Marvin Lewis Talks To The Media

<b>Q. </b>Are you bringing the shovel to this week's game? <br><br><b>MARVIN LEWIS:</b> The shovel is part of our traveling party now, so I guess it has to come along, although I don't know where it's at. I didn't pack it last time but somebody else did.

Q. What do you see in the team now that you didn't see in September?

ML: I guess this last week, you saw a team that played great defense again and was able to run the football. They didn't maybe throw it as well as they had thrown it in some of the games as far as completions down the field. But they were contagious, they took advantage of opportunities that they had. Having coached there and coached against them for so long, I know they will be well prepared and ready to play.

Q. Comment on the play of Kitna.

ML: I think Jon has done a very good job for us, no question, his level of play kind of exemplifies where our football team is. The biggest thing with Jon is for him to not try to win the game with one play, let's just play within ourselves and play one play at a time.

Q. A writer in Cleveland wrote that the Steelers have the swagger back. What kind of swagger do you have coming into this game?

ML: You have to play with some confidence, I know that. In the NFL, you have to come in and play with that kind of confidence. There's no question they have got it back and we are coming in very confident as well. So we are just going to have to roll it out there and play.

Q. What do you think is setting this year's Bengals team apart from some previous Bengals teams?

ML: I think they have had a very hard-working off-season. They have really put some things, some effort and work into the bank. We practice very well, we have learned to do a great job in meetings and take the game plan out on the field and work very hard to execute and practice, and then move it on into Sunday. We've eliminated a lot of the small things that generally get you beat. So those are the good things that we are doing.

Q. Obviously you expected to have some success when you came there, but did you expect to have this much success early, this early?

ML: Maybe what I didn't know is how the other teams in our division would be playing, what their records would be. I would have hoped that ours would be a little better, but that's the way it goes.

Q. Did the game out in Oakland begin the turnaround, even though you lost it, it went right down to the wire; did that turn things around?

ML: I think more of the game with the Steelers, the one where we kind of decided, you know what, let's go start winning these football games and quit finding a reason or a way to lose them. Oakland, Pittsburgh, even the first game, we just keep rolling as a football team. We have a long way to go, and this weekend in Pittsburgh will be another step in the process.

Q. As far as a different story, since the start you had to be wondering at the beginning when that first win was going to come.

ML: I was glad to get a win. I didn't know if I was ever going to win a game. Maybe I should stop now while I'm ahead one and retire a winning coach.

Q. What's life like in Cincinnati these days, people throwing flowers at your feet?

ML: Well, obviously the expectations have been a little low here. So hopefully, I don't know that they will be satisfied with 6-5 at this point next year, but right now everybody is very excited and just the opportunity to be playing, to go to go playoffs and playing to win the division and have an opportunity to talk about them in the same breath as Pittsburgh and the other teams in the division is a great thing.

Q. Talk about the emergence of Rudi Johnson, he didn't even play last time you guys played Pittsburgh and all of a sudden he is the No. 2 running back.

ML: Rudi did not get much of an opportunity to play in the preseason. He had a pulled muscle in his leg early on and we had to nurse him through that. He's really come on and done just an outstanding job. He had grown so much as a pro through that first period of time, and I'm just so excited for him. He's a great person and he's just continuing to grow as an NFL player.

Q. How difficult was it to turn around some of the attitudes, not only on the team, among the players, but in the city and in the front office and those kinds of places?

ML: I don't think attitude is anything to get spoiled. How you do things and how you work is more important to people. I don't know that many people on our football team knew what this team's record was in 2001, so all they knew was what happened last year. I can't worry about the past and just have to move forward. And the way we do things is just the way that I was taught and the way that I saw fit to do.

Q. Art Shell was saying that your early success there is only furthering to help the cause to hire more African-American coaches.

ML: Again, obviously I came up through the ranks and I was blessed by a lot of people who helped me along the way. And hopefully the work that we are doing here will help everybody and the people, the coaches that have come up that way and had an opportunity to matriculate through the system like I have. I hope I'm being beneficial for people for years to come as most people in front of me benefited me.

Q. Could you talk about Corey Dillon, early on he was talking about a trade and now he's worshipping you.

ML: Well, I don't think Corey was talking much about a trade since it was after the trade deadline. He may have been just a little frustrated with the situation, being injured and so forth. It's not like he was being pointed at as why we weren't winning. As I said when it happened, people misunderstood a little bit of what he was saying. It's old news.

