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Cutting Through Chuckles: Preparing to meet an old friend

This week, the Bengals are traveling to Buffalo, which means that Marvin Lewis will get to coach against an old friend.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

With all of the success that the Bengals have been having, Marvin Lewis has gotten exceedingly bored at press conferences. This week, you could see a little sparkle in his eye when the topic of facing his old friend Rex Ryan was brought up. While he still didn't have much to get excited about, a lot of what he did say has become a little clearer than usual. There may be a little cockiness in Marvin Lewis these days. Or maybe he's just excited to see Rex. Either way, we make this week's press conference, discussing Sunday's game a little easier to understand.

Opening Comments …

"In preparation for the Bills, I tell you they are a well put together football team. Last year they finished second in the AFC East. They had a strong season, and they're off to a pretty good start this year. Supposedly, they will be without the quarterback this week, the starting quarterback that they had chosen, so we'll see what that brings."

Translation: I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty excited to be facing a backup quarterback. The only compliments I have for them is that they were decent last year. They had a different coach and different players last year, so that means basically nothing.

They really have gotten a lot of mileage out of (RB) Karlos Williams, the rookie from Florida State …

"He's done a great job for them when he's played. I think he missed some last week. I think their receiving corps is good, and then bringing (tight end Charles) Clay over from Miami, he's been really a force this season.

"Offensively, they provide those weapons, and then the defensive front as well. They've got Kyle Williams, who is one of the hardest-playing guys and underrated players in the NFL. He makes a lot of plays You've got (Marcell) Dareus and Mario Williams on the outside. (Jerry) Hughes, who does a great job. I've been impressed with him. Manny (Lawson), who was here with us, who we know, and the young linebacker from Louisville (Preston Brown). It's a team that we're going to have play great football against up there."

Translation: Karlos Williams had a concussion last week, and you know what I think about concussionsDefensively, they have a good line and a linebacker who we didn't think was worth keeping.

You and Rex Ryan have been crossing paths for years, you're both defensive guys. What do you like about the way his defense is playing?

"He does a great job of pressuring the football, whether it's the running game or the pass game. They're going to pressure the football, and try to limit you to being down to one dimension."

Translation: Yeah, when we play Madden together, he just calls "Engage Eight" every play, which is his strategy in real life too.

Tyrod Taylor vs. E.J. Manuel, is it a big difference at quarterback?

"It's Manuel's first year in a new offense, both of them really. A little bit of change from what they were doing. E.J. ran some of the same things in the past in Buffalo; at Florida State. I don't think it will be a huge change. Obviously Tyrod Taylor's foot speed is a little bit of a difference. Both are good athletes. E.J. is a big guy, a big man, stands tall in that pocket, steps up into that pocket a lot, so we have to do a great job of squeezing this pocket down around him."

Translation: Playing against E.J. will be much better because he's slower, yet they still use basically the same game plan.

You've done a pretty good job of handling success, coming back after the win at Oakland to win, and following up the win at Baltimore. Why is that?

"It's all me (laughs). But I tell them (players) it's all them. I think our guys understand what it takes, the mental strength, the mental toughness to play on the road and the focus. It's got to be a focus of not just the offense, but the defense. It's got to be everybody, special teams. We have to have a great focus to block the noise of everything going on around them and just focus and get my job done."

Translation: To be blunt, it's because we are a good football team and we know what the hell we are doing.

Do you trust success, how do you handle it?

"Success you can enjoy for about 30 seconds, and then you just move on and go to the next one. That's why you do what you do. You want to be successful. You expect to be successful. You do the work, and now let's go on to the next one. I think that's how you handle success. You don't get to sit there and listen about it and talk about it. Better done than said."

Translation: Do I trust success? I'm not really sure what that means, but you don't dwell on it for long just like I'm not going to dwell on staying on topic for the rest of my response.

There's a process that leads to success that this team seems to understand and enjoy the process on a weekly basis…

"I think they understand the work we've got to put in: the study, the installation, the revision, all the things it takes to have the opportunity to be successful. Then the execution that has to happen on Sunday.

"We can go out here and practice our tails off, and be the best team here in Hamilton County, but if we don't go out there and play that way on Sunday, it doesn't really matter. That's what's key. Throughout everything we do, we're competing with the guys on the other side, and we've got to outwork them, and outplay them each and every week, each and every down."

Translation: It's a lot easier to enjoy the process when you're winning games. We've been the best team in Hamilton County since my first year on the job, but the residents here didn't really see that as a high standard.

It seems the phrase ‘don’t flinch’ has taken hold in this locker room. Where did that phrase come from and what does it mean to you guys as an organization?

"It’s a phrase that’s been in here for 13 years. You can’t worry about what just happened, you can’t fix it. History is not going backwards, we have to move forward. We have to focus on the next play, and what’s up next. You don’t get a redo."

Translation: "Don't flinch" is something I came up with after watching this Kobe Bryant move 1,000,000 times in a row. That guy is crazy. How did he do that?


Does Rex Ryan make you laugh?

"Constantly. The three years we coached together, and since then. I knew of Rex when I was coaching prior to that. When we got to coach together, you enjoy each and every day, and since then our friendship has gotten closer. I just enjoy him. We handle some situations a little differently. Unfortunately, sometimes people take what he says the wrong way. He’s a good person and a fun person. He’s an excellent coach, and does a great job to get the guys to play hard for him. He’s so genuine, which is cool."

Translation: Oh yeah. I mean, how ironic is it that a guy who loves feet as much as he does ends up as a FOOTball coach. That really cracks me up.

Do you have a favorite Rex Ryan story to share?

"No, I don’t want to share any stories" (laughs).

Translation: Not really. He has this weird rule about no shoes in his home... I won't get into that, though.

You guys seem like the odd couple. You are pretty button down when you talk to the press and he’s fairly free-wheeling...

"He is free wheeling. But, he’s that way. He learned a lot from his dad (former coach Buddy Ryan). Once after practice he said, ‘Dad, you like that guy 58?’. Dad responds, ‘He’s pretty good, he’s on the second team.’ Well, it was Peter Boulware, our number one draft pick who was coming back from injury. Rex was teasing Buddy, ‘You’ve got a good eye for talent there’ (laughs).

"You know, I played a lot of golf with Rex, and it was amazing how he could always find his ball (laughs). We just had a lot of fun. It was fun times, and he does a tremendous job as a coach. He’s been a close friend. I enjoy seeing him when we get together."

Translation: Of all the genuinely funny Rex Ryan anecdotes in existence, I'm going to tell you the most boring one that I can think of. Then I'll double down and tell you about his golf ball finding ability. Riveting stuff. I'm losing steam here guys, it's about time to wrap this up.

He does have a great football mind too, doesn’t he?

"He’s sharp as hell. In Baltimore, we were never short of ideas. He really did a good job.

Translation: He's really good at having a lot of ideas. Sometimes he has bad ideas though, like "sign Tim Tebow."

Is he the type of coordinator, when you watch his defense, that you see things you’ve never thought about before?

"Yeah, because I can see how things are put together. I can understand what they are trying to get done. I can correct when someone makes an error. I know the origin and the concepts. So, that’s good. There are certain things you look at, and when were getting ready to play an opponent, we look at the way other teams played them and what their thoughts were."

Translation: You might think I'm answering your question, but I'm actually just telling you how good and smart I am.

Does it help when you prepare, that he worked for you?

"No, what he does now is similar, but he’s gone to different levels with the different looks and pressures."

Translation: He does the same things, but the different looks render my aforementioned CoachVision™ useless.