Bengaldom tries to bye in

10-9-03, 3 p.m.

What would happen if they had a recall vote in Bengaldom?

Head coach Marvin Lewis wouldn't be terminated. He'd win Arnold-big, but that hasn't stopped the populace from second-guessing everything Lewis did in last week's overtime loss to Buffalo but his choice of hats. From the clock to the wind to Jon Kitna, Bengaldom is far from chilling during the bye week.

But you can't second-guess what Lewis has done with the roster. It had to be shaken, not stirred, and it's still being shaken six weeks into the season. With Kyle Richardson replacing Nick Harris at punter Wednesday during this bye week, Lewis has now brought eight players to the Bengals who have played in at least one playoff game, three who have been in a Super Bowl, and two who were on the winning team in Richardson and cornerback Tory James.

(By the way, the most ridiculous second guess of the week is chiding Lewis for taking the ball and not the wind in overtime. Perfect call. The only call.

There is no way in the name of Tom Brady you can give the ball to Drew Bledsoe even if he's going into the wind because you know he'll zip them down the field 40 yards to get the field goal. We're not talking about Aaron Brooks, here. Heck, Bledsoe had just spent the last five minutes going into the wind tying the game and now you want to give him the exact same chance to win it?

This week's Hobson's Choice off e-mail: **

To me the question isn't why didn't the Bengals try to move the ball on

their last possession of the 4th quarter with 20 seconds and a timeout left. It should be why wasn't the 2nd time out called immediately following the Bills 3rd down play when approximately 1 minute and 10 seconds were left and the Bill's field goal attempt imminent. Had the Bengals called the time out immediately they woul've had an additional 30-40 seconds minimum with which to attempt a final drive for the winning FG. They had to expect the Bills were going to convert a chip shot FG, even into the wind.

In fact I question whether the defense isn't lacking in situational

awareness because they also let at least 10 seconds run off the clock at the end of the first half before calling the TO to set up the punt and missed FG attempt. That lost time would've meant at least one more sideline pass attempt to move the ball closer than the missed 54-yard attempt which arguably was the difference in the game. At the end of the half, the Bengals called two timeouts in the Bills' last series, both after passes The first play started at 33 seconds, and they stopped it at 24 seconds, and then they stoped it after the next play at 1 Ronald, Lone Bengal fan in Packer Land Ø Wisconsin.**

"Why Didn't They Move The Ball At The End of The Game," is the only question. You can always nit pick any coach's move with the clock, but you can't argue with the soundness of the decision. 58 seconds or 28 seconds. On the road

against a home team that has the momentum, you take the tie and go into overtime. It has nothing to do with not wanting to win. In their mind, that was their best shot of winning. (See Smith, Akili, last minute of half, 2001 and 2002)

At the end of the half, the Bengals called two timeouts in the Bills' last series, both after passes. The first play started at 33 seconds, and they stopped it at 24 seconds, and then they stopped it after the next play at 15 seconds. That seems reasonable. **

I have been a Bengal fan my entire life, and have seen a lot of ups and downs and unlucky events unfold on my Bengals. This team we have now is different. they dont wait for things to happen they make things happen, but as we come into the bye week at 1-4, I feel a sence of urgency for this season.

We need to win the next 5 games to have a shot at the playoffs. My question is, should the switch be made to Shane Mathews, Jon can play well at times but his inconsistancey on the short throws is killing us, also Mathews has a higher reliece point so his passes are less likely to get tipped at the line. I know that Jon is a big part of team chemistry and that is a conscern, but it seem that he plays just good enough for us to loose. I was there the last time we beat the Ravens in PBS and I would like to see it again. This team has more talent that most of the NFL, and now we have a better coach than most of the NFL. Anything less than a division title is falure. Andrew 30 Western Hills/.**

ANDREW: As you know, Kitna was the quarterback when they beat the Ravens that day, so you know he can win big games. The problem is, in his 31 starts since, he's won just seven of them. Clearly, the drafting of Palmer indicates the Bengals feel they have to go another way at quarterback. It's only a matter of time. Why they haven't looked at Matthews yet it is interesting, but you only go with a backup when the other guy continually takes you out of games. Kitna hasn't done that, and he did make a big play to get their only win when he hit Chad Johnson with a 55-yard touchdown pass at the end of the first half in Cleveland.