Q. Coach, when you played the Kansas City Chiefs, Dick Vermeil talked about the high draft choices that the Bengals had had in recent years because of their losing records. What do you think of that and how have you integrated those high picks into your system this year?

ML: Well, obviously a person doesn't play and the No. 1 pick the year before that, I don't even know who it was. I know Levi Jones, offensive tackle really wasn't picked that high, I think No. 10 or 11. And then Justin Smith who was in the top five or six, those two are both doing excellent jobs. Again, I don't want to comment on what another coach says. That's his business and this is our football team and that's all I can worry about.

Q. What is the most rewarding thing to you about coaching?

ML: I think the joy of seeing a guy do something that he didn't think he could do, whether it be a task, a skill, a technique and then obviously having success with it. That's the biggest thing.

Q. Chad Johnson has said that he wants to be the best and he wants you to help him, what can you do to help him progress and get better?

ML: I think I constantly remind him that to be the best, it's full-dimensional: it's blocking, catching, running the routes, it's a sight adjust, it's everything. It's running after the catch, too. Just don't go out and do those things on Sunday. You have to work hard at practice and work to be on the same page as the quarterback.

Q. What happened in Tampa with Keyshawn Johnson, how did you handle with Corey Dillon when he talked about a trade?

ML: Again, Corey was a little misunderstood since there was no trade imminent and he had been misinformed by a lot of people for some reason who wanted to put things out there. We just let things slide by and it's no big deal to us and move forward.

Q. You talked about changing the culture of losing, what is first the opportunity?

ML: We have a certain standard that I felt was important that I had seen and been a part of. I don't know if anyone in our locker room knows what the record was in 2001 if they were here. All we have to worry about is these guys knew what 2002 brought. All I worry about is how we do things every day.

Q. How important is it for you to win in Pittsburgh?

ML: Very important. If we want to win this division, we have to beat the teams in the division and Pittsburgh is the next one up. That's always going to be a tough football game. It's a division that most of the time, you beat up on each other. And this is a big game for us playing on the road in front of that crowd.

Q. What do you do to get a team to take one week at a time, one game at a time over the course of a season?

ML: You've got to have good attention, and that's all it takes and that's all that matters. You don't allow outside people to put more in front of them than they need. All we have to worry about is one at a time.

Q. What player has surprised you the most, considering the performance of last season?

ML: Well, Rudi has to be our guy that's done the most, being Corey's backup and filling in so admirably for Corey.

Q. Is there anything you've modified in your plan for this team based on the talent you've had; in other words, that you've had to adjust to, to win with the players you have?

ML: After our by-week (Oct. 12) we went back and looked at how we are doing certain things and what we had to improve. Running the football was important. But I think we have a ways to go defensively and we'll keep getting better with that. We have a quarterback that's playing pretty well and we've got a good complement of wide receivers. And those guys are playing very confident right now, so it's important that we keep feeding them. We have to keep them going day-to-day.

Q. Jon is playing so well, what do you see for his future and with Carson?

ML: Well, we'll worry about that later. I just worry about this week right now and we'll deal with our team and Carson and our future after the season.

Q. What kind of expectations did you have coming to a team with such a long history of losing?

ML: Well, we expected to win the division. That was our No. 1 goal. I don't know that anyone or any place can allow somebody to set limits on you. You don't want to allow that to happen. Our goal was to win the division.

Q. Do you think you would have such success in your first year as a head coach?

ML: We have had moderate success, but obviously to make the playoffs, you have to get in to win the world championship, which is the ultimate goal. So you have to get in somehow to the playoffs. Obviously that's a degree of success.

Q. Do you think your players were surprised when you said, "We're going to win the division?"

ML: I think so. I think people talked about it, but I don't know that you continually point towards it as we have. It is the best way to get to the playoffs. Four teams in four divisions, you're assured a chance to get in the playoffs by winning the division.

Q. What is your best unit and worst unit in Cincinnati?

ML: I think our offense the last couple of weeks has played pretty well. The defense has been a little sporadic at times.

Q. Talking about Jon Kitna, what do you think about him in this season since last time he was in Cincinnati?

ML: Well, I think Jon has had a fine year for us. He's learned to play within himself. He's learned to be the guy that kind of drives the ship and he doesn't have to overdo it and try to do too much. That's what I'm so encouraged about with Jon.

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