Skip to main content

What Zac Taylor, Joe Burrow And The Bengals Said After The Preseason Game Versus Miami

210829-Taylor-Zac_pregame (AP)




Head coach

Initial comments ...

"Fire away."

What was the thought process on the last possession?

"We didn't want to tie. If it's a regular season game, absolutely, you can kick a field goal there and go into overtime — especially with where we were at with fourth-and-eight. But it's a preseason game, let's go win this thing and give ourselves an opportunity. We had a fifty-fifty shot right there and they made a play."

What do you tell your team after back-to-back blown fourth quarter leads in the preseason?

"I think today there were plenty of opportunities to finish the game, particularly on defense on that last drive. We had guys with plenty of shots to finish it and we didn't do it. I told the team let's learn our lessons here in preseason game three as opposed to two, three, four, five weeks from now. You got opportunities and you've got to take advantage of them. You've got to know what's going to happen next. We've just got to learn from this and move on."

Was there any thought about giving Joe Burrow another series?

"No, that was enough. Three plays, that was it."

What is the benefit of only giving Burrow one series?

"Starting with all eleven of those guys being in the huddle, the crowd cheering, just to get that emotion out of the way, because that is a big part of life. And just getting back in there, for Trey (Hopkins) also at center, to be back in game mode and get some plays, I think it was beneficial to the whole team. It was quick, it was just three plays. It was nothing significant from a scheme standpoint that was really going to take place. We were going to be very cautious there, obviously. But I think it was just good for that whole entire offensive group."

Should Riley Reiff have been penalized for that late hit?

"It's a personal foul. So it really doesn't matter what happens, they're going to call it."

Was there some confusion as to whether or not that was a dead ball?

"It's a repeat the down, is what was stated. So we repeated the down."

Was the plan always to give Ja'Marr Chase the ball on Burrow's pass?

"We had a set three plays that we were going to run."

What happened on that pass play to Chase?

"It's hard for me to see that. It's on the other side of the field so when we watch the tape we'll know."

What do you make of Chase's dropped passes? Are they concerning?

"Those who have been at practices have seen him make some great plays these last couple of days..."

Is there a mental aspect to those drops?

"I don't think so."

It looked like you were mixing in some young guys there until the end.

"There was some good stuff in the run game. When you're playing a solid front, it's going to be ugly at times and you've just got to stick with it and make some good plays. I thought there was likely improvement there that we'll see...they had great energy there, (they) were feeling good about moving the ball, they wanted runs called, which is good—that's usually when you know a line is getting into a rhythm, is when they're feeling it a little bit. So that was good to see, our backs kind of getting in flow there. I thought it was really good work for our tight ends, our linemen, our backs with all the runs we were able to get off today. We did some good work there and got to evaluate those guys."

How encouraged were you by the guys replacing Joseph Ossai's production?

"That's what they've got to do. They've got to stick out in that area. Again, there are some plays we can finish there at the end of the game. That's part of it as well. It's not just always early in the game, it's how we finish later in the game, but there was some good stuff and we'll just continue to evaluate the tape."

How important was it to see Evan McPherson succeed in the game?

"It's good. In the games, on that field, it's different, in front of the fans, and he's been the same steady guy that he's been since day one, since he's been here. So it was good to get that deep one, he nailed it. It would have been good from a lot longer than that, it appeared to me. So that as really good to see. You know, both of those kickers—it's been a tremendous battle, watching both of them, Austin (Seibert) and Evan."

Did bubble players meet and exceed your expectations today?

"Obviously some guys had some good performances. I don't want to get too specific with it, but you are trying to pay attention to certain position groups and certain guys. There were plays that were made and some plays that guys would want back as well."

D'Ante Smith looked like he limped off. Any update?

"I never got clarification on that. That one was later in the game, so I'm not sure."

Is Khalid Kareem OK?

"We'll see. I'm not sure."

Was Tee Higgins not dressing just precautionary?

"Yeah, just a little tightness in his back. I knew he wasn't getting a target on the first three plays so why make him go through warm-ups and put him out there? So it was really just a rest day for him.

If this were a regular season game would he play?


Are you concerned about Trae Waynes' hamstring?

"Well any starter that's got an injury is obviously a concern. It's pretty fresh, just happened a couple of days ago. We want to give it some time and see how it goes. Those things can heal real quickly or they can linger, so we'll just kind of see how it goes and take it day by day."

How's Eli Apple?

"Good. More just with Trae, we wanted to be cautious with Eli. Coming off the hamstring (injury)..."

Why has Michael Jordan slid down the depth chart?

"Consistency. I think that's the key term with all of the interior players. That's why you see the veterans get the latest stab at it, because they've been more consistent. We've got guys with a lot of talent and a lot of potential, but it's the consistency that we're really looking for..."

Were you looking to see more out of Darius Phillips on defense?

"Yeah, letting him get some work, and part of it was just the depth, the bodies that were available. Guys have got to go out there and play. Guys that you feel good about, but we still just have got to have them out there."

Do you know how significant is Trey Hill's groin injury?

