That was really our best rushing performance of the season, and guys were doing some good stuff. Again, it's hard when you're already down by a lot of points — 14 of which we gave to them, obviously (interception return for a TD, and a fumble recover for a TD). You know, we really just wanted to send a message to our guys that we're going to keep pounding the ball and find some good stuff there, and give our guys some confidence in that area. I thought they responded well."

Even with a loss like that, is it encouraging that Mixon had his best game of the season?

"It's hard to find them in this moment, but there are positives that we'll take from that game. Certainly, I think Joe, the last 2 weeks, has responded really well. Joe gets beat up more than any (other) player. He gets asked questions why things aren't going well, and I think he's handled like a pro. I've been really proud of the way he's done that, and he's responded well these last two weeks — and not just him, but the whole offense. They've done a better job in the run game, and Joe has really been running his tail off and giving us some really tough yards. In this game, I'm looking down at my second-and-10 call, and he's pushed the pile for another four yards, and we're in a second-and-six. He's done a really good job in that area.

"I thought (quarterback Ryan) Finley showed a lot of really good flashes. We knew there were going to be some lumps in some of these games. It's hard. They zero-blitzed us down in the red zone. It gets to a good check (down pass), and Marcus Peters jumps the throw. It's a great play by him. He (Finley) may have left it inside a little bit, but he did the things that we asked him to do. He does have a bad play; he was trying to get us to a better play, and Baltimore won that snap. That was tough.

"We had the sack-fumble in the pocket, and that went the other way for six (points) too, and those are just things he's going to have to learn from. But at the same time, he extended a lot of plays (and) made some plays. I thought the guys responded really well to him, and there's a lot to be encouraged by his performance there."

Did you try or want to call a time out there in the second quarter right before the pick-six happened?

"It was really more because of the timing. There was a second left on the play clock, so I didn't because I could sense he was going to get it off. So it was less to do with who he was checking to, and more to do with making sure we weren't going to take a delay (of game penalty)."

So the pick-six was more of a poor throw as opposed to a poor decision?

"Yeah — and a combination of a veteran DB who's got a history of jumping plays. That's one you would love to take back. You know, I wish maybe we had called the time out maybe a second before — but again, he's going to learn from stuff like that. It's not all going to be easy, and I coached with Marcus Peters last year and he does a great job. I've seen a lot of quarterbacks fall into that trap against him. And that's the second time I've seen him do it in three games, as a matter of fact, with the Ravens, so — (Seattle Seahawks quarterback) Russell Wilson did it as well. It's tough, and we've just got to learn from it."

Bobby Hart was one of the only starters who was out late in the game. Was that injury related, or just part of a substitution package?

"I'm not sure; I didn't get a report from the trainer there in the very end. There were some substitutions we were talking about just to get some guys in late in the game, so I'll check with them afterwards."

That fourth down where you ended up going for it after the punt team had ran out onto the field, was that the result of a late decision?

"It was poor communication on my part to (Bengals special team coordinator) Darrin (Simmons), to be quite honest with you. Again, not really anticipating us going for it in our own territory, but we needed to try and get ourselves some momentum in that situation, and so (I) made the decision and then had to end up using the timeout, so that one falls on me. I just felt like that was something we had to do to get ourselves some juice and get back in the football game."

Do you feel like the team was fully engaged today?

"I do. Again, it goes down to those 50/50 plays. I saw one right out the gate when they in corners coverage hit a post route on the first play of the game. There's no way, shape or form that should ever happened versus that coverage and they did it from the (first) snap. Again, I saw some guys respond the right way, and overall, that's something we're going to have to watch on the tape. But that's a really powerful offense right now that many teams have shown no solution to stopping. So it was a great challenge for us. Obviously, they scored 35 points against our defense, and that's not good enough. We all know that. But I think there's some guys who responded the right way."

How much of a difference maker is an elite quarterback, when you to have to play against a guy like Lamar Jackson? You don't see guys like him often ...

