Official website of the New England Patriots

Bengals Head Coach Dick LeBeau Press Conference

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            **Q:  This team isn't doing too well?**  

L: The last time I checked, the records were the same, so I know exactly what you are talking about.

Q: You became the head coach and won a couple of games and had a growth period, that must have been very encouraging, especially Denver?

L: Yeah Denver and I would say really the first half of Miami. Even though that was the first game we started it was probably as good a football as we've played. I am pleased with the effort the team's put forward and of course the execution's still we've got a long way to go there.

Q: You guys beat Cleveland a couple weeks ago. Are you surprised the Patriots found themselves on the losing end against Cleveland?

L: Not in this league, nothing surprises you. Every week everybody is a capable opponent. Playing on the road is always a difficult thing and New England had some real key players with some injuries. Those things can happen in this league. They happen every week.

Q: You have been in the league a long time as a player and a coach. How have you accepted being a head coach and how have the teams accepted you?

L: Well I think you'll have to talk to the players about the later part, but I think they have accepted me well. I've kind of looked at the thing as a magnificent windfall, certainly unforeseen, didn't expect anything like that. I was going to coach, be the defensive coordinator and do the best job that I could do there. But when this opportunity arose I certainly recognize it for what it is and it is a chance of a lifetime for me.

Q: Did you see it coming?

L: I did not. In all honesty, I did not.

Q: Has the scenery or landscape in this league change so the pressure or getting through to players is more difficult than say when you played?

L: Well I don't know if I can answer that. I think that it is unusual to have two coaches react like that in one season and I think that our society in general is moving at an ever faster pace. I am not so sure that that's good. I can't honestly say that the players are that much different than when I played. They still want to be as good as they can be; they're competitors. It's a different environment certainly and they grow up under different circumstances, but young athletes I think are not that much different than when I played.

Q: What is the biggest challenge? How do you turn around a losing mentality in the locker room?

L: Well we focused our sights on becoming competitive one snap at a time and being able to go out on a weekly basis and play good football. We recognized when we started that it was not going to happen overnight. In many ways we've made some good progress and in many ways we've still got a long way to go. But I think our team has generally improved its tempo, its look. At times we've played some good football. We did beat a very good Denver team and to do that our players had to play well. We know that it's doable and we need to do it on a more consistent basis.

Q: You have a local guy, coach Mark Duffner from Holy Cross, can you talk a little bit about his contributions?

L: Well it is easy to see why Mark was so successful at every level he's coached and he certainly had one of the most outstanding records in the country when he coached there. It is easy to see why that would be true set because he is a tireless worker, a man of extreme integrity, and has all of the virtues that you would look forward to in a man who would lead young men. He has been a tremendous asset to me throughout all of our coaching; me being a coordinator and he coaching the linebackers. In recent weeks I've relied on his expertise; he's called a heck of a lot of games as a head coach and his experience has been a great help to me.

Q: Do you see him getting the possibility of being a head in the NFL someday?

L: There's no question in my mind that he'll be a head coach somewhere. Either at a major college or in the National Football League, whatever he chooses to be. He's a successful man and going to continue to be so.

Q: The Bengals official website has reported that there are concerns in the organization about the future of Akili Smith. Could you discuss his future and your decision to go with Scott [Mitchell] this week?

L: I think that his future is good. The reason that we drafted him was…we drafted him because he has all the athletic talent necessary to play the position. He is a bright young man. He has good character. He came in here early. He's done everything you would ask a player to do, being a young quarterback who was going to takeover the job. We have not lost confidence in Akili Smith, I just thought it was time for him to get a chance to get a breath because for some reason he wasn't producing in the game like I know that he can. Hopefully this respite if you will, a chance to watch somebody else do it and get out from under the center for a while, will be of benefit to him. But I think his future is very good. He needs only to get the ability to take his game on to the field and he's working on that.

Q: What will Scott Mitchell do for your offense?

L: He is a very veteran quarterback as you know and he has had many years in this league as a starting quarterback. I think that is going to benefit our offense right now. We are just looking for him to run the offense and get us settled down on that side of the ball.

Q: Tell us a little bit about Corey Dillon?

L: Corey has year in and year out been one of the better running backs in the league statistically. He has been a consistent 1,000 yard gainer and I just think you are seeing more of the same from him. I think what he and his teammates got done against Denver will be a mark that will be very, very difficult for the league to eclipse. And I will say that if they ever do eclipse it, I bet they don't do it with 22 carries like Corey did. Somebody will have to carry the ball 40 times or so to beat that. So we are pretty proud of that and we are pretty proud of Corey

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