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Coach Talk: Interpreting Marvin Lewis' comments following another Bengals’ loss

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In Marvin Lewis’ latest press conference he spoke about the Bengals’ loss to the Cowboys. But, what did he really mean? We try to decipher his latest comments.

Cincinnati Bengals v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Bengals are coming off a rough loss in Dallas against the Cowboys. The defense looked rough, giving up 28 straight points, while the offense struggled against a susceptible defense. So what did coach Marvin Lewis have to say following the defeat, and more importantly, what did he mean?

Press Conference Question: Why do you think the ‘little things’ that players are talking about aren’t necessarily being fixed? Is that surprising?

Lewis Answer: There’s always little things to fix. It’s a good message from them. It doesn’t surprise me. I came in here all last season with the same little things to fix, and we’d come out on top in the score...

Commentary: Interestingly, Lewis admits that the team had things to fix last year, and the same things to fix this year. Apparently last year, they overcame those little things, and ignored addressing them. This year, it’s coming back to bit them in the, um, mule. It’s just like the “check engine” light on your car. You can only ignore it so long before the car breaks down and you’re stuck in the middle of the road calling a tow truck. The Bengals have had a blinking “check engine” light on their center for years, and that’s not the only place where there was something to be addressed. It would seem that the “head in the sand” approach of car maintenance hasn’t been as effective as Lewis hoped for.


Press Conference Question: Are you surprised by the uneven play from the offensive line?

Lewis Answer: We can play better. I thought we did a lot of good things yesterday. When you have pressure at times, it comes from different groups. It’s not always their responsibility...

Commentary: Where many people disagree with Lewis is the notion that it’s not always the responsibility of the offensive line to block the pressure on the quarterback. Some would argue this is the purpose of the offensive line. Not to throw around big words like “existential”, but by their very nature, it’s why the offensive line exists. Perhaps Lewis is expecting some of the pass blocking to come from the quarterback, which is what it seems like. Unfortunately this is not a sound football strategy, as it leads to a quarterback sack.


Press Conference Question: Has it been good to see Brandon LaFell step up and solidify himself as the No. 2 option?

Lewis Answer: I think with one of Brandon’s TDs yesterday, Andy moves and makes a throw. On the second one, Andy makes a good throw and Brandon had the good route and the opportunity to get free and make the play. Like with the catch in the middle of the field, he continues to make good plays. I’m pleased with the things he is doing. His leadership throughout the football team is important.

Commentary: Even though the Bengals played like a big, stinky “number two”, nobody wants to be called a number two. Coach Lewis spares LaFell of this indignity by not answering about how he is a number two, but just commented on his catches.


Press Conference Question: How do you start to find some form of consistency as a team?

Lewis Answer: I think the positive that I can take away from the sideline yesterday was the fact that we gave up a first score...We punt it...they get the ball on the five, and score a 95-yard touchdown drive. We ...punt, and they score again. After all of that, nobody’s demeanor changed...We again stayed to the course.

Commentary: So the positive is that the team gets constantly scored upon on defense, has to keep punting on offense, and responds by not changing anything. If that is a “positive” then I think I know why the team has a losing record. I’ve heard of the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but am not familiar with this approach Lewis is touting, “If it is broke, still don’t fix it”.