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Hearing from the Bengals

Posted Sep 12, 2013

Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis and linebacker James Harrison talk about Monday night’s game against the Steelers.

Coach Marvin Lewis

Re: Drafting Tyler Eifert and the advantages of having two tight ends and using them the way you do:
Number one, I think you have two edges to the offensive formation. We’ve been very pleased with Tyler and his development. We knew he was an incredible receiver of the football and he gets here, and he’s been a great blocker. Having been in Pittsburgh when we drafted Mark Bruener and later in Baltimore with Todd Heap, I would say he’s kind of a great combination of both of those players. He’s smart, he understands football and he’s been great compliment to Jermaine [Gresham]. Jermaine is so physically talented and does such good things as a receiver. Now, we’ve got two guys and what we feel good about. I feel like in this division versus these 3-4 outside linebackers we’ve got to block, a part of that is we have to have a tight end that can do that and we’re always looking for that here. I think, just like Heath Miller there, we have that guy now in Jermaine and a young guy in Eifert, who I think some day will be able to do that as well.

The Patriots kind of popularized the two tight end set a couple of years ago. What does that do from a defensive standpoint and what problems does that create in the secondary?
The Patriots is a different thing because they’re doing it without a dominant receiver. So, they’re working the football generally to the midpoints of the field. They’re trying to work mismatches. When you’re in nickel defense, they want to be running the football against those guys, and if you’re in base defenses, they want to be throwing the football because you should be winning athletically in the matchup. I think that, conversely as the coordinator, that’s what you’re looking at. Do you have to do special things in order to get the correct matchups on these guys? And then, can they create space in the passing game with their athleticism?

What impact has James Harrison had on the team?
He’s been a great pro and role model for the young guys at that spot, and frankly for our defensive football team because they watch how he comes to work and goes about his business. That’s been great. It’s been really another confirmation of how you do it. I can talk about it, say it and do it, but when they watch somebody else live it, and know James never forgot how he got to the NFL. He still plays with that chip and brings it to work every day. As far as a player goes, he’s just so physical. He can do things as a rusher. You‘re going to create mismatches, and they’re going to have to respond. People have responded with offensive tackles on him. You don’t want to get stuck with your back blocking James Harrison very often.

Did he rush much last game? I think it was only like five times or so I heard. Is that correct?
I didn’t count them up but that’s probably about right.

How has he adapted to a different role on the defense now that he is not in a 3-4?
He obviously had to buy into it to accept the move. I think he’s done a good job. He’s very conscientious of his assignments and responsibilities. He doesn’t want to be the guy at the point of attack that doesn’t get his job done.

Ryan Clark was talking about this the other day that the vast majority of your players and “stars” are home-grown guys that you’ve drafted, developed and been able to keep. Is that all a part of the master plan?
That has been. We’re really trying to follow the trend of the successful teams within our division, and they’ve done the same. I think that’s important that you do that – that we continue to draft good, young players and develop and hope to try to re-sign them when we can. I know we’re eventually not going to be able to afford them all because we have a quarterback and a receiver coming due here soon. That’s going to make it a different thing. But while your quarterback is a young player, you can afford to do that and I think that makes a big difference. That’s where we are right now. It’s a little bit different than where the Steelers are because of where Ben Roethlisberger is in his career. It’s different what’s on Andy Dalton than it is on Ben Roethlisberger.

Re: Having A.J. Green on the outside as well as two tight ends that can catch the ball in the middle of the field:
We do. We feel good about that. We feel good about our other receivers in [Mohamed] Sanu and Marvin Jones as they continue to develop in their second years. They kind of got their feet wet last years as rookies. Even though he’s in his third year, you can’t ask for a better role model in the room than A.J. Green. He’s everything you want every single day. We’ve got good, young players. We’ve got to keep coaching them hard, and we’ve got to play productively.

Re: Progress of Andy Dalton:
I think everybody keeps speaking towards Andy, and we’ve got to help Andy out. We’ve got to work our butt off and try to get back in the playoffs and win playoff games, and Andy’s development will be just where everybody hopes it is. But he keeps doing what he’ supposed to do. As I tell him, ‘We’ve got to keep having everybody else play to your level. You keep doing your job and let me keep coaching these other guys to get them right and get them to where you are.’



Linebacker James Harrison

How is the new job?
It’s going good.

