Fans want accountability

12-22-02, 1 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

There is far more than a creature stirring all through Bengaldom this Christmas, which is not exactly a Christmas card of bliss through the countryside. A sampling of this week's Hobson's Choice:

I have been a season ticket holder for 5 years. I make $25,000 a year and drive over an hour to each home game. I have been in the Club section since PBS opened. 2 tickets run just under $4,000 a year. Now with that being said, I feel Mike Brown owes me and others in my position a legitimate reason why I should renew my tickets. He must think we are morons to keep shelling out this kind of money and he not make any changes to right the ship....NONE!!

A few questions - Where is the accountability for the players and coaches? I know it would be unpopular but I would have cut TJ after costing us two games in a row because he can't catch a punt. Someone has to step up and show that there will be some accountability and by cutting an average but popular player will get that point across. We know that the Ditka and Parcell types would have cut him and no one would have questioned it.

Second, Does Mike Brown have any player knowledge of football outside the Ohio/Kentucky region. He said a few months back that he would not look for a QB in the '03 draft because he liked Gidugli and the Miami of Ohio QB. Huh??? Gino is a sophomore and is not even near NFL potential yet and the Miami kid is not on anyone's radar. Your thoughts Please. **Michael, Lexington, KY

MICHAEL: You've touched on a huge issue with the accountability question. There are even players wondering about the laid-back style that has been around since Dave Shula and how there is no fear in meetings.

Look at the last two teams the Bengals played. The Panthers cut a second-round pick, right tackle Chris Terry who started every game last year, when it didn't go right. Coach Tom Coughlin is going through his fourth kicker in Jacksonville.

They have to get back to the Paul Brown fear factor days when you could smell the sweat in meetings after a game and P.B. was at the projector.

As for the quarterbacks, Brown never said he would wait around for those guys, just that he liked them and thought they would be good players in the league. He has sent coaches beyond the tri-state to view the top quarterbacks in the upcoming draft, most notably to USC and Texas.**

Is there a good chance that Cincinnati could land Dennis Green to be the new coach of the Bengals, in the event that Dick LeBeau does not return next season? He's got my vote! **DREW, Louisville, KY.

DREW: Green is apparently being pushed to Brown by some executives in the league and they have a common bond in Bill Walsh, Green's mentor who worked under Paul Brown in Cincinnati. Brown has high regard for Green (they served together on

the NFL Competition Committee for years, but the pundits don't see it.

They doubt Green would come here unless he could also be the GM, and they doubt Brown would pay the salary Green would command. Plus, it might not be as great of a fit as it seems. If there is a coaching change, there is a large school of thought that says they have to get a guy whose M.O. is a disciplinarian. Green is a hell of a coach, but that wasn't his reputation in Minnesota.**

In your opinion, how likely is it that Mike Brown will change his attitude and hire a GM? And if he were to hire a GM who would the likely candidates be? It seems to me the best possibility is Dennis Green. I have been a fan of the Bengals since the beginning in Nippert Stadium. I think its time that the organization, beginning at the top, commits to winning. I don't believe Mike Brown really is. He is too content with failure as long as he is making money. **James, Fayetteville, N.C.

JAMES: All signs point to him not bringing in a general manager. He feels that's a role he shares pretty much with the head coach. If anything changes in personnel, it could be the addition of some scouts and streamlining the decision-making. But this is all guesswork because Brown isn't talking.

Commitment and result seem to get blurred. In the last two years, they've dropped enough money on their core players (Anderson, Dillon, Simmons and they may throw a $4.5 million free-agent tag on Spikes) to show a commitment. And Brown listened to his defensive coaches during the offseason and shelled out money for a cornerback in Burris and kept Hawkins and Wilson.

You can certainly wonder about how they execute that commitment. You can certainly question signing Gus Frerotte instead of Drew Bledsoe. You can certainly light them up on several fronts, such as why they won't push big bonuses into future years like most teams. That stuff is all up for review. But the guy is spending comparable money. To me, the question isn't the commitment, but the results of the commitment.**

As a die hard- over and over and over again Bengal fan I get so depressed after a LOSS and see the pop-up question concerning awarding the game on this website. My feeling is when we lose, don't post it. Why tell the other team "atta boy". That's my question or request. **David, Troy, Ohio.

