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Thread: Week 5 Notes: Arizona

  1. #1

    Week 5 Notes: Arizona

    Taylor-Made Takes: It's A New Opportunity This Week


    Geoff HobsonSENIOR WRITER






    Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson sat down with Bengals head coach Zac Taylor to talk about Sunday’s Paul Brown Stadium matchup (1 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Channel 19) against another rookie head coach in Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury and how he can get that cherished first victory against a guy he considers a good friend.

    You and Kliff spent time some time with Winnipeg in the CFL as back-up quarterbacks when you got right out of college.

    We were there for about three months and became good friends. He was third string and I was fourth string. Neither of us played. We fought over scout team reps. We didn’t really fight over them. We wanted the other guy to get them. We were both at the end of our careers and ready to move into coaching roles. We were on a really good team that went to the Grey Cup. Our starting quarterback was the league MVP that year (Kevin Glenn) and was really good. Kliff and I were fighting over scraps.

    Sounds like a reality check.

    It’s a real reality check to spend November in a Viscount Gort Hotel in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I knew I had a coaching job after the season at (Texas) A&M but I didn’t tell anybody. There wasn’t a lot to do. The practices were 30 minutes long, if I remember. The day would end at noon, the movie began at about 12:30. It was right next door. So any movie that came out in 2007, I’ve seen it. Probably a lot of them with Kliff. I spent three months there trying to find something to do from noon to midnight.







    Sun., Oct. 6 | 1 p.m. ET





    He must have been your best buddy up there.

    He was my only buddy there. He’s the only guy I could relate to. He’s a good guy. We’ve long stayed in touch. We worked some camps at my high school and he’s flown in for them. Two years in a row we’d have camps where I’d invite some coaches from around the country and he would participate.

    Will you talk this week?

    No.


    When’s the last time you talked?

    Probably at the (NFL) owners meeting (in March). We don’t talk much, but I consider him a good friend.

    One of the good friends is going to get his first NFL victory at the expense of the other needing the exact same thing.

    That’s the way it goes.

    With your team trying to get your first one, do you think it’s a personnel issue? What’s the next move?


    No. We just have to make sure we don’t keep making the same mistakes twice and keep raising our standard. It’s a new opportunity this week. If we change the momentum, get a win this week, start going in the right direction, we’ll feel differently. But right now we’ve put ourselves in an 0-4 hole and it doesn’t feel great.

    Nick Vigil was talking about how the Steelers made it easy for quarterback Mason Rudolph after Monday night’s game. Are there any ways to make it easy for Andy Dalton?

    We’re always trying to evaluate the best scheme to put us in good positions.

    Hard to point the finger at him Monday night, isn’t it?

    It’s on the whole group. It’s hard when you’ve got guys in your face. You’re getting hit quite a bit and you’re getting sacked eight times. That’s not easy for any quarterback.


    Something you talked about going into the game was after a couple of flat starts, to make sure they came out ready early. And they did. The defense stepped up and gave you plenty of chances. The offense came out rolling, too, but paid the price on that first series for a miscommunication on protecting a blitz.

    I really thought in the first quarter and early second quarter we gave ourselves opportunities. We just didn’t capitalize. Offensively it was that sack in the first drive, not scoring a touchdown on the second drive and the sack fumble in the red zone in the second quarter. Defensively we made a big stop early on fourth and 1 and gave up ten points in the first half but they got stuck with bad field position throughout the first half, so that was tough for them.

    The red zone has been a problem with three touchdowns in 11 trips. Is there anything you can put your finger on?

    Yeah, turnovers and minus yardage plays really hurt us. Those two things have killed us.

    In Pittsburgh and Seattle. Same thing. Turnovers in the red zone instead of touchdowns.


    It’s a different game. It’s easy for me to sit here and say without really knowing how it’s going to play out. (Monday night) was one of those games I felt like if you could take the early momentum and grab a 10-0 lead, which I felt like we were in position to do, then it plays out differently.

    The miscommunication on rookie linebacker Devin Bush’s sack on the first series of the game, who is that on?

    Up front they just have to a better job of communicating.

    Anything to do with the shuffling? Left guard Michael Jordan (knee) was healthy this week after missing last week.

    No, we should have been OK. That would have been a standard protection issue.


    Billy Price came in for Jordan late in the game. Was that for injury or a move?

    Just to change it up a little bit at the end.

    Does Price start this week?

    We’ll always evaluate the way it goes.

    Another trend has been giving up one wide-open long pass a game on defense.


    Miscommunication in the back end. We had safety pressure (a Shawn Williams blitz), he was a split- second away and busted coverage. It bit us right there.

    Were you surprised how much the Steelers changed up their offense from last week and pretty much used the Wild Cat as a staple against you?

    They hadn’t shown it. In this league, you can never be caught by surprise by anything. You have to be ready to adjust. Whatever they show you, you have to be able to adjust to it and that’s why we’re in the NFL. (Rudolph) had a high completion percentage. About 90 percent of those throws were under five yards. I thought our defense in the back end did a nice job except for that one miscommunication. On offense we have to score points to so that it takes pressure off the defense.

    https://www.bengals.com/news/taylor-...nity-this-week









  2. #2
    Quick Hits: Offense seeks ID; WRs Hit Again; Three DL Return To Work


    Geoff HobsonSENIOR WRITER





    Stanley Morgan caught a spot on the 53.




    Bengals offensive line coach Jim Turner watched it, as they say nowadays, in real time on Monday night. On Tuesday he broke it down. On Wednesday he summed it up.

    “You know what stood out to me,” Turner repeated after Wednesday’s walk through the furnace as he reflected on Monday night’s eight sacks of quarterback Andy Dalton. “Just how hard these guys worked until the last second of the last play. These guys go at it. It was a long night. But there was never a look. There’s not a quitter among those five. I’ll coach those guys until the end of time as far as I’m concerned.”

