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Bengaldom seeks answers

9-15-02, 12:30 p.m.

Bengaldom is an uproar, of course, with the howling of how could a team with as much experience and talent lay a dinosaur egg like that against the Chargers.

It is a question as baffling as who killed the Kennedys and who is Watergate's Deep Throat. Not as important, but just as baffling.

A sampling of irate Hobson's Choice:

As a transplanted lifetime Bengals fan who now lives in Rams country, it's interesting to see how both teams laid an egg in the opener (see Faulk's numbers), and how fans of both teams are hitting the panic button after just one loss. I suppose that goes with the territory.

I don't, however, get a sense that those inside the Rams organization are panicking. Nor do I get that sense from Coach LeBeau. What about the players? **Mike, St. Louis.

MIKE: It's easier for the Rams and their fans not to panic because they've been to two of the last three Super Bowls. It's an entirely different situation here, where the players have to be sold on the fact, and then believe, that they can go to the playoffs.

Because it is such an older club than it was in '98, '99, 00, you don't sense the panic that washed over those teams early and often.**

yo hobson i drove all the way to cincy from Philly to see that no hearted team play i am pissed i bought a two ticket package can i return the ticket to oct 13th game against Pittisburg i won't travel out there again but hey they looked lost without darnay and the defense with out darly williams don't understand what the bengals where thinking west brook got to step up and the bengals got to go down field. **Matthew, Philadelphia, PA.

MATTHEW: Your note is a prime example of why the opener was so devastating. Forget the record. What

about the good will among fans? In regard to Williams, they've recognized they have experience problems at safety and are going back to the combo from last year in Armour and Hall. They get more experience, but also less coverage skills. Westbrook, indeed, has to step up Sunday against Cleveland with T.J. Houshmandzadeh limited with a muscle pull.

What they have to do more than anything over the next month is play well enough so people like yourself will get in their cars and drive out here for the Steelers' game.**

Why, why, why do the Bengals insist on trying to run Dillon outside when he is so effective running off-tackle. And why, why, why are they handing off inside to Brandon Bennett on 2 and 26?. Finally, why, why, why don't the Bengals throw the ball to a tight-end over the middle once-in-awhile? McGee is gone--Brewer is supposed to be able to catch.

Where were the offensive plays that we saw during pre-season? It's like the coaching staff left their lamenated play cards back at G-town. Blame the defense all you want, but it's hard to make tackles in that heat when the offense is only giving you about 2 minutes to take a blow and get some water. Yes, the offensive line got clobbered, but the thing that concerns me more is that the play-calling was an absoulute joke. I kept looking through my binaculars to see if Klinger and Coach Schula had slipped back in the stadium when no one was looking.

I gotta believe the team can shake this off, they are still unproven, but they just can't be this bad.

Let's get a big win over the Browns and put this abomination behind us! **Paul C. Kettering, Ohio.

PAUL: It was hard to get any kind of a grip on what they wanted to do offensively because the game was out of whack so early. When the defense comes out right away and proves it can't stop anything, your best weapon – the running game – is swiped away from you. Bennett on second-and-26? They're playing pass, probably. You can't get in second-and-26 in the first place.

When they stack the line like that, why run Corey into the teeth of it? Maybe they have to run more counters and reverses to loosen up defenses.

Clearly, they have to get the tight end involved, but the idea of trying to stretch the field is a solid one. They won't be a legitimate offense until they routinely chalk up 20-yard passes. Look what the Browns did last week with a new quarterback and young receivers. It's not like trying to invent the wheel. The Bengals have to figure it out.**

What was the thinking of lining L. Jones as TE? San Diego certainly has a great D Line and awesome backers... Why tip our hand? It wasn't to justify the 1st selection was it? Would Mike Brown suggest/order that? It seemed so ineffective and we repeated with zero effect...

Can't we establish the pass first since everybody knows that Corey's the man and then shove it down their throat? Love your columns! **Jim, Blue Ash, Ohio.

JIM: Thanks for the kind words. For the most part, Mike Brown doesn't hand down ultimatums to the coaches when it comes to personnel. If he does, it will probably happen later in the season if the team is out of playoff contention. But even that is rare.

You might not see Jones in there as often in the coming weeks. The Bengals love his ability to run block and want to use it in certain situations while he works on his pass-blocking technique, but they also know they can't give Sean Brewer seven snaps a game and Matt Schobel five and expect them to develop.**

Can we expect this team to be as unpredictable as teams of the past few years? Great D? Sunday Reality-Awful D with players who tire awfully quickly. Running Prowess? Sunday Reality-Longing for KiJana Carter. O-Coordinator that knows how to put points up? Sunday Reality-Did you see the game. Cut Neil Rackers? Sunday Reality-Are you crazy, this guy is our best player. Anyway, can they get any more inconsistent? **Randy, San Antonio, Texas.

RANDY: No, they absolutely can't. Consistency is what the playoff teams have and what the Bengals haven't had since that '90 playoff team under Sam Wyche shocked everyone by going 0-8 to begin '91.

To look like they did last Sunday with the talent and experience they have is stunning affirmation this team, for whatever reason, is seeking that snap-to-snap, series-to-series, game-to-game consistency. That is LeBeau's biggest challenge. Not getting Dillon the ball 30 times. But getting his team to play consistently.**

they didnt sell out, and they wonder why? the bengals havent won for 10 years. and gus and jon will not lead the team this year. fan polls all over wanted A.Smith to start on their team, they want smith the preseason was fun to watch. he will always get positive yards by scrambling or passing. with dillon and a. smith are offence attack wont be stoped and that will give the D a rest. the fans wont come intill they get want A. Smith and winning football. **KJ, Fairfield, Ohio.

KJ: As the season progresses, it's going to be interesting to see who jockeys back and forth as the No. 2 and No.3 quarterbacks. The sense is next year that Smith stays around and the odd man out with Kitna-Frerotte doesn't. But at this point, it's all speculation. There's still a chance Smith could play significantly this season, but that would most likely mean things are going badly for the club.


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