Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis hinted at personnel changes and updated the injury status of a couple of players during his Monday afternoon press conference.
Initial comments …
“Going back to yesterday, we failed to do a very good job. On offense, (we struggled with) making first downs. I felt that after the football game yesterday. When you look at it, we had some positive plays, but we didn’t convert the two early third downs. We lost those opportunities. We had field position in the first half, which was good, but we were unable to maintain it and sustain it. Defensively, we were putting them on long fields even when we had to punt. We put them on long fields, but we weren’t able to hold-serve back there. … You couple (those things) with the breakdowns we had — both on third down defensively, and some of the things on offense — it wasn’t a very good day. Then we had the breakdown in the punt coverage for the touchdown to start the fourth quarter, which basically put us out of the game at that point. It’s hard; we have to play better. We have to look at how we’re doing things, who we’re doing it with, and see what the best way to come out of this is.”
After the coordinator change, you said that the next change of jobs would be with the players. Is everything on the table as far as that is concerned?
“(Evaluating players) doesn’t change. It’s not like (we don’t do it) every week. We just have to make sure we are being effective with the people we have — that they can play and execute as best they can.”
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So is your focus on how you’re doing it rather than who’s doing it?
“It’s a combination. But if we aren’t getting things done and executing properly, then (we ask), ‘Is there someone else who can do it better?’”
Do you feel that there are players on this roster who haven’t gotten much playing time that could contribute?
“I don’t know that, but we’ll just have to see.”
At what point before the game did Jeremy Hill tweak his ankle that kept him out of the game?
“It happened on Saturday.”
And with Jake Fisher, did he get food poisoning? Or what happened?
“No, he just wasn’t feeling well. He’s (dealt with this) as we’ve been going through the season. It’s something that the doctors are monitoring very closely. Yesterday they thought they needed to pull him from the game and run some tests, so they took him to the hospital to run tests.”
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Is this something that could be potentially serious?
“It’s not as serious as I would think it is. Yet, it took him out of the game yesterday.”
Have you heard anything from the league as far as a possible discipline for A.J. Green?
Would they tell you if he wasn’t suspended?
They would just keep you wondering?
“No, I don’t wonder. You wonder — I don’t have to wonder (laughs). That’s what you do. You like to wonder, in fact (laughs). When you wake up in the morning, you love to wonder (laughs).”
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But you have to game-plan though, right? How do you game-plan if you don’t know if you will have a player or not?
“If something were to happen, it would occur very quickly.”
Are you disappointed that A.J. took himself out of the game?
“Yes, and he is too. He’s disappointed and he apologized for his actions. I think he said that to you guys, which I wasn’t aware of.”
How concerning is the number of negative plays the offense has amassed? How do you stop that?
“I think you look at why it occurred, and I think that’s most important. The overall effect is — yes — we had some negative plays. But (we need) the ‘why,’ and it’s all fixable. We have to fix it. Whether it be the point of attack — wherever we are — whether it’s blocking, or running, throwing, catching, etc. We can’t have the negative plays, whether we have an assignment responsibility, miscommunication or (something else). We’re in close football games, and every one of those plays has an effect on the overall outcome — particularly in the field position, but no question on the overall outcome.”
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Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor mentioned that he was disappointed in the outcome, considering that the practices leading up to the game went well. Do you agree that it was a good week of practice last week?
“I thought that there were some things that were improved (upon) as far as what we were trying to do heading into the game. But we come away as productive as we would’ve liked because of small miscues and (other) things, and we have to do better.”
A couple of veterans on both sides of the ball talked about the will to win. Is that concerning?
“That’s something players love to do (laughs). I’m the one has all the passion (laughs). It’s what should happen all the time. We played a very physical game and guys put things out there, and we didn’t play well enough.”
Do you feel like there is a lack of passion, or a lack of will or ‘want-to’ on this team?
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We are at the midpoint of the season. What do you see that makes you believe that there’s a run left in them?
“We’ve got enough ability to get it done, but we got to go do it. They’re going to work. We just need to continue to work smarter, play smarter, and eliminate the errors and the things that occur that we (have to overcome) in the scope of the game. We just need to get on the right track. We have to make things happen.”
Are you still evaluating where this team is?
“I don’t think so. We lost a football game yesterday. We have to come back and get back in order.”
Three weeks in a row, there have been special teams plays that have swung the games, which is uncharacteristic …
“It has been. Those are things you can’t let occur. We always like to make game-changing plays on the other side, but we’ve had three plays in three weeks where we’ve got to do a better job. No. 1, we have to get a good punt and get the ball where we need it, and then we need to get down and cover it, and free ourselves, and make sure we make a play on the ball.”
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Hypothetically, could John Ross play 80 percent of the snaps on Sunday, from a health stand point?
Would you bring him in for the sole purpose of creating a spark for this team?
“You guys ask this same question every week. John has had three weeks of practice now. Let’s let him practice and lets get him comfortable playing football again before we put him back in there. When he knows what to do and how to do it all the time, and when he can play productively, then he’ll play fast, he’ll play with confidence. But he wouldn’t be very confident (right now). Each day, he gets more confident with playing football. He hasn’t been playing football. That’s the thing. You have to (practice) 11-on-11 enough to be comfortable with it.”
Do you see John Ross getting better every day at practice?
“Oh yeah, there’s no question he becomes more comfortable. What he’s has to do is take what he practicing one-on-one and be able to play it 11-on-11. The more reps and time he has against the defense every day in practice and the more he’s part of the offense, those are good things, because he has to gain that confidence. It was three weeks ago, that every time he went on the ground, everybody held their breath. You’re going to get knocked down in football, and you’ve got to get up, go back to the huddle and do it again. He’s not made of glass — he’s not going to break every time he falls down —yet he’s got to practice football and continue to do it.”
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Is John Ross’ path headed where you can see him contributing this season?
“Oh, I hope so. Yes.”
So, you can’t play fast if you’re not confident …
“You have to know what to do, make the proper adjustments, and so on. Even when he was in the game two weeks ago, he’s moving in one speed, while everyone else is moving in another. You got to get used to playing.”
Are you confident that K Randy Bullock will play on Sunday?
“I was confident in him last Sunday, but it didn’t work out very well.”
Was it still a question this past Sunday morning, before the game?
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Can you afford to carry two kickers?
“If need be, but I hope to get it figured out one way or another.”
When you made that decision to waive a player, why Derron Smith?
“It wouldn’t be proper or fitting to explain anything in here that way.”
Is he someone you hope passes through waivers?
With how much the offense is struggling, it is more than disappointing that A.J. Green took himself out of the game …
“I think he was very forthright with you and I am going to leave it at that. I don’t need to expound on it any more.”