    So it doesn’t sound like there’s a change in personnel up front Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Channel 19) at Paul Brown Stadium against the Cardinals. Turner also looked at the game the Patriots played against the Bills last Sunday and the one the Bengals payed against the Bills the Sunday before that.

    The Bengals gouged out 306 yards to New England’s 229. They rushed for 67 yards while New England had 74. The Pats won. The Bengals lost. But Turner believes the flashes the Bengals have shown against elite defenses such as the ones in Seattle and Buffalo show they are on the right track early in the life of head coach Zac Taylor’s first-year offense.

    “We’re still trying to find our identity as an offense and you learn some tough lessons sometimes and I think we learned one the other night,” Turner said. “We’re not a drop back 35-time team. In the end, that’s pretty much the way it is. We have to run our offense and we don’t want to be in those positions very often.




    “It’s like Zac said. We’ve got to be efficient on first and second down. Be efficient running the ball, screening. Even if we drop back on first down, we’ve got to be efficient doing it. You can’t put all of it on 14 (Dalton) and these guys understand that. They’re ready to do what we have to do to make this thing work.”

    Turner says it comes down to developing a rhythm that translates into their identity. They’re a step ahead of a lot of people because they know what they want that identity to be. It’s taking time for the philosophy to catch up with the Xs and Os.

    “When you take over a team like Zac did, you know we all came over to a new team, there’s a certain fit that you’re looking for between the players and the coaches,” Turner said. “A lot of times you don’t know exactly what you’re going to run (and) you don’t know if it fits with the players you have and so on. So, I think we are still trying to find that identity … In the end, the theme of what we do is running the ball, play-action pass (and) screens off of our runs. That’s our theme …









    “Our offense is built to run the ball, to play-action pass, and to screen and to drop-back pass 10 to 12 times a game. We dropped back a lot the other night because the way the game unfolded. When they get a little jump on us, and they get a little bit of momentum, and they make a couple of plays, it just goes down that way. Sometimes it rains hard and it rained hard the other night.”


    The offensive line has been playing hurt all year. They’re down to their third left tackle, Andre Smith, a right tackle by trade that’s giving them everything he’s got in a strange position. They’ve got a rookie left guard to go along with a new center and right guard to match a new scheme.

    It sounds like Turner and Taylor, his play-caller, are going to try to help their line by examining pass-run ratio, which is out of whack enough that Dalton is on pace to break the franchise record he shares with Carson Palmer by 78 attempts for 664 passes, eighth most all-time in an NFL season. The Bengals’ projected 284 rushes would be the fewest for a team in a full season since the merger.

    They know that’s not a good trend. Four of the five biggest passing seasons for the Bengals have come in losing years. Last year, the 369 rushes were the fewest in franchise history, a year after the 377 of 2017 were the fourth fewest. Both were in losing seasons.

    They also know that the plan to be balanced his season was sabotaged in the first three games by first down inefficiency. Taylor seemed to indicate maybe he could have helped the O-line a little more Monday night with more than the 16 attempts by the running backs.

    “You give up eight sacks and you say, ‘We shouldn’t have thrown the ball so much.’ That’s the easy thing for someone to say, and for myself to say,” Taylor said Wednesday. “This is a week for us to get back on track.


    “Through the first three games, there were some moments where those guys were really challenged, and they stepped up and really did a good job. This is the first time where it felt like, ‘All right, they beat us up up front a little bit.’ It was for a variety of reasons. We can take the pressure off of them with the play calls and the things that we were doing. That was a one-off from what we’ll see. That’s not going to be the norm. That was a physical front. As the game went on, they wore us down a little bit, but I still feel confident in the guys that we have out there and that they’re going to do a good job.”

    Turner has no doubt that his five guys are going to bounce back. On Wednesday, their first day back to work, Turner got what he expected. They won’t be scarred emotionally by what happened in Pittsburgh.

    “They were outstanding. They were excellent,” Turner said of Wednesday’s approach. “The only guy who is young is (rookie left guard) Mike Jordan and not a lot is going to bother Mike Jordan. They’ve been through it. They know how it goes. They know there are going to be some highs and some lows. I don’t think confidence is going to be a problem for these guys, I really don’t.”

    Turner said the instant the right side let rookie Steelers linebacker Devin Bush get an untouched sack of Dalton to blow up the first series, it knew it made a mistake and fixed it right away. With 5:54 left in the first half and the Bengals in the red zone poised to go up, 7-3, Smith got jumped on the pass rush and allowed a strip-sack.

    “The great thing about Andre is that he got beat early in the game, but he bowed up,” Turner said. “Andre’ not going in the tank. He played a pretty good game.”










    MORE UP FRONT: Turner brought Billy Price off the bench late to play for Jordan Monday night, but Taylor said Jordan is starting again Sunday.

    “I want to get Billy as much work as I can. At that point in the game, I wanted to get Billy in the game for that reason,” Turner said. “Mike had been injured as well, so it was a smart move. And same thing, I wanted to get Andre out of the game (replaced by John Jerry). Because the way I see the world, Andre is our left tackle and that’s where I’m at. He’s our left tackle and that’s the way we are going.”

    No sign of left tackle Cordy Glenn (concussion) after he practiced for the first time last week in six weeks.

    ROSS OUT, MORGAN IN: Wide receiver John Ross injured his sternoclavicular joint Monday night and is lost for six to eight weeks. He went on injured reserve, where he’s one of two IR players eligible to return after the eighth week. The other is rookie left tackle Jonah Williams. So Ross, who leads the team with 329 receiving yards, is gone for as long as they’ve missed Green and maybe more. That’s quite a blow to a team ranked 27th in offense.


    “John was really starting to feel like the player he's supposed to be,” said wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell. “But it is what it is. You get the next guys up and hopefully they can take this opportunity.”

    When Stanley Morgan, Jr., was promoted Wednesday from the practice squad, he joined Damion Willis as the second undrafted free agent receiver on the roster. With Ross and A.J. Green now shelved, he’ll definitely make his debut, too, against the Cards.

