The passing game, once tight end Charles Clay went out, it just never got on track today. How tough was it to not have him out there?
“It was definitely tough, but we didn’t make enough plays on offense (to win). I’ll take full responsibility for that one. It just wasn’t a great offensive performance. We had a bunch of opportunities and left some plays out there on the field. We didn’t convert a couple turnovers that the defense did a good job in (providing us on offense) ... The offense didn’t play the way we needed to to win against a very good defense, and like I said, I’ll take full responsibility for that.”
It looked like many of your receivers weren’t getting open; six sacks by the Bengals seem to be a reflection of that as well. Were you having trouble trying to have guys break free?
“We knew the front seven — the front four for sure — they’re definitely good at rushing the passer. It’s my job to get the ball out quicker. But like I said, we’ve also got to be able to create downfield. Most of the time we did, but we just weren’t on the same page and didn’t connect. Moving forward, we have to learn from that. I have to learn from it and get better. (We’ll) take this bye week to regroup, come back and open up strong at home.”
What changed in the second half?
“Just from the natural feel of the guys, I think when you come out and go three-and-out right after halftime, it definitely wasn’t our plan. We had a specific plan and wanted to stay on track with — that we drew up at halftime — and that three-and-out definitely hurt us. We have to get better at coming out after the half. That’s something we haven’t done well with. That’s something we have to
improve moving forward to be the team that we want to be. That’s one of many things we can correct from this game.”
Nick O’Leary had to fill the void for Clay at tight end today and you went to him a lot. Were you happy with his performance?
“Nick played his butt off. He got twisted up on one of those plays that looked scary from my viewpoint, but he battled, he competed and he did what we asked him to do. I’m proud of him. Ultimately, as an offense, we just didn’t get the job today. The defense did a great job of getting us the ball back but on offense, we laid an egg.”
Does that make it more difficult when the defense plays that well and you can’t convert to win?
“Yes, it’s definitely tough when those guys are playing their butts off and getting the ball back and getting us great field position. There were a couple of times in that game where we just didn’t capitalize on the field position that we were given, especially after one of those picks — I want to say it was (Jordan) Poyer’s pick. We have to get points out of that drive. We can’t go negative. We got two yards the first play, then we went negative after that — we have to get points out of those drives. There’s no way we should be punting when you get the ball (on the plus side of the) 50. A lot of those things, we have to clean up. It starts with me, and I’ll get things corrected and keep practicing (to) get everybody on the same page.”
Do you have confidence in your wide receiving corps?
“I have full confidence in those guys. Everyone’s capable. Brandon Tate came in and played a heck of a game and was able to make a big play out there on the touchdown pass. But like I said, it’s a work in progress. We’re going to continue to work on the chemistry and continue to work on knowing each other, and it’s a new group. We’ve talked about that. Things haven’t been perfect up to this point — there’s still going to be some bumps in the road — but we’ve got to keep continuing to push through that and find some ways to win ... I have confidence in those guys. Today, we just didn’t play up to our full capability.”
Is it deflating when you only come away with three points instead of a touchdown when you’re down in the red zone?
“Absolutely. Like I said, there were a bunch of times in this game where we did not capitalize on the field position that we (received). We knew, against this defense, against this bunch, we needed to finish those drives with seven (points), and we didn’t do that today. There were too many ‘threes’ and too many punts.”
There was a play to Logan Thomas that looked like it should have been a touchdown if it was executed. Was that just a miscommunication?
“Miscommunication. Like I said, I’ll take responsibility for that. There won’t be any miscommunication moving forward. We’ll be on the same page alignment-wise, and going out there and getting the job done.”
It’s admirable for you and coach McDermott to both say you have confidence in the receiving corps, but is it unfair for you to be judged as a franchise quarterback, which is what happening this year, with what some people are calling the worst wide receiving corps in the NFL?
“At the end of the day, I’m going to be judged on wins. Right now, we’re sitting 3-2 and we have a full schedule ahead of us. Ultimately, we’ve got to do whatever it takes to regroup over this bye week and run off a stretch (of wins) after it. That’s all we’re really focused on. (We need to) learn what we can from this game. Like I said, there are a lot of things we can learn from. We need to continue moving forward and find ways to win, because we have a bunch of tough opponents ahead of us. And we have to take it one game at a time.”
What did you see on that interception of that last drive of the game?
“I was just trying to get that ball down the field to Zay (Jones) ... Interception.”
The running game this season so far is not what we’re used to seeing out of you guys as a team ...
“Yeah, it’s tough and it’s frustrating not to (be able to) get going and have positive plays and then get stuck back by a negative run. It’s tough but we’ve got to keep at it, figure it out and find a way.”
I’ll elaborate on what I asked Tyrod — you’re both being judged this year by what’s happening while you have one of the worst wide receiving corps in the league. Is that difficult to stand here and say you’re confident in those guys?
“Well, I am confident in those guys and due to some injuries — (tight end Charles) Clay is one of our top guys, and he goes out. (Jordan) Matthews is already out, then they ask Zay (Jones) to come in here and produce, and he’s a rookie, so, you know, he’s learning as things go on. But I think the guys like myself and Tyrod need to step up and make plays. We’ve just got to capitalize. There’s no way in the world that the defense is playing so well — getting stops and getting turnovers ... the turnover battle was one that, offensively, we need to make a plus (because) it gives us chances to win ... We’ve got to just figure (it) out and execute.”
Is it going to be continually tough to move the ball in the running game if you guys don’t start doing so in the air as well?
“Yeah, but then again, there are times we can run the ball but we’re not finishing. Whether it’s myself, the reads or a lineman not getting a block or it’s a holding call, all those things come to affect us in the running game. It’s not just one particular thing; it’s a whole. It’s myself and the guys up front. We’ve got to get it going on a high level, so all the excuses with the wide receiving corps, and this and that, I think, sure, they could help us out as far as taking shots (down the field) and making plays, but from our end, it’s us up front and in the backfield. We’ve got to find a way to get it done.”
