Monday, November 01, 1999


Brown: "Not time to make' changes

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Bengals Coach Bruce Coslet was speechless after Sunday's 41-10 loss.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        Leave it to the Bengals to show up on Halloween disguised as an NFL franchise.

        Only quarterback Jeff Blake's 15-yard touchdown pass to Willie Jackson on the game's last play rescued the Bengals from their worst-ever loss Sunday at half-empty Cinergy Field.

        The 41-10 humiliation heaped on them by the Jacksonville Jaguars could make history only if Bengals President Mike Brown convenes a news conference today to announce a coaching change.

        Brown seethed after the Ben gals fell to 1-7, calling it “not just embarrassing, but painful.”

        But on Sunday night, he didn't sound as if he planned to make major moves until after the season.

        “I don't know if anything can be done at this time,” Brown said. “It's in the middle of the season. It's not the time to make them ... but I don't have anything to say about changes.”

        Brown wouldn't comment on coach Bruce Coslet's status, but he acknowledged that fans aren't showing up — and the ones that are coming are angry enough to hang signs like the one Sunday reading, “Clown Brown Step Down.”

        Paid attendance Sunday was 49,138, but many decided not to show, giving the game a high school or college aura.

        “They want change. They want somebody to do something about it,” Brown said. “I wish I could flick a switch and make it all work right. That's just not possible now. We're just going to have to wait.”

        The Bengals don't have to wait to make this season any worse. The '99 season is destined to become the worst of a bad decade. Their five losses by 20 points or more already matches the 1991 team that went 3-13. And the six games they have scored 10 points or fewer equals the 1993 team that also went 3-13. They have lost all four home games by at least two touchdowns.

Becky Reuter, of Fairfield, has been a Bengals season-ticket holder for 23 years.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        Coslet, looking like a beaten man, met the press for about 20 seconds after the game.

        “When you're feeling like I'm feeling, I think it's better not to say anything,” Coslet said. “Why should I stand up here and say the same old stuff? I'm as tired and sick of it as you are and the fans are.”

        Coslet told friends Sunday night anything is possible with his situation given what happened against the Jaguars.

        Blake, who relieved Akili Smith when the rookie left with an injured toe at halftime, has played for Coslet for all of his eight seasons. He thinks Coslet knows his time is short.

        “He's very down,” Blake said. “He's trying his best and there's nothing he can do about it because he has no control over it.”

        It took Smith a flea-flicker 14 seconds into the second quarter to get his first completion. By then, the 6-1 Jaguars already had a sack, an interception, 48 yards from running back Fred Taylor and a 17-0 lead.

        By halftime, Smith was done with an injured right toe leaving him questionable for next week's game in Seattle. He completed just 6 of 12 passes for 67 yards and he hasn't generated a touchdown since he beat the Browns in the last seconds three weeks ago.

        “The offense out there didn't look like they wanted to play,” said Jacksonville cornerback Aaron Beasley, who stepped in front of a Smith pass on third-and-three from the Jaguars' 27 to end the Bengals' best early drive.

        “Guys were complaining. When a team is that way, you have to take advantage of it. It looked like they didn't even care.”

        The Bengals pointed no fingers in a resigned locker room, but they had no answers, either.

        “We didn't come out prepared to play and I don't know why,” said strong safety Myron Bell, who along with free safety Cory Hall missed chances to stop Taylor's 35-yard run on the second play of the game.

        “It's mental. They didn't manhandle us,” Bell said. “We need to get our heads together and come up with a solution to this because this is embarrassing.”

        Smith struggled behind an offensive line that let the NFL's No.1 defense do pretty much what it wanted. Right tackle Willie Anderson tried to play on a sprained knee, but he couldn't make it to halftime.

        The Jags hounded Smith for four sacks and rushed him on countless other passes. When he did have time, he threw two interceptions.

        “I feel bad for the kid,” Blake said. “He has no chance at all.”

        The second interception came on fourth-and-inches from the Bengals 38 and Cincinnati trailing, 24-0. Smith faked a handoff and rolled out of the pocket, but he hung up a long pass to receiver Darnay Scott that was underthrown, giving rookie cornerback Fernando Bryant time to tip it away.

        “We just never got it going,” said running back Corey Dillon, who had just 32 yards on 14 carries. The Bengals had to ditch the run early for the third straight week.

        “I'm not going to point any fingers because I didn't play well, either,” Dillon said. “I don't have any clue (what's wrong) and I've given up trying to figure out what's going on. I'm just going to go out and play hard.”

        Inside linebackers Brain Simmons and Takeo Spikes, the defense's best players, were stunned by a Jaguar running attack that got Taylor his first 100-yard game of the season with 8.5 yards per rush, 128 yards on 15 carries.

        “Sickening,” Simmons said. “We can say (the practices) are good, but if we're not winning, are they that good?”

        In the next locker stall, the usually talkative Spikes had nothing left to say.

        “We didn't even give ourselves a chance today,” he said. “We take pride in (the run defense). That hurts.”

        Defensive end John Copeland has seen a lot of losses in seven years with the Bengals, but Sunday's may take the prize.

        “The feeling I have today has to be the worst since I've been a Bengal,” he said.


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