What do you know about the Oakland Raiders?
“It’s a team coming off a big win, beating the Steelers. They’re going to try to carry that momentum over. It’s a young football team that has a lot of talent. But it’s a team we matchup good against. We’re going to put a plan together to attack what they like to do and try to create some explosive plays. They’re definitely a talented group.”
Did you have any form of relationship with Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Gunther when he was on the Bengals staff?
“Not too much, just casually passing by (saying), ‘How are ya?’ Things like that. Cordial. I didn’t have much interaction with him or any defensive coach for the most part. That’s just kind of the deal in the league — you interact with your position coach and coaches on your side of the ball more. We’re definitely familiar with what they’re trying to do, and like any other week they’re going to have wrinkles and have some things to change some things up. Their core (defensive scheme), we’ve been seeing it over the past few years in the offseason and training camp. There will be some stuff we’ve seen before.”
Now that you are into your third week of starting, is the game slowing down for you?
“I think so. It comes with reps, and I have a decent amount of reps now under my belt. It will continue to slow down, and I’m going to keep preparing and making sure I’m ready come Sunday. I feel confident and excited to get out there this week again and finish the season strong at home.”
How do you keep morale high when you’re riding a five-game losing streak?
“It’s tough. There’s definitely been some tough times, but at the end of the day that’s where leadership and character has to take over. I think we have the right guys on board to be able to do that. It’s definitely not an easy thing to do, and it’s just something we have to be able to continue to do, and be excited for practice and be alert for meetings. I don’t think that’s ever been questioned in this building. We have to keep continuing to be excited to come to work every day and know we still aren’t out of this.”
Does it help to have a guy like Joe Mixon, who likes to hype up his teammates?
"Absolutely. He’s a high-energy guy. He’s somebody that brings it day in and day out. He’s definitely somebody who we can all lean on.”
Hue Jackson was brought in a few weeks ago to help with the defensive side of the ball, but he has a lot of experience as an offensive coach. Has he helped you at all?
“He’s been more on the defensive side. In the few conversations that I’ve had with Coach Jackson, they’ve all been awesome. He’s a great person and a great resource to have around the building. It’s been nothing but a positive experience for myself.”
Is it helpful having Andy Dalton on the sidelines?
“Absolutely. He helps during the game, but even more than during the game he’s in the meetings during the week. He puts his input in there and gives me some keys and things like that. Having him around is invaluable, and it’s awesome. It’s awesome to have him around, and I really appreciate all the help he’s giving not just to me, but the rest of the team.”
WR Tyler Boyd is closing in on a 1000-yard season. How has he helped your transition, and how special of a season is he having?
“Andy and I were talking back in OTAs and training camp, and we were saying every day, ‘Man, Tyler looks awesome. Tyler’s going to have a huge year.” All the momentum that he built up in the offseason program really carried over this season. He’s been a huge playmaker for us. He’s made tough plays all year long, and he’s going to continue to do so. He’s had a great year, and he’s a guy we want to get the ball.”
What would you tell the fan base who might be on the fence about coming to the stadium and supporting the team on Sunday?
“As players, we can’t do anything about who is showing up. All we can do is put in the effort during the week and play our tails off on Sunday. That’s what we’re going to do — continue to compete, continue to not just play for the people in this building but for this city as well. We’re not counting ourselves out, so we hope the people in the city aren’t counting us out either. We’re excited about the rest of the games, and I hope the fan base can get excited as well. We understand we need to prove that on the field.”
What has this transition been like for you, being on the podium each week and being in charge of the offense?
“It’s been different. You learn something new every week, but it’s becoming more routine. Having been a backup here for a couple years before this, I’ve watched Andy and how he handles himself on the field and off the field. He’s been a great guy to watch and learn from. He’s a great guy to look up to and a great resource here in the building. It’s been different, but at the end of the day I knew that with being a quarterback in the NFL, that’s part of the job. It’s been a great experience.”
Is Andy enjoying not having to do weekly news conferences?
“I doubt it (laughs). I highly doubt that. He’s a competitor, and he wants to be out there with his team. I can’t speak for him, but I highly doubt it.”
Not the game, the podium part…
“No, that comes with it. I’m sure he would rather be sitting here right now.”
What about Tyler Boyd’s game has made it easy for you guys to get in a rhythm together?
“I don’t think it matters who the quarterback is. The routes are still the routes, the progressions are still the progressions, and the plays are still the plays. It doesn’t matter who’s in there at quarterback, he does a good job at getting open, so that’s why the ball comes his way a lot. The more you get open, the more trust the quarterback is going to have in that receiver. He’s been a great option for us, a great target for us all year. He’s been so consistent week in and week out. He’s an easy guy to try to get the ball to.”