LeBeau keeps searching

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau spoke briefly Monday night over the phone with Steelers receivers coach Bob Bratkowski and plans to interview him next week face-to-face for the job of offensive coordinator.

Also kicked around as a possible candidate Tuesday was former Redskins quarterbacks coach Rich Olson.

"Sure, I'm interested if they are but I haven't heard anything yet," said Olson Tuesday afternoon from Virginia, just hours after being let go by new Redskins boss Marty Schottenheimer.

In other Bengals news Tuesday, the agent for left tackle John Jackson said he hoped to meet with the club Friday and wrap up a deal that has a few major loose ends.

Richard Katz said last week he's "relatively close," to a deal in his discussions with scout Duke Tobin. With Tobin returning from scouting the Gridiron Classic in Orlando, Fla., on Friday, Katz hopes to fill in the gaps regarding money and length of the deal.

The last time the Cincinnati-based Katz dropped in to do a contract, he left about an hour later with a five-year, $11 million deal for defensive end Vaughn Booker last February.

With most of the Bengals coaches in San Francisco for the East-West Shrine Game practices this week, names of possible candidates keep getting blown to the coast daily.

On Tuesday, the name of Les Steckel surfaced after he was fired in Tampa just a year after he was canned in Tennessee.

LeBeau admires the Titans' offensive scheme. But he's looking for a passing specialist and ex-Broncos assistant Mike Heimerdinger gets a lot of credit for bringing along some of Denver's stuff when he replaced Steckel this season.

Plus, Steckel could be a hard sell given what's happened the last year.

LeBeau is looking for his new offensive coordinator through the eyes of a 14-year cornerback and a 28-year defensive coach in the NFL.

Which means he's looking for a guy who can keep defensive coordinators up at night with multiple looks.

Bratkowski
agrees. And as a guy who knows something about inexperienced
offensive skill players, Bratkowski thinks offense can be simple and complex at the same time.

"The key with young players is repetition," said Bratkowski Tuesday from his Pittsburgh office.

"You can present a lot of different looks

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to the defense by running the same plays, but out of different formations."

Bratkowski and the rest of the Steeler staff is coaching at next week's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., where he hopes to meet with LeBeau. Bratkowski's old boss, recently fired Steelers offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, is also believed to be meeting with LeBeau in Mobile.

As an offensive coordinator for Dennis Erickson at two colleges and the NFL, Bratkowski's pedigree is obvious. But he also points out he's got some diversity in working with Tom Flores in Seattle and Gilbride and Bill Cowher in Pittsburgh.

Still, the principles of Washington State, Miami, Seattle are his foundation: He likes to throw the ball quickly and he likes to throw it in rhythm.

"But that doesn't mean you can't throw it down field," Bratkowski said. "You can do it with five-step drops and take your shots."

Because he's been looking at the Bengals' defense for the past two years, Bratkowski isn't all that familiar with the Bengals personnel.

But he clearly wants to be an NFL offensive coordinator again after serving Erickson in that role for four years in Seattle.

"I haven't had any other contact other than with Dick," Bratkowski said. "We'll see what happens."

Olson, who worked with Bratkowski in Seattle, has also worked with a couple of Bengals' offensive coaches. His paths crossed with running backs coach Jim Anderson at Southern Methodist in the late '70s, and he was offensive coordinator at Fresno State when receivers coach Steve Mooshagian coached the wideouts.

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