"They run similar concepts that you've run your whole life, that you've seen other teams run, and he gets the ball to people where it's like, 'What do you do?' There's no way the ball should get there, and he gets it there, somehow, some way. The touchdown run he had — it's electrifying. It deflates you a little bit when a guy is playing with that much confidence. What really kills you is those play-actions, because you're so hell-bent on stopping all those run variations they give you, and then all the sudden, he's dropping back to pass. People (say), 'There's no pressure,' but you've got a lot of things on your mind there, and it's hard to generate some pressure. And their tight ends — that's the most impressive group of tight ends catching the football. Those were some tough catches those guys came down with, and that team has been building that way for a long time. I think they're built for, obviously, a really special season right now, and unfortunately, we got the brunt end of it right now. But again, there were some things we did in the second and third quarter that we felt would have given us a better chance — a lot of them fall on my shoulders. I think there's some things that I'd like to do differently (now), and I know some players in some situations need to step up and make some plays as well. But it just didn't go our way today."

You made a switch at quarterback. I guess any coach would kill to have the next Lamar Jackson, right?

"He's a special player. He's a special player and I think (Ravens offensive coordinator) Greg Roman does a great job. Greg has a history of being at the (San Francisco) 49ers and the (Buffalo) Bills and running that similar style of offense and getting the most out of those guys. Hats off to them and they've got something really special there."

What did you see in Jackson's 47-yard touchdown run — was it just him being electric and better than every other guy on the field?

"(We had) poor tackling. We had some opportunities to tackle, and we didn't do it. I thought we met the running back on the two-yard line one time — I think it was second-and-goal or third-and-goal — and we met him at the two, and he ran through us and scored a touchdown. Those are those 50/50 plays I'm talking about, where we have just as much opportunity to make the stop as they do to make the play. There's some really key examples there where we didn't do that."

What do you look for to confirm that you haven't lost the team?

"You feel it in the locker room to be quite honest. You meet with enough players one-on-one, and I feel like we have a good pulse of the team. It's fair to speculate when you're 0-9 that they would be heading in that direction, (but) I see no signs of that. So, again, I think that we see in these games, that we're shooting ourselves in the foot and not giving ourselves the best opportunities, but we still have a bunch of players and coaches that believe in what we're doing and that it's going to come at some point. This (Baltimore) was a really good football team that's playing as well as any team in the league that we ran into, and again, we did some silly things that broke that game wide open. It shouldn't have been that way, but that's football, and we've got to put it behind us and make the corrections and be ready to respond next week at Oakland."

So you feel like they're still with you?


Given the state of the offensive line and the fact you don't have A.J. Green or John Ross III, how hard is it going to be to evaluate the play of Ryan Finley?

"What options do we have? We're going out there, those guys are competing, we're trying to do it the right way. A lot of them are out there making plays, and I think Finley did a great job extending some plays and giving guys some opportunities, and they fed off of that. We're not going to sit here and make excuses for anything; we've got to find ways to win. A lot of teams have injuries (to deal with) in this league, and we just have to find a way to buckle up and go get a win."

What are you hoping to see out of Finley over these next few weeks?

"Don't make the same mistake twice. There are going to be some things, especially when in a game like (this) where things get out of hand and the defense is really smelling blood in the water, and they're not playing with a lot of fear because they feel like they've got the upper hand, and you're having to throw the ball and things like that ... They did a good job there on that sack (fumble play), really buckling down and covering our receivers really tightly and getting some pressure on (Finley). But again, (I'm looking to see him) not making the same mistake twice. He's going to make some mistakes, learn from them, and just rebound to continue to improve to the next week.

"I liked his focus this week; he was as dialed-in and prepared as you could ask a young quarterback to be. He really hasn't gotten reps for the last eight weeks. He runs the scout team — he really doesn't run our plays. He's had to manufacture the reps of the things that we do just like any backup quarterback in this league (would), so I'm really proud of the way he approached that. In fact, he did some good things against a really good defense in his first game and we just have to continue to build off that."

At 0-9, at what point do you and the front office focus on rebuilding for next year? Is there a point where you just turn the page to next year?

"No. We need some momentum, and that starts with a win, and then another win. We're just searching for that first one, and it's frustrating when you don't get it. You feel like you're prepared going into the game, and then you get in the game, and it didn't go the way you wanted it to. We're still searching for the momentum, and that's the most important thing: Going all-in this week against Oakland, finding a way to win, and building off that and finding a way to get the next one. So that's where we're at right now."



It's been a while since you got in there and taken shots. How do you feel right now?

"I feel fine."

What did you see on the pick-six?

