Q: With 13 sacks this season, what does Cincinnati do that makes them so effective?
A: They’re talented football players. They have great size. I would describe them as power-rushers. They do a tremendous job of displacing you. You have to anchor down; not that they don’t have moves and speed, but (they) really do an outstanding job of moving you back and collapsing the pocket and, obviously, they get to the quarterback.
Q: Have you found a solution for the recent troubles?
A: We’re working. We’re working at it. As you know, it’s a continual process. You’re tweaking here, tweaking there and hope that you get some things that were not performed at a high enough level, corrected. You look forward, we all are, to playing better this week than we did last week.
Q: Is it just one thing here, one thing there, or is it a bigger problem?
A: it is a couple of things that we need to do better, there’s no question about it. We’ve had chances. We caught them a couple times in quarters coverage last week, and we got two interference calls, but didn’t complete it, which should’ve been huge plays for us. They were still 50-yard movements, but they were potential touchdowns, and we missed two of them. A couple of middle reads that guys should’ve been clearing out, but they were settling down and there was interference with the other guy coming in. It was a combination of a lot of different things. One play it was this, one play it was that. They’re things that we should hopefully get corrected, that shouldn’t have happened. When you have chances for big plays, and we were fortunate to have those chances last week, you have to make them.
Q: How much would it hurt to not have
A: He’s such an integral part of what we do. Obviously, if you lose him, you lose a good football player, but you also lose a very intelligent football player; a guy who’s been an anchor for the group. His strength, mentally and emotionally; he’s one of those guys you depend on when things aren’t going well. He’s just so stable and determined and mentally tough that everybody kind of looks to him as an example. That’s a big loss when you lose a guy of that quality.
Q: It’s been awhile since you guys have had struggles on offense:
A: It has been awhile.
Q: Is this jarring to you?
A: That’s a good word. It is. It wasn’t something we expected to happen. We certainly appreciate the ability level of the two defenses we’ve played, but we thought, and expected, to perform a lot better than we did. Was it jarring? Yeah, it was. There’s no question about it. I think we had some opportunities last week where we thought we were there, and we weren’t quite skilled enough to take advantage of. The good thing is, we have guys that are continuing to work hard. They’re very, very proud. They’re used to being successful so they’re responding the right way. We expect to come out and play well this week.
Q: How often do you see good quarterbacks go into slumps, and do you believe in slumps?
A: You certainly don’t see a guy, very rarely ever see a guy that is at that level…everybody dips a little bit here and there. Usually what you do to help resolve it is go back to the things that are at your core. This is what we know we can hang our hat on, everybody knows it well. We should eliminate any of those mistakes that were made doing some of the things that maybe you designed specifically to beat a particular opponent, which is why we’ve used the pass so proficiently in two-minute. It’s your base offense, that’s what we’ve always relied on. That’s an easy solution, and then you just make sure that all the things that you usually focus on, you make sure that you haven’t overlooked anything; fundamentals, technique, what have you. I know this isn’t the exciting answer, but everybody has to play well for (Eli) to play well. The line has to protect well, the receivers have to get open. Then, it’s a combination. He gets way too much credit when things go well; he gets way too much blame when things don’t go well because that position only performs as well as the guys around them. It’s not just him, it’s all of us, trust me. We all have to do a better job. Of course, it falls on my shoulders. We need to make sure we get those guys in position, that we’re asking them to do things where they can be successful. That’s obviously what we’re scrutinizing very carefully to make sure that the things that we’re doing, we’re not asking guys to do something mentally or physically that they aren’t capable of doing.
Q: Do you think about utilizing the no-huddle offense?
Q: What does that bring, and will we see it more?
A: You don’t want me to tip my hand, now do you? It’s something you always talk about because it has been something good. Sunday, when we got the ball back with four minutes to go, and we didn’t do anything, we were in that two-minute mode. It doesn’t always work, but it has been something that we have been very good at and hopefully we’re going to recover and get back to that.
Q: How close is
A: He’s getting better. We try every week to unleash him, but again, you have to put guys in position to do what they’re capable of doing and not asking them to do something that they’re either going to struggle themselves or get somebody else in a difficult position. We are trying to do whatever we can, we’re giving him chances with what we think he can handle.
Q: What effect do Nicks and Bradshaw and their physical issues have on the play-calling?
A: You have, “these are the plays you like,” and you like them because, A) your players perform them, and defensively, this what they’re vulnerable at. The problem is now, certain guys can’t do those things, even though you intellectually say, that’s the way the scheme (works) and they’re vulnerable. It’s good, but guess what, he can’t do it. Whether it’s through injury or a guy that does different things well, there’s no question that it impacts, no question about it.
Q: Are they still performing at a level where they’re better than other players on the depth chart?
A: That’s why we have them out there.
Q: Hakeem said that teams have found a way to double him and
A: That’s called two-deep.
Q: Can teams take those two guys out and make other guys make a play?
A: No. When you have some explosive…that’s been going on since last year when we were struggling running the ball. We were throwing the ball very well and that was against two-deep. That’s been going on for a long time.
Q: Is it challenging for the coaching staff?
A: Oh yeah, absolutely.
Q: How are you feeling about the production you are getting from the third receiver?
A: Domenik (Hixon) has done tremendous, to the point where he’s one of those guys you’re thinking about; hey, we have to get him involved more. Whenever we’ve asked him to perform, he’s stepped up to the plate and done a great job. In terms of when the third receiver has been in there; he’s done a nice job for us. He’s more than fulfilled what we’ve needed from that spot.
Q: Second and nine after the fake field goal by the Steelers, Eli goes to the one-on-one matchup with Nicks for the homerun,
A: It was one of those things, where because we are so deep, you have two approaches. Can we just move it out a little bit, the odds and percentages of driving those 95 yards are probably under four percent. You take a shot at a homerun ball and, to be honest with you, that’s really been one of our strengths. We’ve had a lot of success with that. That particular one, the corner ran out of there; in hindsight, was probably not a good decision by me. I should’ve ran just a curl or something else and given him a chance to throw it underneath.
Q: Do you think you may look to pick up first downs more this week rather than go for the big plays?
A: That’s what we always do. We have to be more consistent with our execution and I think we’re trying to do that, but one of the things that gives you your character and personality with the success we’ve had is we’ve always gotten big plays. When people are sitting down, trying to take away the underneath stuff, that’s when those big plays take place. If you don’t take your shot, then they take away the underneath stuff too and you have nothing.