    When he missed his call from Taylor, the fellow Nebraska product, the head coached texted him, ‘Everything’s OK, you can call me.” So Morgan knew he wasn’t cut and, anyway, he had an idea he’d replace Ross.

    Cornerback Darqueze Dennard suffered a similar injury last year and missed three games and four weeks, but it was scary. The sternoclavicular joint is basically at the base of the throat and he was inches away from being severely hurt.

    And, no, there was no conversation about going outside the club for a receiver with NFL experience.


    “You can always have the conversation,” Taylor said. “No. These are guys we believe in, and if we didn’t, we wouldn’t bring them up – we’d go get somebody else. But we believe in (Willis and Morgan).

    “You watch Stanley on the practice field, and he’s dead tired from taking a thousand snaps on both sides of the ball. The guy competes his tail off. Those are just guys that impress you. You like the energy that they bring to the whole team. Yeah, they’re undrafted rookie free agents that we went out and got, but I’ve really been impressed with them since the first couple of weeks they were here — enough that they’re both active right now.”

    INJURY UPDATE: All three defensive linemen who missed the last two games were listed as full at Wednesday’s walk-through: Carl Lawson (hamstring), Ryan Glasgow (thigh), Kerry Wynn (concussion). Everybody else was full, too, but Green, Glenn and Ross.




    Don Wright/AP Images
    Turns out that Zac Taylor was right.



    ZAC ATTACK: As he indicated after the game, Taylor didn't like that first Steelers TD, running back James Conner's 21-yard weave on a third-and-two pass that was illegal because of men downfield.


    “If they are down the field before the ball is thrown, then there’s an ineligible receiver downfield," Taylor said. "On a touchdown, you can’t challenge whether it was OPI (offensive pass interference) down the field. So if they engage with a second-level defender, which they did... and they said that they missed it. That part is hard, because we can’t challenge that because it was a scoring play. I made that mistake in the preseason. So that part was frustrating.”


    https://www.bengals.com/news/quick-h...return-to-work





  3. #3
    Taylor's Thoughts On The Cardinals, Run Game And More





    Gary Landers/AP Photos




    ZAC TAYLOR


    Head coach

    Initial Comments …

    “We’re right back to work, and we’re getting ready for Arizona. I think our guys are still playing motivated, and they’re excited to be back in the building. We took a day off yesterday, so today we get a chance to start game-planning and introducing the plan to these guys. The big news for today is that we’re going to put John Ross on IR (Reserve/Injured). His injury is probably a six- to eight-week injury. It’s hard to guarantee what the timeline is, so the best decision is to put him on IR. He’s somebody that we would be able to bring back later in the season. It’s tough news for him. He really worked hard to come back from injury in training camp, and he was playing well. It’s tough to see a guy go through that when he’s fought through this before. We’ll be ready for him to get back when he heals up.

    We’re moving on to Arizona, and they bring some challenges on defense. They have two really good edge guys in Suggs (Terrell Suggs) and Chandler Jones. Those guys have been playing football for a long time, and they’ve been disruptive for a long time. Those are guys that we certainly have to incorporate into the plan. Offensively they have a dynamic, young quarterback. He’s a guy that makes you stand on your toes for the entirety of the play. Larry Fitzgerald is still grinding through it, and he’s one of the all-time greats. He’s a true professional, and a guy that you respect a ton. They also have David Johnson in the backfield. They have some weapons, and they have some players on both sides of the ball, so we have to be ready for a good test this week.”




    Are CB Darius Phillips and WR John Ross both IR-recall candidates?

    “They are the two that are eligible right now.”

    With John Ross out, is there a wide receiver on the roster that can take the top off of a defense?

    “Yeah. We have to be creative with our schemes to make sure that (the defense) is accountable all the way down the field. Certainly we have guys that are ready to step up – Alex Erickson, Damion Willis. We’ll promote WR Stanley Morgan Jr., and he will be active this week. We feel like we have a good core of guys who know what to do. They’ve gotten some reps, and we’re going to be counting on them to step up.”

    What have teams done to take the quick passing game away?


    “Last week, I didn’t do a good enough job with the calls that would give us the best opportunity. Once they got the lead, they had some good (pass) rush, and they put some pressure on us. Ultimately, we didn’t get the job done. The big thing for us is when we cross the 40 (yard line), we have to take advantage and capitalize. Overall, in the scope of our drives over the last four weeks – when we’ve gotten across that threshold – we haven’t scored enough points. We’ve left too many on the field, and that’s an area we have to improve on.”









    Did QB Andy Dalton check out of the play that resulted in the strip-sack in the second quarter against Pittsburgh?

    “Yes. It was two play calls. He got us out of the first one like he was supposed to, and got us to the second one. Again, it’s first-and-10, and I put us in a drop-back call. From my standpoint, that’s something I could have been better at.”

    As a coach, how much of an adjustment period has it been for you through the first four weeks?


    “We can continue to grow as a unit, and continue to identify what our strengths and weaknesses are. We have to play to the best of our abilities. We’re better than what we’ve shown. That’s where we’re at through four weeks. It shows that we’re 0-4, and we haven’t capitalized on opportunities. We continue to identify the ways that we can improve. So far, we have a good plan for Arizona, and we’re excited to put it to the test.”

    Has the rebuilding process been more difficult than you expected?

    “No. Again, we haven’t capitalized on the opportunities we’ve had. We’re 0-4, but surely doesn’t feel like we should be there. We all know that, we recognize that and we’re accountable for it. Early in the (Pittsburgh) game, we felt like we had some opportunities that we should have jumped on. It’s easy to say that it would have been a different game, but you don’t know that for sure. We have to start stronger. That’s what has really killed us. We haven’t started fast, mainly on offense. If you look at the defense, they really held those guys down there. (Pittsburgh) scored a touchdown on a third-and-two that I would heavily dispute. Then they held (Pittsburgh) to a field goal on a third-and-goal at the end of half, so they gave up 10 points. They battled some tough field position all game. As an offense, we just have to start faster.”

