Sunday, December 22, 2002

Louis Breeden's letter

Former Cincinnati Bengal Louis Breeden in his Blue Ash office where he runs Louis Breeden Promotions which specializes in advertising specialties, promotional products, business gifts, and custom logo apparel.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
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Louis Breeden played cornerback for the Bengals from 1978 to 1987. He is second on the franchise's all-time interception list with 33. He was host of the Enquirer-Channel 9 prep sports show for three years.

Dear Mike,

The quarterback position is the most important in football. Having said that, the area that is even more important is the offensive line. As long as you have a good offensive line, the quarterback does not have to make all the great plays to win.

I say this because you have been searching for a quarterback for years and not paying attention to the rest of the team.

Jon Kitna was proficient this season, under very difficult circumstances. The team was losing. He was looking over his shoulder at other quarterbacks.

The first thing I would do if I were you is to declare him the starter for next season. He might not be your starter for the next five or six years, but he gives you the best chance of winning for the immediate future. Once there is a reincarnation of Joe Montana, John Elway or Johnny Unitas, you can draft him, but since that's not going to happen, Jon Kitna is your man.

He is your quarterback. You then have to determine who your second and third quarterbacks are. Play Kitna. Put him at ease. Give him more confidence.

Former Bengals: Hire GM, think championship
Louis Breeden's letter
Dave Lapham's letter
Mike Martin's letter
Bob Trumpy's letter
Solomon Wilcots' letter
The second thing I would do is fire the whole coaching staff. As much as I like Dick LeBeau - and he was by far the best position coach I ever had, and I consider him a friend - you need to get rid of the whole staff. That's not easy for me to say. I think running backs coach Jim Anderson has the ability to be a head coach in this league. I played with Tim Krumrie and Ken Anderson. They are great guys. But, as a staff, they are not getting it done. The team desperately needs new faces and new leadership on the coaching staff.

The worst thing you could do is take a guy from the existing staff and make him head coach. You've tried that. It hasn't worked.

Your new head coach doesn't necessarily need to be one of the popular guys whose name is always thrown around. But give him the power to hire his staff. I think you should hire Marvin Lewis. He would bring a toughness and attitude to your whole team. His defenses have always had it. He's been very successful. If your defense could have played better this season, you could have won a few games.

The third thing I would do is no longer have your position coaches be your talent evaluators. You depend so heavily on that, and they can't do it. Not all coaches can do that. It's a skill. Take their advice, sure.

That leads me to the fourth point. Hire a personnel guy. This is my 3-year-old monkey theory. You could hire a 3-year-old monkey and call him general manager, but if you don't hire a guru, a guy who's good at evaluating talent, it doesn't matter. Bring in someone who is in charge of personnel, the guy who makes the decision on draft day. Pay him what it's going to take to get him here. There are guys out there who have done it and would be good. On draft day, if someone says draft Southern Cal quarterback Carson Palmer, let the personnel guy hit him in the mouth. Kitna is your quarterback.

If you don't do some of these things, you are going to experience a huge exodus in your fan base.

These are changes that successful organizations make when things aren't going well.

I think you want to win. I know you want to win. You have a plan, but it has not worked for 12 years. I think you're holding on trying to prove that it can work.

These changes I'm suggesting, and other people have suggested, are not radical. You have taken a lot of criticism for things not working. You could take the credit for changing a few things to make it work and make this a winning team again.

I also want you to know that I am still a Bengal. That's the only team I want to see play. It's the only team I ever played for.

There are a lot of us former Bengals who get ribbed and kidded by guys we used to play against from other teams. You might laugh about it, but it does get to you. We want to see the Bengals win again. It's our time to start laughing at the opposition.


Louis Breeden

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Former Bengals say: Hire GM, think championship
Louis Breeden's letter
Dave Lapham's letter
Mike Martin's letter
Bob Trumpy's letter
Solomon Wilcots' letter

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