"Just a bad throw. Just can't leave it inside. We got our pressure look that we talked about all week. That was going to be one of our checks. Marcus Peters made a good play. He just jumped it. He gambles, and he gambled right. It was just a bad throw. I've got to leave it outside."

Was it the right decision?

"Yeah, it was just a bad throw. We've got to eliminate that."

With the game so lopsided, do you take pride in that you responded with some good plays?

"We bounced back well. We ran the ball awesome all game. So that was really exciting to see. We had some really good drives, we just have to finish them with points and eliminate some of those plays — that pick six and that fumble for a touchdown. We do that and the game is a lot closer. We ran the ball well. Our offensive line had a good game. Joe and Gio ran well, so that was exciting."

How did you feel going into your first NFL action?

"I felt good. I thought we had a really good plan in place. Our time of possession was good. We had some really good drives. The coaches had me, personally, ready. I felt good. I thought we had good juice, good energy. So, we have a lot to build on."

Are you able to view this game outside of the final score?

"I've already erased the score. There's a ton to work on. This team's not going to give up. And I'm sure as heck not going to let anybody give up. I'm ready to fight, and I'm ready to compete. I think our whole offense is ready to do that. We're going to bounce back. We have a great opportunity next week against Oakland."

Do you feel pressure that this is an audition to be the future quarterback?

"Nope. At the end of the day, all I can do is play my best, and give energy and give juice, and go help this team win its first game. So, that's the plan."

Did you feel comfortable with the timing of the game, as far as regulating the plays and making throws that aren't planned?

"Yeah. I feel that's an important part of the game. It's something that I have to keep conscious in the back of my mind. Sometimes that's how you've got to extend drives, making those off-schedule throws. The more I can do that, the more it's going to help us get into a rhythm."

Walk us through the touchdown pass to TE Tyler Eifert ...

"It was just press coverage on 'Eif.' We had a pretty good play called — one we'd worked on all week. I just kind of threw it up, back shoulder to 'Eif,' and let him do what he does. That was exciting to get that touchdown to Eifert."

That touchdown was your first NFL TD. What were your thoughts on that?

"It was fun. It was exciting. We were pretty hype. 'Eif' made a great play, getting that second foot in bounds. That was pretty awesome."

Any plans for what you'll do with the ball?

"Andy told me they have it somewhere. So hopefully they do."

On Wednesday, we though t you'd have A.J. Green today. Did you have to adjust to not having him?

"Obviously we want him out there. But that's something out of my control. I just have to get ready to play. It's 'next man up.' I thought the guys we had in there today did an awesome job. We're going to bounce back. We're going to get this thing going."

On the pick-six, was that just a bad throw by you?

"It was more of a bad throw, but I can't take the fact away that he jumped it. He's a smart player, and he's been in the league for a long time. But, on my end, that's just a bad throw — it's got to be outside and it has to fly out of bounds."

Are the Ravens more aggressive in person than what comes across on film?

"They're a good football team. Their record shows it. They have a lot of good players on both sides of the ball. They're just a good football team. We know we can compete with them, but today just wasn't our day."

What happened on the play where you fumbled? Did he chop the ball loose?

"I've just got to hold onto it. It was going to be a sack. I've got to find a way to eliminate the 'fumble and return for a touchdown' part of it. It's hard to win games when you give the defense touchdowns while on offense. So, I have to eliminate that."

Were you happy with how you managed the clock? It only ran out the one time ...

"Yeah, I think so."

On the play with the interception, were you aware that it was down to one second and Zac Taylor was about to call a timeout?

"Was he? Yeah, I was aware it was going down and sped up the cadence. But, it has nothing to do with that. It was just a poor throw."

Did you 'check' to another play on the play with the interception?

"Yes, it was a check."

How was working with QB Andy Dalton this week?

"Andy's been awesome. We've watched quite a bit of film together. He's played the Ravens for a long time, so he had some awesome insight. He's steady for me mentally. He's a lot of help. I feel a lot better after I talk to Andy."



Ryan Finley gave you credit for checking into better plays. Do you feel pretty good about what you saw from him?

"He's giving me a little more credit than I deserve. He did some pretty good stuff out there in changing the protections. He was just as dialed it. It's not like it was a lot out there for me to change. I will throw the ball back to him. He did a great job out there today."

