Maybe it doesn’t mean anything, but Jay Schroeder, who was supposed to be the quarterback savior for the Raiders, was lifted in the third quarter of the Raiders’ 27-17 win in Kansas City. He was replaced by Steve Beuerlein, the man he was supposed to replace.
Coach Mike Shanahan says Schroeder will be the Raiders’ starter at New Orleans this week. But recent events raise an important question: Are Washington quarterbacks as good as they are because they are good or because Coach Joe Gibbs’ system, like Bill Walsh’s in San Francisco, can make even an average quarterback look good.
The latest example is Mark Rypien, who spent his first 2 years on injured reserve.
Since taking over when Doug Williams underwent his appendectomy, he has thrown 12 touchdown passes in 4 games and taken the league lead with a rating of 114.7. Even with Williams, last year’s Super Bowl MVP, nearly ready, Gibbs says Rypien will remain the quarterback as long as he keeps performing.
So is it Rypien or is it the system?
“There’s a lot to be said for the system,” says George Young, general manager of the New York Giants. “We knew Rypien had done well with their (scout team), but we didn’t think he had this much talent.”
East to West: A note to the networks and the NFL from Michael Rowe, general manager of Giants Stadium, where 15 fans were arrested and 56 ejected after a series of brawls and minor arson at the Jets-Bills game Monday night.
“The first thing I’d like to see is an earlier starting time,” Rowe says.
In fact, violence at Monday night games seems far more prevalent in the East, where fans have more time before the game to stand in the parking lot and drink. In the West, they simply get there for the game.
One argument against earlier starting times has been the hardship for fans who have to leave work, then dash for a game starting at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m.
But that didn’t seem to matter much to ABC when it decided to move back the first 4 games an hour to get a jump on NBC during the Olympics--the 8 p.m. starts in New York and Cleveland seemed perfect and there seemed little problems with 5 p.m. in Phoenix or 6 p.m. in Denver.
In fact, there’s more to it than that.
In eastern cities like New York, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Boston, fans tend to be younger, blue-collar and generally rowdier. In fact, there’s an interesting contrast in New York--there’s usually more rowdiness from Jets’ fans than from Giants’ fans, who are older and more affluent because it’s been 15 years since seats for Giants games were available to the general public.
No solution is perfect, of course. An earlier start might simply mean that drinkers would drink faster. But it would also mean fewer late arrivals at school and work on Tuesday, both from those at the game and those who stay up to watch it.
It’s been worth considering for years and it’s worth considering again.
Face Saving: The “players of the week” promotion is just another way for the NFL to make some midweek news. This week, Tim Harris and Fred Marion kept the league from getting some egg on its face.
Harris, the Green Bay Packers’ linebacker, and Marion, the New England Patriots’ safety were justifiably named the NFC and AFC defensive players of the week, beating out, among others, Lawrence Taylor of the Giants and Bruce Smith of the Buffalo Bills. Taylor and Smith, who had 5 1/2 sacks between them, were among the honorable mentions.
In case anyone has forgotten, Taylor and Smith are the most prominent of the 19 players who have been suspended by the NFL for substance abuse this season.
No-Win Situation: A month ago, after the Chicago Bears lost to Minnesota, 31-7, Mike Ditka said: “I don’t see anybody beating the Vikings. They are so much more the superior team than we are. It’s a foregone conclusion that we’re going for the wild card. That’s the outside chance we have to make the playoffs, the wild card.
“The Vikings probably won’t lose another game.”
Now that the Vikings have lost 2 of their last 4, their general manager, Mike Lynn, is saying boldly, “We’re still in the hunt for a wild-card.”
Maybe that’s how it will be settled. No NFC Central winner, just 2 wild-cards.
Understatement of the Week: “Offensively, our situation boils down to not being able to protect the quarterback and not being able to move the ball,” said Coach Darryl Rogers of the Detroit Lions (1-6).
Other than that, everything’s fine.
Understatement II: In one of the more entertaining football books out this year, the memoirs of referee Jim Tunney, Tunney recalls how an angry Don Shula called him to the sideline to protest a call.
“You’ve been screwing me for 18 years,” Tunney quotes Shula as saying.
“It’s 19, Don,” Tunney replied.
Leaders: Harry Carson of the Giants, who can set an NFL record if he’s named to his 10th Pro Bowl, has lost a step . . . probably more.
In fact, after the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Giants 2 Monday nights ago, when Eagles Coach Buddy Ryan was asked why running back Keith Byars was able to catch 9 passes, he replied: “Because we knew No. 53 couldn’t cover him.”
But the 35-year-old Carson’s value was demonstrated last Sunday when he threw the coaches out of the defensive meeting at halftime with the Giants trailing the Detroit Lions, 10-7, and questioned the heart of a unit that used to lead the league in defense but until that point was last in the NFL. Although the usually voluble Carson wasn’t talking after the game, his teammates say he even threw chairs to make his point.
So in the second half, the Giants limited Detroit to 13 yards and won going away, 30-10.
Which brings up the Vikings. Last week, they were run out of the Metrodome, 34-14, by the hardly imposing Packers.
“There’s leadership missing on this squad, a type of leadership that insists on preparation and hard play at all times,” Coach Jerry Burns said. “You can’t appoint a guy and say, ‘I want you to be the leader, I want you to be the leader,’ and have team captains or popularity contests. Leadership is sort of a recognized trait that some people have and some don’t.”
Which is why Giants Coach Bill Parcells keeps begging Carson and defensive end George Martin to come back every season.
Every so often it pays off.