Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis spoke to the media today at the scouting combine. Lewis briefly discussed the team's plans for free agency, touched on some position battles, and gave his thoughts on the upcoming draft.
Any progress on your free agents or any decision about the franchise tag?
"I think throughout the whole thing its an ongoing process. I don’t have any confirmation yet that we have signed anyone. We’re working hard on it and there are some meetings and positive things that have to continue to come. Hopefully we have a number of guys who we have to get re-signed and we will work very hard at getting that done."
"Clint has done a nice job. He’s really continued to progress. He’s been a tough guy, he’s played football through injuries. We’re able to address some things with him physically and we’re excited to see him come back for this third season. We’re in good shape with the interior of our offensive line with Kevin Zeitler and now the emergence of Trevor Robinson who will compete this year with Kyle Cook at the center spot. He came in as an undrafted free agent and really hit the ground running and showed well. When he got an opportunity to get in there and play he really rised."
Open competition at center?
"Every job on our roster has to be open competition all the time, other than one wide receiver spot for a bit. Trevor did a nice job, Kyle came back and after you miss as long as he did it’s a difficult thing. He worked his tail off to get back on the field. We owe it to the rest of the building to always have competition."
What areas or positions do you like in this draft?
"I don’t have enough information to give you an early look on anything. I’ve only watched eight players. From where I’ve started there seem to be some talented offensive tackles and people have told me there are some talented defensive players, but I haven’t gotten that far. I’ve only concentrated on a couple positions on offense."
How do you characterize Andy Dalton’s second year?
"He continued to grow and become the leader of the team. That’s what I challenged him throughout the year to do and he did a great job of responding to that. You have to give him the affirmation that he can do this and this is his team. I think as we go into Year 3 there are some things and some plays that we continue to leave out there. We want to get better at that. There some revisions that we have to make. We have to do better as coaches. It doesn’t all fall on Andy. We’ve got a lot of improvement to make. We have to get better as a coaching staff, we have to get better in our planning and putting guys in position to make plays. I think Andy is excited for this offseason to continue to grow, get stronger, to get himself in position to play better and be the leader of the football team."
Dre Kirkpatrick’s first year?
"It was kind of like one of those college freshman redshirt years. He got an opportunity to get a sniff of playing which worked out in our favor. We knew after the season that we would have to address his lower leg which we did a little earlier than we had hoped. He’s doing fine now. The limited opportunities he got he played his tail off on special teams, he got some real positive snaps on defense, it was great to have him on the practice field to learn. He had a great group of mentors in that room with their leadership. He couldn’t have been put in a better situation to learn how to be a pro."
Thoughts on the Browns …
"They are inheriting a much better football team. They’ve done a nice job over the last couple of years of the addition of guys through the draft and watching them grow. Rob (Chudzinski) has been a productive guy as a coordinator. His coordinators are experienced. Mike Lombardi has had great experience in the NFL, Joe Banner. They have put together a group of people that have been successful and you come together and bring some ideas together. They are a much better football team than what their record showed. It was a team that was improving. In my mind they were going in the right direction. We have a tough division and have to play great football."
What do you think you have to do to get over the hump?
"You have to have more points than the team you are playing in the playoffs."
Is the focus on the offense?
"The focus is on everyone. In order to win games you have to make plays in all areas. We have to do a better job. We’ve had opportunities and haven’t played as well in those games. I didn’t think that would be an issue for us. We played the last half of the season like those were playoff games. We knew that if we lose the games we were going to be out of it. We put wins together but didn’t go down in Houston and play well. We were relaxed but didn’t have that resolve or attack."
Can Burfict play middle linebacker?
"Vontaze can play wherever he wants to play and we’ll play him where we want him to play."
This year’s playoff loss more disappointing than last year’s?
"I think anytime you fall off that cliff. It was disappointing. Its hard to gauge. I have a lot of disappointing losses. I remember them more than the wins. We’ve got work to do. I feel confident with our guys. We’ll be a better team this season. Guys realize you don’t get to start off where you left off. We’re going to have change but whatever that is we’re all going to have to get better."