BB: Alright, you know with the Bengals, I think this is obviously a very successful franchise, particularly over the last five years. They're at the very top of the league in terms of wins, playoffs, divisions, so forth. They've had tremendous success and I have a great amount of respect for the way this franchise started with Paul Brown and Mike [Brown] and Pete [Brown] and the job that they do. Marvin [Lewis] obviously does a great job, his staff. There's a lot of continuity with the Bengals even though they've had some changes to the coaching staff through the years, particularly this year with Hue [Jackson], that they still have a lot of continuity in what they do. They keep doing the same things with Coach Lewis' plan regardless of who the different coordinators have been and who the personnel have been. They've been able to replace those people, players and coaches, and continue to achieve a lot of success on the football field. Marvin does a great job with the team, their fundamentals, their execution, again, their overall consistency. They're very explosive offensively. They have great skill players and a solid offensive line and a good quarterback. Defensively, a very disruptive front. They have a lot of heavy hitters at linebacker and safety, talented corners. [They] added I'd say a strong dimension in the kicking game with [Alex] Erickson, good specialists, well coached there. Darrin Simmons does a great job; one of the best special teams coaches in the league. This will be a big and tough test for us this week, a very good football team, well coached, a lot of talent. I have a lot of respect for the Bengals from top to bottom.
Q: How big of a role does Geno Atkins play in being a disruptive force in the middle of the defensive line?
BB: Big. One of the most disruptive players in the league. He has great explosion and quickness. He's hard to block in the running game. I mean he's not the biggest guy but he's explosive and he's quick. He knocks blockers back and if guys are overaggressive on him he's quick enough to slip them and get in the backfield and make plays. But they do a good job with [Pat] Sims and [Domata] Peko. I mean they have three players in there. They're all a little bit different but they're all good, and then of course Atkins in the passing game is very disruptive. He's usually on the opposite side from [Carlos] Dunlap so it's hard if you're five-on-four; it's hard to get help to both sides. It's impossible. He's a dynamic player, great motor, quickness, balance, playing strength, instincts, really good. And Dunlap's equally disruptive and effective on the other side. A different style but long, great ball awareness, causes a lot of fumbles, strip sacks, good pass rusher, hard to block because he's so long, very athletic, occasionally gets into coverage, a hard guy to throw over, takes up a lot of space. Will Clarke's done a good job for them; [Michael] Johnson. I mean they've got a good front; very good.
Q: When you see a guy like Brandon LaFell on an opposing team is it easier to scout and game plan someone like him because of your familiarity with him here in New England?
BB: We have the same conversation every week. He has done a good job for them.
Q: When you look at special teams coach Darrin Simmons' schemes how much does it remind you of Scott O'Brien?
BB: Very much. Yeah, very much. They're very good fundamentally. They have good techniques. They have I would say good players but they give you tough schemes. Your protection is going to get challenged with them. Their field goal rush is very good. Their punt rushes are always challenging. They do a good job in the return game. They've got a lot of size in the kicking game. They have some big guys that are hard to matchup against. They have good speed players and their gunners and their penetrators are good, very experienced. I mean they're a good unit. [Vincent] Rey does a real good job. He's one of the better special teams' linebackers in the league. We saw [Tank] Carder last week. Rey is another one.
Q: Is Darrin Simmons and the Bengals special teams play a good example of the influence of Scott O'Brien's system still in the league?
BB: Yeah, there must be a third of the coaches that have worked under him. But yeah, Darrin especially. Darrin was there for five years in Baltimore and Carolina and then took the Cincinnati job from there, so really the only coach he worked under was Scott. I mean besides the head coach, besides Marvin.
Q: How important has Nate Solder been to the play of the offensive line this year?
BB: Good. Yeah, he's done a great job for us in working with Joe [Thuney]. Joe's done a good job, too, but I think it's great for Joe to be able to play against somebody with the kind of experience that Nate has on that left side where there's usually a lot of pass rush challenges every week, so especially this week with Atkins generally over there. Nate's been great at his job and also in working with whether it be Marty [Martellus Bennett] or AJ [Derby] or Joe inside. He's done a good job of, you know, working to communicate with the part of the play, the running play or protection that he's involved with.
Q: It seems like we've seen a lot of different looks up front on the defensive line this year. How much does continuity play into your ability to have players take on different roles?
BB: Well, I mean we're a multiple team anyways, so I think that's all part of it. Our techniques are – I would say we try to keep most of our techniques the same but there are some variations in alignment and a little bit in scheme, but as much as we can we try to execute the things that we practice and work on and get good at. Rather than having 50 different techniques we try to get good at a few things. We may move the players around a little bit but basically we try to keep the fundamentals the same.
Q: What is the advantage of having the strong side linebacker up on the line of scrimmage more?
BB: Well, it all depends on what we're playing against. We've played a lot of nickel. Last week we played less nickel because the Browns were more of a two receiver team, or in some cases one receiver. Again, defensively whatever you do a lot of cases is a function of what the offense does. You just can't go out there and start calling defenses. You've got to know who they have on the field, what personnel group they have on the field, and obviously down and distance plays a little part in that. But based on who they have on the field there's a certain matchup that I would say almost every team in the league, if not every team, is going to follow to a point. [If the] teams in base defense then you're probably going to see some on-the-line linebacker. If we're not in base defense then you might see less of it.
