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Coach Talk: Interpreting Marvin Lewis' post Steelers’ press conference

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Marvin Lewis held another press conference on Monday following the Bengals’ loss in Pittsburgh. What did he say, and more importantly, what did he really mean? We try to decipher the differences.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

This week, Marvin Lewis had a wild game against the Pittsburgh Steelers to talk about in his press conference. So, as we do each week, we’re trying to bring some clarity to what he said... and meant.

Question: How do you feel about some of the questionable calls that were made? Do you feel they could have gone differently?

Marvin Lewis’ response: I can’t change those calls. My opinion doesn’t really matter, nor will I voice it.

Many have said that NFL stand for ‘not for long’. It is especially true for players, and even a coach won’t last forever. Lewis understands that he won’t be making good money as an NFL head coach for the rest of his life. Being vocal about horrible officiating (which has now occurred in two consecutive games against the Steelers) may be a gratifying way to vent frustration, but won’t change the outcome - it will only empty his wallet.


Question: What was the discussion about challenging the Uzomah catch? Was there a reason not to?

Marvin Lewis’ response: Yes. We saw one view at the end that we thought that there wasn’t evidence to overturn. You have to have clear evidence. The coaches don’t get all the views that the media and broadcasters get. That’s a fallacy of television. We have to go to the next play. TV announcers say things like that time and time again, but that’s not the way it works. It has to be a quick judgement from the person in charge, and then we have to go from there. Even at the end, when they showed them, everyone on the field obviously thought the opposite. “The (stadium) screens didn’t show a replay of that (Uzomah play).

Sometimes you’ve got to “poo or get off the pot” as they say. In the NFL you don’t have the luxury of taking a crossword puzzle or book into the bathroom with you. They have a quick play clock, so you only have a few seconds to decide if you are going to dump the challenge flag on the field, or wait and try again later.


Question: So do the officials to tend to err on the side of caution when making review calls?

Marvin Lewis’ response: No. The officials are instructed to get it right. They’re not supposed to err one way or another, because they’re graded on what they do. You can’t officiate that way. Their job is to get it right. We had another ball, the punt, that was ruled a fumble. Their job is to get it right. They’re graded based on being right, not on the effect of replay. Replay doesn’t come into their job description.

Apparently if Pro Football Focus were to grade the officials the way they grade the players, Lewis doesn’t think the PFF grade for the crew would have been very high. Perhaps even in Bodine (negative) territory.


Question: Is there anything you can pinpoint the running game struggles on?

Marvin Lewis’ response: We can’t have one-person breakdowns...we can’t have one-person breakdowns and instead of it being a 10-yard gain, it’s a three-yard gain. We have to do better at that...

A couple times in his reply Lewis clearly refers to a “one-person” breakdown. So the question becomes who is this one person that is being referred to? It could be Bodine, who tends to get graded as negatively as a pile of electrons. But Lewis leaves the identity up for speculation.


Question: Is it easier to address if it’s a one-person breakdown?

Marvin Lewis’ response: Yes. It is.

So if Lewis refers to a one-person breakdown, and admits it’s easier to address, this leads one to ask why, if it is only one person, and it’s easy to fix, why isn’t it being addressed.


Question: The Steelers ran it a lot. Do you think you’re running it enough?

Marvin Lewis’ response: Our offense and their offense are two different offensive schemes. They’re going to do what they feel successful at, we have to do what we feel successful at.

The Bengals punted a lot, but I doubt the Steelers got asked if they were punting enough. Seriously though, back in 2011 the Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees threw the ball 657 times, while their top rusher only attempted 122 rushes that season. I doubt anybody asked the Saints if they were running enough, as they marched to a 13-3 record while scoring 543 points that season. Ultimately it doesn’t matter how many times you run – it matters how many times you win. Had the Bengals won on Sunday, nobody would care whether they threw the ball four times or 54 times.