The Bengals lost to the Titans on Sunday in heart breaking fashion, and on Monday Marvin Lewis addressed the media to talk about what he and the coaches saw on tape as well as other news regarding the team.
Here are five takeaways from that press conference.
Lewis doesn’t buy refs provoking Vontaze Burfict
Something I found surprising about the initial report of NFL officials had been provoking Burfict into penalities was this line:
Burfict has complained to Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, a member of the league's competition committee, but those complaints have not been brought to the league office, an NFL spokesman said Monday.
Here’s what Lewis had to say about it on Monday:
“The officials have a job to do. I’ve explained this to Vontaze; he understands that. They have a job to do and they are going to separate players if players are in a situation where they (need to be separated). That’s not what this is about, or where the NFL should be. So, get back to the huddle and get going. That’s the most important thing. We don’t need to jaw with anyone after the play — any of the players. That’s important. It would shock me if those things occur. I know on occasions supposedly they have, but again that would shock me.
This press conference answer combined with that prior nugget seem to show that Lewis isn’t taking Burfict’s side anymore, which is a bad look for the head coach, in my opinion.
Burfict is many things, but he is also the leader of the Bengals’ defense, and if he or the team feels that the people in charge of the team don’t have their back it doesn’t have a great impact on their play.
To Burfict’s credit he didn’t do a whole lot in the situation he got ejected for. Looking at the video, it looked like the scuffle was over, and he was trying to get back on to the field and into his huddle. The ref was trigger happy and ejected him. The league deciding not to suspend Burfict really tell’s the whole story.
Lewis not defending Burfict tells the whole story there as well.
Slightly impressed with Andrew Billings; not Josh Tupou
“It was a really good opportunity for [Billings] to get in there and play. It’s something to keep building upon and grow upon. I think that’s, that was probably the most snaps he’s had, and against that group of offensive players, that’s good.”
“Have you been evaluating the tape?” Lewis said while laughing when asked about Tupou. “[Tupou’s] got work to do.”
This was the first game we really saw Billings in an expanded role, and it should have fans excited. Billings had four tackles including one for a loss. He also got in Marcus Mariota’s face a couple of times. His presence also elevated Geno Atkins as the two combined to be among the most disruptive interior duos in the NFL during Week 10.
Bengals Geno Atkins & Andrew Billings finished Sunday among @PFF's top 10 in pass rushing productivity, applying pressure on 9.3% & 10.0% respectively. Billings was awarded a stop on 14.3% of the 21 run snaps for which he was on the field, tied for 9th this week. (Via @PFF)— Cincy Jungle (@CincyJungle) November 13, 2017
Tupou, however, was signed to the 53-man roster on Saturday, and it really looked like it. He could end up being a valuable depth player, but for now he just needs to get caught up with what is going on. Should the Bengals’ head coach be publicly laughing about a guy on the 53-man roster for one day who was forced into action and played 19 snaps? Probably not.
Surprised by Jeremy Hill’s decision
“Yeah [I was surprised]. He’s consulted a couple of physicians, both said this is something that could wait until after the season, and he just felt like it was causing too much discomfort.... We’ll address [the running position] as we move forward, now that [Hill’s] situation has been clarified.”
This also isn’t a great way to go about keeping the players on your side. He just threw Hill under the bus. How does that that look to the rest of the players? Like Lewis will do anything to cover his own behind. Players notice this stuff, and it is a huge hit to morale to think their coach is willing to throw them to the wolves to save himself.
With Cedric Peerman and Tra Carson on Injured Reserve, the Bengals ended up signing Brian Hill from the Falcons’ practice squad on Tuesday.
Blames defense for how long they are on the field
The Bengals' offense played 51 snaps on Sunday and the defense played 90. But, Lewis isn’t blaming that on the offense, he’s saying that’s on the defense.
“Yes, it does wear you down. But, the only way to get off the field is to either take the ball away or win on third down. That’s the only thing that is controllable. That’s what happens.”
While this is partially true, most of the time the defense spent on the field was during the second half when the Bengals’ offense didn’t run a single play in Titans territory. Most of the third quarter was three-and-outs and punts for both teams. The defense worked their butts off, but the Titans ran the four-minute drill for almost the entire second half. The defense shot itself in the foot a couple times with penalties, but overall the offense simply couldn’t keep drives going. The fact the head coach would put the blame on the defense who kept the team in the game is... frustrating.
Third down struggles persist
“It was third-and-three, third-and-four, or third-and-five at three points yesterday, with maybe a third-and-six in there as well. Those are all things that are manageable and that you have to be able to convert. We have to keep looking at how we’re (going about third downs), what we’re doing with them, and how we can convert them better. And also, understand how we’re being defended (on third downs) in each game. (It helps with) the adjustments that need to be made in the play-calling or formations, or whatever we need to do to get us a better opportunity to convert (third downs).”
This was one answer that after I read it I just went “duh.” Then it hit me. Have they not been doing this the whole time? Have they not been making adjustments to try and pick up third downs? I mean I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and think they have, but it sure doesn’t seem like it.
At least they are looking in the mirror as coaches now and realize they have a huge part in these struggles. I mean converting one of 10 third downs won’t win you many games, and it is also hard to tell a team that if they just play better they’d convert more. When it gets that bad coaches have to ask what they are doing wrong.