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Everything Zac Taylor Said After The Colts-Bengals Game in Week 14 of the 2023 Season


Head coach

How did you regroup after the end of the first half?

        "We talked about this last night. We can't give them anything easy. That's what it felt like there at the end, with the last defensive drive. We played great defensive football in the first half. We gave it up there, then Ronnie Harrison Jr had that pick-six — (he) did a great job. That's the way it goes sometimes going into the half — either you have the momentum or you don't. We didn't have it, but everyone had their poise throughout. We rallied together knowing we had to set the tone with the ball to come out. The offense did a great job scoring coming out, defense got a stop, and we took control of the game in a moment where we had to do that. I'm really proud of the guys in all three phases for being able to do that."

What has Chase Brown brought to the offense?

        "He's done a great job controlling what he can control. When he came back off the injury, he's shown great attention to detail as a rookie with what we're asking him to handle. He makes plays when his number is called. This whole rookie class has had the right mindset since they walked in. It's a really impressive class. Chase has had a great two games, but as a whole that group has done a great job of mentally being about the right stuff in their rookie seasons."

What happened with Jake Browning's hand, and what did you think of his performance?

        "I thought Jake did a great job handling all the different situations. It was cramps, so he came in and got an IV. That's what it was."

Did it look worse when it happened?

        "No, it wasn't."

Trey Hendrickson bounced back from his penalty ...

        "He's a force out there. You have to pay attention to him at all times. Even when he's not hitting the quarterback and making plays, they feel him and have to devote resources to him. It allows our other guys to step up. Trey did a great job today, our defense as a whole. They rushed for less than 50 yards and (we) had three sacks. That's a great defensive effort overall with the coverage, the rush, and tackling."

What did you think of Trey Hendrickson's roughing the passer penalty, and how the team responded after?

        "We can't have it. Trey knows that. He's the first one to own up to it. It is what it is, we move on from it. We've done a great job keeping penalties not being a part of what we do. It was just a learning moment for everyone and we will respond the right way."

You've won with a lot of different offensive identities lately. Why has that worked?

        "I don't know if it's really been that different. They're all things we've done over the course of the season. Each defense we play is a big driving force for how the game is played. We haven't called a single play that we didn't rep all training camp and fall. These guys believe in what we're doing and have done a great job. We've really called upon every resource we have on offense, and everyone has stepped up. So many guys made catches and big plays today. We're not afraid to use everybody on the roster that's active. We have faith that everyone can step up and do their job."

How much did you feel the team's energy after the Week 12 loss to the Steelers?

        "I felt it throughout the whole process. Even in the losses, it's what keeps me optimistic, being around the guys and the way they continue to approach their job every single day. That's why we built the team the way Duke (Tobin) and everybody has. It's for these types of moments. Every team in the league faces adversity over the course of the season. It's which teams that handle it and can respond and not crater. These are the guys that continue to respond, but we have to prove it again next week. It's not good enough to just do what we've done the last two weeks. We have to keep stacking, and we have a history of doing that. Obviously this is a new team, the 2023 team, and we have to prove ourselves again these next couple weeks that we can continue to play good football in December."

What did you think of the offensive line's performance today, with only three quarterback hits and zero sacks allowed?

        "Awesome, I felt it throughout. One of the hits was on a cross, which is tough if they play it the right way. We still hit Tyler Boyd for a big gain. Those guys up front did a great job. There's great comradery in that room, they do a great job playing together. They take pride in keeping the quarterback healthy, getting the run game going, clearing the perimeter on screens. Those guys have risen to the challenge and are really helping us right now."

Two straight games won two very different ways on a short week. Can you feel a momentum shift?

        "The easiest way to put it is this team has had confidence throughout. We know reasons we've lost games, reasons we've won games, we know what our formula is. We have to play disciplined, protect the football, and different guys have to step up in different moments. A lot of guys stepped up, we did a great job protecting the ball aside from Ronnie Harrison Jr.'s great play on the pick-six. We forced some turnovers as well — DJ Ivey did that today. Different guys stepping up, and that's what you need at this point in the season."

