Bengaldom peeks ahead to '04

12-7-03, 8 a.m.

Biggest day in Bengaldom since Boomer, Sam, JB, and the guys went out to Los Angeles and got food poisoning the night before the last playoff game after the 1990 season.

So BengalNation always has a wary eye to the future even though the present tastes so good. And, no, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder isn't going to sweep into Paul Brown Stadium in the dead of night this offseason and pack away Marvin Lewis, so you can shelve those e-mails for about another five years, and then probably not even then. **

Geoff: WHOOO-DEEYYYY!!! Some friends and I were talking on Monday night watching the Jets humiliate the Titans, and got to talking about that Cincinnati just might get a Monday Night game next year with this incredible season they are having. When was the last time the Bengals made an appearance on MNF? or even on a nationally televised game? I am thinking like 2 yrs ago when they were abused by the Atlanta falcons in Atlanta, on that sunday night. I would appreciate you clearing this up if you could. Thanks.**

MONDAY: We were surprised that the Bengals didn't get a call on Sunday night this season. In fact, we thought the Marvin Lewis story was so compelling, given his record-setting success with the Ravens and two-year effort to get a head coaching job as the league's top assistant coach, that the league would feature the Bengals in a Sunday night game against his old team in Baltimore.

Well, look what they missed Sunday at 1 p.m. You have to believe they have done enough to get back on Monday Night next season, when they would be making their first MNF call in 12 years, since a 20-0 loss at Pittsburgh Oct. 19, 1992 in Dave Shula's first season as coach.

The last prime-time appearance came last year and apparently was bad enough to erase a new coach from the mix. The Bengals lost, Sept. 22, 2002 to the Falcons in the Georgia Dome by 30-3.

The last prime-time game at home came six years ago this week on a Thursday night, when running back Corey Dillon broke Jim Brown's rookie rushing record in a game with 246 yards in the Bengals' 41-14 victory against Tennessee Dec. 4, 1997 at Cinergy Field.

Was just wondering how iron-clad is Marvin Lewis' contract and can he leave for the Redskins or Giants after this year. B.L.

BL: Lewis is going nowhere from what we can gather for at least the next four to five years. He has shown no desire to leave and, of course, the Bengals wouldn't give him permission to talk to anyone. Plus, if things are going well, Bengals President Mike Brown has been known to tear up contracts in the middle of them. **

Mr. Hobson; I don't know what I have to do to get on your Hobson's choice but I will try again. I have been a bengals fan since day one. I remember going down to nippert stadium to watch them play and beat some teams that then were pretty big. However I now lilve in Mesa, Arizona and I have to watch the bengals on the NFL Sunday ticket.

I sure have enjoyed them this year as I always do, but this year has een special because they are winning. Sa to my question, I was wondering if you think the bengals will try to extend the contract of John Kitna in order to get his contract at a cap friendly price next year so we can have him for a back-up to Carson Plamer? Well I don't want to be long winded so I will go with this final message. GO BENGALS BEAT BALTIMORE AND SHOW THEM WHO IS NUMBER ONE. Sincerely Chuck from Mesa.**

CHUCK: Thanks for keeping to try. We think the Bengals might try to do something like that, but the question is, "Why would Kitna take less money to be a backup after a Pro Bowl season with one year left on his contract?" But he's not your average NFL player. He has said this year and last year that he would like to stay in Cincinnati because he doesn't want to move his family around and he likes his son's school. It's a great question not yet answered. **

The Bengals played a great game on Sunday at Pittsburgh. However, the delay of game penalties were a nemesis. I'm curious to know if there was a reason for the penalties (was this asked at the press conference following the game?). Do the Bengals radio the plays in to Kitna or use other means? Could crowd noise have been a factor? Tom.**

TOM: Quarterback Jon Kitna took the blame, but some players talked about how the officials had a "quick clock," meaning they were starting the play clock too soon after the previous play. The clock starts when the ball is marked by the officials, but apparently some Bengals thought it was getting started beforehand. Kitna does have a radio helmet, but that, and the crowd noise didn't appear to be a factor because it didn't happen on the last drive.

Hi there! Finally I could write to yuo. I've been a fan for over 22 years. Form the great Ken to Chris arriving at Boomer, wow what a players! Ok son we're now in the Lewis ERA!! Let's go to the question: I'd like to know what you think about next year: which means talking about the people we need in some position to become a Superbowl team. Up to now I think Lewis is getting tha base to build a great team for the next 10 years, but this year we gonna turn around the loosing streak, we may go to playoff or win the conference but hardly get to the Championship. If quarterbacks, receivers and runners we are pro bowl team for the ex decade, beyon attitude what we're missing to be a team eveybody wants to play with and not against? Thanks so much. Bye Paolo, Milano

Paolo: Some of the talk about next year includes getting help in the secondary, in the interior of the offensive line, and maybe linebacker. But Lewis has stressed that the draft isn't so much about replacing immediate needs, but getting the best players. So, for instance, even though the Bengals have two top-level running backs in Corey Dillon and Rudi Johnson, if a back surfaced they had to have, they'd probably take him. Or any other position they seem set. But the conventional wisdom is there looking for cornerbacks, safeties, guards and centers. **

For all of us out here in "non-affiliated team" T.V. land, I want to say that Cincinnati/Baltimore should have been picked as the national coverage game this Sunday. Why must we suffer through a second straight week of watching the Colts?? Yes, I'm a biased Cincinnati native, but I bet I'm not the only one disappointed with CBS' choice. Joe**

