Lewis: Guys Want To Win The Football Game

Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis talked to the Indianapolis media in a conference call earlier this week in anticipation of the trip up I-74 Sunday to face the Colts. See what Lewis had to say about the Bengals' tough season, his two star wide receivers, the Colts' pass rush, the injury to Carson Palmer, Cincinnati's chance to play spoiler, and more!

On if he sees some positives they can build off of in the future:

"I do think we have some things that we will be able to build from in the future, and it's kind of almost been ever-changing with the amount of injuries and guys that we have lost and through time and the opportunity to look at a lot of different players and kind of evaluate things. And also I think it makes you take a deeper look at some of the things and making sure you have the proper depth. When you feel you have this and you have that, and you don't, just because sometimes guys haven't been put into the test and the fire and so forth. So it makes you take a little deeper look as you go forward into the future."

On if he uses being a spoiler as motivation:

"Guys want to win the football game. I don't know what comes after that, within that or with that. The thing is you're playing to win football games and the outcome, and regardless of what happens to somebody else's season, that's all we worry about. Your approach to the game is to win every week. I can't sit there and say, ‘We're just playing to be the spoiler.' That doesn't make much sense when you're trying to go win the football game and that's how you prepare. Our guys prepare every week that way. We have to do better things and make more plays in order for us to win the football game."

On what he sees from DEs Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis and how they effect the game:

"They do such a great job of applying pressure to the quarterback, and I won't just say the quarterback, even the running game. I think they do some things with their penetration and their athleticism, movement and speed, that make you always conscious and aware of them. Sometimes the spins can be somewhat unorthodox and you have to be concerned and be ready for that. And hopefully when they're zigging, you're zagging, and you make some explosive things that way within that, particularly versus the run. So those are the things that you always have to be conscious of. They do such a great job with their four-man rush that you have seven guys in coverage a lot more. You don't see a lot of the pressures and the things that you see from a lot of teams because they do such a great job getting pressure with the four guys."

On not being surprised that when Mathis and Freeney are productive, the Colts often win:

"No, not at all, because if you can apply four-man pressure defensively, you're going to be good, and because their offense has done always such a great job of scoring points, it allows them to have a lead which really kind of plays to those guys' abilities."

On a rough time with luck with injuries, off-the-field problems, etc., and a lot being out of his control:

"Again, the first thing mentioned was two years ago and for a span within four or five months and within that, and other than that, that's the only time ever, have we ever had any instances with any players. So that's unfortunately a small thing, but it is something that matters, and some guys made some very, very poor decisions that way. We've had some injuries to players, and unfortunately, all but one of our first-round draft picks has been injured in my time period here. So that's been unfortunate, obviously. That puts a big ding in what you're doing with those guys on the field for you because those are really the kingpins and the people you're building things around. So that's been unfortunate, but you have to do something to overcome that, and we really have to look harder and do a better job of trying to acquire some people to make up some of that time, because we've lost some time with these guys. So we need to do double-time in order to make that space up."

On always having expectations:

"The expectations of what we should be doing football-wise, wins-losses-wise, doesn't change. You play the game to be World Champions, you spend the time you do to be World Champions, and anything short of that, you don't feel very good about."

On WR-T.J. Houshmandzadeh being uncertain of his future:

"T.J.'s done a good job. T.J. did not play very much football until he came here, and frankly was very, very lazy. Been able to point those things out to T.J. at earlier times and get him going and doing the things he's doing now, because I think he was selling himself short. Then, he's been able to turn that corner and it's been good. He obviously is not signed to a contract for next year and that's part of the NFL system. It's really a great system because you go play your tail off and if we can't get it worked on with you there, maybe somebody else will, and I think that's a good thing. Sometimes, too, it's good for guys to have to go and do that. I think as T.J. knows, as he talks to people on the other teams, the grass is not generally, not necessarily always greener either. But it's a really tough decision to make. He has a very young family, and whatever decision he makes he'll make a good one. Hopefully he'll be back with us, but if not we'll wish him luck and we'll plug the next guy in and go forward."

On WR-Chad Johnson:

"Chad has not had the season that we know we expected that he would have. I think getting injured really set him back. Obviously his offseason didn't help him move forward with production this year. Hopefully he can really finish the season strong the last four weeks and we can provide and find a way to get him the ball, he can find a way to get to the right spots and be where he needs to be, and then those things will connect."

On the Colts' two-minute offense:

"I think obviously their two-minute offense and one-minute is very good because they play a lot of their game without huddling up, so they're very comfortable. Obviously Peyton (Manning) is very comfortable in that fashion. He doesn't get rattled at all, he understands the clock and the time. Their players are very good at that. They don't change much. Some teams have to go to a completely different offense in that situation where they're already in that kind of mode. So it's really very comfortable for them and they can go and do the things that they normally do."

On the Colts two-minute defense:

"When you have the lead, with being able to rush the passer and being able to play zone defense and everything and make it difficult for people to get in those lanes, it makes you a very effective group when you get in one-minute on defense."

On if he emphasizes the end of the half as well:

"We always try to emphasize the end of the game and the end of the half and I think it's important defensively to work hard at getting the football back for your offense and good field position. This season, we've done a nice job of ending the first half on offense in our situations. So I think that's been big. Ryan (Fitzpatrick) has done a nice job of that."

On QB-Carson Palmer:

"Carson's been doing things every week, and he's progressed with more throws this week. He'll continue on the rehab schedule and as things continue to go and he feels pain-free and so forth and the healing process continues, we'll evaluate where he is week to week."

On TE-Ben Utecht:

"Ben we thought was a good addition to us. Unfortunately he's been nicked up and had some injuries. He had some in Indy, he's had some now with us, things where really it's been until this last one, it's really been some contact things. So we don't know if we'll have his services this week or not, but I think all in all as we go forward, Ben will continue to be a good addition for our offense and for our football team."

On what has happened to the offense over the past couple of years or if it is the injury of Carson Palmer:

"I think some of it is Carson. I think some of it is our inability to continue on the process up front. I think we've taken a step back up front through injury, through attrition. I think the other thing is to make sure that you have to be on point. The guys that we had playing on the outside work very, very hard. Sometimes guys get a little full of themselves and figure they were the reason why, and they forget that work ethic a little bit. And I think a little bit of that played into a little bit of it. And if they're trying to come back, the quarterback's injured and so we've been really off sync totally on offense this season."


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