We agree with the sense of urgency this season. The failures of the past demand it. But Lewis knows he has to balance that with the big picture. **

Geoff, they say we don't know how to win it's not that. We go conservative. On the Offensive calling Brat. goes to conservative. I say stay with what got you there in the game. We are getting better each week. We have to get Washington more playing time with Johnson, Warrick . Washington will be a good WR taking pressure off of Chad and Peter. They have all this Offensive threat use it. Then you can keep the D. off the field. Scott, Celina.**

SCOTT: If that's conservative, then sign me up for Arnold's cabinet in California. Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski has done an excellent job getting points in the red zone for a team that doesn't have its best running back. The running numbers aren't good, but this team wins when it runs and not when it passes, and keeps a good but learning defense off the field. They should have beat the Bills giving it 26 times to Rudi Johnson and Brandon Bennett. Dillon hasn't had 26 carries in his last 13 games. In the win over the Browns, Dillon, Johnson and Bennett combined for 23 carries, and Dillon hasn't had 23 carries by himself in his last eight weeks.

His injuries have been a reason, but you get the idea. Run the ball, good things happen, the game stays close, and the only way to get better at it (and at 2.9 yards per carry the Bengals have to get much better), is to run it some more. The minute they go for a big play and get burned (is it Phil or Phillip Buchanon?), then you get the second guesses the other way.

**Do you think this loss will demoralize the players or will it spur them to work harder? They have had some exciting well played games and I think the wins will come. Plus the way the division is playing we are still in it. Maybe Im being optimistic but I think its possible.
W. Culver

    Gtown, Ohio**

W: They've had an aggressive week of practice in which Lewis didn't turn off the switch. They have stayed confident with the help of an even division. They act more like they think they are about to go on a winning splurge given that four of the next five games are at home, rather than grousing about being 1-4. **

With the release of Nick Harris and the acquisition of Kyle Richardson, the question of other quality available punters comes to mind. What's the deal with Grooms of Ohio State ? He was excellent in college. Is he not as good if not a better option than Richardson ? Chuck.**

CHUCK: No fair second guessing this move yet. Richardson hasn't even unpacked yet, never mind punt in a game. The Bengals worked out the Ohio State guy (who wasn't consistent at all), as well as about eight or so others, so it's not like they picked Richardson's name out of a hat. It might be nice having a veteran punter around again. Ever since Lee Johnson got whacked late in the 1998 season, the Bengals have turned to rookies or first- and second-year guys. **

Marvin has this team surly going in the right direction, but one question enters my mind every Monday morning....When I log onto why don't I see "Brandon Bennett Released"? He must be an unbelievable moral leader behind closed doors in the locker room because he cannot and does not produce on the field, where it counts.

Now I am an unbiased individual who gauges success on a reasonable scale, but I feel Brandon is atrocious on the field this season. We are 5 games into the season and he is averaging 1.6 yards running the ball and "steals" every single kickoff and instantly ends up on the ground by so much as a hefty . . .by the would-be tacklers. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but has he broken one (1) tackle this year? I'm not just saying this because of his performance yesterday, but he needs out. Please watch his performance against the Ravens and if he does anything remotely outstanding I will eat all 171 of these words.

Michael Hutter**

MICHAEL: What have you done for me lately, huh? Bennett has been a very solid guy on this team for a long time and you can't throw the guy out with the fish in the newspaper. He's a tremendous character guy who'll be the first to tell you he has to relax, settle down, and not always try to bust the big play. He's never been known as a runner, although he's done some nice change-of-pace things backing up Dillon. His major strength is catching the ball out of the backfield, and so maybe you give him six touches that way. Yes, he broke a tackle against the Bills on an eight-yard run in their first scoring drive.

**Hi, I was just wondering if we could expect to see Weathersby get some action soon. Any info?

Thanks, Mike Boston, MA**

MIKE: Way to Cowboy up at Fenway. Pedro and Rocket in Game Three at the Fens should reverse the curse. Weathersby might have to wait until after the World Series to get a chance.

