BB: Again, it’s been impressive watching Cincinnati this week. Marvin [Lewis] has really done a good job with that team. They’ve got a good football team; good organization. It will be a big challenge for us Sunday night. Looking forward to the opportunity and it will be good to get back on the field.
Q: You characterized the Bengals as tough and physical. When you see them, do you see some of the same qualities you saw in the Ravens and to some degree the Steelers?
BB: I don’t know, I think the Bengals have their own style of doing things. Marvin has been there for over a decade. I don’t think their style needs to be compared to anybody else’s. I think they’ve developed what they’ve developed – starting with Mike Brown and Marvin. They’ve had different coordinators there. They’ve had a lot different players there through the course of those years, but they’ve developed a style that’s their style. I think it’s tough and physical. I’m not saying other teams don’t have it, but I think the Bengals are the Bengals. I don’t think they’re anybody else.
Q: Aaron Dobson was deactivated last week. Was that a football decision or disciplinary?
Q: When you look at Geno Atkins, is he still the dominant presence you’re used to seeing despite coming back from injury?
BB: Yeah, he’s a good player and they have a very good front. It’s hard to just zero in on one guy. They’re all disruptive. So, sometimes you help on one guy and that compromises something else or vice versa. They have good balance across the front and they have a lot of pressure schemes which you can’t help on anybody then. Everybody has a man, it’s one on one. They do a good job. He’s a very disruptive guy. He hurt us last year. He’s got great quickness, a good motor, he’s very instinctive. He’s a good football player.
Q: Has Dobson progressed to the point where you’re ready to put him back in the lineup?
BB: We’ll do what we think is best for the game, just like we always do.
Q: With that receiving corps, how important is it for him to get back and comfortable?
BB: We’re going to make the best decisions that we can make every week; try to activate the players that we think give us the best chance to win. It’s the same thing we do on every game. This game is no different than that. That’s what we do.
Q: Was it hard to operate last week with only three receivers up? Did it put the offense at a disadvantage?
BB: I think we have a lot of skill players in the passing game: tight ends, backs, receivers. When you look at the whole group of it, I think there are a lot of guys that can be productive in the passing game.
Q: Was there an incident between Aaron Dobson and Josh McDaniels?
BB: You know, no, and I’ll have a comment on that later.
Q: When it comes to the passing game, for the running backs who stay in to pass protect, is there a way to try to manipulate which defensive players they end up blocking? Or in theory do they have to be ready to block anybody that comes through? I’m just talking about some of the matchups – obviously if a guy like James White is going up against a big guy, that’s a tough matchup. Is there a way to get a better matchup?
BB: That’s a complicated question. I’m not trying to avoid it, it’s a complicated question. There are a lot of different protections that teams run, we run, other teams run and there are a lot of different combinations that you have to block. Some matchups are going to be better than others. I think the most important in pass protection is to make sure that you have the blitzers picked up. The matchup is important, but the pickup is important, too. You can’t turn guys loose. So, getting that right, that would be priority number one and then the matchups would be priority number two. But it’s pretty hard to create a matchup scenario when, offensively, you’re just trying to block the potential rushers. So, the pass protection is – this is, we spend weeks and months and hours and hours in the offseason and game planning every week talking about pass protection and how to get the people blocked and also the matchups, they’re important, but when they blitz, you don’t have a lot of options on the matchups. You just have to make sure that you get them. Now, when they blitz they have less space to rush, too. They have basically a lane that they need to run into because there are guys beside them rushing through their lane. I’d say that the blocking part of it on blitzes is a little bit easier in terms of the amount of space you have to defend. You just have to block more people and more combinations. But it’s a good question and it’s certainly one that we spend – and I’m sure that most other teams spend as much time on offensively as anything in the entire game planning discussion is protection. So, that would be a long, involved answer to that on multiple protections. It’s not just one protection. You might have anywhere from five to 20 different protections in the game depending on what you’re running, how much you’re doing.
Q: On pre-snap reads versus Tom Brady dropping back and reading the progressions – do you ever go into a game thinking you’ll have to work more on pre-snap reads against a team because they bring more pressure?
BB: I think every week you try to do the best on pre-snap reads that you can. Some teams disguise things better than others. Some teams have a certain look that they have [and] do three or four things out of. That’s their thing. They’re going to give you a certain look and then they have multiple combinations off that look. Sometimes formations indicate pre-snap reads. Sometimes defensive alignments indicate pre-snap reads. It can be a combination of one or multiple things like that. It’s always important. That’s something that we absolutely talk about every week in game planning is pre-snap identification. Now, you always have to confirm what they’re doing post-snap. Against a good defense, you just can’t say, ‘OK, here’s what it looks like,’ and that’s what it is 100 percent of the time. You still have to confirm it. But it can certainly indicate what a lot of times it won’t be. Like, if it could be one of four things, maybe now it’s down to one or two based on a certain key that you have. But I’d say that’s an important thing every week. It’s important this week. But I couldn’t sit here – I can’t imagine sitting here before any game and saying it’s not important. I would say it’s important every week. It’s similar to pass protection, those are two of the most important things you do offensively in preparation.
Q: Do you except Brian Tyms and Brandon Browner to play on Sunday night?
BB: We’ll make that decision in the next 48-plus hours.
Q: Do they look like they’re ready to go?
BB: They’ve worked hard.
