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Of Hall and the long haul

11-24-02, 1:05 p.m.

Bengaldom heads into December with more questions about January.

A sampling of this week's Hobson Choice:

This may seem premature, as the season is not over and Kitna is doing a decent enough job, but.... There looks to be the makings of a quarterback controversy in St. Louis. Do you think Bulger or Warner will become available in the offseason? Would we be interested? What would it cost us? I see Bulger becoming available and I think this is something we should look into. He would be a leg up on anyone in the draft with his experience. He is young, he is cheap and he is effective. Food for thought. **Dan, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.

DAN: It's more than food for thought. That's a buffet. The St. Louis situation shows you how important scheme is. You get the idea they could throw Pee Wee Herman in there and he'd have a 80.2 passer rating. It'd be great if you could get Bulger, but you also better get some semblance of the same playbook.

And the way Bulger and Warner emerged is just Exhibit Y and Z why there's no reason to draft a quarterback in the first round and underlines how the Bengals have failed to get consistent play from all kind of QB types: free-agents, first-rounders, third-stringers.

You might be able to trade some draft picks for Bulger, but if you're St. Louis, why? Warner seems to be injury prone and you need two good QBs.**

Hell'o Geoff, My question is very simple, why dont't the bengals promote more of there former players to be in the Hall of Fame. My teammate from Lincoln University was Lemar Parrish who in his prime was the best corner in the league at that time. Try this on for size 8 years all pro and played 13 years. **Jack, Jefferson City, MO.

JACK: The Bengals have become more active in the last decade or so pushing candidates. But the fact they never won a Super Bowl, played in a small market, and their current

awful reputation around the league has hurt their lobbying for quarterback Ken Anderson.

Just this year, Chick Ludwig of "The Dayton Daily News," , the Cincinnati representative on the panel of Hall-of-Fame voters, nominated wide receiver Isaac Curtis and cornerback Ken Riley, the guy who played next to Parrish for all those years.

With all due respect to Parrish, how can Riley not be in Canton? He's got 65 career interceptions for fourth on the all-time list. The three guys in front of him (Paul Krause with 81, Emlen Tunnell with 79, and Night Train Lane with 68) are already in.

And what about Curtis? His 17.1 yards per catch is longer than Steeler Hall-of-Fame receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth.**

My question is i heard a little bit of talk about Paul Brown Stadium changing to turf. IS their any update on that or why don't they just make the change or what is holding them back? **Mike, Columbus, Ohio.

MIKE: The Bengals are looking at a couple of options and one of them is installing field turf before next season. Hamilton County also has to be involved as the landlord, so there are procedures to go through. Bengals' management is impressed with field turf, but they are still looking for answers on how it would bounce back after a concert or any event with a stage. But it looks like there will be some kind of new field, whether it will be artificial or a different composition underneath it.**

Good work keeping another painful season interesting Hobbs. Here is my question. Is there even a chance in Cleveland that we'll be seeing Jim Mora yelling "diddly-poo!" at a Bengals post-game press conference next season? He did a great job turning Indy around a few years ago, and seems to have that mean streak that we need in a head coach. **Travis, Cardondale, IL.

TRAVIS: Thanks for the kind words. Mora just doesn't seem to be a guy they would look at, probably because of his age. But Mora, who has a Sam Wychism emotion that is intriguing, does fit two criteria. He's a proven program doctor who has revived losers, and he's got that mean streak of which you speak.

Some former Bengals have said they don't think Dick LeBeau has been tough enough with his players and that they've taken advantage of his philosophy of treating guys like pros.**

If the Bengals run the table against a very difficult schedule, which includes a trip to Buffalo in December, and finish the season 7-9 do you expect Mike Brown to re-sign Coach Dick LeBeau? **Drew, Louisville, KY

Good question. It would clearly be an option, but at some point the organization has to look at why this team has been out of playoff contention by Halloween virtually every year since 1991.

Whether it's because the coaches are spread too thin in their scouting duties and that hampers their preparation, or the off-season conditioning programs needs to be revamped, or training camp needs to re-tooled _ whatever. Whatever the answer is, they have to solve the problem of these slow starts (and seasons) no matter if there's a new coach or not. Going 6-0 would probably save LeBeau's job, but the slow starts still have to be addressed.**

Why is Kevin Kaesviharn not starting in place of the often injured and quite slow Jeff Buris. No way Burris makes the play(s) Kaesviharn made against Cleveland. It's time for Kaesviharn to start. He's earned it. Also, tell me again why we cut Robert Bean and Rodney Heath? They look pretty good to me now. **Rob, Cincinnati, OH.

Burris hasn't looked great, but you have to wonder how his play has been impacted by the carousel of young safeties. It's not hard to look slow when you're getting no help. But there's no question that in his one full season with the Bengals, Kaesviharn has proven to be their most consistent ballhawk. Anytime you give a guy a three-year, multi-million deal like they gave Burris, he's going to play that first year. But they feel pretty good about playing Kaesviharn Sunday against the Steelers while Burris plays on passing downs as he recovers from his migraine headaches.

The Bengals liked the youth and quickness of Bo Jennings and Reggie Myles in camp, which is why they let go Bean and Heath. Bean had a tough last half of last season and during this preseason. They could use Heath's experience, but they feel like Myles has a bigger upside with his speed and athleticism. The problem is, when you have a rookie free agent like that, you have to live with days like last Sunday, when Myles got fried for two touchdowns.**

When Mike Brown talks about all the changes he's going to make during the offseason, do you think one will be finally hiring a proven GM to turn things around? This is what I and many other Bengal fans are hoping for. I cite the example of the Chiefs, who were a perennial last-place team before they hired Carl Peterson. While he hasn't brought them a Super Bowl title since his arrival, certainly he got things turned around in KC. Living in Phoenix, I've seen the Cardinals flounder and wallow in mediocrity for years, and much of this is the perception of Bill Bidwill as a penny-pinching tightwad. I don't see that with Mike Brown, at least. But I am hoping that he'll recognize the needs and hire a competent GM who will turn the Bengals into a consistent winner that other teams will dread playing. **Dan, Phoenix, AZ

DAN: Given what Brown has spent over the past three years in the draft and free agency, it's hard to call him a tightwad. Of course, you can question some of the money he's doled out, such as the $10.8 million bonus to Akili Smith, dropping $1.4 million on Gus Frerotte for just three starts, and extending Reinard Wilson, who doesn't have a sack.

If there is going to be a major change, it probably won't be bringing in a GM. But could be a discussion of re-shuffling current personnel staff and the addition of more scouts. That would allow the coaches to concentrate on coaching and not spend three months on the road scouting.


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