STEELERS at BENGALSSUNDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2008 KICKOFF -- 1:00 P.M. BENGALS CONFERENCE CALLS
HEAD COACH MARVIN LEWIS
Is it special coaching against a team you once worked for?
Re: Ocho Cinco believes that he is not getting the ball enough because of everything that happened in the offseason.
I am not going to react to things that Chad may have said. Every time someone says something like that, it doesn't usually help me very much because I wasn't there to hear it.
Has Ocho Cinco made it known to you that he is not getting the ball enough?
None of us are happy because we aren't winning games and that is about where we are. I am not happy with it, we aren't winning games and that is the biggest thing. Other than that, that is the only thing that really matters.
Why aren't you winning?
Because we haven't made enough plays to win the game. Plain and simple. You have to make plays to win the football game and we haven't made enough at the critical points and when we get in position to close things out. I think that is important. We haven't got off to a very good start offensively. We aren't scoring points on offense and that is a big deal. Unless you do that, it is very difficult.
Seems this year your defense is playing better than the offense.
We have a lot of young guys on the defense and they are doing a good job. They are keeping the football team in the games. We've given up some explosive plays that we would like to eliminate defensively. Offensively we are going in with some of the same guys and we aren't doing it consistent enough and well enough. We have had far too many turnovers early in the games, early in the year and that played a big part on why we aren't doing things right. We started off the season, got the ball right away, first drive we get a turnover defensively and got the ball down in Baltimore's red zone and we come away with an interception off a tip pass and no points. We haven't really improved much upon that at any point, where we have consistently moved the football and got first downs and scored points. We have to just keep grinding. We look hard at what we are doing and how we are doing it and who we are doing it with and making improvements in it.
How much of Willie Parker do you expect to see?
I would expect him to be the starting running back from what one of our coaches told me today, that he is supposedly healthy and ready to go.
What have you seen out of Ryan Fitzpatrick?
He played better for us last week than he had his first time. He's got to keep going and continue to take care of the football I think is huge. Be more consistent. I think it is important to get the ball up and down and in and out of his hand. So we have to be more consistent. I thought he has a great week of practice last week. I hope he has another great week this week in preparation to play the Steelers.
Will you use Cedric Benson more?
Yeah, we will try to keep incorporating Cedric more and more into our offense. Now he is going into his third week of being with us and he spends his off days here learning and hopefully he will have a better handle of the things we do and to be better incorporated into the offense.
You have played a bunch of 3 – 4 defenses in a row, how does that play into your benefit?
Well we have but obviously when we play the Steelers it's a different style of 3-4 than some of the ones we played in the last three weeks. So we know that we are going to get far more pressure and more fire zone pressure. They have evolved over the years and doing a good job with both outside rushers having good years and they are doing a great job and I think they continue with Foote. They are playing well right now and that is the thing, it is a little different style that what we have seen. They are very effective and more aggressive maybe than some of the ones we have seen.
Not a different style that you have seen from this team, is it?
No. I would not say that. But it is what we are used to seeing though, a little different style. There are really probably three different 3 - 4 defenses in the NFL right now.
How is morale?
Our morale is good. Our team is in good shape. We are a little beat up over the last three weeks we were moving along pretty healthy and we got some dings over the last couple of weeks, but our morale is good. We have a lot of young guys playing and we will probably have some new young guys playing this week, which I think is good and I think that keep your spirit going. You keep interjecting those guys into the mix and that keeps everybody going, but it is a big football game for us.
Would things have been different if you would have beaten the Giants?
I know that it would be different in one way. Going back to what I said earlier, I really think it was our first offensive possession in Baltimore. I think we are a different football team if we would have put that ball in the end zone there right away. There have been a lot of things like that that have occurred. But we have had turnovers early in the Dallas game and early in the game against Tennessee that set them up in good position. When you do that you start playing in a short field and you playing up there all day long.
Has this been the most difficult season?
There is no question it has been difficult, but it is what I do. My dad spent thirty years in the steel mill and this is a piece of cake compared to that. So I love coming to work every day and that is the fun of it. We are going to get this turned around and get going and that's the deal. That's we what we have to do.
WR CHAD JOHNSON
Chad Ocho Cinco:I am good; I am all smiles and trying to stay as positive as possible waiting for this offense to open up and get going. How are you all doing?
Can you recover from a 0-6 start?
The only way that we are going to play ourselves out of this hole is by actually playing the way that we are used to playing; we aren't doing it all.
Why hasn't the offense gotten started?
I am not sure; it has been a number of things. It is one thing this week and then one thing the next week. It hasn't come together like we all thought it would this year; I really don't know.
Can you beat this team with an inexperienced quarterback?
We would have to play very sound football to do it. Pittsburgh has an unbelievable defense; they have been that way for a number of years so there is no reason for me to praise them. They have always been one of the best in the league. In order for us to beat them, whether we are playing at our home or theirs, we have to play darned near perfect football; that is what it is going to come down too.
