As always, former Bengals wide receiver T. J. Houshmandzadeh has an interesting take. The firing of Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski is no exception.
“I’ll always remember I made my mark under Brat, believe that,” Houshmandzadeh said Monday night from Los Angeles. “I didn’t realize what a good coach he was until l left. Other guys will see that if they leave because he’s all they’ve known. Chad, Carson. In Cincinnati, there’s a tremendous amount of attention to detail. It’s sad, but it happens and things change. If you’re a player you’re going to be excited because it’s going to be new and different.”
Yet Houshmandzadeh said he thinks that Bratkowski’s firing won’t be enough to get Carson Palmer off his trade request. As he does with everybody, Houshmandzadeh talks to Palmer frequently, but he hasn’t talked to him since the trade request became public because it was also the day his third child was born.
“Just knowing how quiet Carson is and how he never, ever says anything, it shows you how serious it is,” Houshmandzadeh said. “I mean, he’ll sit there and always take the blame no matter what it is. And for him to go and do that, it makes me think it’s a lot bigger than the offense. No, I don’t see him changing, but that’s me.”
Houshmandzadeh was known to drive the coaches nuts with his penchant to challenge but he felt like Bratkowski followed through on what he saw on the practice field and looked beyond his seventh-round status to give him the playing time. He is now the third-leading receiver in Bengals history.
It was during his first draft in Cincinnati when Bratkowski excused himself from the room during the 2001 seventh round and called Houshmandzadeh’s coach at Oregon State to double check some things. Bratkowski had worked under Dennis Erickson and had already been suitably impressed with Oregon State wide receiver Chad Ochocinco for the Bengals to take him in the second round. Satisfied, Bratkowski returned to the room and urged the pick for Houshmandzadeh.
“Brat liked Chad. I had to prove myself,” Houshmandzadeh said. “I didn’t think he liked me.”
Look for an official announcement to replace Bratkowski on Wednesday. When he arrived, it marked the first time ever the club had gone to a scheme outside the West Coast developed by Paul Brown and Bill Walsh in the early days of the franchise. Knowing that wide receiver Jerome Simpson struggled to pick up the system for a few years and they drafted key receivers last year, Houshmandzadeh wondered, “If there are a lot of changes to the new system, will that be a step back for their young guys?”
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