Bill Cowher Transcript
Photo : AP
Photo : AP

Posted Oct 8, 2002


BILL COWHER

OK. Let’s give you the injury situation going into the game Sunday in Cincinnati. Two players are out: Mike Schneck and Fu. There are two guys that are questionable. That’s Kendrell Bell, and again he’ll be questionable until he practices, then we’ll see how he is tomorrow, and Mike Logan with his hamstring.

Then we have four guys that are probable. Wayne Gandy and Lee Flowers with ankles; John Allred with a concussion; and Amos Zereoue with a knee. Somewhat healthy going into this game, but certainly we all know, where we’re at, that we have no margin of error now. It’s a very important game we’re going to play.

 

Will John Fiala start if Kendrell can’t play?

No.

 

Will it be Larry Foote?

Yeah.

 

Is Bell scheduled to practice tomorrow?

He’s scheduled to practice. We’ll go from there.

 

How much do you miss Kendrell?

This is such a team sport. I don’t sit there and measure what we would be like if we had everybody. We don’t. We deal with the players we have. And like I said, we are a good enough football that, regardless of who’s  not out there, we should be able to overcome that.

 

Were Foote’s problems correctable?

Yeah. They’re very correctable. I like Larry Foote. I mean, it was one of those games. He kind of over pursued a couple times making a play, kind of exposed the backside. He had a chance to see it on Monday and certainly he’ll learn from it.

 

Is it hard for a talented athlete to shut it down on the backside and not over pursue?

I don’t know if it’s hard. The thing people have to recognize is that you’ve got to be careful. Opportunities will come. This defense is based on everyone doing his job. There are enough playmakers that at some point your opportunity will be there. You can’t try to create and opportunity. Let it present itself and be ready to seize it. Just like at times even with Chad (Scott). He got a little overanxious and people have known that’s been his tendency and they came back and got him a on it a couple times on double moves. So Larry, in his attempt to try to get there and make a play, Deuce McAllister was a cutback guy. He bounced one outside earlier. Again, you have to apply the discipline element of playing the game of football. You have to fight the temptation of trying to make a play to get us over the hump. I don’t look at that as being selfish on the player’s part, I look at that as players trying to do more than they should try to do. At times that’s what happens when you keep looking up and you’re behind and you’re trying to make that one play to get you over the hump.

 

Does the tape reveal anything about your defense, other than what you just said?

No. They had two plays for 116 yards and in 51 plays they had under 200 yards. Unfortunately, you can’t take those two plays out. We have to eliminate that. Third down was not a problem on either side of the ball. Now it’s some little things. I think we’re close to putting this together. The last two weeks we have not been in sync. The one intangible, the kicking game, has not allowed us to get over the hump.

 

How do you change the disparity in the field position?

Eliminate penalties on the returns. That’s one of them. They did a good job with their kickoff return. A couple times we had penalties. The biggest negative in our kicking game is our penalties.

 

Are you concerned about the low number of takeaways?

Sometimes they do come in bunches. You can’t go for the football at the expense of a tackle. We talk about stripping all the time and make sure we do that in practice. … It’ll come. You have more control over turning it over than you do taking it away and that’s the thing we need to continue to eliminate. We had two turnovers the other day and they proved to be costly.

 

Are you aware of how big this game is for Cincinnati?

I don’t worry about Cincinnati. The most important thing is us. I know it’s a big game for them and, yeah, they want to get their first win, but it’s not like we’re that much further ahead of them. It’s a big game for us. We’re one game out of first and that’s how we have to look at it. We don’t want to fall too far behind.

 

Chad has bit on double moves in the past. Is there anything you can do to a player who’s that aggressive to change him?

No, because he’s going to make some plays, too. I tell these guys, I don’t want them to quit challenging receivers. … You want to play aggressive. You want to challenge them. Now there’s a fine line in there. You have to be disciplined. Chad kind of had his eyes in the backfield. … I don’t want him to lose his aggressiveness. I’d rather have them be challenging. If you feel the best way to beat that is with a double move, so be it because to me that says, ‘You know what, that first one he’s going to tight coverage on.’ So I’m not so sure it’s not a compliment. You don’t want to get beat by it on a regular basis, but at the same time I don’t want players becoming passive.

 

Any personnel changes you can make defensively?

No. Nothing in this room, either.

 

Did you ever get a Gatorade bath for your third or fourth win of the season?

Not that I remember.

 

Were you surprised it meant that much to them?

To be honest with you, I do not concern myself with the other sideline at all.