    On the Pittsburgh TD you referenced, it looked like there was a Steelers offensive lineman illegally downfield, but there was no flag thrown. What is the rule on an ineligible offensive lineman downfield?

    “If they are down the field before the ball is thrown, then there’s an ineligible receiver downfield. On a touchdown, you can’t challenge whether it was OPI (offensive pass interference) down the field. So if they engage with a second-level defender, which they did... and they said that they missed it. That part is hard, because we can’t challenge that because it was a scoring play. I made that mistake in the preseason. So that part was frustrating.”


    Did you check with the league on that call?

    “Yep.”

    Are there similarities between your offensive scheme and Arizona’s?

    “There are certainly concepts that are carryover. I wouldn’t say that they’re that similar. They’re a little bit unique in their approach. They’re creative, and they’re really going to test you. They’ll make you be disciplined with your eyes, and they’re going to have some wrinkles that catch you off guard. Just watching them, they have some dynamic players, so you have to be accountable with your eye discipline, know what your job is and execute it. They certainly have an offense that’s capable of being explosive.”

    Has Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury modified the “air raid” offense that he ran at Texas Tech?


    “I’ll be honest, the ‘air raid’ isn’t something I’ve really studied. I’ve always followed Kliff and seen the creativity that he’s had, but I can’t quite make that comparison to what Texas Tech’s offensive looked like compared to Arizona.”

    How much does this team need a win on Sunday?

    “We’ve worked hard. We’ve put in the work, and we always feel confident going into the game. Certainly you feel better after a win, but this is a resilient group. If you’re present in the locker room after games, and if you’re present in our team meetings, you still feel the same energy. But again, a win helps you continue in the right direction. Every week we’ve gone in and felt like, ‘Alright, this is the one, and we’re going to get this one.’ It just hasn’t quite gone our way. This is a resilient group. We all believe in each other, and we’re excited for this next opportunity.”

    How do you adjust to the wide receiver room having little experience? Does that put more pressure on the other offensive players?

    “I certainly believe we have players that we believe in on offense at all the skill positions – running back, tight end, and receiver. We have to continue to find ways to maximize their abilities and put them in position. We’ll look at the full scope of it, and figure out how to put the best five eligible (players) out there that give us our best chance.”










    Has it been hard to get HB Giovani Bernard involved with the way the games have unfolded?

    “The amount of rushes hasn’t been where it needs to be. That’ll carry over to the whole room. It’s not just Joe (HB Joe Mixon), it’s Gio and all of those guys. We need to do a better job of staying on track and getting runs going – the play-actions, the keepers, and all of that stuff is married together. We certainly want to involve our playmakers to the full extent, and Gio hasn’t gotten a ton of touches yet.”

    Is there a reason for the small number of rushing attempts?

    “You give up eight sacks and you say, ‘We shouldn’t have thrown the ball so much.’ That’s the easy thing for someone to say, and for myself to say. Again, this is a week for us to get back on track.”


    As a result of the eight sacks allowed against Pittsburgh, do jobs open up on the offensive line?

    “We still believe in the guys we have, and we do feel like we have some depth behind them. Every week we evaluate our best five that we put out there. There are some guys that can always step up. Through the first three games, there were some moments where those guys were really challenged, and they stepped up and really did a good job. This is the first time where it felt like, ‘All right, they beat us up up front a little bit.’ It was for a variety of reasons. We can take the pressure off of them with the play calls and the things that we were doing. That was a one-off from what we’ll see. That’s not going to be the norm. That was a physical front. As the game went on, they wore us down a little bit, but I still feel confident in the guys that we have out there and that they’re going to do a good job.”

    Is Michael Jordan still the starting left guard?

    “Yeah, Michael is still the guy.”

    What did you see from Pittsburgh’s defense that caused you to choose to throw the ball so much?


    “In the second half, they came out and scored to start the half, so we were down 17-3. And then we were down 24-3 on the next drive. That’s, unfortunately, the way it goes. A lot of the sacks came at that point. Down 21 points, you could run the ball I guess, but at that point we feel like we have a shot. We drove the ball down there and had fourth-and-goal on the 12. If you get a touchdown there, it’s 24-10 and a two-possession game with 11 minutes left. I still feel confident that we have a shot. I’m not giving up on that. It’s hard. At times you want to run the ball to take the pressure off, you want to call some screens to take the pressure off. But ultimately, when you’re down like that, you need to drop back and throw it and give yourself a chance to win.”

    Is it difficult to handle the mental pressure that accompanies a slow start to the season, especially considering the team went 1-7 in the final eight games last year?

    “I don’t feel that. I feel like it’s all new and fresh. We are 0-4, we’re not 1-7. I don’t get that sense from anybody. I wasn’t here (last year), so I don’t feel it. I don’t get that sense from the players. We’re 0-4, and that’s where we are right now.”

    How much do you worry about your message resonating with players after a slow start?

    “You worry about it if you don’t have the right character that’s going to respond to it – the character of the guys in the locker room. That’s something we challenge them about every week. What are we about? What are we about as men? What are we about as football players? They’ve responded to that challenge every week. I understand that at 0-4, the message gets a little stale, but I haven’t seen that from those guys. They’ve responded at every turn. I believe in those guys right now, and I believe we can get it turned around quickly.”


    Do players feel like they can communicate freely with you?

    "That’s what’s been good, really. When communication is poor, it’s when guys are afraid to accept responsibility for something that happened. Sometimes it’s harder to see as it happens live. Now, we do get the pictures on the sidelines and all of that stuff. But I’ve certainly been around players throughout the course of my career that don’t accept that responsibility. When you watch the tape the next day, you’re like, ‘Dude, come on. Tell me so we can fix it.’ That hasn’t been the case with these guys. These guys are open about it. If they make a mistake, they admit to it and we correct it quickly.”