DAVID: Your frustration is certainly understandable and we appreciate the interest, but you can't change the score and you can't ignore the other team, especially when they win. Plus, we'd like to keep the consistency for the rest of the season.

But we'll keep it in mind for next year. Maybe to change things up, the fans could vote on the Play of the Game.**

Hey!! well i love the bengals and always will even when i am the only bengals supporter in the city/region--it has been difficult to watch this year, but as always i will stick with them. I understand we have to draft a QB with the #1 pick...the only problem is the QB isn't the problem, after we draft Palmer, or Leftwich, or whoever, how are we going to answer our real problems on the defensive side of the ball?? is there any way to trade and get better picks in the draft? it seems no one with experience will come to Cincy--is EJ Henderson a possibility, with our linebackers already the 'strength' of our defense...how the hell do you fix out 'D' ? ** Bengal Tyler, Tallahassee, FL.

TYLER: Drafting a quarterback is most likely just one of three options, and that could change in eight days if there is a coaching change. Based on need, defensive line and cornerback are heading the list for the first pick, followed by maybe a quarterback. If they don't get a QB then, they'll probably have to wait until the second day because they've got to go for a guard-center and maybe a safety in rounds two and three. But they could also go get a veteran safety with Cory Hall's return questionable.**

With Akili Smith whinning so much about wanting out of the Bengals Why has he not offered to buy out of his contract? Is this not possible and if it is would it relieve the Bengals salary cap problems? **Chuck, Mesa, AZ.

CHUCK: They are stuck with the cap number no matter what and he's already got his $10.8 million bonus. His cap hit does become lighter after June 1 (figure less than $2 million), but all signs are he'll back up Kitna next season with maybe a rookie No. 3.**

With the inconsistency on the interior offensive line, how likely would it be for the Bengals to pick up a gaurd or center in the 2nd or 3rd RD? I think Jeff Faine or Derrick Dockery would be a nice addition to the OL. I like Dockery's size and mobility, and Faine has played BOTH gaurd and center. Would love to see one of these guys in stripes next fall. Any chances? **Eric, Florene, KY.

It's a very good possibility they will go for that position. Just look how much impact former Ohio State center LeCharles Bentley is having for the Saints at guard in his rookie season.**

I've been a Bengals fan all my life and don't think I'll stop anytime soon, but I know myself and many fans are tired of the big numbers on the right side of the W-L column. It seems as if the Bengals have a multitude of talented players and coaches, but they can't seem to do anything with them. Coery Dillon is, in my opinion, one of the best running backs ever, to be ranked up there with the late Walter Payton and Emmit (sp?) Smith. Jon Kitna, while not the best quarterback ever, has a good grasp of the offense and his role in it and has put up more points than most fans could have dreamed of. The offensive line has been nothing but solid, the wide receivers steady although they could cut down on dropped passes. Matt Schobel is coming into his own as a tight end, something we haven't had since Tim McGee was in his heyday. The defense until recently has been virtually the same 9th ranked defense as last year, even with an upgraded secondary in the form of Jeff Burris. The twin beast linebackers Takeo Spikes and Brian Simmons continue to be monsters, Justin Smith is more than living up to expectations, Glen Steele and Tony Williams are great in the trenches. Am I wrong here? What happened to the defense who spent 5 (or was it 7?) games last year holding opponents to 20 points or less? Now that the offense is rolling over people, the defense can't seem to stop anything, and I won't even get to the Burn Unit (thanks to the radio webcast on that special teams moniker). And what happened to the much-vaunted running game that all of sudden can't score from the 1 yard line? Where is the missing link? Sorry for the dissertation. I hope the Bengals can turn this rock-bottom season into a forge for next season's victories. **Ray, Louisville, KY

RAY: They've got to beef up on both lines. Injuries to Vaughn Booker and Oliver Gibson have hurt them against the run, a major reason the defense has fallen so far. And they can't score from the 1, largely, because of a lack of a push. It would also help to get a veteran blocking tight end in here to help the running game and complement the pass-catching Schobel. Take a look at the Saints. The Bengals could have got a guy like David Sloan in the offseason, but the Saints got him and, maybe he has helped them because they are the NFC's second-best offense in the red zone.

There's no question the Bengals have a lot of the parts. But they need to get those parts functioning at a NFL level through coaching and adding the parts they need through personnel.**

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