You guys got a lot mileage out of the changes in your blocking scheme. You outrushed the Rams, and then you outrushed the Ravens today. Are you building on the running game?

"It's a good thing we finally got the running game going and starting to balance some things up, putting some more points on the board, and finishing drives — that has to be our biggest emphasis that last half of the season."

Ryan Finley didn't seem like he lost his poise, despite the two turnovers ...

"He was never shaken by things. He's very poised, very kept-together. He kept confident and kept the same demeanor in the huddle, which is very important."

Did the Ravens do anything different from the first matchup?

"Baltimore is Baltimore. They have those big guys, and they load up the middle. That's what they did the previous game, and that's what they did this game. I wouldn't say there was much of a change."



It's not great how the game ended, but you have to be proud about your effort, right?

"When I get out there, my teammates count on me. They expect me to be 100 percent and available each and every single snap. The opportunities I get, I try to make the most of them and try to keep them up and try to keep going."

What do you feel best about with your performance today?

"I would think it was a cool game. I could have done a little better. There were about two tackles I could have broken, but I got tripped up. I've got to keep going out there, and hopefully from there build on my performance. That's the biggest thing — just keep building."

How do you feel about Ryan Finley's performance and his presence in the huddle?

"He did a great job in his first start, especially against Baltimore and their defense. They have a great defense, and they take pride in it. At the end of the day, the players over there on the other side get paid too. For his first start, I feel like he did a great job. The turnovers, of course, he can't do that. But at the end of the day, with how he moved forward and kept his poise, trying to make plays happen; I'm proud of how he played today. It wasn't his best game, and everybody knows that. But at the end of the day, he came out there and competed. That's what I'm most proud about — him bouncing back from his negative plays."

Were there blocking adjustments today in the running game?

"At the end of the day, when we're going 'hat for a hat,' you see what we can do. I can only hope to keep building on the performance in the run game, be available and go hard for my teammates. I take pride in that stuff. I just want to win and put my team in the best position possible."



When the Ravens' fans are chanting MVP toward QB Lamar Jackson, is there a part of you that thinks, "You're right?"

"He has my vote, definitely. He's definitely the best we've faced this year. Hats off to them, and what they are doing over there. When he can put up those points, look at what the defense can do with a 20-, 30-point lead — you can just tee off. You get more confident, you have nothing to lose at that point. That's why you are seeing Earl (Ravens S Earl Thomas) making plays and Carr (Ravens CB Brandon Carr) making the plays."

Are you excited to see Joe Mixon have the kind of game he had today?

"Not only Joe, but the other 10 guys. No one is quitting, no one is surrendering, no one is giving up. We're still pushing forward. We're still trying to win our one-on-one matchups, and trying to win a football game. Even on defense, we never quit or laid down. No one tapped out. You still have to play football. The last 14 minutes of the game, you have to tackle. They're going to get in their personnel, and they're going to run the ball, so what are you going to do?"

What do you look for in your teammates to see if the team is still motivated?

"Like I just said, no one is quitting. The guys that are playing are the guys we feel give us the best chance to win. They're not quitting, and at the end of the day they fought the whole 60 minutes of the football game."

How hard is it to summon up the same energy to keep competing with a season like this, in a game like this?

"You do see the score on the scoreboard. Coach Eason (defensive line coach Nick Eason) gathered us up because he was in a situation like this. The thing you do remember is who quit, who didn't quit. So that's the mindset we took going forward."

How tough is it to simulate what Lamar Jackson does in practice?

"You can't. There's no way. You need Lamar to simulate that, and we don't have that on this team. It's impossible to simulate that."



What did you see on Lamar Jackson's rushing touchdown?

"It was as simple as tackling the quarterback on triple option. We practiced it all week, and didn't execute it. It's a repeated thing, and is why we're not having success. Me, myself, I need to make that middle of the field tackle. I'm the last line of defense."

Is there anyone else in the league that can do what he does?

"Maybe Kyler Murray. Those two guys are very dynamic."

Is there any way to simulate what you can do in practice?

"We put one of our receiving practice squad players as a quarterback, to get the speed of it down. Even then, there's not a lot of Lamar Jackson's being born."

How hard is it to beat a team like that?