JOE: You win the bet. It sounds like Bengals' fans are mad at CBS for other reasons, too. **

when this season began, both commentators were not happy about doing our games, like it was a demotion , but criqui has changed since the baltimore game , tasker on the other hand , is still waiting for the wheels to come off.criqui , who predicted the chiefs win 2 weeks before chad did , is a homer who now believes , which is cool. tasker , i think its where he was on a bills team that we whupped in the playoffs , why he is so bitter, anyway , i wish hed quit that (), it puts bad ju-ju on my bengals. anyway , go bengals , and i think well win out for a 12-4 season , and go to the super bowl......really , i do! a bengals fan since '68, chuck.**

CHUCK: We got more e-mails this week complaining about the TV coverage than ever before. And there were people close to the players and coaches who were also upset about the tenor of the comments throughout the game, particularly when the Bengals fell behind. **

his team is playing outstanding football and doing it in a classy way that resonates with the city and beyond. People are jumping on the bandwagon not just because these guys are winning, but because they are a great bunch of guys. Everyone seems to be on the same page and concerned about noghting but wins and losses, not individual stats or accolades.

When Takeo left, all he talked about was wanting to make the Pro Bowl. I hope he gets his wish and gets to watch the Bengals go to the playoffs while he freezes in Buffalo (seriously, somewhere he's kicking himself, I don't care what he says). My friends and I have watched nearly every down of every game and I can't think of enough nice things to say about these guys. It's great to be proud of the Bengals when Tom Jackson compares CJ's skills to Moss and Owens, but his attitude and work ethic to Rice and Harrison.

I'll be the first to admit, I was never sold on Kitna and I wanted him benched early in the season. Credit Coach Lewis for sticking with him.

Two biggest decisions Lewis seems to have made this season were one, naming Kitna the starter early and staying with him through the tough part of the season; and two, keeping Bratkowski. Both decisions were questioned and Lewis never wavered. His decisiveness and confidence in his decisions are what I believe to be a huge part of the team's success. Both qualities seem to be things past coaches around here lacked and other coaches in the league lack, ex. Butch Davis and his rotating QBs..Couple of quick questions...

How is Carson Palmer reacting to Kitna's success? Kitna has become extremely popular in the locker room, how will the team make the transition from Kitna to Palmer whenever it has to be made?

How is Jeff Burris doing? If he can't play this year, what about after?**

DECISIONS: We pretty much agree with you, but in our mind the biggest decision came after the club lost in Buffalo to go to 1-4 heading into the bye and Lewis didn't go Palmer. And, the decision by Bengals President Mike Brown to allow Lewis to bring in his own strength and conditioning people has to be ranked with keeping Bratkowski. Which was heavily endorsed and urged by Brown.

Palmer is saying and doing all the right things, which is going to make the transition much easier when the move is made. Palmer is a likeable guy with enormous talent and that should help him with the guys, but this is clearly Kitna's locker room. Check that. Lewis' locker room, but Kitna is clearly his quarterback.

Burris (concussion) could be back in limited fashion as soon as Sunday against the Ravens with Artrell Hawkins' knee problems, but he looks to be back on starting basis next week against the Niners. **


JOE: The only time they seemed to really give it up all at once was that last drive of 3:15 in which Tommy Maddox completed nine of 10 passes. The Bengals didn't seem to blitz as much in that last drive as they did during the rest of the game (like the last series of the half they forced a turnover on the Bengals 12) , but as middle linebacker Kevin Hardy said, "I was always taught a blitz is going to be a big play for someone. Either the offense or the defense." So they didn't want to get beat big. They did let the Steelers "nickel and dime," them, said linebacker Brian Simmons, and defensive back Kevin Kaesviharn though the players' own coverage was softer than the scheme dictated.

**Mr. Hobson, It has been a pleasure being a Bengal fan this year. After being laughed at wherever I went with my Bengal attire on and people saying how can you like that team...well let's say their tune has changed. Especially here in Giant Country!!!

My question is this....In the offseason Takeo Spikes was pretty adamant about how he didn't want to be around for a couple of more years for the rebuilding process. So, Mr. Lewis let him pack his bags and leave town and picked up 3 very good players for the price of one, which I thought was an extradorinary move. Now with Buffalo struggling in December to keep slim to none playoff hopes alive and the Bengals in a dogfight in December to win the Division. Has anyone heard of how Mr. Spikes feels about the rebuilding process in Cincinnati? After all, the odds are in our favor that he will be home in January while we are enjoying the fruits of hard work. Jim, New Jersey.**

JIM: Word out of Western New York is that Spikes isn't happy with the record, but seems happy with his situation with the Bills. They say he's playing better than he was earlier in the season, has embraced his leadership role, and continues to be one of the best guys with the media despite the team's disappointing run.

**Hey Geoff: Where the heck is TJ? The team has gone 12 games without him. Why don't they put him on injured reserve and bring back Farmer of Dugans. Both these players were good receivers. Now that they have been out a little while they would probably be more inclined to try harder on special teams. Or is TJ that good that the team just waits for him to return:

Don, Texas**

DON: Even Houshmandzadeh can't get on the field when healthy, so why would Dugans or Farmer? You make a good point, though. The operative term here is, "healthy," but it seems like his hamstring has been ready to go for the past month and he has still been inactive. He tried hard to get back because he knew the Bengals were keeping that roster spot open for him, and apparently aggravated it trying to get back.

His talent obviously had something to do with keeping him off injured reserve, but the drafting of Kelley Washington in the third round suggested they were looking for more speed at that spot even before the season, and Houshmandzadeh's return to health has coincided with Washington's emergence. Then, with fourth receiver/special teamer Kevin Walter getting so many snaps in practice, it's just a numbers game now.

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