    What have you seen so far from WRs Stanley Morgan Jr. and Damion Willis?

    “Competitors. They are as competitive as they come. They’re natural football players. They make the play when you put (the ball) in their vicinity. They love to compete. They love to practice. You watch Stanley on the practice field, and he’s dead tired from taking a thousand snaps on both sides of the ball. The guy competes his tail off. Those are just guys that impress you. You like the energy that they bring to the whole team. Yeah, they’re undrafted rookie free agents that we went out and got, but I’ve really been impressed with them since the first couple of weeks they were here — enough that they’re both active right now. You can always have the conversation, ‘Do you want to go get somebody else that you’ve seen on tape, maybe that’s played more in the league?’ No. These are guys we believe in, and if we didn’t, we wouldn’t bring them up – we’d go get somebody else. But we believe in both of those guys.”


    Four games into the season, how much of your playbook is still available?

    “The core of what we want to do is always there. Each week, as the team you’re playing changes, it needs to evolve and you need to look for ways to be creative and unique. That doesn’t mean that the concepts you’re running change, it just means the window dressing changes. A lot of teams would say that the nuts and bolts that you practice in the spring and during training camp continue to evolve –the first quarter, the second quarter, the third quarter of the season as it goes. We need to look for ways to be fresh, and that’s part of what we’re trying to do right now.”

    What are your initial impressions of Arizona QB Kyler Murray?

    “Creative. The play is always alive. He’s stronger than you think. He’s harder to bring down than you think, because he’s not 6-5, 240 (pounds). You see the power in his arm, that’s the first thing. When you go to the pro days and you see him in person, the power he generates (is evident). He’s a pro baseball player – he obviously has power for all the things he’s been able to do. You see that in person, and it’s good to see in person because otherwise, you think he’s not a big guy and it’s more of a controlled passing game. That’s not the case. He has the power in his arm to drive down the field. He’s the No. 1 pick for a reason. You see it on tape.”

    Do you expect OT Cordy Glenn to play this week?


    “No.”

    There was a report recently that WR A.J. Green will be out a few more weeks. Can you speak to that?

    “I don’t know where that came from, to be quite honest with you. We talk every day with our trainers. There has been no deadline or set number of weeks. He’s continuing to rehab right now. That didn’t come from me.”

    Do you have an estimate for when Green will return?

    “No. It’s still week-to-week at this point. He’s not going to play in this game.”


    Pittsburgh utilized a lot of shovel passes and screens on Monday night. Is that something you’ll look to do in your offense?

    “That depends on the scheme you’re facing. They felt like that was something they hadn’t shown a lot of, and they got us on it a couple times. That was their rushing game, to an extent, because we did a good job against the run. So they felt like they had to get the ball on the perimeter. I think they were eight-for-eight when they did it — you should be eight-for-eight, unless you’re fumbling the exchange. They had some success. Overall, despite that, our defense wasn’t giving away the chunk plays. They were giving away some of that stuff, and it gets frustrating at times, but overall we need to score more points to take the pressure off of them. That’s the biggest key.”

    https://www.bengals.com/news/taylor-...-game-and-more







  4. #4

  5. #5

  6. #6
    Hope:

    Lawson, Glasgow and Wynn returned to practice yesterday.

  7. #7
    Taylor's Thoughts On The Cardinals, Run Game And More





    Gary Landers/AP Photos




    ZAC TAYLOR


    Head coach

    Initial Comments …

    “We’re right back to work, and we’re getting ready for Arizona. I think our guys are still playing motivated, and they’re excited to be back in the building. We took a day off yesterday, so today we get a chance to start game-planning and introducing the plan to these guys. The big news for today is that we’re going to put John Ross on IR (Reserve/Injured). His injury is probably a six- to eight-week injury. It’s hard to guarantee what the timeline is, so the best decision is to put him on IR. He’s somebody that we would be able to bring back later in the season. It’s tough news for him. He really worked hard to come back from injury in training camp, and he was playing well. It’s tough to see a guy go through that when he’s fought through this before. We’ll be ready for him to get back when he heals up.

    We’re moving on to Arizona, and they bring some challenges on defense. They have two really good edge guys in Suggs (Terrell Suggs) and Chandler Jones. Those guys have been playing football for a long time, and they’ve been disruptive for a long time. Those are guys that we certainly have to incorporate into the plan. Offensively they have a dynamic, young quarterback. He’s a guy that makes you stand on your toes for the entirety of the play. Larry Fitzgerald is still grinding through it, and he’s one of the all-time greats. He’s a true professional, and a guy that you respect a ton. They also have David Johnson in the backfield. They have some weapons, and they have some players on both sides of the ball, so we have to be ready for a good test this week.”




    Are CB Darius Phillips and WR John Ross both IR-recall candidates?

    “They are the two that are eligible right now.”

    With John Ross out, is there a wide receiver on the roster that can take the top off of a defense?

    “Yeah. We have to be creative with our schemes to make sure that (the defense) is accountable all the way down the field. Certainly we have guys that are ready to step up – Alex Erickson, Damion Willis. We’ll promote WR Stanley Morgan Jr., and he will be active this week. We feel like we have a good core of guys who know what to do. They’ve gotten some reps, and we’re going to be counting on them to step up.”

    What have teams done to take the quick passing game away?


    “Last week, I didn’t do a good enough job with the calls that would give us the best opportunity. Once they got the lead, they had some good (pass) rush, and they put some pressure on us. Ultimately, we didn’t get the job done. The big thing for us is when we cross the 40 (yard line), we have to take advantage and capitalize. Overall, in the scope of our drives over the last four weeks – when we’ve gotten across that threshold – we haven’t scored enough points. We’ve left too many on the field, and that’s an area we have to improve on.”









    Did QB Andy Dalton check out of the play that resulted in the strip-sack in the second quarter against Pittsburgh?

