Interim head coach Steve Wilks
Initial comments ...
"A lot of credit to Cincinnati, a good football team. I felt like today we did not give ourselves a chance in so many categories. We couldn't get anything going offensively. On defense, we couldn't stop them to get off the field. We started slow and really couldn't stop the bleeding, and I put all that on me. We've got to be more prepared and ready to play, we've got to go out and execute. And most importantly right here, we've got to find answers, and that's exactly what we're going to be looking for tomorrow. I'll take your questions."
What was your message to the locker room as you go into a short week?
"That's exactly what we said — short week, quick turnaround. We're going to do a great job getting in there tonight, getting back into the building, and starting to get a jump on our rehab. We'll push the meetings back tomorrow and come in ready to work. As you just mentioned, short week, so our minds have got to be prepared. We've got to put this one behind us. We've got to be professionals, we've got to be pros, starting with me with the mindset and understand that, again, it's one game. We've got a divisional opponent this week. Thursday night, we've got to be ready to play."
Who is going to start at quarterback Thursday night?
"I couldn't tell you right now. We'll be able to sit here and look at a few things, talk to the staff, and I'll have that answer here soon."
Who would be in the running to start at quarterback?
"I'm not going to get into hypotheticals. Right now, coming off this game, we've got to watch the tape and figure out exactly where we are in all three phases and get guys to step up, as well as coaches and myself."
Is there a reason you waited until halftime to make a quarterback switch?
"It's not any kind of reason, it's letting you kind of feel. You're going through the process, and you saw what we gave up (with) the last interception there before the half, and I felt like we needed a change, and that was it."
It seemed like the run defense wasn't stopping anything. From your vantage point, what was going on there?
"It was a combination of everything. We weren't setting edges on the defense. We've got to understand, even though we're in man-to-man, we've got to get a little wider. Inside, we can't get reach. We've got to fight and play downhill as linebackers, using our hands to get off blocks. It was a combination of things."
What do you think the issue was on offense in the first half?
"I can't really pinpoint it. I've got to watch the tape and see exactly where things are. I just know we couldn't get into a rhythm."
Were you disappointed considering this team has played inspiring football since you took over, and today it didn't look like that?
"I put all the responsibility back on me. I've got to have the guys ready to play and prepared, so I'm not saying anything, as far as who had effort, who didn't have effort. I've got to make sure I do a much better job getting those guys ready."
What was the deal with all the neutral zone infractions?
"Definitely undisciplined up front. We've got to make sure that we're detailed — (that) we're communicating with the officials, making sure we're behind the ball. And again, just inexcusable."
Do you feel like the intensity and effort that you expect were there today?
"Did I expect us to play the way we did? Not in a million years. I'm not going to question the effort. I've got to watch the tape and see exactly (what happened) from every angle, every play. But I'm proud of those guys, and I'm looking for us to be able to come back tomorrow and bounce back."
What was the situation with RB D'Onta Foreman?
"D'Onta, ankle. He didn't feel good pregame when he warmed up. I wanted him to be able to dress, just in case we had an emergency."
Did DT Derrick Brown get sick?
"Derrick got sick before the game, came in from the hotel, didn't feel good. He pushed through it, and then at halftime, it just felt like he couldn't go any more."
What made HB Joe Mixon so effective today?
"Again, I think it's just a lot of credit to him. He's a good running back. A lot of credit to them as a team and offense. But I didn't think we helped ourselves up by alignments, by execution with our hands, staying in our gaps, playing downhill, getting off blocks. A lot of combinations of things, but again, congratulations to them. They did a hell of a job today."
QB PJ Walker
From a vision standpoint, was it difficult seeing the field? Is that kind of what the disconnect was?
"No no, it was none of that. I just wasn't getting in a rhythm, getting in a flow on offense, and it hurt us today."
You guys have played pretty rough-and-tumble football throughout, but today it seemed like you wanted to favor the passing game. What did you see on tape that made you guys want to do that?
