Zac Taylor Evaluates The Bengals After Week 1

ZAC TAYLOR

Head coach

Initial comments ...

"After reviewing the tape, the things that I said last night don’t change. I’m very disappointed. When you watch the tape, the way our defense played and the energy they played with, they really gave us a chance to win that game. Offensively, we did some really good things, but ultimately we left a few points on the field. That’s the difference between winning and losing on the road, especially against a good team in a tough environment with the success that they have had. It’s a game that we lost, but we’re going to win a lot of games in the future because of it. Now there are a lot of things that we get the chance to clean up. Sometimes in a victory there are some things we can really dial in on and make sure that we’re better for the future and (ensure) that our players understand those critical situations. They played really good football throughout the game, but there were a few critical situations where Seattle stepped up and made the plays that we didn’t. Hats off to them. I know that we’re going to be better for this in the future. Having lost that game, it’s going to bring us a lot of wins.”

Do you have an injury update on HB Joe Mixon?

“Joe will be day-to-day right now. It certainly could have been a lot worse. He just has an ankle sprain. He’ll be day-to-day.

Why does DE Sam Hubbard’s skillset fit defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo’s coaching philosophy?

“Sam’s ‘breakout game,’ if you want to call it that, is one of the least-surprising things that I’ve ever seen. He’s been consistent day to day. He’s exactly the type of player you love to coach and you love to be around. You’re combining talent with a relentless effort, and that usually pays off. Some of the (defensive) fronts we presented yesterday put (our linemen) in some good one-on-one situations in the pass rush, and they were sound fundamentally in the run game. Sam just capitalized on a lot of the opportunities. Like I said, it’s not surprising at all to see Sam have a game like that.”

What impressed you about Anarumo’s first game as a defensive coordinator?

“I was around for Lou’s first couple games he called (as interim defensive coordinator in Miami in 2015). If you look back in 2015 against the Texans and the Titans, those (Dolphins) defenses played out of their minds and shut down some good offenses those two days. We knew what Lou had in store for these guys. He got them to respond and play well, play with energy and be a connected defense. I was really pleased with the outcome. It was really a four-point play there at the end of the half — it was third-and-seven, and we had to make a stop there so they kick a field goal. That’s a four-point (swing). At the end of the game, we’re counting on them to get a stop on third and one so we get that ball back. Otherwise, those guys played their tails off. If they play like that consistently over the course of the season, they’re going to put us in a position to win a lot of games.”

How much of Anarumo’s defensive game plan did he run past you?

“Lou and I talk daily. He runs things by me and Brian (offensive coordinator Brian Callahan) that he thinks are going to be good, and wants an offensive input on. At the same time, these are things we’ve worked on over the course of training camp, so it was really no surprise to anybody what we were doing. The plan really came together well, and the players believed in it. They played with the energy and the detail that we needed. They really stopped the running game and did a good job overall.”

Was the void of an effective rushing attack the reason for the lack of red-zone efficiency?

“Not necessarily. We got the holding call on the four-yard line, and it pushed us back on second and goal. That put us in a tough spot. The screen that we were throwing when the ball slipped out of (QB Andy Dalton’s) hands, we felt like that was going to be a potential touchdown if we can get that blocked on the perimeter. And one time we were mis-targeted (on blocking assignments) on the play that Bobby Wagner confronted Joe in the hole. We were a little bit mis-targeted there, so they got a good stop. Otherwise, in the red zone we were not able to capitalize on the opportunities that were given to us. Some of those were in the pass game on screens. Once again, we can’t walk away with no points after those three dives in the third quarter – that killed us.”

How did OT Andre Smith play yesterday?

“Andre did a really good job. He really fought. Those were some looks that we thought we might see, but we didn’t spend too (much time) running against them. It was something Seattle had really never done on tape. Andre, and all the offensive linemen, adjusted really well to some of the things we had to install during the course of the game. There were some situations where Clowney (Seattle DE Jadeveon Clowney) is going to make a lot of people look foolish. Overall, Andre didn’t back down from him. Andre attacked him. So did Bobby (OT Bobby Hart), so did C.J. (TE C.J. Uzomah) – those guys stood their ground. Oftentimes they held on long enough for Andy to get the ball out of his hands – that was all we needed in that game. I’m really proud of those guys up front for the way they handled that game.”