"When you have a guy like that with swagger, that's the first to touch the ball every time, it's tough. I've been playing him since college, and I know that once he gets going, he's hard to stop. That's a very good football team. Their offensive coordinators are putting them in great positions."

Describe the 0-9 feeling ...

"It's frustrating, but I'm blessed with this platform. When we were 0-8, I did some single mothers things, where I could go get out and put a smile on other people's faces. It's tough, but it's not my whole life. I can still make an impact on people's lives outside of football. I'll stay positive and take it as a learning experience."


Wide receiver

What was the running game plan like?

"We tried to out-scheme them the best we could. We tried to find holes and running lanes. Coach did a great job with the running game today. The game plan was good."

It must be frustrating for Joe Mixon to break out and still come up short ...

"I've been in Joe's ear every day, trying to get him going. When he gets going, the whole train is moving. He can handle 30 carries a game. It was great to see it from him. He'll continue to keep working. He never quits."

How would you assess Ryan Finley's performance?

"It was good, despite the fumble and interception. He held his ground and came in confident. He controlled the offense and we were moving the ball quickly. The turnover is probably going through his head, but at the end of the day he played great."

Is it a luxury to have a guy extend plays with his legs?

"It's great when you can use your legs and get out of the pocket. He seemed confident the entire game. He didn't put his head down. He didn't get frustrated, and always went to the next play. I think he'll ramp up as the weeks go."

Describe the 0-9 feeling ...

"I can't even, because I've never experienced this before. I've never been on a winless team up until this point. It's tough, but where I come from and the type of player I am, I'm going to do everything I can to fix it."


Wide receiver

Ryan Finley rolled out a lot, how is it different?

"It's not really different for us running routes. We have to run every route in the route tree. It's nothing new to us."

What is it like to watch Lamar Jackson from the sideline?

"He's a special player. That's all I have to say about it."

View the best images from the Bengals' Week 10 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens from Paul Brown Stadium.


Defensive end

Why were the tight ends so effective?

"They have some of the best tight ends in the game. They're good blockers, and they showed today they can catch the ball too."

What makes the Ravens so hard to stop?

"They're playing with a lot of momentum and confidence right now. They won a lot of matchups today. They have a great scheme, great players, and work well together. They're tough to stop."

Why is Lamar Jackson so hard to stop, even after seeing him twice now?

"They do a great job of throwing in wrinkles. They do a great job of motions and different blocking schemes that make you miss your assignments. We did that too much today."


Defensive end

You've seen him before, why is it still so hard to stop Lamar Jackson?

"Yes, but you have to be disciplined. He makes plays, and is second to none in the open field.

How much of a difference-maker is he?

"It's a quarterback driven league. You see the way they protect them. They're the face of every organization. When you have someone playing at his level, you're going to beat good teams like the Patriots. He makes plays every game to put his team in a position to win."

How hard is to beat a team at that level?

"It's very hard. I liked our odds, but we're not playing well either."

What is it like to be 0-9?

"It's frustrating. But at the end of the day, the best thing I can say to everyone is you can see on the tape that guys are playing hard. We're still coming to work. We love the game of football. It doesn't matter what the record or score is, we're going to play football."

Does this kind of season make or break a player?

"Right now, the ones who are still putting in the work shows you who loves the game of football, as opposed to who just likes it."

That walkout with your dad during player introductions was a cool moment ...

"I was not expecting that. They came in and said we paired the defensive guys with a veteran. I walked out to greet my vet, and he's wearing a #96 jersey. I was like, 'how did you get down here?' You think that I would have known or he would have said something, but it was an amazing feeling. I have a lot of plays out on that field I'll never forget, but that one was my favorite of all time. It was second to none. He sacrificed so much for me to get here. So to share something like that with him was amazing."

What did your dad say?

"He didn't say much. He said 'I'm here, let's do what we have to do and make it a win.' We didn't get the win, but it was a win for me being able to share that moment with him after all he's sacrificed. It wasn't easy; long nights getting out of bed at midnight to go to work. I remember riding with him sometimes, and he'd let me count the money. It was an unbelievable moment, but sadly it's attached to a bad score."

How much of your success is he responsible for?

"All of it. That's my namesake. He sacrificed everything. He pushed me, challenged me, and demonstrated how to be a man to me. He had a 24/7 job, and did what he had to do."