Questioning The Enemy: Bengals Gear Up For Ravens’ Defense

Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis and quarterback Andy Dalton talk about Baltimore’s defense.

Posted by Billy Jones on Thursday, November 17th, 2011 at 10:35 am | Categories: Billy Jones, Week 11 vs Bengals

After facing off against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, the task doesn’t get any easier on Sunday for the Bengals’ offense.

Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton and the rest of Cincinnati’s offense will once again face a top-five defense – this time on the road. The Bengals will head into Sunday’s AFC North clash at M&T Bank Stadium trying to put an end to the Ravens’ seven-game home winning streak and get a leg up in the division.

On Wednesday, Head Coach Marvin Lewis, who served as Baltimore’s defensive coordinator from 1996-2001 and helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV, and Dalton talked to the Baltimore media about the Ravens’ defense, the tough AFC North and more.

Head Coach Marvin Lewis

On his rookie quarterback facing a tough Ravens’ defense this week: “It’s a difficult thing. We have to be very good and really do a nice job of creating space, and doing the things, and getting in our matchups that we feel good about. But, it’s going to be most important that not only Andy do his thing, but that everybody else does their thing best.” 

On how much their game against the Steelers last week prepared them this week for Baltimore: “Well, I think we’re… Hopefully, every year when I try to decide who stays and who goes on this football team, we’re putting the football team together to work and compete in this division. So, I think each and every week, we want to play football to that style.”

On whether they mix up coverages as part of their defensive plan: “Again, I think that’s part of our challenge each and every week, is to put together the game plan that you feel good about against the opponent. And they’ve got some great weapons on offense, and Ray Rice, and Ricky Williams comes in and spells, and then I think the outside receivers really are doing good things. And [Torrey] Smith has emerged as a great vertical threat and [Anquan] Boldin, we know the physicalness of his play and how he can attack the football. And then they’ve got the tight ends really going. So, they’ve been quite a challenge and they’re moving on with new people this year.”

On the competitiveness in the AFC North and the division being up for grabs: “Yeah, I think that’s really key that they’ve kind of put their best foot forward already in the division by beating the Steelers twice. And I think that… We’re all kind of playing uphill to the Ravens right now, and so, this is a big football game that way. They’ve gone in and won… If you want to win your division, you’ve got to win the division games. And yes, they’ve lost a couple games probably that they felt like maybe people didn’t feel like they were going to lose, but they played in those – in my opinion now – those teams played football very similar to what our division does, at least defensively. And they’re stout defensive groups, they have really good, active front sevens, and those teams played well that day. They got some turnovers, and that made a difference in the game.”

On what has been the biggest factor in their turnaround from last season until now: “Coaching. (laughter) See, you’re supposed to laugh. There you go. (laughter) No, I’d say we have better players. I think we’ve improved ourselves in a number of different spots, and I think that’s been important. I think we got off to a good start, where you have to play good defense; you can’t give up big, explosive plays and things like that. And that was key. We felt like we had to do that, we had to stay very, very good, and sound, on special teams, and allow our offense to evolve. And I think our players bought into that and I think we’re more talented in most spots than we were a year ago, and I think that’s made a big difference.”

QB Andy Dalton

On the challenges of facing the Baltimore defense: “They’ve been really good, and they’ve been really good for a while. So, it’s definitely going to be a big test for us. You see the heart and soul of the defense with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. They get the guys going, and they’re the guys doing a lot of the communication. So, you’ve got to find where those guys are, and we’ve just got to execute. We’ve got to go out and just execute our plan.”

On whether he thinks facing the Steelers’ defense prepared him to face the Ravens’ defense: “I think so, a little bit. It’s two really good defenses. Getting to play them back-to-back is going to be good for us. Last week was a test, and this week is going to be another really big test for us. So, like we’ve been saying, it just comes down to execution and just doing your part.”

On whether they gained some confidence in last week’s game against the Steelers, despite their loss: “I mean, it was tough that we ended up losing, but we were in the game the whole time. And so, we do have confidence. We’re going to be in the game and we’re going to be in a lot of these games. We just have to go out and play to the best of our ability.”

On how much he has grown as a rookie quarterback from Week 1 up until now: “I feel like I’ve grown a lot. I feel like I’m seeing things a lot better, and I have a really good understanding of what we’re doing and what the defenses are doing. So, the biggest thing [is] I’ve just got to keep improving, keep getting better each week.”

On if he thinks Bengals running back Cedric Benson will get a lot of carries this week: “He’s been a really good runner for us, so we’re definitely going to get him his share of carries. I think it all depends on what the game is like, what is going on. But, he is definitely going to get his carries.”

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