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Raiders-Chiefs: It’s the Resistible Force vs. the Movable Object

Times Staff Writer

It would be no more shocking if George Bush started criticizing Dan Quayle.

Or Tom Lasorda starting questioning Kirk Gibson’s dedication.

True, the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense has been bad. And the offensive line has been particularly bad. But you just don’t expect to hear that from a guy who has to play behind it.

Yet when Kansas City quarterback Steve DeBerg was asked about the problems that have led to his team’s dismal 1-4-1 start, he didn’t hesitate.

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“That’s kind of a sore subject right now,” he said of his line. “I truly believe that this offensive line has the skill to be a very good one. I have confidence they will develop into that.

“But, you know, I really have been beat up 2 weeks in a row, and basically gotten knocked down on a majority of times I’m throwing the ball, whether it’s through sacks or knockdowns after the throw.

“It’s a little frustrating. This offensive line should be playing better than that. They’re big and strong and smart. They’re not rookies or anything. It’s hard to get anything going when your offensive line is struggling.”

If this is what he’s telling reporters, you can imagine what he’s saying in private .

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The numbers certainly back up DeBerg. The Chiefs have allowed 24 sacks this season. Only the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles have been worse, with 25 each. Kansas City is also 26th in the 28-team league in rushing with a less-than-grand total of 523 yards.

In last week’s 7-6 loss to the Houston Oilers, the Chiefs rushed for just 65 yards. The Oilers, meanwhile, rushed the passer well enough to sack DeBerg 5 times.

In today’s game against the Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs are expected to start former UCLA star Irv Eatman at right tackle, David Lutz at right guard, Tom Baugh at center, Rich Baldinger at left guard and John Alt at left tackle.

This week, however, might be an intriguing match, sort of a resistible force meeting a movable object.

The Raiders have not sacked anybody in the last two games. And they don’t figure to be any stronger with defensive end Howie Long sitting this one out with a strained right calf muscle.

The Chiefs figure to have plenty of problems when their defensive line is in. The Kansas City defense has given up huge chunks of yardage on the ground each of the last 2 weeks--272 yards to the New York Jets and 206 to Houston. The Chiefs have surrendered more than 100 yards to an individual back each of the last 3 weeks--131 to Gary Anderson of the San Diego Chargers, 154 to Freeman McNeil of the Jets, and 141 to Mike Rozier of the Oilers.

Now, into the breach comes Bo.

It must seem like just yesterday that Bo Jackson was roaming these parts in pursuit of fly balls.

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Actually, he concluded his season as an outfielder for the Kansas City Royals just 2 weeks ago.

Now, after catching his breath at home in Alabama and catching up on Raider Coach Mike Shanahan’s new playbook in El Segundo, Jackson has declared himself fit to resume his hobby as a Raider running back, and he doesn’t figure to sit around too long.

For one thing, the starting tailback will basically be playing as a one-armed man. After breaking a bone in his left wrist and cutting his left hand, Marcus Allen sat out last week’s game. He’s expected back today, playing with a shortened cast on the left arm. But in practice this week, he was trying to catch passes one-handed.

Another good reason for putting Jackson in early is the Raiders’ habit of waking up late in recent weeks. In their last three games, they have been outscored in the first half, 72-7.

“I have never seen a team so tentative in the first half,” said Raider quarterback Jay Schroeder, who hasn’t helped matters any with 8 interceptions in the last 2 games. “We keep wondering who is going to make the plays until we wind up with our backs to the wall in the first half. In the second half, we make the plays. But we’ve got to find a way to make them early.

“I’d like to try it from the other side for a change. I’d like to say, ‘OK, the clock (measuring the time between plays) is at 30 seconds. Let’s run it down to 5.’ Instead of always having to say, ‘Let’s get it off as quickly as we can.’ We have to get better each week.”

Raider Notes

Out for the Raiders today along with Howie Long are tight end Todd Christensen (tear above the knee) and defensive back Stacey Toran (ankle). Listed as questionable along with Marcus Allen are defensive backs Lionel Washington (groin) and Eddie Anderson (elbow), and defensive lineman Mike Wise (lower back). Considered probable are wide receiver Willie Gault (shoulder), linebacker Jerry Robinson (back), and offensive linemen Bill Lewis (ankle) and Bruce Wilkerson (triceps). . . . For Kansas City, running back Christian Okoye (back) and linebacker Louis Cooper (elbow) are both listed as questionable.

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