"No, not yet. I think that will be further evaluated in the morning."

What will your staff's process be in the next 48 hours or so?

"We'll get a chance to recap the game tomorrow and get started on the personnel stuff because those are decisions we've got to make and do with staff in the next couple of days. On Tuesday, we'll start on that, so it's kind of a big day in that area. Players are back Wednesday and Thursday."

What was it like to see the ovation for Joe Burrow?

"It's good for everyone. It's fun for the fans, it's fun for Joe, it's fun for the team. It's just kind of—he's back. And there was a lot of unknown there—last November, last January, last March, so it's good to see him, see Trey (Hopkins) get back in the huddle, and get things back to normal. It's great for all of us to see."

Would Joe Burrow have stayed in the game if he had gotten a first down?

"No. Three plays."

Would you have taken out all of the starters at that point?


Did they know that?


So it was really just to get them in the game a little bit?

"I mean, it went as haywire as it could have possibly gone."



What did it feel like when you heard the reception from the crowd?

"It felt good to be back. Not only for me, but to be in front of the fans. We didn't have any fans (last year) — I guess we did for a few games at the end of the season last year. It felt good. It's nice to see the fans out there and to hear how excited they are about this year."

Zac said you were coming out after three plays, if you had registered a first down. How weird would that have been for you?

"Yeah. Unfortunately, we didn't have to worry about that, since we didn't get a first down."

How far did you stay away from the scrum following your incomplete pass to Ja'Marr Chase? How far did you stay away from that threat?

"They told me, 'If there were fumbles or any snaps over my head, just get away from it. Don't go near the ball. Don't worry about it.'"

Did you get all of the experiences you wanted to feel? Did you check all of the boxes today?

"Yes. We are ready to go. I'm excited about this next week. We have a chance to get our minds right. This will not be as taxing on the body. We have a chance to physically be ready for Week One. I'm excited to get a game plan and get ready to go."

Physically, how are you feeling?

"I'm feeling great right now. We are going to continue to rehab (knee) through the year. You can't just stop and let it deteriorate. That will be something that is ongoing."

We saw you and Ja'Marr Chase sitting next to each other after the first series. What was the conversation?

"We were just talking 'ball. We were talking as friends."

How do you encourage Ja'Marr Chase after a few dropped passes in the last two preseason games?

"I know what kind of guy Ja'Marr is and what kind of player he is. He will be ready to go Week 1."

Did you wear the knee brace today?

"Yes. I'm trying to hide it a little bit under these tights."

How do you feel about wearing the knee brace?

"I'm not a fan."

What is your favorite thing about playing for head coach Zac Taylor?

"He gives me a lot of freedom to check the plays that I see fit. He trusts me in my preparation. If I ever check play, he's not going to ask me if I have a reason for it or tell me not to do it. Zac is a player's coach that everyone loves playing for. He also understands what it's like to be a quarterback. Some head coaches you play for — when you miss a throw — say 'Make the throw.' Zac understands what you go through as a quarterback. It's nice to have a head coach who understands that aspect of it."

How far into the Minnesota Vikings Week 1 game plan have you gotten into? Are you chipping away at it a little bit?

"Every now and then. If we have time we will throw a game (film) on. We haven't gotten into it too much yet."

Was there any moment you savored or were looking forward to today?

"No. It was good to be back. There was nothing too emotional. It was good to be back out there with the guys."

Have you reflected at all on the rehabilitation?

"No. There's no time. It's time to get focused on Week 1. The journey has just started."

What did it mean to have C Trey Hopkins out there with you for the coin toss as team captains today, along with Director of Rehabilitation Nick Cosgray out there today?

"It was a great way to honor Nick, who is a guy who works really hard for us. He's an unsung hero for the team. He's a guy who gets a lot of guys right. Whatever you have, you go to Nick. He's going to get you right and tell you what you need to do to minimize the affects of an injury. I'm really glad we were able to honor him in that way."

Did you and C Trey Hopkins push each other hard during rehabilitation?

"We were in there at different times. We in different parts of the rehab process. I was usually coming in when he was going out."

Three plays is a small sample size, but how do you feel about the cohesiveness of the offensive unit?

"It's very encouraging. We have put in a lot of work to get better. It's really exciting where those guys are at. It's nice to have a veteran like Riley (Reiff) it makes a difference. You can feel it in the huddle and on the field. I'm excited for those guys. I think the hard work is going to show this year."

How has TE Thaddeus Moss been through training camp?

"I know when Thaddeus runs a pass route, I know what he's going to do, and what he is going to do to get open. Thaddeus is a guy who works really, really hard. He gets better every, single day. He's always asking questions about the offense. He'll study the script. He sits next to me in the locker room. He'll ask either me or QB Brandon (Allen), 'On this route or on this coverage, What do you want me to do'?

"If you tell him, he does it. He's not the kind of guy you have to tell over and over again. Those guys are really valuable. I think he could be a big part of this team. I'm excited about having him."

How helpful has it been for you to have TE Thaddeus Moss on the team?

