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5 takeaways from Marvin Lewis’ weekly presser

Marvin Lewis talks about John Ross’ progress, Jake Fisher’s illness and how to eliminate negative offensive plays.

Cincinnati Bengals v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images

Marvin Lewis spoke to the media on Monday following the Bengals 7-23 loss to the Jaguars. He hit on quite a few topics including the third-down struggles, and how to eliminate negative plays on offense.

Here are some of the highlights.

1.) The offense’s and defense’s third-down struggles were costly

“When you look at it, we had some positive plays, but we didn’t convert the two early third downs. We lost those opportunities. We had field position in the first half, which was good, but we were unable to maintain it and sustain it,” Lewis said of his offense. “Defensively, we were putting them on long fields even when we had to punt. We put them on long fields, but we weren’t able to hold-serve back there. ... You couple (those things) with the breakdowns we had — both on third down defensively, and some of the things on offense — it wasn’t a very good day.”

It was no secret to anyone watching the Bengals game Sunday that these were two areas the Bengals struggled the most. The Jaguars ended up finishing the game 12-18 on third downs, but they also didn’t even have to punt until there was one minute left in the third quarter. The Bengals finished the game 1-8 on third downs.

This led to the Bengals only controlling the ball for 19:46, which is the lowest time of possession for any team so far this season. It wasn’t much better than when the Bengals only controlled the ball for 26:47 against the Colts. The Bengals also only managed to convert 4-11 third downs against the Colts.

The trend that is forming is a formula for losing football games.

2.) Jake Fisher’s illness isn’t serious

“He just wasn’t feeling well. He’s (dealt with this) as we’ve been going through the season,” he said talking about Fisher’s illness on Sunday. “It’s something that the doctors are monitoring very closely. Yesterday they thought they needed to pull him from the game and run some tests, so they took him to the hospital to run tests.”

“It’s not as serious as I would think it is. Yet, it took him out of the game yesterday.”

Many probably didn’t think much of Fisher’s illness until they saw he was being taken to the hospital. That was an obvious red flag for most people. Lewis brushed off any concerns, although he didn’t really go into any specifics. It seems Fisher’s status is something to monitor.

3.) Lewis laughs off Adam Jones’ critical comments

“That’s something players love to do,” Lewis said with a laugh. “I’m the one [that] has all the passion (laughs). It’s what should happen all the time. We played a very physical game, and guys put things out there, and we didn’t play well enough.”

Following the Bengals loss to the Jaguars, Jones insinuated more players need to play with passion. When asked about it Lewis didn’t seem to think much of it. He did go on to say he disagreed, and he doesn’t think the Bengals need more passion. Not a great look to laugh off a frustrated veteran’s comments following the team’s struggles.

4.) Lewis thinks John Ross can contribute this season; Ross needs confidence

“Oh yeah, there’s no question he becomes more comfortable. What he’s has to do is take what he practicing one-on-one and be able to play it 11-on-11,” Lewis said “The more reps and time he has against the defense every day in practice and the more he’s part of the offense, those are good things, because he has to gain that confidence. It was three weeks ago, that every time he went on the ground, everybody held their breath. You’re going to get knocked down in football, and you’ve got to get up, go back to the huddle and do it again. He’s not made of glass — he’s not going to break every time he falls down —yet he’s got to practice football and continue to do it.”

The slow approach is killing Bengals fans. The offense has taken a dive into being one of the worst in the NFL, and we still haven’t seen Ross make a contribution. I get wanting him to be the best form of himself, and him becoming confident is the only way that will happen.

Still, a coach worried about a player's confidence probably shouldn’t bench him after a fumble. Also, a quick way to gain confidence is actual playing time. There is no substitute for actually playing a game in the NFL.

5.) Negative plays need to be addressed

“I think you look at why it occurred, and I think that’s most important. The overall effect is — yes — we had some negative plays. But (we need) the ‘why,’ and it’s all fixable,” Lewis said Monday. We have to fix it. Whether it be the point of attack — wherever we are — whether it’s blocking, or running, throwing, catching, etc. We can’t have the negative plays, whether we have an assignment responsibility, miscommunication or (something else). We’re in close football games, and every one of those plays has an effect on the overall outcome — particularly in the field position, but no question on the overall outcome.”

Two weeks in a row— during key drives in the game— the offense came out and lost yards on three consecutive plays.

It is hard to think this team has a way of changing this. Teams know if they bring pressure against this offense during obvious passing downs that the Bengals won’t be able to be productive.

As far as negative running plays, it is hard to fix something when you don’t have the personnel to do it, or the coaching staff that still hasn’t fixed miscommunications that have been happening since the beginning of the season.