Anderson senses change

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau spent Tuesday delving into the inner workings of the NFL rules in an effort to find out which of the league's assistant coaches he can contact about the job of offensive coordinator.

If anyone could have taken it personally that his name isn't on LeBeau's list, it's the guy right down the hall in the Dean's office.

But running backs coach Jim Anderson, heading into his 18th season on an offensive staff that stayed intact except for the demotion of offensive coordinator Ken Anderson, isn't fighting LeBeau's bid for a new philosophy.

Actually, Jim Anderson thinks a fresh, new breeze can help an offense that scored a franchise-low 185 points.

"Dick is looking for a spark, a change, something different," Anderson said down the hall Tuesday. "Maybe we need some of that. It's always good to get new ideas.

"And I think in our situation, once he decided to keep everyone on the staff, he had to make that kind of change," Anderson said. "I think the new man can help us and I think we can help him."

bengals.com can't name potential candidates with an NFL team because of possible tampering violations. LeBeau has contacted former Steelers offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, but has not firmed up an interview.

Two more NFL names floated into LeBeau's research Tuesday when Arizona let go offensive coordinator Marc Trestman and quarterbacks coach John Garrett.

Trestman is a favorite of Bengals quarterback Scott Mitchell. Garrett is a former Bengals receiver and assistant coach who wouldn't be considered for a coordinator's job. But Bengals President Mike Brown has high regard for him.

LeBeau also hasn't ruled out college coaches and has been impressed with Oregon offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford's resume that includes transforming Bengals quarterback Akili Smith from part-time starter into No. 1 NFL pick.

Tedford said Tuesday night from Eugene, Ore., he has yet to hear from the club.

"I'd be interested to hear what they have to say, but I'm also happy here," Tedford said.

Jim Anderson, who has sent his running backs to seven Pro Bowls and coached nine 1,000-yard seasons during the longest tenure of any assistant coach in Bengals' history, is no longer frustrated the call for coordinator hasn't come.

"Sometimes life isn't fair," Anderson said. "What's important to me is when people say they hope I stay. There are things said and things done that the public doesn't know about, but it shows that people here respect me and they want me to come back and that should say something about how good you are at what you do."

Anderson, 52, can feel change blowing through Paul Brown Stadium as LeBeau looks for a coordinator to revive the league's worst pass offense. He senses LeBeau seeks flexibility for an offense that finished third in NFL rushing, yet has struggled with the defenses of division rivals Tennessee, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Jacksonville.

"Numbers are deceiving," Anderson said. "We were No. 3 running the ball, yet we have to change what we're doing if we want to get past those teams. You have to have more diversity. I think we'll be looking to put more diversity into the attack. Make the defense worry about a lot of things.

"If we're going to move on, those are the teams we have to beat," Anderson said. "You can talk schemes all you want, but it's how that scheme gets executed is the bottom line."

In eight games against the AFC's Big Four, the Bengals were shut out three times and failed to score a touchdown four times in averaging 8.6 points and 211 yards while gaining less than four yards per play.

The Bengals may be Anderson's only NFL stop, but he says

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he's had to adjust to more than one scheme since he came to Cincinnati with head coach Sam Wyche in 1984. Bruce Coslet later became Wyche's offensive coordinator before restoring entirely his brand of offense after Dave Shula was fired as head coach four years ago.

"Bruce did some things differently than Sam," Anderson said. "Part of Dave's problem, I think, was that he didn't use a lot of his stuff and kept much of the stuff we had with Sam. But we've had different schemes here."

Anderson argues the NFL pretty much uses two offensive styles, so the staff shouldn't have a difficult time adjusting to the new coordinator's scheme. There's variations of the run-and-shoot, which LeBeau won't do, and variations of the West Coast, which could also be known as the Eighth Street Viaduct offense.

That's because Bill Walsh sired the West Coast in his days as Paul Brown's offensive assistant at Spinney Field in the mid-1970s, and the club has kept the foundation in various forms.

"It's hard to say a scheme doesn't work when you have success running the ball like we've been able to," Anderson said. "I think what we're looking to do with the new guy is take parts of things that work and fit them together."

Anderson has always been amazed running backs coaches are rarely considered as coordinator candidates. Not only is that position coach heavily involved in the running game, but he's a key part of pass routes and pass protection.

"For years, people talked about the heart of the offense being up the middle with the center and the quarterback," Anderson said. "There's a lot of focus on the offensive line, the quarterback and the receivers. Look at the guys who get the opportunity to move up. It's guys who coach quarterbacks, receivers, and the line a lot of times."

But Anderson says there is no bitterness. He stopped into his office Tuesday after getting back from vacation, walked down the hall to hug LeBeau, and wondered who the next guy might be.

"I've got a lot of regard for Dick LeBeau. He's a man's man," Anderson said. "We aren't going to know what the changes are going to be until that guy gets hired. I know this. It won't be a hasty decision."

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