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

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

Cincinnati Bengals v New England Patriots Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images

Unfortunately that title is a near repeat from last week. I’d like to change the title, but similar results lead to a similar title. So what did coach Marvin Lewis have to say following the defeat, and more importantly, what did he mean?

Question: Is it a different sort of challenge when you haven’t necessarily been in this type of spot before?

Lewis Answer: It’s different. This isn’t last year’s team. Last year we were a little different. We’re still correcting the same things, we just found a way to win the football games. Now we’re not, and we have to figure it out. The margin for error we have right now is pretty thin.

Commentary: Sometimes the interview questions make no sense. Lewis isn’t a rookie coach. He’s had bad seasons, and bad starts. To imply that Lewis and the Bengals have never been in this type of spot (2-4) before is a bit silly. Although, the interviewer will probably claim that he didn’t know that the Bengals ever had a bad start.


Question: The offense seemingly controlled the game in the beginning but started to stall when it reached the red zone...

Lewis Answer:...Regardless of whether we scored on that drive or not, we scored a touchdown on the next drive...

Commentary: Way to aim low, coach! Some teams try to score on every possession, but for Lewis it’s OK not to score on a drive, as long as you score on the next drive. After all, why should we try to achieve a high level, when a mediocre level is more attainable?


Question: How do you try to keep the players from pressing and keep the mood light?

Lewis Answer:.You have to hone in on the opponent and the assignment. That’s the thing that is important. You’re paid to win football games, not paid to be close or okay. You get paid to win...

Commentary: I guess when nothing else seems to work, it’s time to ask about keeping the mood lighting. It works in restaurants and other places. Maybe the locker room is too bright, or too dark? Maybe they need to change the carpeting while they are at it? Maybe follow the Oregon example of alternate jerseys where they have half a dozen different jerseys, hoping one of them brings a victory – whatever it takes.


Question: How is Russell Bodine?

Lewis Answer: He has a sore ankle. We’ll see how he goes this week.

Commentary: A sore ankle? I would have though for sure he would have a sore backside for how many times he has been knocked on his by defensive tackles?


Question: How do you feel T.J. Johnson did?

Lewis Answer: We lost the football game...

Commentary: Well that was a bit harsh. I guess somebody has to get the blame, and the team doesn’t like to challenge veterans, so it’s probably understandable that the loss would get pinned on a backup who played sparingly. Rex Burkhead and James Wright better look out, or they may be the next players thrown under the bus.


Question: Do you envision Ogbuehi sliding back into the starting spot next week?

Lewis Answer: Yes.

Commentary: Personally I don’t mind Ogbuehi sliding “back”, as long as he isn’t doing his best Bodine impression, and sliding “backward” when pushed by defensive linemen.


Question: Do you and Hue Jackson talk a lot during the season?

Lewis Answer: Not this week. When my phone rings at five o’clock in the morning, I know it’s only one person. I miss the hell out of him. I watch their games every week, and text or call him. He’s coaching his tail off, as we knew he would.

Commentary: What kind of “friend” calls you at five o’clock in the morning? Seriously.


Question: This team is usually very strong against the pass, but not this year. Is that a reason?

Lewis Answer: A week ago we weren’t very strong against the run. We just have to be strong on defense, whether its run or pass. You have to play defense with 11 players.

Commentary: Saying the Bengals are usually very strong against the pass is somewhat misleading. The last two seasons the Bengals averaged allowing 246 yards per game. This year it’s 247. That’s pretty much unchanged. Although the touchdowns allowed and interceptions secured has changed greatly. They averaged 18 touchdowns and 20 interceptions the last two seasons. This year they are on pace to give up twice as many touchdowns and half the interceptions, which somewhat goes hand-in-hand, because those interceptions stop drives which can result in touchdowns. If the Bengals stopped dropping potential interceptions, the numbers would probably right themselves, somewhat.


Question: You had Brady stumped in the first half. In the second half, was it more of their improved execution, or better adjustments?

Lewis Answer: We didn’t get it covered a couple of times. We had a sack on the first third down, and another sack within there, yet they had opportunities where they converted the third down, too. One was by penalty, one by pass play. They converted a second-and-12. Those are things we can’t have. You’re going to lose to a good football team when you allow those things to occur.

Commentary: Well that’s more than a little scary. Lewis points out what the Patriots did, but is unable to answer the question, and apparently doesn’t know how the Patriots bested his team in the second half.


Question: What is the biggest thing you’ve seen from Josh Shaw?

Lewis Answer: He’s handled the situations pretty well, but he’s one of those young guys who’s has had a little error. He’s not been through all of it all the time. He’s able to take the coaching, take the corrections, and apply it. He’s a smart player like that.

Commentary: The “biggest” thing he has seen from Josh Shaw? Yikes! That question seems a bit inappropriate. Fortunately Lewis takes the high road with his answer.


Question: Did you like the idea of him being out there that much as a test of some sorts?

Lewis Answer: I like the idea more if we were sitting here at 3-3. But we’re not.

Commentary: 3-3? Geesh, way to dream big, Lewis. I’d prefer they were sitting there at 6-0, not 3-3. There’s an old adage that if you aim for heaven, you end up in purgatory, but if you aim for purgatory, you’ll end up in hell. The idea is that if you should try to over-achieve what you want. So if the Bengals are aiming for 3-3, they will end up 2-4. But if they are aiming for 6-0, maybe they’ll end up 4-2.