10-01-02, 7:45 a.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Bengals President Mike Brown said Monday that there will be no changes in the structure of his organization or major roster moves during the rest of the season, but had no comment on a coaching staff coming under withering fire in the wake of the club's 0-4 start.
Brown did say the team's performance warrants an evaluation of the football side of things, but wouldn't get into specifics of titles or duties and again indicated it's not likely he'll add a general manager.
"This operation has been run pretty much the same for a long time," said Brown, who acts as the club's general manager. "Right now everyone is unhappy and that is certainly understandable. As far as what the general manger would do differently, no one can answer that.
"I've seen this system when it worked well," said Brown, who had pretty much the same duties when his father was alive and the Bengals went to two Super Bowls in the '80s. "People don't really understand how this system works. They think certain decisions are made by me that aren't made by me. I am ultimately responsible and I don't deny the fact it hasn't gone well."
Brown has long argued that he rarely gets in the way of his coaches and that they get extensive say in personnel matters and the draft because they are the ones who have to coach them. A recent "Sports Illustrated," survey put Dick LeBeau as 20th out of the 32 NFL coaches when it came to power in their organizations.
Asked about the criticism that Brown has failed to fire those responsible for getting the talent out of the roster he has assembled, Brown said, "In every town when it goes badly, they want to pick someone to blame and right now in Cincinnati I can understand why I am that. But there are 12 teams who have won one game or no games in the National Football League this
season. If you went to those other towns, you would find a picture that isn't altogether dissimilar from the one here. It's the nature of the business. You have to push through these things. It's not a happy time."
One natural date to make a coaching move is after the Oct. 13 home game against the Steelers, since their bye is the following week. The only time Brown has dismissed a coach in midseason came when he removed Dave Shula in favor of Bruce Coslet on Oct. 21, 1996 at a 1-6 record.
But Brown wouldn't comment on LeBeau's status: "They have a pretty hard job right now. I'm not going to make it any harder."
Brown said he isn't looking that far ahead
"I'm just worried week-by-week and this week is Indianapolis," Brown said. Asked about the football operations, he said, "There aren't going to be changes in the middle of the year. We are where we are. When the season is over, we're going to have to look at some things."
But Brown wouldn't get specific
He was more expansive about the 35-7 loss to Tampa Bay and some of the early season surprises on offense.
"We thought the offensive line was going to be a strength and they've had a hard time," Brown said. "We thought we would be getting more from the receivers. . .My opinion is I thought Akili (Smith) was more sinned against than sinned. He had some good plays. He missed some people, but when he missed them, sometimes it was the course of the receiver. He had tremendous pressure."
After Sunday's game, Brown still is high on his defense's front seven.
"I know it sounds outlandish," he said. "But our guys put as much pressure on their quarterback as they did ours. It came down to they threw the ball better and caught the ball better. And they played better in the secondary. We had receivers running wide open in our secondary and we didn't have that last year."
The Bengals are going to have to pick up a reserve tackle to take the injured Richmond Webb's spot on the roster, but it's too late for any major moves.
"If we're going to find Mr. Wonderful," Brown said, "he's going to have to be here among us."