That is, like Mora and the NFL's other conservatives, Turner keeps trying to establish the run.
Like Mora, he has a good runner, Stephen Davis, but Davis learned in Philadelphia what James was simultaneously learning in New England: namely that the odds are against any runner on first-down plays against an eight-man front.
The irony was that Washington passer Brad Johnson, who like Manning has much of Warner's ability, kept converting with passes on second and nine, third and 12, third and nine, second and eight and other passing downs--when the Eagles frequently faced him helplessly in pass defenses.
A passer who can do that--who can convert on third and 12--can have a field day throwing on first and 10.
Had Turner allowed his quarterback to open up with throws on first down and other running downs--when the Eagles often piled up Davis near the scrimmage line--the Redskins might have achieved a Ram-like victory.
Raiders Could Play Like Rams
Still another potential passing power, Oakland, struggled in San Francisco on the same day for the same reason, winning only in overtime, 34-28, after Raider Coach Jon Gruden grounded passer Rich Gannon on most early-game, first-down plays, when the Raiders sought to run the ball with Tyrone Wheatley.
In the overtime period, football fans saw what Gannon can do when he whisked a perfect pass to Tim Brown on the winning 31-yard touchdown play that finally disposed of the improving 49ers and their improving quarterback, Jeff Garcia, a player who deserved to win and would have won if his side could execute the old field-goal play.
For much of the game, Gruden, like Turner, was coaching not to lose.
Thus, typically, after the Raiders blocked a first-half punt, Gruden called running plays on first and second down, then a desperation third-down pass, and then a field goal which raised the score to 6-0 at a point when it should have been 14-0.
What we're talking about here is a group of three NFL teams that all have good offensive talent--Oakland, Washington, Indianapolis--and that all have good passers: Gannon, Johnson, Manning.
All three teams should have overwhelmed their opponents that day.
All three should have looked like and achieved like the Rams.
All three were hamstrung by conservative play-calling--the precise nonsense that the high-scoring Rams eschew.
Martz: A Man of Mystery
The most incongruous thing about the NFL at the moment is that nobody seems to know how the Rams, extending a trend they began a year ago, have been scoring all those points.
Nobody seems to know what the leaders of the Rams, Martz and Warner, are really doing over there in St. Louis.