Lewis Gives Bengals Offense, Defense Kudos

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis handed out kudos to his offense and defense in the wake of Sunday's 33-13 season-opening win at Oakland, but hopes to see improvement on special teams.

Upon further review, coach Marvin Lewis welcomed the Bengals' team-wide production in Sunday's 33-13 season-opening win and first-time victory in Oakland, giving shout-outs to the offense and defense.

Specifically, he liked the protection that the offensive line gave quarterback Andy Dalton. But he had some quibbles, especially with regard to special teams.

“After going through the tape, I was pleased with the number of guys who made contributions yesterday. Both sides of the football, offense and defense," the coach said. "I thought the protection was very good for Andy yesterday. That was another real positive. Overall, I think the positive things were the offense and defense. We got in a lot of situations that we got to work through as well that happened in the game. A lot of things to continue to coach from. The negatives were the things we talked about after the game. We left a lot of plays out there offensively. Quite a few yards rushing. We’ve got to be better at being on point with our tracks of our runners.

"I think special teams-wise we’ve got to keep coming, we’ve got a ways to go there with that. It was the first time for some guys, and playing with a 46-man roster and how all that works. For some of the guys, three or four guys in that situation. Each week, it’s always going to be a challenge, but that was a good start to the season, and there are things to continue to work on moving forward.”

The coach said tackling, and the battles in the trenches, are always important to winning, but so are special teams.

“I think it’s important to handle the line of scrimmage. I was pleased with that part," Lewis said. "Again, I was pleased for the most part with the tackling. We’ve got to continue to take steps forward with tackling on special teams. We had some opportunities to get the ball carrier down with the first guy there, and we’ve got to keep getting better at that. Overall, first football game that way for 60 live minutes, guys playing the most snaps they’ve played, I was pleased with that.”

On defense, the coach was happy to see a pair of sacks, one from tackle Geno Atkins and one from end Carlos Dunlap, and sure tackling in general.

"We’re going to see a lot of six-, seven-man protections and three- and four-man routes at the most. That’s part of what we look for in the quick drops and the wide receiver screens and things like that, that we saw," Lewis said. "Tackling is generally a want-to. They’ve got the physical abilities, and it comes down to wanting to do it. Doing it with the proper leverage, and when we’re getting as many wide receiver screens and those kinds of things, the balls coming out fast. We didn’t want to give many free shots to the quarterback, so that’s what we’re seeing."

Defensive end Michael Johnson made his Bengals return to the field Sunday after sitting out much of the preseason with an injury. He ontributed to the Bengals' 2-0 turnover advantage. He spent last season with Tampa Bay before returning to Cincinnati in the offseason during free-agency.

“I thought it was good to get him some snaps and get going. You know, live football is different than what he’s been practicing," Lewis said. "He’ll be a step ahead next week, and that’s good. It was good to get him going and out there, and you have to credit him for the work he did in order to get back and be ready to play in week number one. He had the fumble recovery and some good productive snaps.”

Lewis said the big halftime lead against the Raiders was telling.

“Well, you know that you’re generally not 24 points better than another NFL team, first off. We had good things, we made plays and had things bounce our way," he said. "We’ve got to continue to keep playing and playing hard and doing it right. We had the ball coming out (after halftime). I think one of the key things that we have to do better is that opening drive in the third quarter. That’s a key drive, and we didn’t do well enough with that. Again, something else to do better. We are generally going to defer (if winning the coin toss), and we had an opportunity for back-to-back possessions in the game, so we need to take advantage of the possession coming out after halftime.

“Those are the challenges. To stay on point, stay focused and the things we adjusted at halftime, come out and go through those openers on offense, and let’s march the ball down the field like we did the first time around. We can’t have the penalty that sets us back in that situation."

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