The Bengals are coming off back-to-back wins against some pretty bad teams (combined 5-21). Now, they are facing a good team, who has won four straight games against Cincinnati, and will likely make the playoffs as the winners of the AFC North. Was Marvin Lewis asked real questions this week, or did he get pat on the back by the media for defeating the worst team in the NFL? Let’s find out.
Question: Talk to us about Jeff Driskel’s role, as he was active for a game for the first time.
Lewis response: We had for the first time, six or seven injured players (to fill out the inactive list). He’s prepared as the quarterback, he’s prepared with the wide receivers, he’s prepared to back-up in some of the skill spots on special teams. We didn’t get him in there, but he was prepared to do any of the things that he’s been asked to do. He’s had an opportunity to practice them and be ready to go.
Commentary: Apparently, the Bengals think so little of Christian Westerman, the only healthy inactive last week, that they would rather have Driskel sitting on the bench, than a player who could have used a few meaningless snaps at his position in garbage time. The team has more faith in their third string quarterback to play positions that aren’t quarterback, than they do in a 2016 draft pick to play his position.
Question: How has DeShawn Williams looked?
Lewis response: DeShawn has gone in these last two football games and done a good job of complementing the other players and giving us a different mix in passing situations.
Commentary: When you are an undrafted player who has worked your way up from the practice squad, you really hope that your coach has at least something positive to say about your performance. But all Lewis offers is an attempt of not saying anything negative about him.
Question: Were Adam Jones’ post-game comments about Terrelle Pryor a surprise to you?
Lewis response: I didn’t know anything about it. I learned about it after. It’s not the thing we want to get into, and Adam knows that.
Commentary: It is somewhat surprising that the interviewers continue to ask these types of questions. Every time Lewis is asked something personal, involving the players, his response is always in the “I know nothing” line of answering. The same happened when Vontaze Burfict flipped off the crowd. It’s time for Lewis to figure out better answers to questions he knows are coming.
Question: Do you still talk to the team about the playoffs? Does that help as you try to finish strong?
Lewis response: The only thing I talk to the team about is winning our games and seeing what happens. That’s all we can control, and all I communicate to them.
Commentary: When the interviewer asks Lewis about talking to the team regarding the playoffs, the first thought that comes to mind is whether Lewis is asking if the guys want to have a party and watch the playoffs together. Any focus on playoffs for a 5-7-1 team seems somewhat silly, when they are barely clinging onto a Hail Mary of a chance for reaching the postseason.
Question: There’s been talk about the NFL loosening the celebration rules. Your thoughts?
Lewis response: I don’t think our officials should officiate intent. To me, that’s not part of professional football. With planned celebrations and things like going that, obviously players should act like you have some sense. You want the guys to show some emotion. I do think that there’s been some things that have drawn flags this year that to me are too close. Officials shouldn’t have to worry about that. As long as it doesn’t prove a lack of taste, let them show some enthusiasm for scoring a touchdown.
Commentary: The touchdown celebration rules is certainly an interesting discussion. On one hand, in the traditional spirit of the team-oriented sport, the individual celebrations tend to promote the me-first mentality associated with many of today’s athletes. But on the other hand, the NFL is in the sports/entertainment business, and extravagant celebrations are something that some people find entertaining.
Question: Are your players approaching the Pittsburgh game the way you’d like?
Lewis response: Yes, I think they have. They know it’s an important game for both teams. It’s our next game, and they’re fighting to win their division. We’re fighting to stay alive, so it will be an important game.
Commentary: It’s interesting that only the Steelers are mentioned as fighting to win the division, as the Bengals’ really don’t have a playoff shot outside of winning the division, too. This, of course, is highly unlikely, so when Lewis mentions that the game is important for both teams, one can likely assume it’s important for the Bengals as a little extra security that Lewis has a job in Cincinnati next year.