LeBeau: 'We have to take a look at everything.'

Tuesday, September 26th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CINCINNATI (AP) _ Tackle Willie Anderson is in his fifth NFL season. He goes to work Wednesday for his third head coach.

``We still have to figure out what we're doing wrong,'' Anderson said Monday, when Dick LeBeau succeeded Bruce Coslet at the helm of the Cincinnati Bengals.

LeBeau will try to find the answer that eluded Sam Wyche, Dave Shula and Coslet as the Bengals lurched to the league's worst record in the '90s.

``We think our task as a coaching staff collectively is to get this football team back on the right course,'' LeBeau said. ``We think we have quality young players here, and we think we can do that. I think it's an honor to be charged with that responsibility. The coaches and I all welcome it.''

Fans who call the radio sports talk shows talk wistfully about the era of disciplinarian Forrest Gregg, who took the Bengals to Super Bowl XVI. They wonder if LeBeau, often described as ``laid-back,'' can motivate today's players.

``I expect our players to play hard and spirited,'' said LeBeau, an NFL head coach for the first time. ``I've seen very animated coaches and I've seen very introverted coaches. Both types have been very successful.

``I don't know that my particular personality will have any bearing rather than how the players will react to me, which I think will be positive _ and I'm positive of that.''

LeBeau, a cornerback with the Detroit Lions in 1959-72, was third in NFL interceptions when he retired with 62. He still ranks sixth.

``I trust him 100 percent,'' said defensive back Corey Hall.

``He's a good teacher ... he's good with players,'' Bengals owner and president Mike Brown said. ``I think he can step in now and get our situation back on course as quickly as anybody could.''

LeBeau took over with no illusions. He knows just about everything needs fixing.

``We have to stop people with more consistency. We have to score more points. Our kicking game has to be more consistent _ so we're talking about all areas of the game,'' LeBeau said.

He didn't threaten a major overhaul. He didn't promise a quick turnaround.

``There will be some changes,'' LeBeau said in his quiet but firm way. ``I was a player for 14 years and a coach in this league for 28 years. I think I have some ideas.''

With an 0-3 record that included Sunday's 37-0 loss at Baltimore, and a 21-39 record overall, Coslet had enough. He gave Brown his resignation Monday morning.

``It was a very emotional, personal conversation,'' Brown said. ``It was hard for me because he's a good man, a good friend and a good coach.''

As he did when he hired Shula in 1992 and Coslet in 1996, Brown went to someone with long ties to the Bengals and the Brown family.

``Dick is a person I've known most of my life,'' Brown said. ``I don't know anyone with the Bengals who is more knowledgeable about football.

``He has our confidence, the confidence of the Brown family and myself. He has the confidence of his fellow coaches and, I think, of the players as well.''

LeBeau, 63, has been the team's defensive coordinator twice, first in 1984-91 before going to the Pittsburgh Steelers. When he was brought back by Coslet in 1997, he was given the additional title of assistant head coach.

``I think we have to take a look at everything,'' LeBeau said. ``There's a reason we're not performing up to our capabilities, and we have to find that reason and resolve it.''