JM: Well, LeGarrette has done a nice job with his opportunities within in practice and in the games. That started back in the preseason. We knew when we got him that he was a guy who had been productive before, and he runs hard, has deceptive speed that we've seen a few times already this season, I think once in the preseason in Philadelphia and again the other night in Atlanta. He's got good quickness and vision, and he's just a good runner, a good football player. He fits in well with our backs, and does a good job of blitz pickup too when that has come up when he's been in there. He's a guy that has shown that he'll take his opportunities and make the most with them.
Q: How would you sum up the style of the Bengals defense, and who is a good comparable for Geno Atkins in terms of his disruptiveness?
JM: The defense as a whole, first of all, is extremely well coached. [Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer] Coach Zimmer does great job, always has. This is one of the most difficult preparations that we have any year, going against a defense that he and [Head Coach Marvin Lewis] Marvin both have their hands in. I think they present you with some scheme issues in some of their creative blitz packages. They've always done a good job with that, but I think they really have solid players and disruptive players at all three levels. I think that to me is a big challenge any time you play a defense that has playmakers, guys that can create turnovers at all three levels of the defense. That always presents challenges for the offense because you have to do a good job of, first of all, taking care of the line of scrimmage against this team. This is a really disruptive front. They do a good job of creating negative plays in the running game, penetrating and getting in the backfield. The defensive ends that start, [Carlos] Dunlap and [Michael] Johnson, they do a really good job on the edge of forcing the ball inside a lot, and then [Geno] Atkins and [Domata] Peko are very good players inside certainly. The linebacking core, they've got a lot of guys that I am familiar with, and then the [Vontaze] Burfict kid, he's doing a great job playing with [Rey] Maualuga and [James] Harrison in there. They've created turnovers, they do a good job of getting to the ball and tackling, they're good blitzers, and the use them all in different ways. So, the front seven as a whole is a very active group. The secondary itself, they've got some veteran players back there that really are all distinguished in their own right. I think Leon Hall is a very, very good corner. He moves inside and plays inside in the nickel. I think he is very talented and does a good job of finding the ball. It is hard to beat him in man-to-man coverage. Reggie Nelson back there in the deep part of the field is a very active reader of the quarterback and you've got to make sure you do a good job of controlling him. He's also a very good blitzer. They bring him down there, and they don't do it a lot, but when they do it's usually the right time. And then [Terence] Newman is a really solid player, Adam Jones, same thing. They've really got a good group back there. They complement the front seven very well, and a lot of these guys have played together for a while. So, they understand the scheme that Coach Zimmer asks them to play in, and they do it very well.
Q: What have you liked about
JM: KT [Kenbrell Thompkins] comes to work every day, puts in a full day's work and does a great job of learning and soaking in all the information that we give him. He studies his opponent, and has really done a nice job of earning the respect and admiration of his teammates and coaches. He just goes to work, keeps his mouth shut and improves every week and then goes out there and makes plays on game day, which is ultimately the most important thing we need him to do. When his number has been called he has consistently improved and produced for us. His goal every week is to get better, and hopefully we can continue to help him do that.
Q: Both Thompkins and
JM: I think that anytime there is a missed opportunity in the passing game, there are always things that anybody could do better. Some of those things could have been a miscommunication, there have not been a lot of those, but that could be part of it. I'm sure Tom [Brady] will always say that he can put it [the ball] in a better spot sometimes, and that may be true at times. And then we just have to finish the plays that are there to be made. I think they are doing a better job each week. They are really working hard at trying to become a complete player, and again, as a rookie, we know that's a lot of ask of those guys. Many times they are playing against a lot of the players and a lot of the schemes for the first time. So, we're asking a lot of them. I think they are doing a good job of coming in and helping us move the ball and score points. Ultimately that's what we're going to need from them going forward.
Q: How would you describe the play of the offensive line in the first quarter of the season?
JM: Well I think the line, certainly they've played a lot of snaps together. It's a veteran group and I think they work real hard to give us a great opportunity in the running game each week and play physical and try to establish that style of play for us. I would add the tight ends and fullback into that mix as well. They always take a lot of pride in protecting the passer and giving our quarterback the opportunity to step up and throw the ball. Certainly there are definitely areas on every aspect of our offense that we can improve and get better at, but I thought they did a decent job on the whole of trying to do the things we've asked them to do and do them well. The other night I think they acquitted themselves very well.
Q: Is there anything particular about the Bengals defense that stood out to you in your film review?
JM: No, not really. It will be a great atmosphere; it always is when you play there. So that will be a great challenge for us to play on the road, and this is a complete defense. They really present challenges at all three levels. Like I said, they have great players, and their scheme, they know how to play it. It's one that I would say; we've seen some of the elements of it in Miami with [Miami Dolphins Defensive Coordinator Kevin Coyle] Coach Coyle there. So this is certainly a defense that is going to challenge you in many areas. They are doing a good job and we're going to have our work cut out for us, there is no question about it.