How big of a missed opportunity do you feel like today was given the turnovers and the one big return by Brandon Tate?
“It was. It’s tough to not get any points, (or rather) touchdowns. As a fan in the stands, you see how this game goes, and it’s like, ‘Dang’ — you see the momentum shifting for us (and the game is) for us for the taking. And that’s tough, at least in my mind, once you see the turnovers, the returns — for sure we’re going to win the game or (at the least) get points. We practice these plays, we practice this type of situation each week ... And then when it doesn’t happen, it’s frustrating.”
How deflating is it to have a long run and then you turn around and see a flag on the play?
“Definitely, for sure, it’s frustrating to see that. Also, just the time of possession and the situation we’re in, and we need a big play ... But hey, it is what it is, man ... That wasn’t going to make the difference in this loss. There were a couple of plays we could have made (on) different drives (that could have produced) different finishes.”
How hard is it to have the type of production you’ve had as a unit these last four games compared to what you’re used to as a running back?
“It’s tough, you know? No one judges a game like myself, so I’m angry about it but at the end of the day, we’re 3-2. We’re in a good situation ... We’ve just got to keep plugging at it. It’s hard but it’s like respect: There are certain routes, certain bracketing in coverages, (and) and all the attention is on the (running) back, so as much as I want to be angry, we’ve just got to adjust to it and figure out a way to beat it. We’ll get there. Hopefully, we’ll get it going. Today would have been a great day to get it going, to get over that hump. We’re right there.”
How have your past seasons compared to this with regard to not being able to score a rushing touchdown and some of your stats being lower than expected so far this season?
“This season is definitely — well, I don’t know, because last season I started off slow and then I picked it up. As far as the touchdowns, I’m a competitor and a fighter, and I want to win. I want to put the numbers up, I really do. But something that I’ve been working on is being more team-based, you know? That’s something (head coach) Sean (McDermott) and I have been talking about. It’s tough because you want to do well, and if you’re not doing as well (you think about it) but your team is winning. Ultimately, that’s the main goal. Otherwise, you can be on a team that’s losing every week and putting up big chunks, so if we were such a sucky run team, other teams would just let us run the ball. They put more emphasis and attention on us. It’s hard to balance, but it is what it is.”
With that many takeaways, you usually come away with a win ...
“Yeah, when you get three, you’d think you’d come out with a win. We have to find ways to get the win. We had our opportunities. I let the tight end get inside of me on third down. If I make that stop, we could’ve made them punt the ball instead of playing from behind. I take a lot of the blame on that last drive.”
What’s the team’s mindset going into the bye-week at 3-2?
“We have to get better. It’s not the end of the world, we just lost a game. We have to learn from it and go out there and be better. We have a lot of time to prepare for whoever we have next — I don’t know, I don’t care — we’ve got to find ways to be better and focus on ourselves.”
Was it a matter of being worn down?
“We have to make plays. No matter how long we’re out there and no matter what happens, we have to find a way to get off the field and we couldn’t do that in the second half.”
Was A.J. Green giving you guys fits?
“Yeah, he had too many big plays. He did a great job, and Andy (Dalton) did a great job finding him downfield. We have to find a way to take him away. They did a great job game-planning against us.”
How do you feel about losing a game where you had three takeaways?
“It’s frustrating. At the end of the day, when we create three turnovers, we have to find a way to get the ball into the end zone. Somehow, some way, we need to figure out how to get the ball into the end zone. It’s a tough loss.”
Do you think missing some of your key players caused some communication difficulties?
“No, we have to step up. Guys knew their jobs and knew what they had to do. We took the ball away three times, and we have to find a way to capitalize.”
At one point, you only had three healthy cornerbacks. What’s the response when you know you’re undermanned?
“The guys on this team understand that we have a next-man-up mentality. There should never be any drop off. We have to put the ball in the end zone.”
Does losing before your bye week make things harder?
“I wish we were playing next week. We have to learn. There are some things we didn’t do well and there are some things we did do well. We will need to go into the bye week and fix our mistakes and learn from them.”
It seems like you executed the tip drill well today ...
“We do ball drills every day. All of our positions have hands capable of picking the ball off. Ball skills are a big thing that we work on throughout the week.”
Were you surprised they had so much success throwing the ball, given the weather conditions?
“No, we knew they’d want to throw the ball. We have to find a way to get off the field and put pressure on the quarterback. It’s something we’ll need to correct throughout the week.”
(Question not audible...)
“We need to do a better job executing. We had some penalties that set us back and we need to do better as a team.”
It didn’t seem like the run game had much success today ...
“We just have to execute better.”
On the touchdown play, it looked like you slid in at the last second ...
“Yes, it was a good throw by the quarterback and a good job by the offensive line holding their blocks. We need to execute better.”
It seemed like it was a tough day for the passing game. Do you know what was causing the issues?
“I’m not quite sure. We’ll need to watch film. I do know that we had some opportunities that we should have capitalized on. I didn’t play my best game. I’m sure other guys would say the same. It’s frustrating when your defense and special teams play well but we can’t find a way to capitalize.”
The offense has changed a lot through the first five games. Does that make things harder?
“It’s difficult. We’re not a team to make excuses. We have all the pieces we need to win. We had opportunities but didn’t finish when we had our chances. Give credit to the Bengals. They’re a good team and well coached.”
Do you think they’re asking a lot of you guys? You seem to run a lot of plays where no one seems to be open ...
“If that’s your opinion, that’s fine.”
The film pretty much says it’s a fact ...
“I’m just going to continue to do my job the best I can."