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Marvin Lewis disappointed in run blocking and 4 more press conference takeaways

Marvin Lewis isn’t happy with the run blocking or the defense getting off the field, but he did praise a few young players.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Marvin Lewis addressed the media on Monday to share his thoughts on the Bengals’ win over the Broncos. You could really tell he was in a better mood than in past weeks after a win that kept the Bengals’ season alive. He still didn’t hold any punches though.

Here are five takeaways from Lewis’ Week 11 recap press conference.

Lewis knows the offensive line needs to work on run blocking

The main takeaway most people are getting from the Broncos game is how well the Bengals’ offensive line protected Andy Dalton. They did do a pretty good job considering Von Miller was contained about as well as you could hope. He finished with one sack and a few pressures. Still there was one thing the offensive line didn’t do well with at all and Lewis brought it up.

“We would love to have Jake (Fisher) in the rotation and be where we are with him (playing), but we need to keep working at it,” Lewis said. “We need to do a good job with whatever responsibilities (we have). We need to clean some things up in the running game. We had six or seven plays that went for zero (yards), or (negative yards) yesterday, after having a lot of positive plays. At the end of the day, you don’t feel as good about it as you should. A few of those plays were on the goal line or at the end of the game, but we’re failing to get the job done. Unfortunately, (the errors) are spread amongst a few people, rather than one or it being just a correction. We have to keep doing it together the right way, all of the time.”

It was clear the Bengals weren’t going to be able to run against the Broncos on Sunday. The front seven for Denver was just better than the Bengals offensive line. The Bengals had the lead for all of the game, so Joe Mixon actually did get to carry the ball 20 times, but he could only manage 49 yards.

This isn’t the first week this has been an issue, and even Lewis mentioned how it isn’t just one guy holding them back. It is pretty obvious this is a personnel and probably coaching issue that isn’t going to get fixed anytime soon.

The Bengals are on pace to have their worst-ever rushing offense. It’s that bad.

Still blaming defense for being on the field so long

Last week Lewis said the defense needed to do a better job at getting off the field in order to get more rest. He ignored the fact that outside of the huge play to A.J. Green, the offense didn’t do anything close to productive in the second half. This week he continues to miss the major issue of the offense being on the field for so little time that the defense is on the field for so much time.

“We still have to get a handle on third downs and make sure we do a better job,” Lewis said. “We got off to a really good start. I think they converted the second one, but after that, we settled down pretty well. But in the second half, we weren’t very good. Those are things that make a difference in the game. In the one drive, they converted four third downs and a fourth down. Those things lead to a long drive. That was the whole first quarter, basically. There was a possession difference of something like three and a half (minutes) to 11-something (minutes), and after that, we were even. That makes a difference in the game. Everybody looks at that and says, ‘Oh, wow, you didn’t have the ball.’ Well, in one quarter we didn’t have the ball because they drove the field and converted third downs.”

Just to throw this out there, the Bengals’ defense turned the Broncos’ blocked punt into an interception that set up the Bengals’ offense up for a one-yard touchdown. The Bengals’ defense also forced a fumble that set up the Green touchdown that got them the cushion they needed to win the game. Also only four of the Bengals’ offensive possessions went for more than four plays.

The head coach needs to take a long hard look at these kinds of things. The defense is getting exhausted by the end of the game. You can only ask a defense to get that many stops so many times without having a chance to even catch their breath. No offensive drive went for more than four minutes against the Broncos. So, how exactly is this the defense’s fault? Yes, they share some blame for penalties and allowing third down conversions, but there’s also a lot of blame on the offense.

Praise for Jordan Evans and Andrew Billings

Lewis was asked about two of his young players who are getting a chance to play more. First he was asked about Billings following the Bengals waiving Pat Sims.

“Andrew has played increasingly better,” Lewis said. “He’s done a really good job of playing physical, he’s been able to penetrate — and that’s what his responsibilities are. He’s been disruptive. He’s still trying to put it all together, but he keeps making positive plays.”

Then Lewis was asked about Evans, who saw more time with Kevin Minter out and Vincent Rey going down early in the game.

“I thought, when he went in, he did a couple good things... Since he has been here, Jordan has shown the ability to make plays when he’s been put in situations to have those opportunities,” Lewis said. “For the most part, he’s been pretty sound with his assignments — he just has to make sure that we can depend on him that way. That’s important. When he got the opportunity (at Denver) and he was put in there, he responded with a couple of plays on the edge. A couple weeks ago, he did the same thing. He just has to continue to do that. Every time he gets an opportunity, that’s been great. Part of his role here is also filling in on special teams and being a stalwart with that, with his speed, athleticism, size and stature.”

Billings has simply been playing more in recent weeks. He was hardly out there early in the season, but now it seems like he is the perfect match to be right beside Geno Atkins. Those two could be quite the disruptive force going forward.

For Evans, this hopefully leads to some increased playing time. The rookie seemed like an afterthought when drafted in the sixth round, but he quickly shined during the preseason and training camp. The lackluster play of Rey has sparked the interest in some fans to have the Bengals give Evans a chance to see if his preseason success can translate. So far he hasn’t shown much of a reason why he shouldn’t be given the opportunity to be out there. Evans at the very least has shown he has a bright future with this team.

Lewis doesn’t want credit for blocked field goal

When a reporter tried to question what was going on with special teams after a few weeks with some mistakes, Lewis answered:

“Yes, we had a nice field goal block, which was good,” he said laughing.

When the reporters tried to give credit to Lewis for the block since he called the timeout to negate the first attempt, he was quick to brush off any praise.

“No, I had no hand in that. I didn’t step on the field.”

“[The timeout] didn’t cause the field goal block,” he said laughing again.

It was one of the lighter moments of the press conference, and I guess you get a few of those during a press conference after a win.

Darqueze Dennard has matured

One of the biggest storylines for the Bengals’ offseason was picking up Dennard’s fifth-year option. Many didn’t understand why the Bengals would do it considering the corner hardly played coming into this year, and the option would make Dennard one of the highest paid corners next season. Still Dennard has rewarded the team by playing very well. Lewis offered his thoughts on why that’s been the case.

“I think it’s a maturity thing — a maturation over time,” he said. “In his case, he’s changed how he prepares physically, his diet and everything that way. He’s growing into being a pro, and that’s good. It’s good for his future... He takes snaps all the time in practice at both spots. He responded, and he’s really a smart player. And having been around Leon (Hall) like he had been here, he has learned from one of the best. And also learning from Adam Jones, learning (how to study) the opponent. Those guys (Hall and Jones) share a lot, and they’ve taught these (young) guys, along with Dre (Kirkpatrick), how to grow and do those things.”

Dennard has learned quite a bit from some very good corners during his time with the Bengals. He has also apparently taken the initiative off the field to really get better. It is hard to argue with the results as Dennard has shown he can be a very solid corner for the Bengals going forward. The future of the unit with Dre Kirkpatrick, William Jackson and Dennard could be very good.