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Coach Talk: Interpreting Marvin Lewis' pre-Jaguars press conference

Marvin Lewis held a press conference on Wednesday to give the latest updates on his team. What did he say, and more importantly, what did he really mean? We try to decipher the differences.

Cincinnati Bengals v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Bengals’ head coach Marvin Lewis opened up for the media, offering his thoughts and insights during his weekly press conference. This week, Lewis took a very interesting approach, by saying some things that just don’t make much sense to the casual observer. After intensive scrutiny, we have made a strong attempt to decipher what Lewis meant by his comment.

Opening Comments: This week has given us an opportunity to go back in to training camp, focus on the players, and try to bring young guys ahead to keep competition going at positions...

By “keep competition”, Lewis really means “keep status quo”. Sometimes opposites are so different that people can accidentally mix them up. If there was a real competition at the most deficient positions, center Russell Bodine would be looking over his shoulder at players like Christian Westerman, and not over his shoulder at the defensive tackle who just blew him up on a run play with the first-team. And competition would mean that Mike Nugent’s pre-season, which makes Doug Pelfrey seem like a quality kicker, would invite an actual, competent kicker to challenge him. Instead, Nugent is greeted with job security. Lewis fell into the classic trap of thinking one thing (status quo) but saying the opposite (competition).

Question: What impresses you most with the defensive line performance?

Lewis’ response: ...I think it was inbred in Domata (Peko), Michael (Johnson) and Geno (Atkins). Carlos has grown into it, which has been great. Then you add Margus (Hunt), Will Clarke, Pat Sims and the other guys, that’s a really good thing. They know when it’s time to go play, they get ready to go play.

On the surface, it seems a strange strategy for Lewis to call Domata, Michael and Geno as “inbred”. In the context, you can see he means it as a compliment, but it doesn’t come across as complimentary as Lewis perhaps thought when he was saying it. Maybe he called them inbred because “they know when it’s time to go play”? Most kids in school know when it’s time to go play – it’s called recess. They watch the clock and look forward to it. But their teachers don’t call them inbred because of it. It’s possibly that Lewis got caught up in the name-calling between the San Diego Chargers and unsigned rookie Joey Bosa, and wanted to try that tactic with his players?

Question: How important is it to have that championship mindset toward every snap and down?

Lewis’ response: It’s important to the big people in this building that have run the football team for a long time now...

Speaking of job security, Lewis obviously feels secure in his job. Otherwise he wouldn’t be taking shots at his boss’s weight. Mr. Brown is clearly the “big” person in the building that has run the football team for a long time, to whom Lewis is referring. But it seems a bit unnecessary to call him “big”.

Question: How important is it to get game chemistry between him (LaFell) and Andy?

Lewis’ response: They’ve practiced together for three and a half weeks, but he game is a little different, because you can get tackled. That’s the biggest difference...

Here, Lewis a little insight that one can only acquire through years of being a head coach – you can get tackled in an NFL football game. It’s a very interesting revelation for those who were not aware of this aspect of the NFL game. These press conferences are full of these revealing nuggets, if you know how to mine them.

Question: Is Darqueze Dennard progressing well? Are you optimistic?

Lewis’ response: He’s progressing well. When he gets out in practice, we’ll have an idea where he is. He’s doing well. All of our injured guys are doing well, I’m pleased with that.

If Lewis only knows where Dennard is, when he sees him out on the practice field, that means most of the time Lewis really has no idea where Dennard is. If I was Dennard’s mom, I’d want coach Lewis doing a better job of watching after my son. The Bengals may need to invest in little GPS trackers for the players to wear. Also note here that Lewis makes an interesting statement by claiming that “all of our injured guys are doing well”. By definition, “well” means to be in a satisfactory condition; not ailing, infirm, or diseased – basically it means you are healthy. For Lewis to label injured people as healthy is a bit odd.

Question: How would he (LaFell) be designated in the new injury report?

Lewis’ response: I don’t handle the injury reports, I don’t have to worry about it.

Based on his demonstrated inability to distinguish between who is injured, and who is doing well, it’s no wonder that the Bengals organization has another person handle the injury reports. Otherwise the team’s injury reports would say: He’s doing well – he’s injured.