At this point in the season, guys are being activated and deactivated mostly on their special teams value, and Terrell Roberts and Reggie Myles, the fourth and fifth corners, have been very solid on teams, and Roberts downed a punt deep in Bill's territory last Sunday. He also played decently as the third corner when Jeff Burris went down. Roberts had good coverage on Bobby Shaw on that third-and-long in the tying field goal drive, but Drew Bledsoe made a great throw.

They like Weathersby and think he'll eventually emerge as a starter, but special teams is carrying the day now. He's made a remarkable recovery from his Easter gunshot wound, but his fellow corners didn't have to sit out the next two months like he did. **

I was the Bengals had a No.51 in the game against Buffalo, but did not hear his name mentioned on any tackles. Then I reviewed the game stats, and did not see his name there either. Perhaps they should be trying someone else at middle linebacker if he can't play. How can a middle linebacker play an entire game without so much as an assist? This is not the first game he has disappeared in!**

Kevin Hardy couldn't have disappeared in too many games. He's tied for second on the team in, tackles, has two passes defensed, and forced a fumble. It took Takeo Spikes all 16 games last year to get one pass defensed and force two fumbles.

On Sunday in Buffalo, Spikes had three solo tackles and one clear big play in pinning a six-yard loss on running back Brandon Bennett. Hardy had one solo tackle, but he also knocked down a fourth-down pass at the line of scrimmage. On the previous snap, Hardy pressured Drew Bledsoe into an incompletion, and he also forced a fumble. There seems to be about as much difference as the space between the 5 and the 1. **

we made a terrible mistake with the #1 pick in the draft, or Marvin grossly estimated Kantna's abilities. We could have been 1-4, or at worst, 0-5 with Palmer at QB getting invaluable experience. Is Byron Leftwich smarter than Palmer? He passed for over for over 300 yards and a win this week with Ken Anderson as his quarterbacks coach and no reps in the supposedly all important preseason. Would you rather be 1-4 coming off a win with your quarterback of the future or 1-4 with your quarterback of the future never having been active.

Next up are the Baltimore Ravens who lead the AFC Central with a rookie quarterback drafted from the same PAC-10 conference we got Palmer from who was drafted 10 or 15 spots after Palmer. And of course, Gus Ferrotte is a washed-up has been not good enough to be the woeful Bungals QB. Bratkowski has 2 weeks to get Palmer ready, and no excuses with Dillon, Houshmanzadah and Schobel all coming back. If he struggles, you can always put Kantna in as a backup. Then go back to Palmer the next week and the next week. Patrick Ramsey [also a non-Heisman trophy winner], is 100% better this year because he got his feet wet last year.

You can no longer say you are going with Kantna because he gives you the best chance to win, because he hasn't won. 1-4 is right on par with his recent history of something like 5-22 in his last 27 starts. Fans will not continue to support losing with a loser and no hope for the future. Make the change now and everybody knows you are going to be better down the line.

And who do you think will be the Bengals new offensive coordinator next year? Dave H.**

DAVE H.: Bob Bratkowski is going to be the offensive coordinator next year because it's assumed Palmer will be the guy by then, and you can't saddle him with a new system.

We'd rather be going into the second half of this wacky AFC North race with a veteran quarterback. Whatever happens to Baltimore Sunday, the Bengals are going to be playing the Ravens the next week to either tie them in the standings, or stay within a half game of them. It's still a race for a veteran quarterback.

Totally different situations in Jacksonville and Baltimore, two franchises that have not been burned by high picks like David Klingler and Akili Smith when they were perceived as being rushed into bad situations.

The Bengals' program needs the credibility that the Jaguars and Ravens already have in their communities. They can afford to go with kid quarterbacks because they've been relatively successful and can sell a rebuilding program. Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome already has the 2000 Vince Lombardi Trophy, so he can sell his people on getting one in '04, 05, or '06. The Bengals have to make some kind of run now for credibility sake.

Plus, Boller has the luxury of playing with a great running game and a terrific defense. With Corey Dillon limping, the running game struggling at 2.9 yards per carry, and the defense better but in transition, you're throwing Palmer into the Klingler-Akili blender.

We're with Boomer. Try and win a very winnable division, and if you can't, then get him in there if he's ready.

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