There have been a number of surprises this season in the NFL, but I’m not sure any of them are on the same level as the Bengals. Before the season started, it looked like the Bengals would struggle just to stay out of the top five picks in the NFL Draft. They had an offseason where it looked like they lost more talent than they gained back. However, with an improved chemistry, an improved defense, and on the back of their top two draft picks, A.J. Green and Andy Dalton, the Bengals have returned to the playoffs for the second time in the last three years.
While the season didn’t finish off the way the Bengals would’ve liked; they lost three of their last five games and showed some weakness down the stretch, the Bengals may have been given the perfect match-up to get a playoff victory. The Houston Texans have hobbled into the playoffs without their starting quarterback, their star wide receiver, and their best defensive player. The earlier meeting between the two teams went down to the wire in Cincinnati with T.J. Yates playing the hero, but Marvin Lewis and his young Bengals are looking for a different result. The Bengals are looking to spoil Houston’s first ever trip to the playoffs.
Marvin Lewis joined WLW in Cincinnati with Lance McCalister and Dave Lapham to talk about the team’s effort this season, how much it helps his team given that they recently played the Texans, whether or not he is concerned about the team’s struggles against the run recently, on making sure the young guys don’t take this opportunity for granted, and what the message is to the team.
On the team’s effort this season:
“Yeah we don’t lack for effort and trying and sometimes we want to make sure we’re a little smarter. Doing things the right way and consistent is probably the word that you look for. Do the techniques and responsibilities the same way all the time and try not to deviate that being worried about what happened the last time. Just let the thing happen the way it’s supposed to happen and good things will happen with 11 guys fitting the right way.”
How much it helps the team given that they recently played the Texans:
“Well it’s something that when you have an opportunity like we are on a little bit of a short week having familiarity with them having just played them and their schemes and so forth. It’s an opportunity for our guys to get right back on it and do a lot of things better than we did the last time around and come away with the win this time.”
Whether or not he is concerned about the team’s struggles against the run recently:
“They have to be cleaned and yes they are. If we don’t get them cleaned up it will be short-lived. We’ve got to do a great job, they’ve got a couple of great backs who we are about to face again in (Arian) Foster and (Ben) Tate and we have to do a great job.”
On making sure his team doesn’t take the experience of being in the playoffs for granted:
“No you can’t. It’s great that young guys are gonna get an opportunity to kick off their careers in the playoffs. You want something they can get used to and appreciate and know how hard they worked to get here but make it happen each and every year. For guys like Nate (Clements) and Manny Lawson who have never been it’s a great opportunity and you can see it in their eyes and feel it in practice all week.”
How tough it is to keep playing from behind:
“It’s probably about 50-50 in playing from behind. We’ve had the lead a lot of times and gone down and scored early in games. We got behind yesterday in the game and came back and fought back and got down by a touchdown. Even had a chance to close quicker than that. You don’t feel the stress. You can only score one touchdown at a time anyway. You just have to go about your business and put play after play together.”
What his message is this week:
“You have to do the same thing, you have to focus in on your job and go compete. We have to win each battle. If I’m supposed to cover a guy I gotta cover my man. It’s just about execution.”