What did Marvin Lewis have to say in his press conference about the Bengals' Week 13 matchup with the Browns? Well, as per usual, he wasn't too descript, but we've cut through the chuckles to decode what we think Lewis really meant with his answers this week.
"As we begin preparation this week, we know the task at hand is we're going on the road to play a division football game against a team that we know plays a very physical game. Each and every contest we play against them, we know it's a physical game, and it's a game we have to go into on the road and work hard to play error-free.
"That starts with our ability to control the ball and run offensively and protect our quarterback, and be able to throw very efficiently. On the other side of the ball, limit any gains in the running game and do a great job in leverage and coverage and play against these guys. In the kicking game, be very sound and not allow any kind of plays. Hopefully, we'll work hard to control field position with that. We have to be fundamentally sound in every area."
Translation: I am going to drop all of these clichés on you because I know that the only way we can lose to this team is if we do some incredibly stupid things.
They had an anomaly in the kicking game last game, allowing two special teams touchdowns, the unscripted scores, but their special teams are in the top 10 in three of the four categories and are pretty good ...
"They've got a good group of core guys who are very good at what they do, and so we've got to be alert and be sound and block up their three guys - the one kid, 24 (Johnson Bademosi) has done an excellent job in covering kicks - so we just need to be on point in everything."
Translation: We need to be solid on special teams because the probability of their offense scoring more than two touchdowns is pretty low.
Does having Austin Davis at quarterback as opposed to Johnny Manziel or Josh McCown change what you guys do?
"You've got to defend the offense. As I tell you every time you ask me a quarterback question, we've got to defend the offense in what they do in run and pass and work from there."
Translation: I can't tell you much about Austin Davis because he has been so unremarkable that no one has ever bothered to watch him play, much less film him in the act.
How pleased have you been with that, because you guys have had multiple situations where you didn't know until game day who the QB would be ...
"Well, we pretty much know by Wednesday usually, but we can't get caught up and worried about that. That's not our issue. Our issue is us, and our preparation and the things we're doing defensively, and then applying it to the opponent. Once we get into the game, we're going from there and making the revision and adjusting. I think that's important once we get a feel for their plan against us. It's kind of two-fold and kind of always in motion."
Translation: We don't spend late nights thinking about which quarterback is going to walk through Cleveland's revolving door. We literally do not have the manpower to keep up with it.
If Davis gets nicked up, with Johnny (Manziel) you've seen some snaps of him already ...
"We know his abilities and ability to avoid (rushers) and make plays. We have to take care of us and do our thing and play defense the way we need to play defense. They've got explosive guys like (wide receiver Travis) Benjamin, and the tight end (Gary Barnidge) has done a nice job of catching the football. Duke Johnson, they're using him now coming out of the backfield. They're doing good things with these guys. We've got to do a great job of defending them."
Translation: To be honest, I could not care any less about who their quarterback is. It just doesn't matter at all. I suppose that they have some talented skill guys, but it just doesn't matter. Just so we're clear, Johnny Manziel is short and he sucks at football.
When you first drafted Carlos (Dunlap), could you have imagined us sitting here and talking about him as the team's nominee for the Walter Payton (NFL Man of the Year) Award? His growth both on and off the field has been pretty remarkable ...
"I sure hoped so when we drafted him, or we wouldn't have drafted him in the second round. There might have been a few moments after that with a little bit of doubt whether we'd be having this conversation, but let's credit Carlos with what he's done in his development and his maturity over time.
"I can sit here and laugh about it now. There have been a few sit downs (with him). The one thing that's been consistent is his ability to give to others. He's been well-raised - a great kid deep down. He's always been helpful and wanting to do for others. I can remember when he was a rookie, and we would ask the rookies to go to the Ronald McDonald House and visit, and he was one who didn't shy away from that.
"I'm so pleased. Obviously it's a great recognition for him and hopefully he ultimately wins it."
Translation: We don't draft people in the second round who we don't think have the ability to develop into someone who likes to visit the Ronald McDonald house. That's why we took Odell Thurman in the second round in 2005 and Jerome Simpson in '08 (**heavy sarcasm**).
Are you proud that this nomination could have been given to any number of people in this locker room?
"I think the exciting thing for this new class, whether it be Cedric (Ogbuehi), (Jake) Fisher, (Josh) Shaw, (P.J.) Dawson, guys all down the line, they're seeing this just like Carlos witnessed it with (Andrew) Whitworth, Leon (Hall), and Michael (Johnson). They see the things they took part in, led by a John Thornton and Robert Geathers and guys that came before them. That's the good part; they're emulating their peers and what went on before them. So they're stepping up to the plate, which I'm pleased about."
Translation: It's time to unveil my worst kept secret. Robert Geathers sucked for a long time. Domata Peko sucked for awhile. Luckily he bounced back this year. Regardless, we do in fact keep good guys around to influence the young guys. Reference the answer to your last question for the reasoning.
Leon Hall has had a great year so far, and just got AFC Defensive Player of the Week ...
"He's so instrumental in everything we do defensively in that position in the nickel. His ability to apply the game plan to the opponent each and every week, and the communication with the secondary and the front group that Leon has to have, because it's two-fold, is excellent. He becomes an extension of the coaches on the field."
Translation: Welcome to the new and improved Chris Crocker 2.0! His firmware updates include a fix for not attempting butt tackles against the Houston Texans!
Does Leon's approach have a ripple effect with the team?
"Well, its been such a mentoring for the young guys. From watching Adam (Jones), who came in before him, but watching him grow and get it. Along with Dre (Kirkpatrick), Darqueze (Dennard) and Reggie-(Nelson), who came in the same year as Leon and have played here for a long time, since 2007. To watch the growth of those guys is a good thing."
Translation: Remember when Pacman used to make it rain in the strip club? He doesn't do that anymore. I rest my case.
Is this the type of culture you wanted to establish?
"You have to. That's what the Rod Woodsons of my day in Pittsburgh were able to pass on to the young guys, and there were guys before them that passed it on to him. Obviously we brought Rod to Baltimore in 1998, and it was great what he was able to empower Ray Lewis to do, when Ray felt like he was doing it all by himself.
"And then with the other guys there, like Tony Siragusa; other smart guys who can help young guys grow and develop; Chris McAlister, Duane Starks that Rod mentored in Baltimore with me. He wouldn't let me take them out of practice. I remember one time I took them out of practice on a Friday and he comes over to me saying, ‘You cant do that.' He never wanted me to relax the standard on those two. I had to keep pressing my foot on them all the time.
"He was right, because he saw them all the time, and he never wanted us to relax. That's the same thing here; Leon and Adam have been so instrumental in developing and pushing Dre, even though sometimes Dre wanted to push back. At some point you learn that it's in our best interest as a team that you get this. They brought you here for a reason, you have the ability to play, now lets get it out of you."
Translation: I think the answer is an obvious yes, this is the kind of culture I wanted here. The alternative leads to what the Cleveland Browns embody. I'm not the second-longest tenured coach in the NFL because of luck. If you have a locker room full of idiots, bad things happen both on and off-the-field.
It seems you have every position covered that way ...
"We do. hopefully it continues to cultivate that way."
Translation: What can I say, I actually do know what I'm doing (chuckles).