There’s nothing quite like a primetime beatdown to shine the bright lights. Just ask Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis, who had to sit through ha pretty brutal press conference earlier this week in which he was simply bombarded by questions about how and why his team is so bad and what he intends to do about it.
A common theme that was brought up among the reporters’ questions was their sudden epiphany that, gee golly gosh, missed tackles are a problem. Wait until they find out that it’s a league-wide issue, and not just a Bengals problem.
Yes, there is subtext here, Pittsburgh Steelers fans. Believe it or not, as bad as the Steelers’ tackling can be at times, it’s ultimately relatively indicative of how it can be on nearly any other team around the NFL. Just ask Marvin Lewis.
The reporters tried, but they didn’t get much in the way of meaningful answers. Asked what the cause of tackling issues was, he responded, “you have to go and you have to tackle. You have to do a better job. I wish there was a magic word or button to press, but there isn’t”. In other words, tackling better leads to better tackling. This is a little thing I like to call a tautology.
Lewis was later asked if the tackling problem was a fixable issue, which he said that it was. You either correct it with the people you already have, you get new people, or you “correct it with the person at the point”.
One of the most bafflingly ephemeral discussions in sports is the notion of ‘want-to’. So often we hear that this or that comes down to ‘want-to’, and tackling often gets thrown into that. Lewis said it himself, so a reporter asked him about it, and why a player wouldn’t want to tackle on national television.
“I don’t think it flashes through his mind that he’s playing on national television”, he responded either obtusely or tersely, deliberately or otherwise missing the point. After shortening the question simply to “why does a guy not want to tackle”, he merely responded, “we have to get there and want to”.
It’s a good thing that coaches are not paid for their ability to express ideas during press conferences, because I’m not sure many of those currently employed would be for much longer.
But the point is that anybody who watched the Bengals be gutted by the Kansas City Chiefs realizes that, yes indeed, there is a tackling problem in Cincinnati, one that crops up in pretty much every NFL city at this point. And it’s one that is apparently difficult to talk about coherently as well.