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What's your process for analyzing the game that just happened and moving on to the next week?
"It's pretty much the 24-hour rule. Get back, diagnose it Monday, find the things you need to work on and get started on the next week. That's the beautiful thing about the NFL. You've got a game in seven days and you can't spend too much time on the previous game, but at the same time, you do have to learn from it. Learn from your mistakes and apply them to this week."
What were you able to diagnose after watching that game?
"That game summed up that 11 guys have to be on the same page every single play to execute. I think we can grow from that, move forward from that and get better."
One of the themes this year has been player's after a loss say, 'We had a great week of practice.' And going into Cleveland, no different. So, what's the disconnect between having a good week of practice and then the games on Sunday?
"Well, it boils down to execution on game day. But the one thing I can tell you, if you don't have a great week of practice, there's no chance that you're going to play well on Sunday. So, we just have to keep doing what we're doing throughout the week and translate it game day."
Three of your nine sacks that you had on Sunday were you scrambling out of bounds. Were you aware of where the markers were and how can you keep from going out of bounds?
"Yeah. The one, it was a naked early on and the funny thing is the yard marker like fell backwards. I jumped across it, I was like, 'Alright, got one or two yards.' And then they were like, 'Oh, minus two.' So, that one was on me and then the next one was I believe a screen and I throw the ball away there, it's a loss of down and a five-yard penalty. So, it was kind of, hindsight's 20/20 in that situation. But, I got to find a way to not take those. Those are drive killers but at the same time, we just got to not put ourselves in those situations."
On that fourth down play, do you need to just let that thing go because it did look like TE Blake Bell was breaking free?
"Yeah. It's just one of those things where, when you pause the film, it is what it is. Happened fast. Hindsight's always 20/20. But, yeah, you should probably cut that ball loose but at the same time, I didn't want to turn the football over and I think it was around the plus-20, plus-25 yard line. So, yeah, it's one of those plays."
It was fourth down.
"Correct and sometimes you just got to take a shot."
You got sacked almost immediately by an unblocked guy on that play. Going back, is that one you'd like to have called time out and had a different play called?
"No. That was the design of the play. It's kind of one of those one-off football plays where we got the look we wanted and [Cleveland Browns LB Nate Orchard] 44 just made a great play on it. We didn't expect him to come charging that fast because it was kind of a misdirection, one-off type play and he just made a great play. But, at the end of the day, it falls on my shoulders. I got to find a way to make him miss and get the ball out."
How do you sum up scouting report on the Bengals this week?
"They're a talented team. We know what they bring to the table. They're sound. They're well coached. They have great players. But, at the same time, it boils down to us executing against it. They're going to bring us a bunch of different looks on third down. So, we have to stay on top of our film study, prepare like we always prepare, stick to our routine and go out there and execute."
How conscious are you of if you have a different guy at left guard when you're making changes in protections and things like that? How conscious are you that you're going to have a new guy in there and does that change what you do?
"Well the good thing is [G Andrew] Tiller's been playing for the majority of this year. So, him and [C] Marcus [Martin] have been in the lineup so they know what's going on. They're smart guys. They're intelligent. Having [G/C] Daniel [Kilgore] back helping making the calls, it's going to help this football team. You never want to lose a starter like [G/T] Alex [Boone] but at the same time, it's the next man up mentality. So, I know those guys are ready to go this week."
How does it feel being the more experienced quarterback in this game? Is that going to give you an edge over this guy?
"Yeah. It's just the way the NFL goes. You can get hurt at anytime. So, it really has no effect on me. I'm going to go about my routine as usual, still prepare the same way."
Do you think you have an edge over that guy?
"Who? [Cincinnati Bengals QB] AJ [McCarron]?"
"I'm just worried about this team and the way I prepare and just getting ready for the game the best way I know how."
Do you know McCarron at all?
What's your comfort level working with Daniel Kilgore and just your thoughts on a personal level seeing him get a chance to play after all he's been through?
"Yeah, it's great to have him back. What he had to get through to get back on a football field is amazing. The surgeries that he had to go through, the rehab process that he had to go through just to be able to start running again and playing his first football in a year-and-a-half, it's a tremendous accomplishment just to get out there. Daniel's a great friend and I'm happy for him. We're fortunate to have him back in the huddle."
Can you gauge the mindset of this team after the high of the big win in Chicago and the low of this week? Where do you feel like the mindset of the team is right now?
"I think we're in a good spot. We're eager to get back out there and prove to ourselves that we're a better football team than we showed on Sunday. Like I said previously, the beautiful thing about the NFL is you've got a game every seven days. You can't dwell on that fact we didn't play so well last week because we have a game coming up this Sunday. So, I know the guys are eager to put some better tape out there and play good football."
Do you find yourself evolving as a leader, being more comfortable having these games under your belt now that when you see a flat performance like last week, you feel more comfortable, able to take it on yourself as be a vocal guy when it comes to--?
"I think, regardless of having a flat game or not, the quarterback's always in a position of leadership and it's my job to rally the troops. It's my job to provide that spark and that juice to this football team, and that's what I'm going to do this week. The guys are coming in, they're eager, and like I said, I take it upon myself to provide a spark for this team. I got to go out there and make plays and put some points on the board."
WR Torrey Smith had to sit out some snaps on Sunday. When WR Jerome Simpson is in the game, is he doing some of the same things? Does he have that stretch the field ability that Torrey has?
"Yeah. Jerome's a great talent. You never want to see a player go down with injury but we all know that's part of this game and a part of this business. So, it's that next man up mentality and Jerome's done a great job getting himself in the right position after he out the first seven or eight weeks. So, we're looking forward to having him in there and we're going to work well this week in practice."
Did you work a lot with him in the preseason and in training camp? Was he on your string offense a lot?
"Yeah, and we had a pretty good rapport in training camp and it's something that we just have to keep working to continue to build. The more reps you get with a certain receiver, certain group of guys, the more comfortable you're going to get and that's just the process that we're working towards right now."
This may be a stupid question but you'll have to tell me. Has the league changed since the last time you were a starter at all, in any way? In terms of--?
"What do you mean by that?"
The way teams play defenses, the way trends or tendencies, you know. I know it hasn't been that long since you were a starter but are there things that have changed?
"The NFL is always evolving. It's kind of chess match. Offense's try and solve the defense's blitzes. The defensive guys sit in their rooms trying to solve offensive protections. Same thing goes for route combinations and coverages. It's just always going back and forth. It's always a constant battle. There's new tendencies, new hot blitzes, new hot coverages year in and year out and that's what makes it so fun. You never know what you're going to get from any team. That's kind of why you've got to take pride in preparation and film work, trying to find little keys and tendencies here and there because like I said, you never know what you're going to get on any given week."
Right. Any specifics you can name? I'm not talking about from the Bengals or anything, just league wide. Is there something?
"Yeah. It just boils down to fronts, protections, pressures from the defenses, certain coverages here and there. Just a year in and year out deal."
* Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers