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Letters, letters


Geoff: Though the Bengals defense has done well with draft picks and in free agency it still has to be a concern. We have upgraded personel but have any of our schemes or blitzes changed as well?

Marvin Lewis obviously had a lot of success previously as a defensive coordinator in Baltimore but now he is the head coach wh cannot focus just on defense. How much control does he have over the defense now? More than last year?

Leslie Frazier does a great job as well as Jay Hayes and Kevin Coyle but it must be hard for Marvin Lewis to stand back on a defense that finished so low ranked. Should he take more control or should we trust in Marvin's coaching staff and his decisions to keep them where they are? Thanks Andrew Cincinnati, OH

ANDREW:** The Broncos didn't hire offensive mastermind Mike Shanahan to put his Xs and Os in his back pocket when he put on the headsets. The Patriots didn't want Bill Belichick to shelve his 3-4 defense once he became No. 1, and certainly the Bills are looking for Mike Mularkey to bring the same creativity and production to their cut-out cardboard offense that he brought to Pittsburgh as the Steelers offensive coordinator.

So it can be assumed the Bengals not only thought they were hiring an inspirational head coach in Lewis capable of changing the karma, but also one of the NFL's best defensive minds. And, Lewis indicated as soon as a week into this offseason that after establishing his overall program he planned to get more

involved on that side of the ball. But he also has high regard for his own coordinator, Leslie Frazier, and still wants him to call the game.

"I spent a lot of this last year trying to be the head coach and I would get involved second-hand defensively, and I've got to evaluate and talk with Les, Bob (offensive coordinator Bratkowski), and Darrin (special teams coach Simmons), and just know I want to try and get more involved in defense," Lewis said back in January. "But it's difficult, because if Les is going to call the game, he's got to call the game. That's the thing we're going to have to balance out."

Like everything Lewis does with his team, he won't tell you what that entails, so forget about him filing those scheme changes for public consumption.

For him, it may mean some more meeting time and some more suggestions, but clearly he wants Frazier to be able to run his own show on Sundays.

Of course, Lewis gets the final say on that day in all three phases of the game. He showed last year that he didn't mind steering Bratkowski to a particular offensive call at times.

Lewis got really involved in the defense in the offseason when he hired the respected Chuck Bresnahan, the Raiders former defensive coordinator. In vintage close-to-the-vest fashion, Lewis wouldn't detail Bresnahan's job, but all indications from the spring camps are that it involves third down. That may turn out to be as important as anything Lewis does on defense this year

Lewis treats his coaches well. He seems to treat them how he wanted to be treated as an assistant, so he lets them coach and he should because all his defensive guys have paid their dues in this league and elsewhere.

But Lewis coaches, too. That's how he has risen in the league and he knows that's how he'll stay there.

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