 

What about the perception that the Bengals exposed you defensively? Do you agree?

I don’t think so. I just watched it again. That was a long scan. There were almost 100 plays in that game. No. I don’t think anyone took truly the ideas. When you look at New England, yeah, maybe they looked at that game and there were some things there maybe late in the game. But a lot of the big plays they hit in the first three quarters were out of regular sets and play action. When they got behind by 14 they spread it out and a lot was against our dime defense. I don’t know what anybody really took from it. I was looking at it, thinking that’s what they did. I really had not recalled that game till I looked at it again. They mixed it up and I would expect them to do it again to see how we stop it, to see if we can stop it, and if not bring it in. Last week they simplified things for Corey Dillon. They got Lorenzo Neal in the game as a lead blocker and they had a lot of success doing that. If they decide to do that, which I’m sure at some point they will, we’ll have to stop that. If they want to spread it out and put him in the backfield, so be it. We’ll have to be prepared for that as well.

 

On using the no-huddle:

It kind of got us jump-started. We’ve got a couple different ways of doing it. We’ll continue to utilize that at different points in the game, see how the defense is going and how they’re handling it. We actually used it to get in the red zone and from there went to our normal offense.

 

Are you satisfied with the way the offense played Sunday?

I think we can play better. I think we left a lot of yards out there as well. There are some big plays still yet to be had. I thought it was a good performance. Again, we had the two turnovers. But we did an excellent job on third downs. That’s the one thing you look at. Third down and 1 to 8 we were 9 of 11 and that’s pretty good. We put ourselves in situations where we’re hard to beat, so that’s very much a key. On third down and 9 or more I think we were 1 of 5, so we were able to put ourselves in third down and make able situations a lot in that game last week.

 

Do you expect Tommy Maddox's performance to increase as his experience does? Or will teams, as they see more video of him, are going to find ways to defense him?

It’s not what he’s doing. I mean, it’s within the offense. We’re not doing a lot of things differently, except for the plays we had designed for Kordell Stewart that we certainly wouldn’t run with Tommy, but as far as the passing game goes it’s not much different than what we’ve done before. I guess time will tell. It was a solid performance, and yet I felt he could’ve played better as well.

 

He seems to have a good rapport with the receivers. Is that surprising for someone who hasn’t been around that long?

Well, he’s been around here long enough. He’s been in two training camps, been here two years. He knows this offense. When he started, Mike (Mularkey) started so everyone kind of started on the same page. He’s been the No. 2 guy since he’s been here. He gets a lot of reps with those guys, so I don’t think it’s that unusual.

 

Might Josh Miller help your kickoffs?

He has done it. We’ve used him at times in the preseason and we’re working him in, just to see what he can give us. We did it a couple years ago and in the process he got a hernia. I don’t know if that was a result of it, but they’re two different motions. We’re trying to ease into it. We don’t want to affect his punting, so there’s a fine line. I thought Todd (Peterson) kicked the ball off well the other day in the dome, so we’re hopeful that will continue. I thought he had good kickoffs the other day.

We’re back to exploring but we’re going to do it slowly. He did a little bit in training camp. I just don’t want to risk losing him as a solid punter.

 

Has Maddox’s passing opened up the running game?

The first couple weeks, outside of the Cleveland game, if you look at our yards per carry, it wasn’t that bad. The score kind of got us away from trying to run the football. … You can’t judge that. You’ve got to still have balance in your offense.

 

What’s your take on the Bengals juggling their quarterbacks?

I think they picked the best one, personally. Maybe we brought out the best in (Jon Kitna) last year. He’s had success in this league. He had it in Seattle. I think he runs that offense very well. You could see last week they came back and they did another game kind of like the game they had against us. They recovered an onside kick and next thing you know they’re going down with a chance to score and threw an interception. He did a good job last week in Indianapolis throwing the football. I was impressed with him. They’ve got a good group of receivers.

 

What’s surprised you the most about the league this year?

You know what? I’ve been in this league a long time and you learn to expect the unexpected. Nothing really does surprise you. Someone asked about high expectations leading to disappointment. Well, right now, when you get into the season, the expectation level isn’t even a factor because you’re dealing with reality. We are what we are, so you don’t have to deal with that anymore. Now we have a chance to take this thing one game at a time.

 

Are you concerned about the field conditions?

Both teams are playing on it. I know it wasn’t in the greatest shape last year. It was in late December. But I look at that and say ‘Both teams are playing on it. Deal with it.’

 

 ---Jim Wexell

 

 

 

 

 

 

    



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