MP: Maurice Jones-Drew is obviously a phenomenal back for them. He’s really been a workhorse for that offense and a player that is very explosive and dynamic. [We’re] talking about a guy that’s extremely hard to tackle, extremely hard to make sure he’s down. There’re a lot of times where it looks like you have him wrapped up or contained or he’s down on the ground and he’s really not and he’s still driving his legs and still breaking tackles and squeaks through and turns a nothing play into a big play. So, I think it’s really important for us to have a high awareness with a player like that when he’s in the game [that] just to tackle him is critical. And also in the essence that sometimes behind those offensive linemen he gets a little bit lost in there and you have to try to find him when he’s hitting those holes at 100 miles per hour, trying to get through really fast. He obviously is a great player for them, but really in all respects, they’ve done a great job with the backs that they’ve been able to put in there certainly with [Rashad] Jennings and [Montell] Owens and keeping it rolling as far as running the football and doing a good job of keeping the offense moving with the rushing game. He definitely has a great dynamic for that offense.
Q: We saw
MP: Well, I think all of our players, certainly, that are active for the game are ready to go at any time and we will try to get them in there at all different times of the game, whether it’s a particular package or to keep them fresh and active. Certainly both are productive players for us and both do a great job on the back end. It’s not really anything different for us to rotate people in and give them a chance, an opportunity to go play in the game and hopefully try to help us win.
Q: What do you think Patrick Chung’s skill set is? What are some of the things he does well as a player?
MP: Patrick has done a great job for us in many different areas, whether it’s his coverage ability or his ability to tackle or to adapt in different situations. He certainly has some good experience, played a lot of football for us and has that side to bring to the game also. It’s a different array of things that he can do that help us in different situations that allows us to be a little bit more multiple in different packages.
Q: Cecil Shorts III is an interesting guy. He has been a productive player for the Jaguars. What have you seen from him in terms of the challenges he poses this weekend?
MP: He’s a very explosive player. This is a guy that’s a big catch-and-run guy and obviously is growing within the system and becoming more dynamic for them. You just take a look at the Houston game and take a look at the big play he had there, which was a simple, short route where he caught the ball, made a couple missed tackles and then you could just see the explosiveness of him to get to the end zone. This is definitely a guy that will be someone we have to take a good look at and make sure we know where he’s at at all times. They do a good job of trying to get him in different spots, whether it’s a matchup or a particular pattern they’re looking for, but he’s definitely a guy that can create a big play and someone that obviously is gaining trust with the quarterback and building that relationship. [He’s] a guy that will go up and get the ball and catch it and be able to turn plays that may be a shorter route on paper, but the application on the field turns into a bigger play than they thought.
Q: Looking at the Offensive Coordinator Bob Bratkowski, is this sort of the Bengals background here that we are looking at in terms of offensive system? How would you define their offensive approach?
MP: Sure, I think it’s a combination, obviously, with the Head Coach Mike Mularkey, who has some familiarity with us in terms of the different offenses he’s been involved in – Pittsburgh for instance; obviously being at Buffalo, playing us there; with the Dolphins. This is a guy who has some pretty good knowledge of what we do. So, the combination of those two together really do an excellent job of number one, keeping the offense very balanced from the standpoint of running the ball and throwing the ball. They do a good job of understanding when they need to get the ball downfield to push the vertical game and also the controlled passing game, short game underneath and inside. They do an excellent job with that and along with obviously the running game and using the fullback positions and the tight end position to create some good blocking angles. They throw the extra offensive lineman in there, which is something that Cincinnati has done in the past, so that’s a carry-over from there. So there’re some elements from really all those different offenses that we’ve seen over the years: the Pittsburgh system, Mularkey in general, what he does, the Cincinnati system. So, it’s a good mix but again, the biggest thing they do a great job of is keeping it very balanced so you’re not – there’re no really tips or tendencies as far as run or pass-type situations. They can hand the ball off and they can throw it. They can throw it short, they can throw it deep, they can get it to their go-to players when they have to. They do a good job of getting it to their tight ends; [Marcedes] Lewis is a really good player for them, a very big target that the quarterback can get the ball up and to him. The guy’s over 6-6, 270 pounds, so that’s a pretty target moving through the middle of the field and he has good vertical speed. They create some problems in their skill set, along with keeping it balanced with the run game so they can just hone in on one particular facet, whether it’s the run or the pass. I think they’ve done a good job of kind of mixing all the systems they’ve been a part in and coming up with what they’re doing offensively, along with [Chad] Henne stepping in and doing a good job of controlling the offense and running it from the quarterback standpoint with a little bit of experience and knowledge. He does a good job of getting in and out of some particular plays that he might see based on defensive looks or fronts and trying to get the ball to the right guys that are open.