Did you expect the screen game to be as effective as it was?

        "I was hopeful. That impactful, maybe not. That's not just Chase Brown and Joe Mixon. Ted (Karras) had a huge block on the nickel for Chase's touchdown run. A lot of guys got out in space and making defensive backs move out a little, even if they're not making the block. Receivers did a good job selling it. Jake (Browning) held the ball until he had to get it out with good ball placement. It's everybody, but it is part of our offense that's really been impactful these last few weeks."

You've put up 30 points two straight games with a backup quarterback—what does that mean?

        "We felt like we were in a great flow on offense the last eight or nine weeks. The Pittsburgh game was our outlier, but I felt like we've been playing good football, so the quarterback jumps in and is prepared. He just needs to step up, be prepared, and play as best as he can without our starter out there. Jake (Browning) has done that. The guys believe in him, but it's not about one guy, it's the unit coming together and the defense, special teams supplementing that. I think the team effort has been outstanding the last two weeks."

Chase Brown's speed was 22 miles per hour, second fastest in the league. Did you know he was that fast?

        "We've learned he is that fast. We do the GPS in practice on kickoff return, things like that. He's had opportunities to show how fast he is. Second fastest? That's pretty good. He's a fast guy. Real fast."

Have you seen those numbers in practice?

        "I think he's gotten to 22 (miles per hour), yes. I don't know how high above it, but he's fast."

Do you think he gave Joe Mixon a spark today?

        "I've sat up here and told you, I think Joe Mixon is giving us what we needed. That's maybe a different narrative, but I continue to be pleased with what he brings. It's a good combo we have going right now, and there's nothing wrong with that. Most teams in the league have that. I'm pleased with the job Justin Hill continues to do with that room. He's on it, does a great job developing those guys. I'm pleased with what they provided us. Trayveon Williams on third downs has a role. It didn't come up as much today, but they all have different roles. Sometimes they're magnified, sometimes they're not. He's done a good job in that role too."

What can you say about Jake (Browning's) ability to put extended drives together?

        "It's everybody. It's the defense is not giving the momentum. It's the guys on offense making a lot of plays and Jake distributing it the right way. Other than that three-and-out to start the game and it was a clunky two-minute situation, we felt like we were scoring touchdowns every drive. Maybe that doesn't add up, but when Jake got hurt was our next punt. We felt like we had really good momentum and our guys did a good job executing and staying ahead. Hats off to the linemen, they started that process. They protect, get the run game going. All the other guys were making the plays that come to them."

The red-zone defense stepped up again today ...

        "That's something you feel when you get in there. We don't assume there's going to be a field goal occurring, or a touchdown. Even the fourth down they scored on, in my mind we're getting the ball back on the two (yard line). That's just the mentality they've instilled because of what they've done. That's what the facts state, so there's a belief because they've done it so many times. They have a belief they won't give up points and they find a way to get the ball back. It flows over to other parts of the team and that's how it goes sometimes."

Have you been surprised by Jake (Browning's) transition from practice to game speed?

        "I don't look at him as a young guy. He's been here now for three years — that's old in this league. He knows what makes a really good backup quarterback. It's being able to take the reps you're not getting mentally, and manufacturing them in practice. Dan Pitcher does a great job with that. You'd handle him differently if he was a rookie or second year guy. I feel like we have a veteran quarterback out there, just getting his first action in front of a whole stadium. This is why we've given him the opportunity to compete for the job, this is why he won the job and this is why he stuck around for three years. A lot of times the guys on the practice squad, you just switch them out after two years. But Jake had all the intangible stuff, the skills we saw that made us think he can be an effective player for us. All he's done is continue to prove that right. He knows the season doesn't end today. He has to continue to stack and prepare. I'm sure we have another tough defense coming in next week with Minnesota. He has controlled what he can control at this point."