During his whirlwind introduction to Paul Brown Stadium Wednesday, new offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski took some time to talk with Geoff Hobson of bengals.com. Bratkowski, the former Steelers receivers coach, is back to work for good Monday.
HOBSON: Your Dad (Zeke) was a member of Lombardi's Packers as quarterback Bart Starr's backup. Your Dad said he heard you interviewed once and you said how that experience had a big effect on you even though you were only about 10 or 12.
BRATKOWSKI: What influenced me was the quality of the people and the commitment to their work. The way they approached their job. The camaraderie and closeness they had. Those were the things that stick with you.
HOBSON: Is that what got you into coaching?
BRATKOWSKI: I think so. I enjoy it. I get excited on Game Day. I enjoy the thrill of stepping out on the field on Opening Day and the games and the camaraderie, the relationships, the games and the people you work with.
Because we spend so much time together as coaches. Once July hits, it's like going down in a submarine. You're submerged the rest of the year and you develop very close relationships.
HOBSON: I guess you feel you can have one with Ken Anderson (the quarterbacks coach Bratkowski replaces). You don't seem to have a problem with him.
BRATKOWSKI: I would hope not. I've known Kenny for a long time and have a great amount of respect for him. I'm an easy guy to get along with. Kenny is, too. Hopefully it will be a very smooth relationship. We'll talk daily and I'll work closely with him.
HOBSON: You like golf, right?
BRATKOWSKI: I like to play golf.
HOBSON: So that should help you with Kenny.
BRATKOWSKI: That should help me with Kenny.
HOBSON: There have been rumblings that Kenny and Akili don't click together. Kenny says he's not aware of a problem and Akili said the major problem was he didn't have anyone to spend much individual time with him after Bruce (head coach Coslet) resigned and Kenny had to call the plays.
BRATKOWSKI: That makes it hard. I had an experience in Seattle (1995-98) where I was the coordinator/receivers coach and then I was just the coordinator. There was a lot of work when I went to being a receivers coach. It was a lot easier when I was just the coordinator. It was a lot easier on me because I didn't have to prepare for meetings and still do all the things a coordinator has to do in terms of game plans and scripts and all those things. I can imagine that was quite a burden on Kenny and maybe in that respect it had an effect on Akili.
HOBSON: You like to be multiple and at times use three and four receivers. But some people say, 'That's great, but do you have three or four receivers?'
BRATKOWSKI: That's what I'm talking about when I say I have to sit down and look at the personnel. It would be foolish to sit here and say we have to do this regardless of who we have. That doesn't make sense. You have to sit down and evaluate and see if we can do some of these things and be effective. To do them just to do them doesn't make sense. To do it where you have ability to be successful, that makes sense.
HOBSON: Can you help Akili by simplifying some things?
BRATKOWSKI: You have to take advantage of what the defense gives you and try to dictate through some of your formations and motions some situations where maybe you can simplify it by being spread out or close it down, which ever way you approach it.
HOBSON: How did you guys help Kordell (Steelers quarterback Stewart) turn it around late in the season?
BRATKOWSKI: I think the fact you get repetition and constant doing things over. I think we might have simplified things to a degree and then gave him an opportunity to keep repeating them, maybe doing the same things with different formations. Trying to do the same concepts, but changing the look to the defense. Yet to the quarterback the same concept is in place.
But it takes time. Practice reps are one thing. Game reps are another. You can't imagine how fast things happen in games. You have to just do it. Most young quarterbacks end up having to do that in games and take lumps. But they get that game experience and eventually it starts adding up. They start seeing it and things slow down.
HOBSON: Did you get some advice from your father before you took this job?
BRATKOWSKI: I talked to Dad and a number of people in the league I respect and, to a man, everytime they said it was a great opportunity.
HOBSON: What about coming into coordinate and lead a staff that is entrenched here? There are none of your people. Except, of course, the head coach.
BRATKOWSKI: It's the first time I've done that. When I got fired in Seattle (1998), (Steelers coach) Bill Cowher had talked to me about that coordinator job and eventually hired Kevin Gilbride. It was going to be that same situation. Come in with a staff in place. So my thoughts have been crystallized a little bit on it on how to do it.
HOBSON: How do you do it?
BRATKOWSKI: I've got to get to know these coaches as much as I need to get to know the players. Obviously they wouldn't be here if they weren't good coaches and I will rely on them a lot. I will inject some fresh ideas and changes, while at the same time you always have to remember these guys were here.
So anytime you look at the film and it's not going right on the film, you have to be very careful how you approach it and how you say things to them because they'll take it personally if not. As we go through it, we will talk about some things.
HOBSON: It would be easier if they were your own guys.
BRATKOWSKI: Yeah, if it was my own guys and it
was a completely new staff and we were replacing another staff, I'm sure things would get talked about a little bit differently. It will get worked out. I'm not concerned about that. That's probably one of my least concerns. I know most of these guys and they're very easy to get along with.
HOBSON: How tough was it when Cowher chose (Steelers tight ends coach) Mike Mularkey to be the coordinator a few weeks ago.
HOBSON: What did Cowher say?
BRATKOWSKI: What he told me was he had passed Mike over twice before and Mike had been with him a little longer than I had been with him. I think from talking to people in the front office there, Bill really struggled over the decision and he eventually went with Mike hoping I would stay there as well.
Mike and I both agreed because we're very good friends that if he got it, I would be with him 100 percent and vice versa.
And he went with Mike and I can understand that because I think loyalty is a very important thing in this business and that's someone that had been with him for awhile. I was disappointed, but not upset. I told Bill, 'I'm not sitting here saying I got to get the heck out of here because I was passed over.' It wasn't that way at all. I told him that one day I wanted to be a coordinator again and he was very good about it.
HOBSON: You like to be multiple and shift and use the three wides. I guess we'll see Corey (Pro Bowl running back Dillon) running out of a spread formation in a one-back set at times.
BRATKOWSKI: Yeah, there's a lot of different ways to run the ball. It doesn't have to always be two backs and one tight end. It doesn't always have to be one back and two tight ends. There's a number of different ways. And there has to be because you really can't do anything over and over too much because the people in this league catch up with you.
HOBSON: When Danny Farmer was at the Super Bowl last week, he indicated you weren't the guy he had a problem with in Pittsburgh last year. That it came from elsewhere and that he thought you were a pretty good guy and that he wouldn't have a problem working with you.
(Bengals receiver Danny Farmer got cut by the Steelers in the last training camp after they drafted him in the fourth round.)
BRATKOWSKI: Danny and I had a good relationship. I had worked him out at UCLA. In fact, his Dad (receiver George Farmer) played with the Bears back when my Dad was there coaching. Danny's a good kid. He's very intelligent and I like smart football players.
HOBSON: Do you like play action?
BRATKOWSKI: If you can play action and have a chance for a big play, it can be the difference in a game.
HOBSON: Coach LeBeau made it pretty clear (in the news conference) that you'll be running the ball a bit.
BRATKOWSKI: Absolutely. Absolutely.