Tuesday, September 26, 2000

Editorial: City deserves better from Bengals

No more excuses

        Anyone who could tell an X from an O knew it was time for Bengals Coach Bruce Coslet to go.

        Team owner Mike Brown has selected defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to take over. We wish Mr. LeBeau every success trying to ignite a fire in the ashes of this 0-3 team.

        Mr. LeBeau has plenty of football experience. He has been an assistant on several Super Bowl teams. He is familiar with the players and the organization, and he knows how to work with Mr. Brown.

        But this city has lost respect for the Bengals the way the team lost respect for Mr. Coslet.

        Mr. Brown owns this team, but he is not the only one with an investment in it. Voters approved a sales tax and politicians put their careers on the line to get Mr. Brown the stadium he wanted. In exchange, he promised to keep the team here and make them better.

        It's expecting too much to demand a Super Bowl in one season. But we should expect better than a team that mocked its coach and piled up less than 10 yards rushing in Sunday's embarrassing shutout by the Baltimore Ravens.

        What this team needs is fire, passion and ferocity. If the team loses, it should do so fighting for every last yard, not whimpering in defeat. There are coaches available who have fierce reputations. Mike Ditka comes to mind. Maybe Mr. LeBeau has that kind of spirit that he can unleash. Let's hope so.

        Bruce Coslet had to go, not because the team's miserable performance was all his fault, but because he lost so many times he lost the fans and the team.

        Running back Corey Dillon walked out of the game Sunday, then blew off Mr. Coslet when he was told to get back into the huddle. That would have earned him a boot through the uprights from a coach like Forrest Gregg. It left the commentators practically speechless. But after the game, Mr. Coslet said he and Mr. Dillon hugged.

        Well, here's a locker room message for the Bengals: There's more at stake in Cincinnati than wins and losses, but a few of those W's would be nice. The time for hugs is over.

        Complete Bengals coverage at Cincinnati.com/bengals

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