Is there any long-term concern with OT Cordy Glenn’s health?

“Honestly, it’s every day that I look for the update. Every single day I come in and it’s day-to-day. He obviously needs to go through the protocol and come out of it cleanly. It could be over the course of one day where that happens, and we’re ready to roll.”

How extensive are your screen packages?

“We put a lot on tape yesterday. There were a few more that could have potentially hit, but didn’t quite hit. Again, it’s just another thing that teams need to honor. We talk about the three phases on offense: it’s the runs, the passes and then the screens off of them. We’re not going to be solely a third-down perimeter screen team. We’re going to be a first- and second-down team as well. When you’re playing under center and run the ball and you’re running play-actions, and then you mix in a play-action screen, we feel like that’s very difficult for the defense to have an answer for. That was the game plan for this week. Week to week it always changes, but it’s good to put that stuff on tape and there are a lot of things that teams will have to have in the back of their minds as they prepare for us in the future.”

Do you need to change Dalton’s arm slot in order to complete more screen passes?

“You rewind those clips about a thousand times, and I’d like to see someone get that ball around some of those guys. It’s unfortunate. Sometimes with the D-line, you’re banking on them (having) their heads down and rushing the passer, and you can slip it around them. At the last second, their eyes come up and they get their hands up. That’s football. We had one on the first drive that was going to Joe Mixon on the left sideline, and Clowney got it. I think Clowney has the biggest wingspan of anybody in the NFL. Unfortunately, that was a point early in the game where we didn’t know where he was going to line up. We called the play and he, unfortunately, was on the screen side and was able to get his reach up to about 15 feet and bat that ball down. Otherwise, we thought we had a good play. There’s no concern with Andy in terms of those batted balls. Some of them were just unfortunate.”

How often did Dalton audible out of plays at the line of scrimmage?

“Andy has full authority to do what he needs to do to get us into a good play. Oftentimes we can call multiple plays for him. I wouldn’t want to give that exact number (of audibles), but Andy has full control of the offense. He does an unbelievable job getting us to the best plays.”

What went into the flea-flicker play call that resulted in WR John Ross’ first touchdown?

"Well, I probably shouldn’t admit this, but we called it early in the game and Joe took a zero-yard gain. That was one of the best zero-yard gains I’ve ever seen because they blitzed on it, and Joe just ate the ball and took it. We had to make a slight adjustment to it a little bit later, but that’s just Joe Mixon being a smart football player and not creating a 10-yard loss or potential turnover by thinking, ‘all right, coach called a ‘special,’ now I have to run this special.’ Again, that’s what we’re trying to get to on offense, which is guys understanding the big picture and bailing us out of a bad situation. He did that, and it enabled us to call it at a better time. That was the one where C.J. (TE C.J. Uzomah) was one-on-one with Clowney, and fought just long enough for Andy to be able to get the ball off. I thought that was 11 guys being on the same page and making a great play.”

In what ways was John Ross’ performance a product of his mentality?

“John is very coachable. He has the right approach every day he walks in, and he’s excited to be in the meetings, and he’s excited to practice. Those are all traits you can work with as a coach. He’s a guy that wants to have success and wants to do it the way we want it done, and maybe it just hasn’t happened (yet for him) for whatever reason. We feel like he’s a great fit for how we want to operate on offense and his skill set is a really good fit for what we do, and he made the most of it yesterday. He, like all of our players, have room for improvement. But that was a good first game for John to get going and see (and say) that, ‘All right, I can have a lot of success doing the things that they want me to do.’ I thought Andy did a really good job of getting him the ball at the appropriate times.”

As a play caller, what’s the balance in determining which plays to put on tape in the first game, versus which plays to withhold for later in the season?

