With the Bengals prepping for Sunday's game in Dallas (4:25 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12), head coach Zac Taylor spoke with Bengals.com senior writer Geoff Hobson.
GH: What was the message was to the team on Monday?
ZT: Just find the things you can improve on whether you played a great game or played below your standards, find things to improve on. Get ready for a big one this week.
GH: This team has come back from some pretty dramatic losses. What about this one?
ZT: There's plenty of time left to do the things we know we are capable of. It's just important to make the corrections, don't overreact one way or another. Whether we had won or lost, we still get ready to make the same corrections, it wouldn't have mattered. Whether we are 1-0 or 0-1, we still have to make corrections so that's what our guys are focused on right now.
GH: You're playing a backup quarterback in Dallas Sunday. Can you draw on last year's Jets game and use that as a learning tool?
ZT: Yeah, different teams, different schemes. But when you are locked in on a new quarterback and what his strengths are and what his weaknesses are, we've got to do our research and watch every snap that he's had. He played well against Minnesota last year so there's evidence out there of him playing well in a start in the NFL.
Guys are playing in this league for a reason. Any quarterback that's on a roster has talent and ability and people believe in him. He's been there in Dallas for about five years now so obviously they trust him and he's there for a reason and we've got to be ready for him.
GH: Did the opener go the way you planned it to go? Get the rust off in the first half and settle down in the second? No one would plan on losing the long snapper.
ZT: I was proud of the guys for putting us back in a position when things were difficult early on. They kept their heads up and just did what they could do to just get us back in the game and give us some opportunities, but we just didn't quite get it done.
GH: Do you think that resiliency comes from going through what the team went through last December and January?
ZT: I think it's just having good players that have good football character. It's important to them, they believe in each other, so despite being down two scores, they know that we've still got a chance as long as there's time on the clock.
GH: What did you see on the offensive line that might be an upgrade over last year?
ZT: I thought they did a good job. That's a good defensive front. They've got a healthy Cam Heyward, they were healthy at defensive end coming into the game, they added Larry (Ogunjobi). So, we knew that was going to be a really tough front. I thought they held their own. They did a good job. Things will be made of the sacks, but they weren't responsible for all of them. (We've) just got to continue to improve, and I thought they gave us a chance to win and I'm pleased with the direction they're headed.
GH: Was it a welcome to the NFL moment for rookie left guard Cordell Volson finding out how strong Cam Heyward is?
ZT: I think over the course of the play, his strength really shows up the longer the play goes. I'm talking about Cam Heyward. Fortunately for Cordell, he gets to go against some really good ones in practice to help him get ready for these matchups, but Cam Heyward's a really good player. It's a tough matchup first game and I thought Cordell really fought and showed improvement.
GH: You always say sacks are spread out over responsibility and not just on the offensive line.
ZT: Yeah, we're all accountable for it. We obviously want to improve. We don't want there to be any sacks whatever happens, but I've got confidence in our guys. We're going to make corrections. We've got to get that number to zero, is the goal obviously. We'll just keep working through it.
GH: For example, do you think Joe Burrow tried to make a play that wasn't there on the last sack to take you out of field goal range?
ZT: A guy came free that we weren't expecting to come free. We should've had it picked up one way or another. Ultimately, we did not. I think that had more to do with it than anything else.
GH: Do you think that kind of stuff is going to happen in season openers?
ZT: You can't make excuses for them. Pittsburgh, it went down to the books, just one sack and no turnovers. We can't sit here and make excuses for the sacks we had and the turnovers we had. We've just got to get them corrected and get ready for Dallas.
GH: How do you think Joe played overall?
ZT: I thought he really settled in that game. I think it was rocky for all of us early on. Obviously we put ourselves in a hole there, but I thought he really settled down well, got us some really good plays, found some good completions, made some plays for the scheme when he needed to, had a couple really good scrambles for first down conversions. Those are the types of things we count on with Joe.
GH: I know people are saying it was Burrow's worst game as a pro, but he did go down the field for 129 yards in the last six minutes of regulation and he theoretically won it twice. I don't know what more he could have done in crunch time.
ZT: People just look at the turnovers and make those declarations, but again, there's a lot more that goes into it. Joe's like everybody else, we've just got to continue to find ways to improve.
GH: You said the one interception he probably wanted back is the first one. Why?
ZT: I think Minkah (Fitzpatrick) made a good play. Seeing how it played out, that's one that you can re-work a little bit and get us to the next play. Again, he's being aggressive on a few and then made some really good plays on a couple. That's part of life in football, part of playing quarterback. You've got to learn from that and move on and get on to the next play, which is what Joe did. Joe (got us) a field goal the next drive. We'll continue to learn through every different look that we get.
GH: How did you think the running game looked first time out?
ZT: They (Steelers) are pretty set up front, so it's tough to get some movement. Sometimes you've got to be patient like (running back) Joe (Mixon) was. That's the way it goes sometimes in this division. Of course, you can always subtract the big run out of it and for every team that played a game on Sunday you're getting a lower yards-per-carry. It's however people want to look at it.
GH: Did you see some new wrinkles from the Steelers defense?
ZT: You've got to be ready for all coverage structures. You see them all by the end of the season, so you got your bag of things that you liked against those coverage looks when you can tell it's going to be that kind of game. San Francisco was very similar last year, they kind of switched their philosophy on what they wanted to do and play us a little differently. You have to adjust as the day goes and I thought we did that.
GH: Like the Steelers playing more Cover 2 than they usually do?
ZT: They were a little more heavier dose. They've got a new defensive coordinator so that's part of what he's brought to the table there. That's how teams are going to play us. There's a lot of things that go into it and we'll just continue to make the adjustments as the season goes.
GH: It seemed like you went more no-huddle than usual.
ZT: We were capable of doing that. We've done a fair amount of it during the game, and I thought we had some plays to be successful down there.
GH: It looked like you thought you could wear them down with the quick tempo.
ZT: I thought we had some success in the second half. We drove the ball down the field a couple times and twice came away with no points – the fourth-and-goal and the missed field goal. I thought we had production; we just didn't finish off the drives the way we wanted to.
GH: You've spent a lot of time being asked about time management during a game.
ZT: There are some unusual situations that arose that we haven't dealt with before. Those are areas that I can always continue to improve in. It happened quickly. You don't have a lot of time in those moments to make a decision and so you have to make a decision and move on from it. People are going to discuss it and that's fine, that's the job I signed up for. You've just got to be able to continue to improve every time you make one that is ultimately the wrong (decision), you've got to be able to file it away and make sure you improve on it the next time you're in that situation.