Bengals HC Zac Taylor (10.25.20)
What is the message to your team after a loss like that, given the nature of losing a game in the fourth quarter for the fifth time this season?
“Stick together. You could tell it was an emotional locker room afterward for the right reasons. It’s guys, that moment after in the locker room — it’s tough to find those words (to say to them), because you totally felt like you were going to win and you (didn’t). That has happened to us a couple times. This is a team that believes it can put together a winning streak — one game, two games, three games, four games, five games — we believe in it. We just we just haven’t done it. We haven’t proven it to the outside world, but we’re going to stick together. I can promise you that. It’s a group of men I’m proud to coach. We’re going to get through this, we’re going to stick together, (and) there’s much better days ahead.”
How much of Cleveland’s last offensive drive was a matter of Baker Mayfield being as hot as he was passing vs. the Bengals having coverage issues?
“(We had) a sack; if we could just finish on … the first or second play (of that drive). They’ve got the clock running. They’re in disarray. He (Mayfield) pulls out of it and finds a completion. Then he gets some one-on-one situations …
“Last week, it was a bunch of zone coverage and they had some good success, so we put a bit of man coverage, (and) they won some one-on-one opportunities. That’s just the way it goes, and it’s unfortunate it went down that way.”
How would describe Joe Burrow’s performance today?
Why was he so effective throughout the day and why was he so resilient in the fourth quarter?
“He’s always that way, though. You look at (the) last game — there aren’t many bad decisions I’m putting on his plate (that I would say he was responsible for). The first interception, he’s got to throw a better ball there, and there was a sack or two there (where) he’s got to get rid of the ball. Those were all in the first half. Those were all in the first two drives, maybe. From there, you can call any play and trust it’s going to be executed. You’re going to find explosives on non-explosive calls. He’s going to extend plays. He’s good with his feet. He makes everybody around him better.”
Can you take us through the call to go for the touchdown on the fourth-and-one play? What made that play work?
“Gio (Bernard). Gio made it work. Gio did a heck of the job with the motion. At first, he’s motioning across and the safety didn’t run with him. I was concerned there for a moment — we’ve got other options — but he sold it, he lost his man, and then was free in the flat. So it was really good execution by all those guys, but I’d give most of the credit to Gio there.”
You had been really successful with quarterback sneaks all day. Did you think about running one there?
“Sneaks aren’t great against every front, though. You have to actually see what they’re in before you just put the football in the referee’s hands, you know? That was not an option right there. You can call a sneak and hope that the ref is on your side for that one play, but we felt good about the play call there.”
What was the reason Baker Mayfield completed 20 consecutive passes?
“He was hot. He was hot, you know? You’ve got to give credit to him, but there were a bunch of snaps in man coverage there where they made the plays, and we did not.”
Your starting left tackle, right tackle and center all went down with injuries. Have you ever been in a game where you’ve had that happen before?
“I haven’t, but this is a resilient group as you’ve ever been around. No one can see it because no one comes in the locker room, and no one’s going to say it because we can’t win, but it’s as resilient a group as I’ve ever been around, and they just have faith in the next man up. The next man … come in and make a play, we’re counting on you to do your job.
“I’m just really impressed with the backups that came in the game on limited reps (in practice), even Mason Schreck. Cethan (Carter) woke up this morning and couldn’t go. Mason Schreck had no idea that was coming his way, and he stepped up and was our second tight end. We had a big tight end with Fred (Johnson), and then he (Fred) had to move to left tackle and then to right tackle, so we lost that. But the guys just kept their heads up and kept chugging along. I think we had only two turnovers — I don’t think we ever punted, if I remember correctly. They just kept getting the job done.”
Why were the offensive screens working so well today?
“They (the Browns) were doing a nice job stopping the run. Sometimes, on the stat sheet, it’s going to say you had a bunch of passes when you really didn’t — you’re just supplementing the run game with the screens, some of those ‘specials’ and some of those quick gains. They’re just long handoffs — that’s all that is. I thought that we did a good job in executing that today.”
How confident are you right now, not only as a play caller, but also in your offense as a whole?
“(I) couldn’t (have) more confidence. Those guys believe those plays are going to work. They make every play work, and it doesn’t (even) have to be the best play call. They just get it done. There’s belief right now in that room that they can score on every play, and they’re trying to do that. Now you’re starting to see guys run after the catch, and that’s been something that’s been missing for a while. I thought today guys did a good job in that area stepping up.”
How concerning is it for you that Baker Mayfield didn’t have an incompletion — save for a spike — past the first quarter?
“That’s not what you want to see. We’ve got to do a better job getting to the quarterback with our rushes and our pressures, and then holding it down on the back end.”
Despite losing Austin Hooper, Cleveland’s tight ends had three touchdowns today. What was the problem in stopping them?
“Two of them stand out. They ran a quick out (pattern) and they beat us early in the game. And then he threw a great ball strike out, or some five-step slant or something, where I thought Vonn (Bell) was in really good position, (but Mayfield) put it in about the only (spot) you could put it. I’m not sure who made the catch, but they did a really great job. I can’t think of the third one, but they did a really good job, and we’ve got to be the ones tightening down the coverage and making the plays.”
Carlos Dunlap looked to be yelling on the sidelines at either coaches or players. He posted the defensive depth chart earlier this weekend on Instagram, calling you out. How frustrating is that situation right now? Is it a distraction to your team?
“We just handle that internally. We (have) a group of guys in the locker room who want so badly to do things the right way and get this to where we want to be. That’s who we put our focus on.”
Dunlap is one of the designated “pass rushers,” and the defense has had zero sacks in the last two games. How frustrating is that?
“We’ve got to do a better job up front (with) just everybody getting (more) pressure on the passer.”