1-22-03, 1:45 a.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
FDR had the "New Deal." JFK had the "New Frontier." Marvin Lewis has the "New Day."
That's what the new Bengals' head coach is reminding players, coaches, and staff as he moves into his second week on the job. On Tuesday, they woke to see eight new assistant coaches, a rookie defensive coordinator, two new strength and conditioning coaches, and, for the first time, a circle-the-date start to the off-season conditioning program of March 24.
"For us to be as successful as we talk like we want to be, as football players, that will be the first part of the commitment," Lewis said in announcing his coaching staff. " From that point on, it's voluntary to be here. Winning is voluntary. There's got to be an esprit de corps, a working together. Relationships are built in that period of time, and we have a structure where they can be here for a few weeks at a time."
Lewis probably fills out his staff Wednesday with the naming of a tight ends coach, completing the biggest overhaul in Bengals' coaching history. They meet for the first time as a staff next Tuesday morning and start planning for the April 11-14 minicamp, as well as the draft.
The most intriguing hire is Eagles secondary coach Leslie Frazier as defensive coordinator. The most scrutinized is in the oft-criticized
Bengals' weight room, where Redskins strength coach Chip Morton is now teaming with Kurtis Shultz. and his eclectic experience that ranges from serving as Ray Lewis' personal trainer to the strength and conditioning coach for the defending champion University of Maryland basketball team.
The Bengals' defense, which had its two best seasons in years under Mark Duffner, now turns to two historic figures. Lewis coordinated the Ravens' record-breaking defense in 2000 and Frazier played cornerback for the Bears' famed greatest-defense -of-all-time in 1985 before suffering a career-ending knee injury in the Super Bowl victory over the Patriots.
Lewis, however, has no plans to call the defenses.
"He's the defensive coordinator. He'll call the plays. I'm not going to overstep that," Lewis said. "You can't do that. I'm going to be overseeing offense, defense and special teams. I have enough to learn to be the head coach."
After failing to get permission to talk to Falcons secondary coach Emmitt Thomas, a 59-year-old three-time coordinator, Lewis gave a shot to his own generation in Frazier, a year younger than Lewis at 43 who was a head coach for seven years at NAIA Trinity College (now Trinity International) in Illinois before he moved on to the University of Illinois and then the Eagles four seasons ago.
"I don't know him, but I've coached against him," Lewis said. "That's the way it is with most of these guys. How they interact with people. How they coach. That's why I hired them. I like how he presents things and his temperament."
Frazier likes the fit. Highly-regarded Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson likes to pressure the quarterback a la Lewis.
"(Johnson) is my mentor in a lot of ways. That's the foundation," Frazier said. "We utilized a great deal of the pressure package with both man and zone blitzes and I'm sure we'll incorporate that with what Marvin did in Baltimore and Washington."
Frazier isn't surprised that the call came even if his name didn't surface until late.
"I interviewed with (Colts head coach) Tony Dungy last year for the coordinator job," said Frazier of a post that went to former Bengals secondary coach Ron Meeks. "And the way it went, Tony said I had the qualifications, so I felt like it was something that was close.
Frazier likes the 4-3 and sees the Bengals sticking with it, although he said they could also use the 3-4 a little bit on passing downs. But he won't get into the debate about what was better. Buddy Ryan's 4-6 defense for the Bears, or Marvin Lewis' 4-3 defense for the Ravens?
"Leave it to the experts," Frazier said. "Different times."
For years, the experts have been saying the Bengals had to commit to a year-round conditioning program. Usually the Bengals have only a handful of players who have it in their contracts as a workout bonus who are on site.
Morton, 40, who has been in the NFL since 1992, has been to the Super Bowl with the Chargers and Lewis' Ravens, and is looking to get players involved in the offseason.
"We want to make it exciting for guys to be here and working," Morton said. "We're looking for creative ways to make that happen. We're looking to bring in all the elements, from muscular power to change of direction."
Word is Morton is going to pull out several machines from the weight room and he says he'll get a lot of creativity from Shultz, a personal trainer who has been known to use kick-boxing to help with agility and flexibility.
NFL Players Association guidelines stipulate the Bengals can't force players to be here for off-season workouts. But there's no question what Lewis expects even though many players don't live in Cincinnati and prefer the warmer weather.
"We'll get the work done," said Lewis, referring to blocks of time that will allow players to come and go . "That's why these guys have been hired. To facilitate that and (monitor) those guys from afar."
Lewis is seemingly getting support from the players to be here in the offseason. Defensive tackle Oliver Gibson, who is rehabbing from his torn Achilles, think it's time more players are here.
"I thought it was kind of unusual," said Gibson of the attendance. "Don't get me wrong. I live somewhere else, but you've got to be around the guys more for cohesiveness. You can't get to far away from the game."
Gibson said he was upset when long-time defensive line coach Tim Krumrie wasn't asked back.
"He'll do well where ever he goes," Gibson said. "I learned more from him than I learned since I've been playing football. It's one thing to re-state how to play the position and another to put it in the framework of what to do. I'm just amazed at the kind of career he had. I mean, 100 tackles in a season for a D-Tackle? I still don't know how he did it."