"He and I are good friends. He was actually here visiting me, the week before we signed him. We were hanging out a little bit. He's a great guy and a great teammate to have in the locker room."

Did you suggest that the Bengals sign him when he was visiting?

"I may have sent a text or two. It was not my decision."

What has Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson meant to you career?

"We made each other a lot of money (laughter)."

Was it a 50/50 split?

"I think I made a little more, based on my draft slot (laughter). Justin is a great guy, great player. He was my go-to guy for my first year at LSU. Then, Ja'Marr (Chase) emerged and I could take my pick. Justin is a lot like Ja'Marr — (they both are) really smart players you don't have to tell him something (more than) once, you don't have to tell them again. Justin is the kind of player that is like that. People ask me if I was surprised by the year he had last year. No, I wasn't surprised at all. He's a great player that works really hard. I knew exactly what was going to happen."

Do you think Ja'Marr can rival Justin Jefferson in 'The Griddy' celebration dance?

"I think Ja'Marr did it first at LSU. Ja'Marr and I were discussing on the sideline what celebration he was going to do this year. He said, 'The Griddy'. People are going to think you stole it from Justin. In reality, Ja'Marr probably started it. Someone from New Orleans started it, but Ja'Marr brought it to LSU and it exploded."

Do you ever think Chase, Jefferson and Moss are such savants of catching the football because of your influence?

"In football, you get influenced by everyone you are around. Yes. I have a part in it, but they also influence me in a big way. That's what is great about football — no one guy can do it on his own. You tailor your game to the people you have around you and create dialogue that grows as you grow as players, teammates and friends. You put it all together as a product on the field. That's what is beautiful about the game."

Are you relieved that this day is done?

"I'm excited that preseason is over and we can focus on the first game. We are tired of going against each other in practice each day, hitting each other and getting in fights, since we see each other each day. It's going to be nice to get out there and hit someone else when it counts."


Wide receiver

Was it your goal to keep making plays game after game this preseason?

"I was trying to make whatever play I can with each opportunity I get."

Do you feel you left it all on the table?

"I had a lot of fun out there. I executed what the coaches told me."

Do you feel you did enough to make the team?

"Yeah. The way I look at it, I went out there and made plays every day. That's not my job to make that decision. That's where I'm at. I'll leave it up to them."

What's it like grinding on the scout team the last few years? What has that process been like for you?

"I had some dogs out there with me on scout team. It's been a grind. We have had some fun out there. Scout team isn't often the most fun, but you have to go out there and have fun with it. Football is fun. Going at it each play is a blessing."

What have the last couple of years been like for you?

"It's wild. It's two years of grinding for more and more opportunities. It's a beautiful thing in the end when you look at it. Just trying to go out there day in and day out to make plays and catch someone's eye to get an opportunity."

What will these next two days be like for you?

"I'll probably go out and do some fishing. I'll quiet my mind. I don't control the decision."

What is the fishing like in the area?

"There is some decent fishing. I haven't figured out the Ohio (River) yet. You need a boat, and it's a little bit murky. I have done some catfish and found some honey holes for smallmouth bass."

Do you feel the coaches gave you opportunities?

"They totally did. They gave me every opportunity. My job was to go make a play."



Between the first and second quarter, G Xavier Su'a-Filo and you were talking. What was that conversation?

"It was a veteran leader recognizing a play in the game and making me better."

How do you feel today went for you?

"I think every game is a learning experience. I was really blessed to be out there in front of my home fans."

What has been the reason behind the extra work after practices with offensive line coach Frank Pollack?

"I want to get better and Coach is coaching. I'm taking every opportunity to do so."

How have you progressed? What areas have you progressed best in these last few weeks?

"I think there is not a single area where I have not been working diligently to get better at in my game. Everything from the run game to the pass game, from the technique to my vision. I've been working hard."

How do you track progress?

"Through film study, and watching to see I have gotten better in the past, through film study. From the time in practice and getting better from one game to the next, and to be able to see those differences on the field."

Are you starting to feel more comfortable at guard since transitioning from tackle in college?

"Definitely starting to feel comfortable. I'm noticing I'm better in both practices and games. My peripheral perception is what coach (Pollack) calls it — being able to feel my body in space, and being in the right position and adjusting to the next level."

How much of your confidence is from improving individually, and how much is from working with your teammates?

"They go hand in hand. The offensive line is the ultimate team. If you go into something that you are part of as a unit and not as an individual, everything else falls in to place."

What does it mean to you when coaches say they want to see consistency from you?

"Perform, play-in and play-out. Always have good technique and mental awareness, as well as good, consistent effort."

What was it like playing in Paul Brown Stadium after growing up watching the Bengals as a fan?

"It was awesome. It was great to feel the energy. To see the sunlight, feel the energy and the breeze. I was definitely excited."

How difficult is it to unlearn techniques and to learn new ones?

"It's not an easy process. With a great coach like coach Pollack, it's been a great adjustment. It's better for me. I'm learning better techniques to be more capable and improve my game."