“It’s about, ‘How do we beat Seattle?’ That is 100 percent. I don’t care if we throw the whole kitchen sink at them. With the style of defense they play, you have to play a certain style of offense to combat that. As coaches, we are trying to win every single game to the best of our ability, and sometimes it’s a byproduct of putting some things on tape where you’re like, ‘Well, let’s put this on tape because it’s going to make some people think.’ But we just try to win each game as it comes.”

What was the genesis of how you structured the silent snap count?

“That’s a great job by (offensive line coach) Jim Turner and (quarterbacks coach) Alex Van Pelt making sure both of those rooms are on the same page. Really, it’s the offensive linemen who have to be dialed in, because they have the hardest job. You look at those tackles who are looking at the ball and trying to get off on the snap count, and it’s the offensive line’s job to block those guys on the perimeter. I thought their concentration was impressive, especially for the first game as a unit on the road and in that environment. I’m really proud of the way those guys played.”

Do you feel the team played well enough to be better than what people predicted?

“We don’t worry about that. We just worry about how we can win a championship. How do we improve enough to where we put ourselves in position to win a championship? You have to win games like that. You can’t let those opportunities slip away. We have to continue to raise our standard and live up to the standards we’ve set for ourselves. Be willing to listen to some tough criticism, and make the adjustments we need to make so we don’t make the same mistakes against San Francisco. Again, we want to be a championship-level team. How do we do that? I have no idea because we haven’t won a game yet, but that’s certainly the standard we’re going to set for ourselves.”

Is it part of the culture you instilled to ensure that players know when they performed well, despite a winning outcome?

“We’ll never accept losing. We’re all frustrated that we didn’t win the game, but we’re counting on the culture to get us through some of those adversities and tough times. We feel like we are sound with our Xs and Os, and we feel like we have good talent. Our culture is going to be the glue that ties us all together. It’s really hard to win every game in this league. It’s been done (only) one time, so realistically you have a sense that you probably won’t win them all. It’s about how we respond to losing — do we make the necessary changes? do we make the right adjustments? — so you don’t lose the same way you just lost, and you go win the next one. Our guys need to have a winning mentality and know that losing is not acceptable, but we do know there are things we can draw from that loss that will help us in the future.”

Have players bounced back quickly? Are they refocused for Sunday’s game against San Francisco?

“I think they have, and there’s a fine line between that, right? You want guys to be hurt that we lost, and you want guys to be able to rebound for the next game. Our guys do a good job with that. They’re hurt for not winning that game. It’s our first full game as a team with these systems in place and these players in the building. There are some unknowns that come with that. We expected to win that game, and we feel like we should’ve won that game. I think guys now know, ‘OK, we are as good as we think we can be.’ We can’t make the same mistakes we did, but we are a football team that is poised to do some good things if we continue to make the improvements we need to make. That’s what they take away from yesterday, and that’s what they should take away from yesterday.”

*If Joe can’t play on Sunday, what did the second half tell you regarding the running game and how it can be successful against San Francisco? *

“He’s a consistent, patient runner. Obviously, if Joe weren’t able to play, we’ve got other (running) backs that we have to get ready to play. Gio (HB Giovani Bernard) is a guy you don’t have to say much to. He has a great football IQ and he understands what we are trying to do. He had good patience on the screen that he hit for the long run. He did a good job. He reeled off some good runs that were dirty runs in the second half. He really did a nice job. He’s a guy that dependable — there’s no surprises there with Gio. He’s someone we expected that kind of production from.”

What did you see on tape from starting rookie WR Damion Willis and starting rookie G Michael Jordan?

“It would be really hard to point to one player and say, ‘Man, they really didn’t play well.’ I can’t say that about any of the guys that went through the game in any of the phases. When Michael Jordan and Damion Willis don’t stand out in their first game one way or the other, that’s a decent start. Now, certainly they both have some room for improvement. There are details that both guys need to improve on, and their standard is the same standard we hold Andy Dalton, Tyler Eifert and all the other guys to. They’ll get there. For the first start on the road, against a defense like that, I thought they held their own.”

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