BY GEOFF HOBSON
Bengals President Mike Brown and coach Bruce Coslet know Sunday's 24-7 loss to the Browns in the first game ever at Paul Brown Stadium was ugly in the face of a schedule that pits Cincinnati against three 1999 playoff teams in the next month.
But Brown thinks his team can do better and knows they better. And he made it clear that filling the stadium is important, but he won't make football decisions off one game.
"I know we can do better than what we saw yesterday," Brown said today. "We can play a lot better. We have to. We have a very scary schedule in front of us. We're going to be playing a battery of playoff teams, one after another, and we'll have to be at our best to stay in the fight with them.
"We need to fill the stadium," Brown said. "We all know that here. That doesn't mean we're going to start talking about what we have to do differently because we layed an egg in one game."
Brown said he thought his team was prepared and that it tried to execute the right plays, " but they beat us. I think we were too charged up. That can happen. When you get a smack in the nose like we did, you go back to work."
Which is what Coslet did today. When he met the team, he called out some individuals he feels need to step up their play. Coslet then met the media and refuted notions his team wasn't conditioned well enough. . .more
JONES FELT HEAT: Remember when former Bengals left tackle Kevin Sargent admitted his big, new contract was a factor in his struggles during the 1998 season? Rod Jones, his replacement, can relate. In his first game since signing a three-year, $9 million deal, Jones was benched in the second quarter Sunday.
"I was too hyped up. I wanted to do everyhing," Jones said. "I wanted to win the first game in the stadium. I wanted to prove I deserved the money. I wanted to block my man. And I just got too jacked up. That happens to me sometimes and I've got to get back to where I was last year. I let the game come to me instead of trying to do everything.. . more
MCGEE STREAK IN DOUBT: Tight end Tony McGee's team-high streak of 104 straight starts is in jeopardy. His sprained foot and bruised toe was downgraded today to doubtful for Sunday's game in Jacksonville, but he wasn't giving up yet.
"Wednesday morning," said McGee, who has started 112 of a possible 113 games since his rookie season of 1993. "We'll see how it feels then. There's still time."
But as McGee limped around the locker room today, it looked like he would miss his first game since his rookie year, when he sat out a 38-3 loss to Houston with a back bruise. Trainer Paul Sparling said McGee, "has a long way to go in the next five days." He also has a long way to the longest active streak, which is 199 by Titans offensive lineman Bruce Matthews.
ICKEY REDUX: Even the kids were into the nostalgia Sunday. Yes, that was rookie receiver Ron Dugans doing the "Ickey Shuffle," after he scored the Bengals only touchdown. That's the dance Bengals running back Ickey Woods made famous duirng the '88 Super Bowl run, and Dugans worked at it. He even went to the video room before the game to make sure he had it down pat.
"I remember when he did it, and I saw it again right before the game," Dugans said. "They were winning back then and things were going pretty good and we wanted the crowd to get into it like we get into it when we score a touchdown."
THIS and THAT Charley Casserly, general manager of the new Houston franchise, toured the Bengals' practice facility today. Casserly, architect of the Redskins' perennial playoff teams in the '80s and '90s, first wants to build a first class practice venue and is touring every new one in the league. He tipped his hat to Cincinnati: "The wet area in the training room with the hydrotherapy is the best in the league. I love the locker room because it's open. It's a great room for a head coach because he just has to turn to the side to see everyone."
When Houston begins play in the AFC in 2002, Casserly hopes it's with the Bengals, Browns and Steelers in the AFC Central. . ..
Former Bengals kicker, Doug Pelfrey, will visit Kansas City this Tuesday....