Q: How is A.J. Green's game different from some of the other bigger, faster receivers in the league such as Sammy Watkins and Demaryius Thomas?
BB: The quickest; very quick. He has good stop and start quickness, he's a very good intermediate route runner. I'd say there is a number of those players you talked about [that] are really just two level players; short catch-and-run, and deep speed, built speed type routes. Green's very good at intermediate routes, comebacks, in-cuts, curls, routes like that. He has great quickness at the top of his route and excellent hands so he's able to extend and create separation with his length and his catching skills. He makes some incredible one-handed catches or catches where the defender is just draped all over him and he's able to just get his hands a few inches out further than the defenders and make the play. His catch radius is exceptional. But I'd say the thing that really to me puts him at the top of the league in receivers is his ability to affect all three levels, particularly those intermediate routes.
Q: Does he remind you at all of another former Bengals receiver in Chad Johnson?
BB: Yeah, Chad had good, very good quickness; very good quickness. I think Green probably is a little faster long speed, not that Chad was slow, but I'd say Green – you don't see him getting run down. He's very fast. He's an elite player. He's just an elite player. There's no real weak points in his game; short, intermediate, catch-and-run, deep, ball skills, quickness, ability to really defeat any type of coverage, size, speed, quickness. He's a hard guy to handle. And they move him around. I mean he's obviously a smart guy. He plays in the slot some. He plays on the perimeter on the single receiver side which causes you problems defensively. You don't want to get isolated back there on him and if he draws double coverage then you're really playing nine-on-10, but they also use him so that he's not back there so you can't always just double him back there and play nine-on-10. You've got to deal with him in the slot. You've got to deal with him on the strong side in some combinations so he's a hard guy to get. Coach [Ken] Zampese does a good job of moving him around and [Andy] Dalton does a good job of knowing where the opportunities are, and at times if he's being taken away then that creates a lot of opportunities for other guys.
Q: Does it seem like Andy Dalton is not afraid to go to A.J. Green when he may be double covered?
BB: I wouldn't say I've seen him throw it into a lot of double coverage, but I'd say if it's one-on-one, if it's a 50/50 ball, he'll definitely throw it into a 50/50 ball. And Green's come up with a lot of those balls. He's come up with them high, low, one-handed catches, back shoulders. We've seen plenty of plays where when the ball releases you're saying 'This isn't going to be a completion. The defender is right there in perfect position. He's all over him. How's he going to catch the ball?' And he ends up with the ball at the end of the play. Yeah, I wouldn't say he throws into double coverage but I think even if the defender has good position he's not afraid to give Green a chance to make a play on the ball and he makes plenty of them.
Q: What improvements have you seen from James White this year?
BB: James has been a solid player for us for the last two years. I think a little more experience, there are some fine points that he's better on. He's done a good job with the ball in his hands, making guys miss, making plays in space. We saw that last year. I think he's in good condition. He's able to consistently throughout the course of the game do those things, get open, catch the ball, make guys miss, very good in blitz pickup, smart kid. He's a very consistent, dependable player. You get the same thing from him every day; good.
Q: What are some of the things James White had to do in order to take his game as a runner to the next level?
BB: Well, I think any runner needs to develop a timing with the line and the blocking pattern. You get to the hole too fast and you kind of don't have the chance to really see the blocking pattern develop. You get there too slow and it closes. Setting up blocks, knowing which way you're going to cut but trying to keep the defender in the gap that he's in as long as possible before you cut to the gap that's really vulnerable. If you go there too soon then they just adjust and fall off and make the play. What we refer to as pressing the line of scrimmage, pressing the blocks, keeping the defenders in the gaps they're in. He's had several good runs on that. Again, second level decision making for a back is important. Once you're through the line of scrimmage then working off of the receiver blocks and the leverage that they have on the defenders, trying to maximize the space and the potential yardage there. I mean just all of those things, experience, and again, he was a good runner in college. It's not that he like hasn't done it but I think just more experience doing it, more experience of running our plays with our blockers against the timing of the play and so forth has gotten progressively better.
Q: Do you think Tom Brady missing four games could help him due to the fact that he has now taken less hits this season?
BB: I don't know. Right now I'm just trying to get the team ready to play the Bengals. They're a really good football team. It'd be a great question to ask him. I don't know.
Q: How has it been having him back with the team this last week and a half?
BB: Good. He's been with this team a long time. It's not anything we haven't experienced before.
Q: Martellus Bennett has gotten some attention for comments about his former team, the Chicago Bears. Do you have any reaction to those comments as his head coach now?
BB: I'm trying to get our team ready to play Cincinnati. That's really my job so that's what I'm concerned about. I think I need to do a good job, the coaching staff needs to do a good with our preparation, practice preparation, game planning. The Bengals are an excellent team. They're very well coached. As I said, thieve won as consistently as anybody in the league over the last five years. They have a great organization from top to bottom, from Mike Brown, to the scouting staff, to the coaching staff, to their veteran players, to the depth that they have. This team has tremendous depth. I mean they've got multiple running backs, multiple receivers, multiple tight ends, multiple defensive tackles, defensive ends, they play two sets of linebackers, corners. I mean their number one draft choice is a third corner so they have a lot of depth, a lot of talent and they're a very strong organization so our focus is really trying to prepare as well as we can for them. I don't really worry about any other team or some other random comments. It's not really on my radar.