With the Ravens preparing to take on the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend, two members of the enemy team answered a few questions about their squad.
BR.com gives you Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and quarterback Carson Palmer.
Head coach Marvin Lewis
What does running back Cedric Benson bring to your offense?
Lewis: "He's been consistent. You know, we've had a couple of very good backs here in Corey [Dillion] my first year in '03, and then later in Rudi [Johnson]. And what Cedric has brought has been consistency to the things that we're doing, and he's continued to learn week-in-and-week-out. And that's been a good thing."
What have you seen in the transition from Rex Ryan's defense to Greg Mattison's?
Lewis: "Well, I think Greg has done a good job. I think he's done an excellent job. He was only there [for] one year in the defensive scheme with Rex, and so he's done a nice job of making the transition from Rex to himself, and doing the things defensively that he's comfortable with, and the continuity that he could bring with that and having the players believe in the things that he's doing. And I think that's a good thing."
What do you take from the Ravens' last game against Denver?
Lewis:"Well, that they're a good football team because they beat a team that was obviously hot, that hadn't lost, that had been finding a way to win games. The Ravens did a nice job of controlling the offense throughout the football game and being opportunistic and scoring points and making Denver one-dimensional."
How have you put the Bengals on top in the rivalry?
Lewis:"I don't know. I just think it's a division game. I think the thing that I've tried to do with our football team since beginning here is [tell them] how important the division games are. I think when you play in a division, you've got to put your team together in order to be successful within your division and understand what the task at hand is, week-in and week-out. And we know in this division it's tough, physical football. You've got to get ready to play."
How did your bye week go?
Lewis:"I think we're in good shape. I think we had a chance to get rested, recharged, refocused, and understand that we know that the task at hand is that we have a nine-game season. It's important that we go forward and move forward that way and take those things into account. That's what we were able to do. We were able to take a hard look at ourselves and get some football in on Tuesday and Wednesday with our team, and then give them a chance to get out of here, [had] the weekend for the coaches [to get] a chance to get out of here. I think it came at a good time, and a good opportunity for us to get moving."
QB Carson Palmer
Do you notice any difference between defensive coordinator Greg Mattison's defense and previous defenses led by Rex Ryan?
Palmer:"Yeah, I think it's just a different mentality. Same players, same mindset, same goals – but just a few different looks. They play a little bit more sound, I think. Guys aren't just kind of running all over the place and trying to make plays and have opportunities. Guys are staying within themselves and within the defense, and really playing really good. They got a really good group of guys up front, a really strong group with a lot of speed on the outside, and Ed Reed back there, of course. So, it's really the same task at hand, but [it's] just a little bit different look, and a little bit different philosophy."
Do you see a big difference from the last game you played against the Ravens to the Ravens performance against Denver?
Palmer:"Not really. A little bit more pressuring. I know they felt like they kind of found something new, or found the way they're going to play now. But, really it wasn't a whole lot different. Some of the same looks, some of the same pressures – a little bit more here and there – but for the most part, why change what works? They're, if not the best defense in the league, [one of] the best defenses in the league. And just because you lose a couple of games, you don't want to throw everything out the window. They're still winning a lot of games and they're very good, because they're very good on defense. So, we expect them to really come out with the same game plan, with a couple of new wrinkles. But, really, why change what works so well?"
What has Cedric Benson provided for you in terms of offense?
Palmer:"A power… A little bit more of a power running game with still some explosion. He had one real nice explosive run against Baltimore last time we were there, where he broke a tackle and ran away from everybody for about 30 yards. But, [it's] just that AFC North mentality from a running back, where you're going to run people over, you're going to make your own hole sometimes and you're going to break arm tackles."
Was there something specifically that Benson was able to do against Baltimore that other backs haven't been able to in recent past?
Palmer:"I don't know if it's a different game plan we had, but he just broke some arm tackles that other guys hadn't broken, and gotten through some holes that other guys hadn't gotten through, and we made some real nice holes for him to run through that other teams weren't able to do. You know, not much of a different game plan, but I guess he hit a couple of nice plays and, you know, that defense is built on not giving up big runs or big pass plays, and we got him with one of each and were fortunate enough to win the game."
Can you describe the mood in the locker room with the Bengals being tied for first in the division?
Palmer: "Right now, it's business as usual. We're not worried about any place, or any playoff implications or anything other than the Baltimore Ravens. You know, the mood is very, very work-like. We had a nice bye week, but we got back at it, and we worked hard last week getting ready for the Ravens, and we'll continue to work hard this week. We got a nice little break from some dings, and guys were kind of banged up here and there, but we're ready to play. We're ready to get going again, and ready to finish out this season."