Bengals: Don't Blame Shula

Posted: December 14, 1994

Cincinnati Bengals coach Dave Shula is likely to return next season because president and general manager Mike Brown said the team needs more playing talent, not better coaching.

There has been published speculation about whether Shula, the NFL's youngest head coach at 35, would return for a fourth season in 1995. The Bengals were 8-24 in his first two seasons and are 2-12 now. They would wind up with the franchise's worst record ever if they lose their remaining two games.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with the preparation. I don't think there's anything wrong with the system or how it's being taught," Brown said of the coaching.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with the (players') effort, and that's in large part what the head coach does. He keeps them focused. I don't fault our coaches or what they're doing. We still need a few more guys to get us over the hump."

The Bengals play Sunday at Arizona, then close out the season by hosting the Eagles on Dec. 24.

Brown noted that the Bengals have stayed close in most of the games this season. They have been blown out in only four of their 12 losses. The other eight have been lost by an average of 4.7 points.

Also, Bengals running back Derrick Fenner, arrested in an altercation with police at a Cincinnati bar Monday morning, apologized and called the incident a misunderstanding.

According to Fenner, he and former Bengals linebacker Alex Gordon were ''joking around" when police approached him at the Parktown Cafe at about 2 a.m.

"They thought it was a disturbance," Fenner said. "The cops came over and said a few things, and I got on the defensive. I could have been a little more professional, and not thinking that all the cops want to do is make a bad thing happen. When some words were said, that was automatically my attitude: Here we go again. They want to start some trouble.'

"I should have just stopped and thought for a second, and this whole thing could have been avoided.

Fenner has been charged with resisting arrest, inciting to violence and disorderly conduct while intoxicated. According to police, Fenner cursed and pulled away from officers when they became concerned there was going to be a confrontation.

In other news:

CHARGERS: SEAU TO PLAY

Medical tests on San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau were negative, and he's expected to play in Sunday's crucial road game against the New York Jets.

Seau underwent MRIs on his left knee, left shoulder and neck on Monday. All were negative.

However, coach Bobby Ross said he will watch to see if knee and shoulder injuries inhibit Seau's ability to make tackles like they did in Sunday's 38-15 loss to San Francisco.

The Chargers (9-5), who have lost two straight games, need one victory to clinch the AFC West title for the second time in three seasons.

RAMS: ST. LOUIS UPDATE

Los Angeles Rams president John Shaw said most details of a lease whereby the team would move to St. Louis are in place, including a verbal agreement to sell a minority stake in the team to Missouri businessman Stan Kroenke.

However, Shaw said that it is not a certainty that the NFL would approve the move.

"Signing a lease could be the beginning of this whole process," Shaw said. "If there is an announcement of a lease in St. Louis - and I stress 'if' - the next step would be to take that deal to the (NFL) for approval.

"That could mean litigation, and litigation could take a long time."

POWER RATINGS: 49ERS FIRST

The San Francisco 49ers have begun to pull away from the Dallas Cowboys in the Scripps Howard pro power ratings.

The 49ers have 59.8 points, followed by Dallas (56.4), Pittsburgh (54.8), Miami and Cleveland (54.3).

The Eagles, first earlier in the season, are 16th (49.3).

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