"That was just the game plan. We wanted to attack them any way possible. We struggled to run the ball a little bit early, but we've just got to continue to keep that rolling. We've got to continue to trust what we do — whether that's running the ball or passing. We've just got to continue to get better and do what we do on offense, and not let the negatives turn us from what we want to do on a game plan."
What would your case be for being the starting quarterback this week?
"I'm going to go out there and continue to work, continue to put the time in, put the work in. I'm going to let Coach Wilks make that decision. That ain't on me, and that ain't on Baker (Mayfield) either."
Why do you think you were off today?
"I'm not really sure. I prepared my ass off this week. Things just didn't go my way. We just didn't go out there and play our best football, and that started with me."
Do you flush the game tape (down the toilet)?
"I'll watch it, and I'll learn from it. I'll continue to learn from it, and get better from it. It's football at the end of the day. We made some mistakes on offense that we shouldn't have made. Just got to go out there, watch it, learn it, and continue to get better."
Since Steve Wilks took over, you guys have been playing inspired football. Today didn't look like that ...
"Yeah, it was flat. It was flat out there today. It was flat all around — all three phases. We've just got to continue to get better. It was just one game, but that ain't us. It didn't feel like us on the football field. It didn't feel like us on the sideline — we had no energy. That's on this team. We've got to pick that up, and continue to get better, and play for one another, eliminate the "me's" and go out there and do it for the team."
When you say "this ain't us," what does that mean?
"You've seen the past weeks overall — offense, defense, special teams — a ton of penalties in all three phases. Well I guess the penalties today were just on offense and defense, but it was a slow start, and we've got to learn from that. We can't let it happen. We've got a short week this week, and we've got to continue to get ready to go on Thursday."
QB Baker Mayfield
What was the conversation like coming out of halftime when you were told you were going to go in?
"That was pretty much the gist of it. It was more so everybody talking, and it was a decision to make team-wide. You either keep fighting, and come out of this thing being proud of what you put on tape, or you don't. This is a team, obviously things didn't go our way today, and that falls on everybody. It's not on one person — it's a full-blown team loss. Just going into the second half, and just trying to execute — it's going to be a short week for us — and go out there and put some good stuff on tape."
Do you feel like you were able to do that with those three scoring drives?
"Yeah, I mean, we went down and scored three times. So we'll look at the tape, but obviously we don't want to be in those circumstances."
How would you assess your performance today?
"When you're seeing certain coverages, and kind of a cautionary defense, (there are) a lot of check downs like that. Just trying to take what they're giving me, and just move forward."
You talked all year about trying to stay ready in case you got a chance to get back in there. It looked like you were taking a lot of notes in the first half. How did that help you when you got in there?
"I was doing that regardless of how the game was going today. I've done that the last few weeks, and just trying to help out. Trying to get a beat on what those guys are doing, and just help out where I can, like I told you guys earlier in the week. I want to win, and whatever my role is, and however I can help, then that's what I'm going to do. Mentally, backup quarterback is a position where you have to stay ready, stay within the game, and just really prepare yourself, and it just so happened to be today."
Do you think you did enough to earn the start this week?
"I'm not going to get into that. That's not my decision. Like I said, I want to win, and whatever role that is decided to be, then I'm going to do it, and I'm going to do it extremely well."
PJ said it felt flat out there in all three phases at least early on. What's your read on that?
"I agree with him. I don't know if I can give you an explanation as to why. Yeah, that was the message at halftime as well. We talked about there's a decision to make. You either put up and you fight (or not), because that first half was just bad football all-around — all three phases. It just wasn't good. A lot of penalties. It just wasn't good. Yeah, it was flat. It wasn't us."
Cincinnati fans sounded like they remembered you ...
"Yeah, I've been here a few times. When they get rolling on offense, they get rolling. I've seen it a few times. It's the state of Ohio — they have good football fans."