    “Yes. It was two play calls. He got us out of the first one like he was supposed to, and got us to the second one. Again, it’s first-and-10, and I put us in a drop-back call. From my standpoint, that’s something I could have been better at.”

    As a coach, how much of an adjustment period has it been for you through the first four weeks?


    “We can continue to grow as a unit, and continue to identify what our strengths and weaknesses are. We have to play to the best of our abilities. We’re better than what we’ve shown. That’s where we’re at through four weeks. It shows that we’re 0-4, and we haven’t capitalized on opportunities. We continue to identify the ways that we can improve. So far, we have a good plan for Arizona, and we’re excited to put it to the test.”

    Has the rebuilding process been more difficult than you expected?

    “No. Again, we haven’t capitalized on the opportunities we’ve had. We’re 0-4, but surely doesn’t feel like we should be there. We all know that, we recognize that and we’re accountable for it. Early in the (Pittsburgh) game, we felt like we had some opportunities that we should have jumped on. It’s easy to say that it would have been a different game, but you don’t know that for sure. We have to start stronger. That’s what has really killed us. We haven’t started fast, mainly on offense. If you look at the defense, they really held those guys down there. (Pittsburgh) scored a touchdown on a third-and-two that I would heavily dispute. Then they held (Pittsburgh) to a field goal on a third-and-goal at the end of half, so they gave up 10 points. They battled some tough field position all game. As an offense, we just have to start faster.”

    On the Pittsburgh TD you referenced, it looked like there was a Steelers offensive lineman illegally downfield, but there was no flag thrown. What is the rule on an ineligible offensive lineman downfield?

    “If they are down the field before the ball is thrown, then there’s an ineligible receiver downfield. On a touchdown, you can’t challenge whether it was OPI (offensive pass interference) down the field. So if they engage with a second-level defender, which they did... and they said that they missed it. That part is hard, because we can’t challenge that because it was a scoring play. I made that mistake in the preseason. So that part was frustrating.”


    Did you check with the league on that call?

    “Yep.”

    Are there similarities between your offensive scheme and Arizona’s?

    “There are certainly concepts that are carryover. I wouldn’t say that they’re that similar. They’re a little bit unique in their approach. They’re creative, and they’re really going to test you. They’ll make you be disciplined with your eyes, and they’re going to have some wrinkles that catch you off guard. Just watching them, they have some dynamic players, so you have to be accountable with your eye discipline, know what your job is and execute it. They certainly have an offense that’s capable of being explosive.”

    Has Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury modified the “air raid” offense that he ran at Texas Tech?


    “I’ll be honest, the ‘air raid’ isn’t something I’ve really studied. I’ve always followed Kliff and seen the creativity that he’s had, but I can’t quite make that comparison to what Texas Tech’s offensive looked like compared to Arizona.”

    How much does this team need a win on Sunday?

    “We’ve worked hard. We’ve put in the work, and we always feel confident going into the game. Certainly you feel better after a win, but this is a resilient group. If you’re present in the locker room after games, and if you’re present in our team meetings, you still feel the same energy. But again, a win helps you continue in the right direction. Every week we’ve gone in and felt like, ‘Alright, this is the one, and we’re going to get this one.’ It just hasn’t quite gone our way. This is a resilient group. We all believe in each other, and we’re excited for this next opportunity.”

    How do you adjust to the wide receiver room having little experience? Does that put more pressure on the other offensive players?

    “I certainly believe we have players that we believe in on offense at all the skill positions – running back, tight end, and receiver. We have to continue to find ways to maximize their abilities and put them in position. We’ll look at the full scope of it, and figure out how to put the best five eligible (players) out there that give us our best chance.”










    Has it been hard to get HB Giovani Bernard involved with the way the games have unfolded?

    “The amount of rushes hasn’t been where it needs to be. That’ll carry over to the whole room. It’s not just Joe (HB Joe Mixon), it’s Gio and all of those guys. We need to do a better job of staying on track and getting runs going – the play-actions, the keepers, and all of that stuff is married together. We certainly want to involve our playmakers to the full extent, and Gio hasn’t gotten a ton of touches yet.”

    Is there a reason for the small number of rushing attempts?

    “You give up eight sacks and you say, ‘We shouldn’t have thrown the ball so much.’ That’s the easy thing for someone to say, and for myself to say. Again, this is a week for us to get back on track.”


    As a result of the eight sacks allowed against Pittsburgh, do jobs open up on the offensive line?

    “We still believe in the guys we have, and we do feel like we have some depth behind them. Every week we evaluate our best five that we put out there. There are some guys that can always step up. Through the first three games, there were some moments where those guys were really challenged, and they stepped up and really did a good job. This is the first time where it felt like, ‘All right, they beat us up up front a little bit.’ It was for a variety of reasons. We can take the pressure off of them with the play calls and the things that we were doing. That was a one-off from what we’ll see. That’s not going to be the norm. That was a physical front. As the game went on, they wore us down a little bit, but I still feel confident in the guys that we have out there and that they’re going to do a good job.”

    Is Michael Jordan still the starting left guard?

    “Yeah, Michael is still the guy.”

    What did you see from Pittsburgh’s defense that caused you to choose to throw the ball so much?


    “In the second half, they came out and scored to start the half, so we were down 17-3. And then we were down 24-3 on the next drive. That’s, unfortunately, the way it goes. A lot of the sacks came at that point. Down 21 points, you could run the ball I guess, but at that point we feel like we have a shot. We drove the ball down there and had fourth-and-goal on the 12. If you get a touchdown there, it’s 24-10 and a two-possession game with 11 minutes left. I still feel confident that we have a shot. I’m not giving up on that. It’s hard. At times you want to run the ball to take the pressure off, you want to call some screens to take the pressure off. But ultimately, when you’re down like that, you need to drop back and throw it and give yourself a chance to win.”

    Is it difficult to handle the mental pressure that accompanies a slow start to the season, especially considering the team went 1-7 in the final eight games last year?

    “I don’t feel that. I feel like it’s all new and fresh. We are 0-4, we’re not 1-7. I don’t get that sense from anybody. I wasn’t here (last year), so I don’t feel it. I don’t get that sense from the players. We’re 0-4, and that’s where we are right now.”

    How much do you worry about your message resonating with players after a slow start?

    “You worry about it if you don’t have the right character that’s going to respond to it – the character of the guys in the locker room. That’s something we challenge them about every week. What are we about? What are we about as men? What are we about as football players? They’ve responded to that challenge every week. I understand that at 0-4, the message gets a little stale, but I haven’t seen that from those guys. They’ve responded at every turn. I believe in those guys right now, and I believe we can get it turned around quickly.”


    Do players feel like they can communicate freely with you?

    "That’s what’s been good, really. When communication is poor, it’s when guys are afraid to accept responsibility for something that happened. Sometimes it’s harder to see as it happens live. Now, we do get the pictures on the sidelines and all of that stuff. But I’ve certainly been around players throughout the course of my career that don’t accept that responsibility. When you watch the tape the next day, you’re like, ‘Dude, come on. Tell me so we can fix it.’ That hasn’t been the case with these guys. These guys are open about it. If they make a mistake, they admit to it and we correct it quickly.”









    What have you seen so far from WRs Stanley Morgan Jr. and Damion Willis?

    “Competitors. They are as competitive as they come. They’re natural football players. They make the play when you put (the ball) in their vicinity. They love to compete. They love to practice. You watch Stanley on the practice field, and he’s dead tired from taking a thousand snaps on both sides of the ball. The guy competes his tail off. Those are just guys that impress you. You like the energy that they bring to the whole team. Yeah, they’re undrafted rookie free agents that we went out and got, but I’ve really been impressed with them since the first couple of weeks they were here — enough that they’re both active right now. You can always have the conversation, ‘Do you want to go get somebody else that you’ve seen on tape, maybe that’s played more in the league?’ No. These are guys we believe in, and if we didn’t, we wouldn’t bring them up – we’d go get somebody else. But we believe in both of those guys.”


    Four games into the season, how much of your playbook is still available?

    “The core of what we want to do is always there. Each week, as the team you’re playing changes, it needs to evolve and you need to look for ways to be creative and unique. That doesn’t mean that the concepts you’re running change, it just means the window dressing changes. A lot of teams would say that the nuts and bolts that you practice in the spring and during training camp continue to evolve –the first quarter, the second quarter, the third quarter of the season as it goes. We need to look for ways to be fresh, and that’s part of what we’re trying to do right now.”

    What are your initial impressions of Arizona QB Kyler Murray?

    “Creative. The play is always alive. He’s stronger than you think. He’s harder to bring down than you think, because he’s not 6-5, 240 (pounds). You see the power in his arm, that’s the first thing. When you go to the pro days and you see him in person, the power he generates (is evident). He’s a pro baseball player – he obviously has power for all the things he’s been able to do. You see that in person, and it’s good to see in person because otherwise, you think he’s not a big guy and it’s more of a controlled passing game. That’s not the case. He has the power in his arm to drive down the field. He’s the No. 1 pick for a reason. You see it on tape.”

    Do you expect OT Cordy Glenn to play this week?


    “No.”

    There was a report recently that WR A.J. Green will be out a few more weeks. Can you speak to that?

    “I don’t know where that came from, to be quite honest with you. We talk every day with our trainers. There has been no deadline or set number of weeks. He’s continuing to rehab right now. That didn’t come from me.”

    Do you have an estimate for when Green will return?

    “No. It’s still week-to-week at this point. He’s not going to play in this game.”


    Pittsburgh utilized a lot of shovel passes and screens on Monday night. Is that something you’ll look to do in your offense?

    “That depends on the scheme you’re facing. They felt like that was something they hadn’t shown a lot of, and they got us on it a couple times. That was their rushing game, to an extent, because we did a good job against the run. So they felt like they had to get the ball on the perimeter. I think they were eight-for-eight when they did it — you should be eight-for-eight, unless you’re fumbling the exchange. They had some success. Overall, despite that, our defense wasn’t giving away the chunk plays. They were giving away some of that stuff, and it gets frustrating at times, but overall we need to score more points to take the pressure off of them. That’s the biggest key.”


    https://www.bengals.com/news/taylor-...-game-and-more





  8. #8

  9. #9
    Quick Hits: Flipping Long-Ago TD Into Teaching Moment; Glenn Expected To Play Soon; Why Boyd Wants Larry's No. 11




    Geoff HobsonSENIOR WRITER










    Darron Cummings/AP2011
    Jerome Simpson sets up "The Flip."




    Every Cincinnati school kid knows the last time wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and his Cardinals came to Paul Brown Stadium, little-known Bengals wide receiver Jerome Simpson upstaged the Hall-of-Famer at the end of a 19-yard touchdown catch that put the Bengals in the playoffs and quarterback Andy Dalton in the record book on Christmas Eve of 2011.

    “I was young as hell. I remember that,” said running back Joe Mixon before Thursday’s practice. “So you’re saying I have to flip?”

    No, but they could use a big game from Mixon against Arizona’s No. 31 defense that has surrendered three 100-yard rushers already. He doesn’t need to flip the Cards. The 6-1 Simpson took care of that with an all-timer.

    After taking a short pass from Dalton on a shallow route over the middle, Simpson had clear sailing down the left sideline until the Cards one-yard-line. There stood 6-2 linebacker Daryl Washington. Simpson promptly leaped and somersaulted over Washington and then took the air out of the place when he ended up standing in the end zone, killing the landing to give the Bengals a 17-0 lead over Arizona when Mike Nugent added the PAT with 2:46 left in the first half.

    “The Russian judge gave it a 10.0. He nailed the landing,” exclaimed Bengals radio analyst Dave Lapham while play-by-man Dan Hoard marveled at the “Superman style” of the vault.




