Changes in wind

11-3-02, 12:50 p.m.

This is what happens when your team is 0-7 for the first time since David Klingler and Donald Hollas got hurt in Cleveland and gave rise to a third-string quarterback named Jeff Blake.

That was Oct. 23, 1994. Never could Bengaldom have thought that eight years and two weeks later it threatens to get even worse. With the possibility of an 0-8 start dealt by an expansion team Sunday, Bengaldom wants change.

A sampling of Hobson's Choice for the week's questions:

There is a lot of talk that Mike Brown will indeed revamp this organization in the offseason. My questions are, who is he looking at getting rid of, and who is he looking at bringing? GO BENGALS! **Mitch, Fort Loramie, OH.

MITCH: With Dick LeBeau on the last year of his contract, the conventional wisdom is he won't be back. If that is indeed the case, Bengals President Mike Brown has to decide if he'll allow the new coach to hire his own staff, or if Brown wants some of the assistant coaches to stay.

The critics are railing for him to clean house and he'll have to if he wants any kind of coach to sign. Brown would probably be amenable. Before the 2001 season, word is he allowed LeBeau to make changes and it was LeBeau who apparently kept oft-criticized Al Roberts on special teams and Ken Anderson at quarterbacks out of loyalty for sticking with him after the resignation of Bruce Coslet three games into the season.

There is also scuttlebutt Brown is mulling adding more scouts and taking the assistants out of personnel, thus clearly defining a work load for the coaches and the scouts. New scouts could be some of the assistant coaches, former players, or scouts from other organizations looking to have greater responsibilities. But it's all speculation because Brown is saying nothing about the future.**

Why didn't Takeo Spikes play against Titans? Is he injured? If so what is nature of injury and future status? **Mike, Woodbridge, VA.

MIKE: Spikes, the Bengals right outside linebacker and perennial leading tackler, did play against the Titans. But the press box stats had

him for no tackles. On Monday after films, the coaches awarded him six tackles with the explanation the Titans ran away from him much of the day to the tight end side. Some believe Spikes' injured pectoral muscles, one of which was partially torn and cost him all but the first 12 snaps of the pre-season games, are preventing him from playing with his usual effectiveness. But Spikes has never used the injuries as an excuse and is insisting he and his shoulders are fine. But he is struggling some with the injuries**

I was reading Hobsons Choice and saw someone talking about the coaching situation. Dick Laboue is a good coach

but what I think this team needs is something like Mike Ditka or Bill parcells. What are the chances that the Bengals will go out and actually go after a coach with experience? I was thinking and even though this guy has no coaching experience at all what about Boomer? He has been with the Bengals and retired as a Bengal. **BRIAN, Hagerstown, MD

BRIAN: Thanks for reading. Boomer is too big to be a coach. If anything, he's a Matt Millen-type who would be the general manager and run the football operations. At this point, it's doubtful Mike Brown would give up the keys and checkbook to someone else, and the conventional wisdom is control gurus such as Parcells and Ditka would never come here.

But Brown gives his head coach more power than people think and who knows what the climate will be Dec. 29 in Buffalo? Besides frost bite.**

Doesn't the fact that the Texans have been able to win 2 games so far prove that teams can actually pick up new offensive and defensive systems in a short period of time? All we've been hearing from the Bengals is complaints about how the systems have changed and that it takes a long time for the players to assimilate the offense or defense. The Texans didn't have any players until this past April. Tired of the excuses. Time to clean the ENTIRE house. **Rich, Milford, OH.

RICH: That is certainly an argument on offense, where rotating quarterbacks, young receivers, and a change in systems have stunted the ability to score any amount of points. But what is wrong with the defense? Except for different secondary coaches, it's been the same system, players and calls since 1998 and in the first seven games there have been many times it looks like they never saw each other.**

If the Bengals lose this week at Houston then they deserve every joke/jab from people all around the country. The Bengals defensive backs will be tested. Will they respond?? Only time will tell...**Monte M. Jeffersonville, IN.

MONTE: They've got real challenges against the Texans with starting corner Jeff Burris (hamstring) around pretty much only for emergency purposes, if that. With free safety Cory Hall also dinged, that puts swingman Mark Roman in the slot, and rookie free-agent Reggie Myles in the wings. Not exactly a great matchup against Houston's receiving corps that leads the NFL in yards per catch. **

I was wondering what are the chances of Takeo Spikes being a Bengal next season with the way things are going this year? Is he a restricted free agent or what? Is it the same as Corey Dillon's status with the club when he thought about bolting for another team? **Jerald, Portsmouth, Ohio.

JERALD:It The Bengals have to decide if they are going to try and re-sign Spikes before free agency opens without putting the transition tag on him. With the way the season is going, Spikes could be looking to see what happens in the offseason before he decides to test the market. Then the team has to decide if it will tag Spikes, making him restricted but putting a big number on the salary cap. But with the Gus Frerotte experiment blown up, Spikes seems to be the only guy they would consider tagging.

Dillon told Mike Brown the other week he's not going to retire for eight or 10 years. That was after he said he had a "surprise," for the team after the season and that he had "plenty of options." But retirement apparently isn't one of them. He's got three years left on his contract**

Did you see the article in the USA Today this morning? And Outside the Lines on ESPN? This is embarassing. Does Mike Brown feel bad about taking the tax payers money and putting this kind of product on the field??? **Davith, Fort Thomas, Ky.

DAVITH: Brown feels badly about not giving Bengals' fans a winner for the last 12 years and wants to rectify it. That's not the issue. The issue is how is he going to do it and everyone has an opinion on how to do that. One thing is clear. He'll likely have to make some changes in the offseason.**

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