LB Frankie Luvu
What do you think happened out there, especially with the run defense?
"I don't know. I can't speak for everyone else."
For you individually, was there any point on the field where something just felt off?
"To be honest, I don't know what went wrong today. We're going to see it on the film."
When you go into film review after games like this, what are the first things you look at?
"My key works and being physical at the point of contact. As far as everybody else, we've just got to do a better job."
After a game like this, is it better to ignore the tape and just move on to the next?
"I wouldn't say ignore the tape. Take what we can and work from it. Obviously it's a copy-cat league and we'll learn from our mistakes."
Do you think there was a letdown after the loss to Atlanta?
"No, there was no letdown. There was no letdown at all. It's a week-to-week thing. We're going to flush this one and come back next week."
DB Myles Hartsfield
What's the mindset after a game like today?
"Obviously we've got to put this game behind us. We've got a short week coming up. We've got to learn from the tape and see what we can do better and be ready for Thursday."
What happened out there that caused there to be the holes and such, especially in the run game for the Bengals?
"People — we're just not playing together. On defense, everybody has to be 11 moving parts for one body. I think that's probably what it was. You usually can't tell just from being out there, so you've got to watch the tape and see what the problems were, and fix it before Thursday."
How do you get 11 people to work in sync?
"Just the communication part and trusting each other, being in your gap and not trying to make someone else's play. Just making the plays that come to you and your game, especially the run game. And just being able to trust the people around you that they're going to do their job, so you can do your job."
Do you feel you need to improve on being more physical out there?
"It's finishing on the ball in the right spots. I gave Hayden Hurst two plays and didn't finish on the ball. I've got to be better than that. It's been my Achilles heel all year really. Just got to be better at playing the ball."
Did the Bengals bring anything at you that you weren't expecting?
"No. We practiced most of the stuff that they did. We just have to execute."
LB Damien Wilson
Thoughts on what you have to do to be ready for Thursday's game?
"We can't dwell on this one. We have to move on to the next one."
Can you describe what happened with the run defense today?
"I really can't describe it."
WR Terrace Marshall Jr.
After a game like this, is it better to ignore the tape and just move on to the next?
"We just take it one day at time. Whenever that day gets here, we know we'll be ready, and we'll just prepare in the meantime."
Did Baker Mayfield coming in provide a spark?
"It was just the offense as a whole. We just felt like we had time coming out of halftime, and why not just do something right now?"
Were you surprised there was a quarterback change at halftime?
"My job is just to go out there and run my routes no matter who is the quarterback. I've got my trust in both P.J. and Baker. I just go out there and try to do my best and try to contribute."
Were you surprised how fast the game got out of hand?
"I mean a little bit. That's what happens in football. We're going to have to dive into the tape and see what we did wrong, then make corrections and get ready for Atlanta."
RB D'Onta Foreman
The offense just seemed to be off today. Was there anything you can pinpoint?
"We were just kind of slow, you know what I mean? We've got to find a way to get started. I've got to watch the film and see exactly what it was. I just know that we didn't play to our standard today, and we've got it get it fixed for Thursday."
You don't play defense, but what did you think about Joe Mixon's game?
"He played good, you know. Congratulations to him. We've got to find a way to stop the run."
Why do you think you came out flat?
"I don't know. Every team in this league goes through that at some point. Today was just our day. Like I said, we've just got to go watch the film. I can't really give too many (reasons) because I haven't watched it. After you get a chance to watch it, you get a better understanding of what happened. That's what we need to do first."
Is it a benefit to have a short week?
"I definitely think being able to play on Thursday gets this taste out of our mouth and (allow us to) put it behind us. I definitely think it's a good thing for us. Guys in this locker room come to work each and every day and play hard, and practice hard. We put it all on the line, and unfortunately we didn't get it done today. We've got to watch the film and figure out what went wrong."
View best in-game photos from Carolina's Week 9 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.