What does this game mean to you?
It’s another game on the schedule. It’s a divisional game, so it means a little more than the rest.

Re: Some of us don’t believe that. We feel you have a little extra going for you:
That’s for you all to say. I am telling you what it is. You can believe what you want. I can only tell you what it is. I can’t change your thinking process.

Are you adapting to your new position?
Yeah, I am getting along a lot better than I was at the beginning. It’s really about getting used to the different reads from the 3-4 alignment. Everything else is the same. I am still dropping into the same type of coverage and still doing the same type of drops.

Are you rushing or blitzing more from the inside or still from the outside?
It depends on the play call. It can be inside or outside. It really just depends on what is called.

Have you been on the left side much and how much different is that for you?
It’s not really that big of a difference, because most of the time I am stacked back anyways. The only thing that would change is the positioning of your feet and dropping to a different side. It’s not that big of a deal. When I first started, I would swing from left to right when I was in Pittsburgh.

Did you watch any film on the Steelers’ defense and how they played in Week 1?
No I didn’t.

Have you gotten a chance to see Jarvis Jones at all?
No I haven’t.

Re: Steelers’ offense:
They had a rough one. They lost their best offensive player they had in Maurkice Pouncey. I am sure they will go back to the drawing board and correct whatever needs to be corrected, and come back with vengeance.

Will you be jawing much with the Steelers on Monday?
I was never a talker to begin with.

This won’t get you going a little more? Won’t say anything to Ben Roethlisberger or Marcus Gilbert?
If we talk before the game, ‘good luck,’ but that’s about it.

Re: Surprise or disappointment with how things ended here:
No surprise. I knew when we first started talking and negotiating that things didn’t look like I was going to end up there. We couldn’t come to an agreement that was comfortable to them or comfortable to me, so we parted ways. It’s just a business.

Reports are they offered you more here than what you got in Cincinnati. Any second thoughts on that?
No second thoughts. Reports are reports. You call can say what you want. There are only a few people that know exactly what was going on in those negotiations.

Are those inaccurate reports?
Like I said, reports are reports. Only a few people know what was going on in those negotiations.

How have you been accepted in Cincinnati?
Good. Everybody tells me how they used to hate me but now they love me. It’s all right.

Fans or teammates?
Fans. Teammates are exceptions automatically. They understand the business. Just come in, open our arms, welcome this guy and get him into the program, and get him up to speed.

Re: Bengals’ defense compared to ones you were on in Pittsburgh:
I can’t really compare defenses. I don’t like to do that. It’s a totally different scheme. Guys are here and there, and are built to rush the quarterback. And the defensive line, it is run through around here. There, our defensive line was made to hold up blocks and let the linebackers play. I don’t like comparing the defense. I don’t think you can.

Do you like how strong your defensive line is though?
Definitely. There are things we need to correct and things we need to get better at. Obviously, we’re not where we want to be. We’re going to continue to improve and make progress and get better each week. Hopefully, when it’s all said and done we’ll be where we want to be.

What was it about the Bengals that attracted you?
I liked Marvin Lewis, actually. That was one of the bigger things. The other thing was it’s still close to home. It’s still right in Ohio. I’m from Ohio, so my parents can still come down. It’s a good situation, and I felt like they were on the rise. They were a good defense that looked like they were headed in the right direction, and they’re still headed in the right direction. Hopefully I can help them do better things and progress longer throughout the season, and hopefully into the postseason.

Have they picked your brains about what the Steelers like to do offensively?
Yeah, they pick your brain a little bit. To be honest with you, there was very little I could tell them. I’m on the defensive side, so I could give them more information from the defense than I could the offense.

And probably have right?
A few pointers.

Has it been fairly common that when you’re out in public fans approach you and tell you how much they like you now that you’re with the Bengals and not the Steelers?
Actually, I get approached more here now than I did when I was in Pittsburgh. I guess they got used to seeing me there. If I was to walk down the street here I’d probably get stopped by every four or five people to take a picture or sign an autograph.

Do you wear your Super Bowl rings around your new teammates?
No. I don’t have my Super Bowl rings here. They’re at home. 

Are the Bengals a Super Bowl team?
Definitely.

Got a prediction for Monday night?
A prediction.

Yes.
As far as what? What do you want me to predict?

Re: Sacks and the winner:
I don’t know. That’s why we play the game. We’ll see how it ends up after 60 minutes is done.

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