Tuesday, October 26, 1999

Bengals try to stay positive


Coslet says he won't tolerate finger-pointing

BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It wasn't exactly a guarantee worthy of Joe Willie Namath before Super Bowl III, but it's about all they have these days in Bengaland.

        “I can't see going 1-15; we're not looking at that,” safety Myron Bell said on Monday. “I made a guarantee back in March that we wouldn't go 3-13. I still keep that guarantee. I still believe it. We'll win more games than three.”

        But first the 1-6 Bengals have to soothe their locker room teeming with anger and disappointment.

        After Sunday's 31-10 loss in the RCA Dome to the Colts, cracks began to show when run ning back Corey Dillon ripped the predictability of the offense. Coach Bruce Coslet met with Dillon on Sunday night to express his displeasure and at Monday's team meeting said he won't tolerate finger-pointing.

        “There's so much frustration, and I think that's where we're getting to,” Coslet said. “I put that on the players. They know how I feel about it, and it's up to them to respond. There's no good in tearing down ... I went around the room and asked, "What can you do to build us up? What can you do to help?' ... Look at yourself and keep it positive.

        “I talked to Corey,” Coslet said. “It does no good to do that. It hurts the cause when you talk like that. It's born out of frustration, and I'll leave it at that.”

        But Coslet, who balled his fist to the players to signify unity, takes some heart in the griping. At least this year's team cares enough to gripe after last year's 3-13 club offered some dubious efforts.

        “Then why would they be saying that (stuff) that they're saying if they didn't,” Coslet said. “(Losing) is no fun. I'm examining everything I'm do ing, believe me, and I expect the players to do the same. It's wearing thin.”

        So thin that Dillon waved away reporters Monday for the first time this season. But he wasn't the only one who continues to be frustrated by a team that has won two of its last 18 games and has been outscored this season 200-86.

        “Guys are ticked off, and it's a good feeling,” said guard Brian DeMarco. “They should be upset, each man for a man. At themselves. And I think that finally hit today. They're disappointed in themselves.”

        Defensive captain Takeo Spikes said Monday he won't let happen what happened last year, when as a stunned rookie he saw this team pack it in at about this time. He's worried about the '99 team's frame of mind.

        “I know Marvin Harrison is a good receiver and all that, but I don't think he's as good as we made him yesterday,” a visibly upset Spikes said of the Colts receiver who had 156 yards Sunday. “With respect to him, the same with (Carolina running back Tim) Biakabutuka. (Baltimore running back) Priest Holmes last year.

        “Who's ever on a slow track when they play us always seems to find a way to get off and get back on track,” Spikes said. “And that's where the mental standpoint comes in ... We're not mentally strong for four quarters.”

        Spikes is sick of hearing about how the Bengals are too young, and right tackle Willie Anderson is tired of teammates who say the Bengals are better than the team they just lost to.

        “Let's just go play football,” Spikes said.

        Anderson wondered, “It's like we're not playing football. We've been playing this game all our life, and guys still aren't doing what comes natural to them.”

        Anderson still isn't for a players-only meeting, simply because the emotion is running so high.

        “I might say something to the wrong people,” Anderson said. “We've got a lot of guys waiting to vent frustrations on other guys. My first question would be, can we have a team meeting and finger-point without anybody getting mad?”

        Anderson agrees with Coslet this is a different team than the one that folded last year.

        “Honestly there were guys that (packed it in) last year, but some of them are no longer here,” Anderson said. “We don't have any big-time free agents ready to go to market, just playing to keep from getting hurt. Guys are trying to make a name for themselves.”

       



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