Changing Xs and Os

1-31-2001 BY GEOFF HOBSON

New Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski met the Cincinnati media for the first time Wednesday and here's what we know as he tries to rescue the NFL's lowest-ranked pass offense:

He wants a "very quick," up-tempo and unpredictable offense that gets in and out of the huddle fast so it can shift into varying formations. He wants a scheme where the quarterback takes three- and five-step drops so he can get rid of the ball quickly for high-percentage passes, "but at the same time (the offense) has the ability to make the big play."

He'll call plays from the press box so he won't get "wrapped up," in the emotion of the sidelines.

Every position on offense and defense, "is up for grabs," according to head coach Dick LeBeau. But Bratkowski has heard good scouting reports on Akili Smith and he's developed an off-season plan for the skill players.

"(The plan) involves setting up (a regimen) in the offseaon," Bratkowski said. "Studying film,

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making notes, looking at fronts, identifying blitzes. At the same time, we're presenting to the quarterbacks what we are going to try and accomplish. So. . .not only are we going to study the defense, we're studying what we want to get done and have it structured out so it gets to a certain point in minicamp and beyond."

Other than that, Bratkowski can't say much more until he evaluates his players. He likes to use three-and four-wide receiver sets, but first he has to find out if he has three or four receivers.

"It's foolish to say you're going to do something just for the sake of doing something," Bratkowski said. "You have to fit your personnel."

But Bratkowski knows one thing the Bengals will be doing. As he wished for Pro Bowl free-agent running back Corey Dillon's return, LeBeau piped up from the back of the news conference, "I can help you there, Coach. We're going to run the ball no matter who the running back is."

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