What happened to you guys? You were so good in 2005.
I have no idea; I am not sure what the problem is. Our philosophy hasn't changed offensively; the offense is still the same. You add a wrinkle here and there to show a little changeup but injuries have plagued us; some people have gotten traded. But those aren't excuses; these are things that all teams go through so that is really not an excuse so I cannot really give you an answer as to why we are playing the way we are.
How much do you think that one hit by Kimo von Oelhoffen on Carson Palmer affected the franchise?
Not as much as people would think. Carson is fine; there is nothing wrong with his throwing arm; that is how I take it.
How about off-field problems?
A lot of people make off-the-field issues more than they really are. Once you are in the locker room, the stuff outside of the locker room, it doesn't bother anybody; it doesn't really distract anybody at all. A lot of people call it a distraction but it really isn't at all. You come in to practice and the reporters ask you about it; sometimes the coach will address the issue, but that is it. You have a job to do and you hold yourself accountable for your actions and the things that you do.
What is your level of frustration?
You don't even want to know. My level of frustration can't be defined at all. The only thing that eases my mind is being able to go out here Wednesday and Thursday and practice; practice hard, keep on smiling and hopefully the work is going to pay off at some point on Sundays.
How is the moral in the locker room?
The morale is still the same; it is still good. A lot of people are frustrated by what is going on but there is no substitute for hard work. That is the only way that we are going to pull ourselves out of this hole, by working.
*What was your opinion on the fines levied against Hines Ward?
I saw the fine but I didn't see what he was fined for so I didn't see the incident or know what happened.
Do you think that defensive players around the league are cheering that fine?
What did he do? I still do not know.
They said unnecessary roughness on a couple of blocks:
Unnecessary roughness? That doesn't make any sense. I am serious; that doesn't make any sense at all. Hines has always been probably the best darned blocker in the NFL; I don't understand where you get unnecessary roughness from. That is not even a rule.
What does Pittsburgh do to keep you out of the end zone?
I think that has been one of their main focuses to keep (number) 85 out of the end zone. It is not really going away from their scheme; they really stay in their scheme in terms of the way that they play defense. One of those focal points has always been me. When some of those opportunities come, I just try to make the most of them. I haven't had very many as the years have gone on and I have continued to have more and more success; it has been a lot harder to be successful against a defense like that. Coach (Dick) LeBeau is doing a wonderful job.
Do they typically have Ike Taylor follow you?
I am not sure; I can't remember who follows me. Whether it is one individual who follows me or an individual who follows me with help inside or help over the top, there is just one big cloud around (number) 85.
Why is your production down this season?
Everything that has come my way, I have caught this year. My opportunities have been very, very, very, very slim. I am not sure why and I am not sure what is going on; that is another part of the frustration. There is nothing wrong with my game; I am healthy so that is not an excuse. I am in tip-top shape; it is just that my opportunities are just not what they used to be. I am not sure why; when the ball comes I just make the play.
Your shoulder is not an issue at all?
There is nothing wrong with me. If there was, I wouldn't be playing.
Is the coach (Marvin Lewis) still in charge?
Yeah; or course. We are not renegades around here. Coach Lewis runs the show and we respect him and buy into his philosophy and formula. His formula is that there is no substitute for getting out of this hole; we have to go out there and work.
*Do you wish that you would have gotten out of Cincinnati in the offseason?
I really do not wish to relive that situation. I think that may be part of why my production is down this year. To rant and rave in the offseason like that and then come back and expect to be productive, or to expect them to use me the same way that they used me in the past, is very unlikely. That is like me talking about you guys in a negative way and then coming back and expecting to be your number one fan or expecting you to be my number one fan. Right now, I made my bed and I have to live in it. I apologized about it a million times to my team, my organization and my fans. I think that I am playing this year is probably deserving. There is nothing wrong with me but it is probably deserving because of my actions in the offseason; it is like somewhat of a punishment. When you open your mouth, this is what you get; I understand that. When opportunities come, I am going to make the plays.
You had some good verbal battles with Joey Porter when he was here. Is there anybody on this current Steelers team that you battle with?
That was so fun. I would say that Ike, James (Harrison) and Larry Foote; those are the three that will get it going a little bit. Anthony Smith; he will talk to you. Those four will talk to you but right now there is no room for us to open our mouth and have anything to say. We need to just go out there and play football at this point.
What would a win do for this team?
It would help us out; we could really, really use it. I don't care if the score is 3-0. We can use a win right now at some point; hopefully it comes this Sunday. We know what we have to do offensively; defensively we know what we have to do – stop the run. Offensively we have to execute and we have to have big plays. We haven't had a big play all year; I don't think that we have had a play over 30 yards and that is not like us as an offense.
Is this like a home game for the Steelers with the crowd they usually draw?
It is what it is. We know what the task is at hand and we just have to go out and execute.