1-27-03, 7:45 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Marvin Lewis convenes his first staff meeting Tuesday morning as head coach of the Bengals and the message to his coaches won't be much different from what he tells his players at the April 11-14 minicamp.
"Everybody is watching us. From Jay Leno to everybody else," Lewis said Monday night. "We're starting over. The past is the past. Everything is going to be positive and upbeat around here. Treat others like you would like to be treated."
Lewis politely declined to elaborate on Tampa Bay winning the Super Bowl Sunday night. It is, after all, nearly a year since Bucs general manager Rich McKay offered Lewis the head job, only to have ownership take it away and engineer a trade for Oakland's Jon Gruden.
"I think it's great for Tampa," said Lewis, architect of the last defensive-minded championship. "I'm happy for Jon. We'll get our turn."
Tuesday's introductory session not only supplies the message, but also the nuts and bolts for the newest staff in Bengals' history. It's the day they not only learn how to use the video equipment , but also the day they start breaking down tape of their own players.
"Now is when the coaches start making contact with their position players," Lewis said. "That's always important and you begin reinforcing when the off-season workouts begin and the date of the minicamps."
The staff is crunched for time because in addition to their own players, the coaches also have to study college prospects and NFL free agents in anticipation of the Feb. 18-24 scouting combine in Indianapolis and the March 4 start of free agency. In quick succession comes the March 24 start to the offseason workouts, the April 11-14 minicamp, the April 26-27 draft, and the May 2-5 minicamp.
Lewis won't start crafting the coaches' scouting travel schedules until the school workout dates are released at the combine, but indications are they won't travel as much as they have in the past.
The Bengals could make some hires in the personnel department before the combine. Former tight ends coach John Garrett looks to be a potential candidate.
Lewis is also going to stress to his coaches his idea of running a tight ship.
"That means we're all accountable to each other. Players and coaches," Lewis said. "We've got to remember why we're here. We've got a job to do and if we don't do it, that's where the accountability comes in."