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QB chatter

11-17-02, 1 p.m.

The Browns are here, but it doesn't matter. Bengaldom is in a state of martial law when it comes to the quarterbacks.

A sampling of Hobson's Choice this week:

Well Geoff, it's that time of the season again. A time when everyone forgets about the finish and begins talking about April 2003. I can't wait for the year when this doesn't happen but since the Bengals are 1-8, here we go.

I see that Mike Brown has said they are looking at Leftwich, Ragone, Carson Palmer, and Kyle Boller for the upcoming draft.

My question is WHY!?!? For one, we should get a monster Defensive Tackle with the first round pick. Second, if we are going to take a QB, go with Jason Gesser of Washington State with a second round pick. He's had a fantastic college career (the same can't be said for Palmer or Boller) and is very smart. I would also shy away from Kliff Kingsbury too. Product of the offense! Can you say Klinger? What do you think? **Brian, Dayton, Ohio.

BRIAN: Something David Klingler said a few weeks ago resonates. Your quarterback shouldn't be the first piece of the puzzle. He should be the last. Meaning he has to have players around him.

The weekly NFL passing rankings prove you don't need a first-round pick to be a playoff quarterback if you've got most everything else in place. With tackle Oliver Gibson's Achilles' injury and left end Vaughn Booker's possible retirement, they have to think long and hard abut taking a run-stuffing defensive end or big tackle with their No. 1 pick.**

Do you really think the Bengals staff will be stupid enough to keep Kitna in there for maybe a 6-10, 7-9 or whatever only to draft another QB to ruin? Isn't it better to stick with Kitna throughout this year and the next, maybe keep him as a mentor for a younger quarterback, whether it's Germaine or a high draft pick?

Please stick with what's there! Since Indy points have gone up and 3 Interceptions in the last three games are good. I'd consider the first ones part of the typical Bengals preseason, which is usually 4-5 games into the season, because of playing musical chairs in training camp instead of workin for the season...Why must the Bengals close the season "positively" (like last year) only to start over every year? Thanks & cheers from overseas. **Maximilian, Lido di Savio (RA), Italy.

MAXIMILIAN: Any talk of what happens in the draft is premature, because if, come Dec. 30,

there is a new head coach with a new staff, school's out. The QB situation would then be, for the most part, left up that new coach and you'd have to think he would at least start things off with Kitna because you'd need a veteran to stablilize a new program.

But that is jumping ahead and all conjecture. There's a very real possibility Akili Smith will make an appearance in the next few weeks, given that the playoffs seem all but gone.

It seems to be a ludicrous thing to do given how the offense has perked up and how the team responds to Kitna. But if they decide to draft a quarterback next April, then do they have to play Smith to make sure he isn't their No. 1 quarterback? Because truth be told, after nearly four full seasons they have never really found out.**

Do you think the Bengals will drop Kitna after the season? It seems to me he is the only one that knows what is going on around there. He said the Bengals need to find something and stick with it. Since he has been the starter the Bengals have been competitive and with any sign of a defense would be winning. I truly believe had he started from the beginning this would be a different season. I think it could be different next season as well if the Bengals don't yank the rug from under him again. What do you think? **Randy, San Antonio, TX.

RANDY: The most likely scenario is that Gus Frerotte leaves, Kitna and Akili stay, and they draft someone in rounds one through four. The Bengals would make a long-term commitment to Kitna if he could get away from the interceptions. In his last 15 games, he has thrown 25 interceptions. Which is a major reason Smith figures to get another shot. There is speculation the Bengals will pull Kitna so he doesn't make his $1 million incentive next year. But if the team was winning and in the hunt, it's fair to assume they wouldn't pull him.**

Geoff, Why is there all this talk about changing QB's when that is not why the Bengals are losing right now. It is the DEFENSE that has failed horribly game after game while the offense has shown up since Kitna has taken over at the helm. When your offense is scoring over 20 points a game, it is up to your defense to make sure that you win those games.

Take Indy, Tennessee, and Baltimore and only give up 21 points per game, and the Bengals are now 4-4 and the praise would be all about how great Kitna is and how the Bengals would be in the thick of the playoff race.

But, the thing the management has been preaching, consitency, is about to change again with all this talk about putting in Akili and Germaine and drafting a QB.

What would be so bad about drafting a big run-stuffing DT to free up Spikes and Simmons much like Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware in Baltimore, drafting a shutdown CB in the 1st and 2nd rounds. Trade Dorsch for a 4/5th rounder and use the extra picks in the 4th round (keaton trade) and the Dorsch trade to add some much needed dept and youth to the Defensive Line and offensive line. But, back to reality...What QB should we be expecting to hear is a Bengal on Draft day? **Jonny G., Bowling Green, OH.

JONNY: You speak good sense. They need to bolster both lines, and adding a cornerback via the draft wouldn't hurt. And maybe another safety. It's too early to talk about which QBs because they haven't seen them all, and who knows who is going to have a say in picking him?**

I agree with Chad Johnson and Kitna on this one. I think we need to leave this offense alone. I know that Kitna may not be the best quarterback, but this is what this team needs his knowledge of the offense and players. I don't see a problem with bringing in a young quarterback to learn our system and bring him along. Look what Pennington and Brees have done with time to come in and learn and play. Make Kitna the quarterback for the rest of the year and next and build instead of rebuilding! What do you think? **Randy, Tenton, OH.

They can win games with Kitna, but they just aren't convinced they can win enough games because he doesn't have a strong enough arm to consistently make plays down the field. But, they could decide Kitna can win enough while they mentor a guy and fill some other holes, which seems to be the way to go for a team that has to win as soon as possible. That, however, has not been their track record.**

Obviously the playoffs are out of the picture, so what becomes of this season? Kitna is getting the team enough points too win. I place the problems on the defense and special teams. What happened to the D? I say we draft a defensive end to compliment Justin Smith! Kitna can take us were we want to go, but he needs help from all sides of the ball! Why is the defense so bad this year? Thanks! **Dan, Columbus, OH.

DAN: That is the $64 question. What happened to the defense? Here is the Cliff Notes version: A combination of young safeties, injuries to Booker and Foley, lack of a pass rush largely because of game situation, and massive changes in field position caused by mistakes on offense and special teams. Here's something else that will help Kitna and the running game: An experienced tight end who can block. Rookie Matt Schobel looks to be that guy, but next year. This year is a learning proposition.**

Why won't the Bengals just release Akili Smith? Don't you think he is just another cancer in the clubhouse? **Tom, Kettering, OH.

TOM: There are still money issues with Akili and his impact on the salary cap. Starting June 1, they have some flexibility with his cap situation. But from what can be seen, he hasn't been a problem in the locker room. He didn't make a lot of friends here early in his career because of his attitude, but all indications in the last couple of years are that he is doing all that's been asked. His only complaint lately is if the team thinks he still has a future here, why not make him the backup quarterback instead of No. 3? It's not a bad question.

Wow the MU loss and aftermath was rough on me, nasty! KEEP KIT STARTING, the vast majority of the offensive personnel like him, he is doing well, and he shows the only LEADERSHIP at the QB position since Boomer was back for his short stint. enough venting, Do you feel that we are truly considering hiring a GM for our future? I've been impressed with what the Wizard of OZ has done with the transplanted browns. just a suggestion.. **Mike in Minnesota.

MIKE: There probably isn't a general manager in the future, but what does seem up for debate is the personnel structure. Will the club decide to keep the coaches so involved in scouting and drafting and if so, how much will the scouting staff be expanded?

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