Monday, November 01, 1999

Go ahead, fire Coslet; it won't end the misery

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        After Cincinnati's latest no-contest, a 10-41 knockout from the Jacksonville Jaguars, Bruce Coslet walked briskly down the tunnel to the home dressing room, blown through the doorway by jeers, boos and epithets, ducking beer cups before passing beneath a bedsheet banner proclaiming “We Want Schottenheimer.”

        Long-time Bengals show their experience when walking through that tunnel after games like this. They keep their heads down and their helmets on. Coslet didn't have a helmet. Maybe Mike Brown can requisition him one, right after the emperor decides his team is worthy of a morning meal at the practice facility.

        Then again, maybe not.

        They're after Coslet now. Every Bengals fan wants Bruce fired today. It's the day after Halloween. A lovely day, they'll figure, for an execution. Let him have it.

        Maybe today is the day. It's not as if Brown will be ruining Coslet's morning. Firing Bruce would be an act of mercy, just as it was for Dave Shula. This afternoon, would Coslet rather prepare for another loss next week, at Seattle? Or play golf?

Emperor wants to see you
        If you're counting, the Bengals have been outscored 127-16 in the first halves of their last six losses. Forget competitive for four quarters. The Bengals are working on two.

        In those six games, Cincinnati's average loss is by 24. This, in a league that worships the doctrine of Karl Marx. Anyobody can win in the egalitarian NFL. Anybody does. Anybody but the Bengals, who aren't even close.

        So fire Bruce Coslet. Fire him today. “Emperor wants to see you, coach. Bring your playbook. All except the draw plays. Keep those.”

        Coslet has lost this team, just as he lost last year's team. He doesn't know what moves his players. Once a fine offensive strategist, he's lost that, too. The best a pro coach can do now is create a mood in which his players want to come to work every day.

        Who wants to come to Spinney Field, any day?

        So go ahead. Run the coach. But know this:

        It won't matter.

        The team might get a few weeks of adrenaline rush out of it, same as it did when Coslet took over for Shula. But that's nothing more than a quick fix, a junkie's high. Everyone knows the coach is not the whole problem.

It's Brown's crummy team
        Get a piece of notebook paper. Tear off a corner. That's how much Bruce Coslet is to blame for the Bengals being 1-7.

        This is Mike Brown's team, lock stock and ruination. It is Brown's crummy personnel department. It is Brown's inability to relate to his players who, to a man, feel it's us-against-them when it comes to player-management relations.

        One player told me after the game that he was elated to find a stack of white towels stamped with the Bengals logo in his locker this week. Then he discovered they were bought by injured running back Ki-Jana Carter.

        This is not new. When Cincinnati last went to the Super Bowl, Boomer Esiason paid for a masseuse to give players post-practice rubdowns.

        This is not how to conduct business in the free agency NFL. Making lousy personnel decisions and alienating players is no way to finish 8-8. It's too bad, because the Bengals are not as bad as 1-7.

        But they've tossed it in. Again. They're working for a coach with limited power and they know it. They're working for an owner who, by NFL standards, regards them as cattle. They know that, too.

        So go ahead. Fire the coach. Probably, he deserves it. But don't think it'll amount to much. In the Lost Decade, the Bengals have had three coaches, countless assistants and more bad players than anyone cares to remember.

        They've come. They've gone. The only constant sits in the corner office, presiding over all that is awful.

        Paul Daugherty welcomes your comments at 768-8454. Fair Game, a collection of his columns, is available at local bookstores.