Q: Do you feel like they’re ready to play in a football game if you needed them?
BB: I think they’ve worked hard. Yeah, it’s just a question of them versus other guys. I think we have other guys to consider on that, too.
Q: What might those guys bring to the table that has been missing in their absence?
BB: They’re both good football players. They bring their strengths. The other players have their strengths. We’ll have to try to make the decision as to what we feel is best for this game and our situation.
Q: Is there an element to those guys getting into football shape? Obviously they’ve been working out but haven’t been able to practice or play. Is that part of this week? Is there a different kind of shape that they need to be in?
BB: Yeah, definitely. You could go out there and run laps around the field forever and do sit-ups, but until you put the other 21 guys out there on the field it’s different. You just can’t simulate football without 22 guys on the field. You just can’t do it. Being in condition is important, I’m certainly not minimizing that, but playing football is playing football. It’s not doing wind sprints. That’s part of conditioning, but it’s not part of playing football. Playing football is 21 other guys. So, you can’t simulate that unless you’re out there doing it. Guys that miss time, whether it’s a player coming back off an injury or the Tyms-Browner situation or whatever it is, there’s an element to football – reactions, timing, execution – that’s separate from conditioning.
Q: How much of what they did in training camp and preseason was done with that in mind? If not making up ground, just making sure they’re as prepared as they could be.
BB: Yeah, and I think they did that. They both knew what their situation was. They knew what they were going to be dealing with and I think they both did that, all the way up to the last preseason game with the Giants. I think they got as far as they could go and then we had to put on the brakes for four weeks and now it’s time to start up again. So, we’ll just have to see where that comes to.
Q: Do you have exemption for them for another week?
BB: It’s through this game and then it ends next week.
Q: Does it end on Monday?
BB: I think it does.
Q: You often tell players and they tell us that you ignore the noise when publicity is negative. But do players really ignore the newspapers and radio or do they use it for motivation to turn things around?
BB: You’d have to ask them that question.
Q: Have you been pleased so far this season with Ryan Allen’s ability to flip the field?
BB: I think he’s had some really good plays. I think there are some that he would like to have back or he could improve on. I think we all feel that way. I don’t think any of us on this team are feeling like its gone perfect. There are things that we’ve done well and there are things that we’d all like to do better or have back. I’m sure Ryan feels the same way.
Q: Is Giovani Bernard similar to Jamaal Charles in the sense that they’re both explosive and used in the passing game?
BB: I’d say Bernard is used in the passing game probably as much as any back in the league. He’s used in the running game a lot too, but he’s definitely a go-to guy in the passing game; a lot of different routes. He’s good at everything. He’s a good space player, he’s a very good receiver, he’s a good runner, he breaks a lot of tackles or makes guys miss in the open field, however you want to call it. He’s very good with the ball in his hands and he’s very good at creating space to get the ball in the passing game. He’s pretty dangerous wherever he is, but he’s really used everywhere. They split him out, they get him out of the backfield, they throw to him, they hand it to him. They make you cover him to create opportunities for other guys. He’s a real good player.
Q: Hue Jackson had a reputation in Oakland as somebody who really got the running game going and the offense played with an edge. Can you see that through four games with what Cincinnati is doing? I’ve noticed Andy Dalton’s attempts are down. Is that something that is showing up on film with them trying to establish the run?
BB: I think that’s always been Marvin’s philosophy. I don’t think it’s any different. Every time I’ve seen Marvin quoted, that’s what he always says, ‘It starts with the running game. Everything else comes off the running game.’ The quarterbacks say it, the coordinators say it. That’s the way they want to play the game. Of course when you’re ahead in the game like they were against Atlanta and Tennessee, you’re going to have a lot of running attempts. That’s obvious. I think part of the question is how do you get ahead? What causes you – once you get to that point, it’s easy to keep handing the ball off. I mean, every team in the league would do that, most every team. But they’ve done a good job of creating those leads and putting themselves in that position. That’s a key to it. But the running game is a big part of that, too. But I think attempts is a little bit of a misleading stat because a lot of that is related to score.
Q: How do Jeremy Hill and Bernard play off each other?
BB: They’re both in there. I think they both can play on all three downs. So, I don’t think it really matters. It’s not like one guy is in on first and second down and the other guy has to come in on third down. I think if they want Hill in there on third down, no problem. If they want Bernard in there on first and second down, no problem. I think those guys are pretty – they’re different, but they can both play on all three downs. They have good skills in the passing game, they can pick up and they can run the ball inside and in space. Good players.
Q: You’ve talked this week about Mike Brown and the respect you have for him. Have you ever talked to Mike about his dad?
BB: Sure, plenty of times.
Q: What do you guys talk about when you talk about Paul? What does he remember the most?
BB: Obviously he remembers a lot, it’s his father. But, I talk to Mike about him plenty and have a lot of respect for that family. My dad and that family go way back, back to World War II, post-World War II days. My godfather’s relationship with Paul and the Browns and the Bengals and the Browns being at Hiram [College] and my mom graduating from Hiram and my dad coaching at Hiram – it goes back a long way. But I’d say, most of the relationship with Coach Brown was with my dad. I met him and gone to practices and those kind of things, but I was young. So, I’d say I have a much closer relationship with Mike just because we’re a little closer in age, [have] football fathers, Ohio. There are a lot of similarities there.