    Current Bengals wide receiver Alex Erickson, home on Christmas break during his freshman year at the University of Wisconsin, thinks he saw the replay that night. He also thinks nine years later it’s a teachable moment for the band of young wide receivers he and Tyler Boyd lead against the Cards. Three of them have a combined 19 NFL catches, and two of them, undrafted rookies Damion Willis and Stanley Morgan, Jr., are pressed into service because of injuries to starters A.J. Green and John Ross.

    “I’m sure he was in a similar situation we’re in,” Erickson said before Thursday’s practice. Probably some guys got hurt. Talking to the young guys, we’re all on roster for a reason. We all have ability. We all have talent that the coaching staff believes in. Obviously they wouldn’t put us out there if they didn’t believe in us.”









    Erickson, an undrafted rookie in 2016 who played when Green got hurt and has emerged as one of their most reliable receivers, had some advice for these kids.

    “No one knows as a group who we are,” Erickson said. “No one can replace A.J. Green. But they don’t have to do anything supernatural. Don’t do anything out of character for your ability. Just be yourself. Just go out there and execute. As a player, all you want is an opportunity. It sucks it happened because of injury, but that’s the nature of the business.”


    Erickson still keeps seeing, “ The Flip,” on various clips and when he got to the Bengals the starting wide receiver opposite Simpson that Christmas Eve, the rookie Green, filled in Erickson on how athletic he was.

    “That was a really cool play. That play will stand in the highlight reels forever, I think. A.J. told us all about him,” Erickson said. “That might have been supernatural. But he wouldn’t have had a chance to show his athleticism without the opportunities and he made the most of them.”

    Erickson nailed it, although Simpson wasn’t undrafted. He was at the other end of the spectrum, known as an underachieving second-rounder from the 2008 draft. But he also never really got a shot until late in his third season. When Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens bowed out late in 2010 with injuries, Simpson took off with 20 catches for three TDs after getting just one catch in his first two years. That outburst convinced them that they could pair him with Green the next season, when he caught 50 balls for a play-off team.

    Including “The Flip.” That turned out to be Dalton’s 20th touchdown pass as the Bengals moved to 9-6, making him the first quarterback in history to throw 20 touchdown passes for a play-off team

    “Who won?” wondered Mixon, who asked the right question.


    Bengals, 23-16.









    INJURY UPDATE: Just when the Bengals get all their defensive linemen back on Wednesday, left end Carlos Dunlap (knee) surfaced on Thursday’s injury report and didn’t practice. Same with defensive lineman Kerry Wynn (concussion), who has missed the last two games. He was marked full go Wednesday but was back on the rehab field Thursday. Safety Shawn Williams (knee) was marked as limited.

    The rehab field teemed with positive signs. Green (ankle) made a vintage one-handed pluck of the ball as he ran through ropes. Rookie left tackle Jonah Williams (shoulder) went through agility drills. And cornerback Darqueze Dennard (knee) is wearing shoulder pads with his No. 21 and is looking good jogging 100 yards several times.

    Williams and Dennard are on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) and are eligible to start practicing Monday, Oct. 14, after Week Six. Dennard is ahead of Williams, a guy they hope is ready for the final month. There are three injured reserve players eligible to return after the eighth week: Ross, cornerback Darius Phillips (knee) and rookie offensive lineman O’Shea Dugas (knee). Only Dugas was on the rehab field.


    Not on the field was left tackle Cordy Glenn, in his second month of concussion protocol. Glenn returned to practice last week, but hasn’t been out there this week because he’s been getting checked by an independent neurologist. Head coach Zac Taylor said after Thursday’s practice that there has been no regression and that he still expects Glenn to play some time soon.

    TYLER’s TAKE: Without Green and Ross, wide receiver Tyler Boyd is going to get doubled and tripled. When Green went down for the last seven games of 2016, Boyd was that second-round rookie who took advantage with 54 catches. The only guys who had more catches as a Bengals rookie in the last 38 years are Green and Cris Collinsworth.

    “Once you start going out and playing more and more as a younger guy, you start to get a feel,” Boyd said. “You start to play more relaxed. You start not to overthink it a little. You may forget the play or who you’re blocking, but the more you play and get the reps the more it’s going to come to you.”

    Here’s Boyd’s scouting reports on the rookies Willis and Morgan: “I like Morgan. He’s just a dog. Hard-nosed football player. Dame is a smart guy. Really polished. He always knows what he’s doing at all times even though he’s a young guy. He’s a guy that’s not going to do too much. He’s going to do what he’s told.”




    Rick Scuteri/AP Photos
    A.J. Green (left) with Larry Fitzgerald after a game in Arizona.





    BOYD AND LARRY: Boyd is the University of Pittsburgh’s all-time leading receiver, but he’s the guy that’s going to be asking for Fitzgerald’s jersey on Sunday. Boyd played three seasons at Pitt and Fitzgerald two before the Cards took him with the third pick in the 2004 draft. He’s still rolling with 1,326 catches, more than anyone but Jerry Rice. But that’s not why Boyd would like Larry’s No. 11. Boyd, a Pittsburgh native, doesn’t know him well, but he talked to him a few times when Fitzgerald visited Pitt during Boyd’s college career and recalled that he gave out good advice.

    “I watched him growing up. He’s one of the greatest receivers I’ve ever seen,” Boyd said. “When Pitt was recruiting me, that’s one of the reasons I was intrigued. Because he played there.”

    https://www.bengals.com/news/quick-h...d-to-play-soon








  10. #10
    The Bengals today signed WR Trenton Irwin to the practice squad.

    Irwin (6-2, 207), a rookie out of Stanford, originally signed as a college free agent with the Miami Dolphins on May 5. The Dolphins waived him on Sept. 1.

    Irwin fills the open practice squad position created yesterday, when the Bengals signed WR Stanley Morgan to the active roster from the practice squad.

    https://www.bengals.com/news/bengals...practice-squad




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