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QBs and future debated

10-13-02, 1 p.m.

Heading into Sunday's Pittsburgh game, Bengaldom sees a glimmer of hope following the 21 points against the Colts and the fact the final 11 games take place against teams with a combined record of 22-27.

But the quarterback question and what Mike Brown plans to do about the future are still the hot buttons searing through the debate.

A sampling of this week's Hobson's Choice:

I was just wondering... if the Bengals do get the opportunity to draft a "prestigious" QB like Byron Leftwich in the next draft, would they ruin his career before he even gets started? I mean, some ESPN analyst put it, "Cincinnati is the NFL city where quarterbacks come to die."

I went to Marshall University and am a big Bengals fan. I'd love to see Leftwich in the tiger stripes, but not at the cost of people saying "if he were anywhere but Cincinnati." Also, what's with Peter Warrick? I think that we should just chalk him up as another bust and let Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh man the starting wideout positions. What's your opinion? **Ricky, Madison, W.V.

Make that, "When the Bengals have a chance," because they will clearly get a shot at an elite guy even if they finish fast, give the projected glut of first-round quarterbacks next April. But how they can select one and keep parts of the same staff involved with failing to develop high picks such as David Klingler and Akili Smith and incorporating solid veteran quarterbacks such as Neil O'Donnell and us Frerotte is one of the biggest question facing management this offseason.

As for the wideouts, if Danny Farmer is healthy, it's hard to keep him and Chad Johnson off the field. If Warrick is a third-down, slot receiver who concentrates on specialty roles, what's wrong with that? He hasn't proven he's a 70-snap NFL receiver yet. **

Considering the teams the Bengals have left to play, Is there any hope at all for the playoffs? Or even a wildcard shot? What do you think? **Josh, Southington, CT.

Don't go to the riverboats with that bet just yet, given that no 0-5 team has ever made the playoffs. But it's not out of the realm, either.

There are only three foes in the last 11 games that have winning records (Carolina Jacksonville and New Orleans), and they don't play the Jaguars and Saints until back-to-back home games in Decemer. Which should really heat Jags coach Tom Coughlin and his love of the PBS field.**

how come the bengals coaches did'nt play the starters enought to make the right decisions before now in preseason that to me is the main problem now never played them enought to make the right calls they didnt play dillon enought to keep his legs loose the quarterback neither played enought to see who was the best one for the job I THINK MIKE BROWN MADE THAT CALL WHICH SHOULD SAVE DICKS JOB. **Randall, South Lebanon, Ohio.

RANDALL: Head coach Dick LeBeau has pretty much said he didn't handle the quarterback situation the right way. He knows now he probably should have named a guy from Day One and given him all the snaps. But as for Dillon, it's crazy to give your Pro Bowl running back any kind of work in preseason. The only reason he didn't have a big opener is because the Chargers played like they had 14 men on the field and the Bengals were down so much so early.

From what can be gathered, Frerotte was LeBeau's call all the way. Management thought they needed an upgrade at QB, but LeBeau recruited Frerotte, made the decision to make it an even derby, and made him the Opening Day starter. He has taken responsibility and Brown has said it was the coach's call.**

Dear Geoff, I believe SS Marquand Manuel showed a lot of promise last Sunday against Indianapolis. Not only did he recover the on-side kick, but he also played good defense against the Colts passing attack. What are the chances that he'll become the permanent starter, with JoJuan Armour as the back-up? Also, speaking of the on-side kick, does this help to solidify Neil Rackers as the kicker and perhaps place K Travis Dorsch on the trading block? The Chiefs are looking for kicker. **Drew, Louisville, Ky.

DREW: Manuel looks to the guy from now on. They like Armour's toughness and special teams play, but they fear his coverage abilities. The NFL trading deadline is this coming Tuesday, but there has been little talk of moving Dorsch. The Bengals figured they would have a better handle on Rackers by now, but he's had so few chances (four), they still don't know for sure**

Why does the coaching staff insist on sticking with Peter Warrick when it's obvious he's probably our fifth best WR, ahead of only Westbrook. All the other WRs run better routes, have better hands and do not have nearly as many mental breakdowns as Warrick. Not to mention his bad attitude after his Punt Return benching and not staying after practice like many others with Kitna. He should just be traded because we're better off without him, he'll never "get it" and he's not ever going to be a game breaker for us. **Matt, Cincinnati.

MATT: In Warrick's defense, he has stayed after some practices to work with Kitna, although he didn't stay after Kitna's first practice as the starter. Warrick has teased the coaches just enough to make them think he's a play or two from breaking out, but their patience is wearing a bit thin. Injuries are one reason he's stayed in the starting lineup, but it makes you wonder if Farmer puts together a healthy month what happens.**

I know you probably see this question more than you'd like to answer it but I've got to say if you take a look at the numbers Michael Vick had against Tampa Bay even in the short stint up until he he got hurt Akili Smith's numbers were comparable to those and I say because of that game against arguably the best D on the planet They were looking for some type of quick fix.

They figured Michael Vick just torched us and we have a Michael Vick type QB on our team let's throw him out there. And low and behold what happened. The mobile QB who hadn't been against a defense that intimidating looked confused. 2 seconds and a sack. I say he's got to see the blitz coming but at the same time I feel if he had've been out there against the Colts defense which isn't comparable even though they brought Tony D he would've looked just as good as kitna if not better.

I feel Kitna is good enough. but why is Akili the 3rd string QB? I understand he may become the starter if things continue to go south. My point is he should be getting groomed to be the starter in a back up role at the number 2 spot on the depth chart. My question is what are the practices like as a third string do they get any reps with the starters? And again look at Vick's first twelve passes against the Bucs and for how many yards and then compare them to Akili's. Neither looked good but guess what! Even though Vick's hurt he's still gonna probably play this week. And Vick will learn from that experience. And when he gets that chance to go against the Bucs again I bet he'll do ten times better. But for Akili he's back to 3rd string. **Jerald, Portsmouth, Ohio.

JERALD: The No. 3 QB gets virtually no work and that is Smith's big beef. It was his big beef last year when he was working behind a No. 2 guy in Scott Mitchell who had no future with the team. He looks to be doing the same thing behind Gus Frerotte, a guy working on a one-year deal. The only conclusion is the Bengals' coaches are fighting for their jobs and aren't into developing Smith at the moment, but that doesn't seem to be the right thing for the organization with all the money tied up in Smith.**

I think that the QB matter has been settled... a passing game that is enough of a threat to get some of the guys out of the box so Dillon doesn't have to go against 8 or 9 players... A defense that is getting back to where it was last year, maybe more determined to win games if the offense continues to generate 21 points per game...

But the question is: What happened to the Sack Tandem? From 17.5 to 1!!! Hawkins looked great year last year, and came back fighting, check out the last two games... Wilson also had a great year, but was it to get a better contract in free agency? Is he on the active list? because I haven't seen him... You can't play well just to get more money and live off an excellent season on the last year of the contract! **Max, Ravenna, Italy.

MAX: It's hard to get sacks when you've had the lead 2:30 of 300 minutes. And it's hard to get on the cornerbacks when there has been no pass rush and they have been playing with new safeties in a rotation that hasn't yielded a constant producer. But when a guy like Wilson (a guy the coaches wanted back) has no sacks after five games, the questions rise about the Bengals spending money wisely on their own players when there has been so little success with the same players.**

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