With the Bengals sitting pretty at 8-0, there isn't much to frustrate head coach Marvin Lewis these days. He's very excited to not be answering questions about when Vontaze Burfict will be back, but now he is having to answer questions about Burfict knocking down a defenseless camera. There isn't a lot for him to critique, so Lewis is still having to resort to saying empty nothings and sometimes completely disregarding the question asked. This week, he did that to a point that I could not even translate it. Such is the life of an 8-0 coach who doesn't really want to be talking to us in the first place. Regardless, I've attempted to translate the coach speak that Lewis provided after the Browns game into real talk.
"First and foremost in the first half of the game, the difference was that defensively we didn’t get off the field on third downs. There were four long drives in the game in the first half, and they ate up the clock. In the second half, the difference was winning on third down and getting off the field. There wasn’t a turnover in the ballgame, so winning that was able to get field position back. All in all it was a good football game; a good way to finish the game the way we played in the second half. We still obviously have a lot of areas of concern to work on offense, defense, and special teams. We'll keep coaching hard."
Translation: Look guys, we just flat out played pretty damn well. I'm going to tell you how we need to work on some things, and we do, but we just played well, period. It probably helped that the Browns are a dumpster fire, but, whatever.
Fifth game this season you’ve scored on the first drive. How big of a ripple effect does that cause?
"I do think it's great to play with the lead. We've done that for a lot of the season. You play with a lead and long fields, which is good. It makes the job easier for play callers to understand. We're able to get the attention of the guys defensively on the sideline, and what situation is coming and how it could unfold. The offense also keeps the hammer down when we have the lead, which is good."
Translation: Football is easier and less stressful when you're constantly winning. The play callers can just hit the "Ask Madden" button and it doesn't really matter because we just kept playing well.
Are you pleased with the way the defense adjusted in the second half?
"It’s something that is critical for us to win the game. If we want to win the football game, this is what has to get done. Point blank. I thought our guys did a good job of that."
Translation: Absolutely. I mean, if we just played well out of the gate, we wouldn't have to adjust as much. However, when you're playing against Johnny Football, it's not as urgent.
What has made this group fix certain weaknesses from week to week?
"I hope this group has special abilities and qualities. I think they're smart enough to understand that it should be reinforced. They get it. We're talking about these things that are critical to winning and losing. They want to win. If we can do these things, then we make winning a higher probability."
Translation: If this group has special, magical abilities, they can just cast spells on the opposing team and things get a lot easier. I mean, I really like Harry Potter and that kinda stuff, so it'd be super cool to watch in person. But if they don't have those abilities, they're smart enough to identify and fix non-magical problems.
How much spark does Vontaze Burfict bring?
"I think he brings a lot of spark to it. There's a bit of a rotation now also. Guys aren’t getting as extended. We have guys coming in and out, and that's good. (Emmanuel) Lamur is spot playing, and Vontaze is taking more reps, so it helps with our depth."
Translation: A ton. The more he plays, the less E-Man has to play, which is a good thing.
How did Eric Winston do?
"We thought he did a good job. (Offensive line coach) Paul (Alexander) was pleased. We feel fortunate to have a great veteran player like that to plug in into a situation. He's logged a lot of starts under his belt and started a lot of games for us last year too. We’re blessed to have Eric here."
Translation: He did well, but more importantly, the pre-game meal was much less expensive with Andre, so it was a win. Mike (Brown) loves saving money, so it was pretty great.
Are you pleased with the patience against a Cleveland defense that tried to prevent anything over the top?
"I thought Andy (Dalton) played a very good football game. Our ability to get some of the catch and runs we had were really good. That's part of playing; that you can have those things develop. Then we have the opportunity to throw and catch, then run after the catch, and make plays that way. You have to be well balanced in doing all those things. We know we can hit the vertical plays when they present themselves, but there's going to be times where you have to do a better job underneath, and we did a good job of that yesterday."
Translation: Andy did a good job of realizing that the Browns suck and can't score, so he never had to force anything. He just took what the defense gave him and knew it would be plenty to beat Cleveland.
Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins are playing well against the run, too…
"It was a good job yesterday by those guys. When we settled down and played better in the second half and were around the quarterback more. We're going to continue to need that kind of output from our good players all the time."
Translation: Well I can't speak much on that considering that the Browns only ran the ball one time in the second half, but they did a good job no matter the circumstances.
Thoughts on the first half of the season?
"Eight is not enough. (Laughs.) Like Tyler (Eifert) said, 'We've done what we can with what's been handed to us.' We have a lot of work still to do. Nothing has been decided. We have a chance to get ourselves refreshed a little bit now. We had two tough division games, and now we have Houston coming here Monday night, which we know will be a very tough, physical game. They’ll be coming off their bye ready to go."
Translation: We've done all we can, but it doesn't mean much. Being locked into a first round bye is no given in the AFC, so we have to get healthy and come out and beat the hell out of Houston. "Tough" and "physical" are backhanded compliments by the way, because they're not very good. Remember when people wanted us to sign Ryan Mallett? Oh man (laughs)...
How do you think Tyler Eifert is doing when blocking?
"From the first day of his rookie year, I knew he was going to be a very very good professional line of scrimmage blocker. He's continued to do that and grow from that, and that's been the exciting part. We knew he could do all the things in the passing game, but the fact that he's a big man that does a great job on the line of scrimmage is good."
Translation: Pretty damn good! Hell, he's even caught a touchdown or two, oh wait, three, as well!
The counter plays are another tool in the arsenal?
"Yes. He has gotten a lot of work at that. That was his primary job there during his rookie year and all of camp the year after, so he's been in that situation a lot."
This isn't a translation: I literally have no idea who or what he is talking about. Is he still talking about Eifert? Or is he talking about either Jeremy Hill or Giovani Bernard without saying their names. He's playing the pronoun game and if his goal was to totally lose me, he has succeeded. Well done, Marvin.
Comments on the Vontaze situation with the collision with the Bengals’ camera operator?
"Vontaze was asked to reach out to Jim (Strickler, the camera operator). Jim has been spoken to this morning (by Bengals front office), and he was saying: 'Oh, he (Burfict) doesn't have to do that, I understand those things happen.' But Vontaze is waiting for him to be finished with his shift. I guess he’s a hard working person and did an early shift today at his other job as well. Vontaze was asked to reach out and say he's glad Jim wasn’t injured any more severely."
Translation: I had to yank Vontaze by the ear and make him sit in timeout for five minutes. He should be delivering a hand-written letter any minute now. Jim said I didn't have to embarrass my kid like this, but he needs to learn. He should just be thankful that I'm not from the Adrian Peterson school of parenting.