Gibson knows the new defensive line coach, Jay Hayes, from his days at Notre Dame. Hayes, who has spent his four seasons in the NFL as a special teams coach, has never coached the defensive line. But he has worked with pass rushers in college and was an all-conference defensive end at the University of Idaho and played two seasons in the USFL.
"That's a question," Gibson said. "Just like my injury is a question with me. But I know Coach Hayes has confidence and he definitely is a technician. And he was a pass rusher in college and the pros."
The continuity is on the offensive side of the ball with the return of coordinator Bob Bratkowski, running backs coach Jim Anderson, offensive line coach Paul Alexander, and offensive assistant Bob Surace.
"We've got a good combination of guys who have been here and guys who are coming in with fresh ideas," Bratkowski said.
Lewis thinks the continuity gives the Bengals a jump on off-season research. Instead of having to focus on the basics of pass protection calls and other mundane assignments that are playbook staples, Lewis says the staff now has more time to research what other NFL offenses did well in 2002 and what opposing defenses may have in store for them in 2003.
Bratkowski thinks new quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese is going to have a smooth transition from working with the Rams' passing game because the club's use the number tree to call pass routes.
"I wish he could bring along some of those players," Bratkowski said. "I'm kidding, but there's no question he'll be able to bring some ideas along from a team that has had great success throwing the ball."
The Bengals have two holdovers on defense. Cornerbacks coach Kevin Coyle is the secondary coach and defensive assistant Louie Cioffi has been promoted to assistant secondary coach.
Tight ends coach John Garrett looks to be mulling a job as a scout for the Bengals, but a league source said Tuesday night he's in the mix for the receivers job with the Falcons.
Here are capsules on the eight new assistants named Tuesday:
LESLIE FRAZIER (defensive coordinator) _ : Was defensive backs coach for Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2002. Coached in college at Illinois from 1997-98, and was head coach at Trinity (IL) College from '88-96. Played cornerback for Chicago Bears from 1981-86. Played in college at Alcorn State. Born on April 3, 1959 in Columbus, Miss.
JAY HAYES (defensive line): Was special teams coach for Minnesota Vikings in 2002. Also was special teams coach for Pittsburgh Steelers from 1999-2001. Coached in college at Notre Dame from 1988-91, at California from '92-94 and at Wisconsin from '95-98. Played DE and LB in U.S. Football League for Michigan Panthers in 1984 and for Memphis Showboats in 1985. Played in college at Idaho. Born March 3, 1960 in South Fayette, Pa.
RICKY HUNLEY (linebackers): Was defensive line coach for Washington Redskins in 2002. Coached in college at Southern California from 1992-93, at Missouri from 1994-2000 and at Florida in 2001. Played LB in NFL for Denver Broncos from 1984-87 and with L.A. Raiders from '89-90. Played in college at Arizona and was Bengals first-round draft choice in 1984, but did not sign with Cincinnati and was traded to Denver. Born on Nov. 11, 1961 in Petersburg, Va. **
CHIP MORTON (strength and conditioning): ** Was head strength and conditioning coach for Washington Redskins in 2002. Also was assistant strength and conditioning coach for Baltimore Ravens from 1999-2001, head strength and conditioning coach for Carolina Panthers from '95-98, and assistant strength and conditioning coach for San Diego Chargers from '92-94. Coached at Ohio State from '85-86, Penn State from '87-91. Attended University of North Carolina. Born Nov. 27, 1962 in Hamden, Conn.
KURTIS SHULTZ (assistant strength and conditioning): Was strength and conditioning coach for University of Maryland's national championship basketball team in 2002, as well as strength and conditioning coach for all sports at Johns Hopkins University. Went to Maryland and Johns Hopkins in 1999. Played basketball at the University of Maryland from 1991-95. Born on March 10, 1972 in Baltimore, Md.
DARRIN SIMMONS (special teams):Was special teams assistant and assistant strength and conditioning coach for Carolina Panthers from 1999-2002. Also coached for Baltimore Ravens in 1998. Coached in college at Kansas in 1996 and at Minnesota in '97. Played in college at Kansas. Born April 9, 1973 in Elkhart, Kan.
ALEX WOOD (wide receivers):Was quarterbacks coach for Minnesota Vikings from 1999-2002. Coached 21 seasons in college (1978-98). Coached on two NCAA championship teams during four seasons at Miami (1989-92), and was head coach at James Madison from '95-98. Played running back at Iowa from 1974-77. Born on March 14, 1955 in Massillon, Ohio.
KEN ZAMPESE (quarterbacks): Was wide receivers/passing game coordinator for St. Louis Rams from 2001-02. Joined Rams in 2000 as offensive assistant. Offensive assistant for Green Bay Packers in 1999 and for Philadelphia Eagles in '98. Coached at Miami (Ohio) from 1996-97. Played in college at University of San Diego. Born July 19, 1967 in Santa Maria, Calif.