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Raiders Return to Beuerlein : Schroeder Needs Time to Adjust, Shanahan Says

Times Staff Writer

Raider Coach Mike Shanahan called off the Jay Schroeder experiment for the rest of foreseeable 1988, announcing Wednesday that he was benching his high-priced, expensively-acquired quarterback and restoring Steve Beuerlein to the No. 1 job.

Was Beuerlein happy?

Does he expect to step aside again?

“I don’t look at anything, as far as me warming the seat for anybody,” he said.

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“I am now the starting quarterback and I’m approaching things with that attitude. I feel comfortable with the system. I feel comfortable with my teammates. I think they all feel very confident in me. And I don’t plan on giving it up for any reason at all.”

Was Schroeder unhappy?

In Washington last season, he had a fit when he was demoted, but Wednesday he accepted it gracefully.

“You have to look at the situation realistically,” Schroeder said. “I’m the first one to admit, I haven’t been playing well.

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And the difference between this situation and Washington?

“It’s entirely different. In Washington, I knew what I was doing.”

Why now?

The Raiders have hit the Chiefs-Chargers-Falcons phase of their schedule. They could play Schroeder and try to turn him around and/or take their best shot at a playoff run.

The question was, was it and or was it or?

Shanahan decided it was or.

Why?

Schroeder seemed to be going backward. He led that impossible rally at Denver in his first start, threw 8 interceptions in his second and third, then completed 12 of 37 passes in his fourth and fifth.

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And Al Davis is keeping the heat on, his new coaching staff, late arrivals and injuries notwithstanding. To put it delicately, he wants to get back in the playoffs this season.

So they’re sending the kid out again.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in Jay as a quarterback, in his ability,” Shanahan said. “At the same time, I think I’ve put him in a position that’s a little bit tough and not as fair as it should be.

“Like I said at the beginning, I’ve never been in the position where you bring a quarterback in without a training camp, without a quarterback camp. Not many teams do it.

“Jay is not having a chance to react. He’s having to think a little too much.

“We had a situation last week where we had a bump coverage (on James Lofton, on a 4th-and-7 incompletion, Schroeder’s last play). I think everybody saw, Jay threw an up route (while Lofton ran a sideline out pattern). That was an adjustment Jay had done at Washington.

“Steve has been through the system. He feels a lot more comfortable with what we’re doing.

“Steve is able to go out there and react to what he has gone through for the last 7-8 months. That’s the type of confidence you need as a quarterback, to be able to go out there and know that you know where everybody’s going to be. You know what blocking schemes are being done. Steve has that feeling. Jay, right now, doesn’t.”

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Schroeder hasn’t yet been around for 2 months. The deal wasn’t made until after the season opener, when Davis reluctantly parted with Jim Lachey. Schroeder arrived Sept. 5 and started Sept. 26.

That was the night he went 13 for 32 . . . and led the Raiders back from a 24-0 halftime deficit to that overtime victory in Denver.

It turned out to be a false dawn. A Raider official notes, in retrospect, that some things just broke right. Two swing passes to Steve Smith broke for long touchdowns.

Perspective can be hard to come by immediately. The Raiders were 2-2 and felt a surge of optimism, until the Bengals and Dolphins flattened them in successive weeks.

When Schroeder kept struggling against the Chiefs and Saints, the stage was set for Wednesday’s announcement.

“I really do sympathize,” Beuerlein said. “It’s a tough situation for him, to come in, with all the expectations.

“People tend to say, ‘Hey, this guy’s a bona fide established all-pro quarterback. He should be able to come in and just do it.’ But it doesn’t work that way all the time.

“Unfortunately for Jay, he’s been the victim of a lot of unjust criticism, I think.”

Unfortunately for Jay, there is a point where you know you’re overmatched, and he was there.

He said: “You reach a certain point where you have to say, ‘Hey, let me look at it from a realistic point of view, instead of the idealistic point of view.’

“Yeah, I would have liked to have learned everything. But the last couple of days, even last week, you sit back and you look and you say, ‘I really don’t know everything I need to know to be able to perform.’

“I wasn’t lost but I wasn’t reacting. Everything happened so much faster in a game. You’re out in practice and you get the play from the side. There’s no time clock. You can go through it in your mind. By the time you walk up to the huddle, you go through it in your mind again. You look around, make sure everybody’s right. Go through it one more time. And then you run it.

“In a game, you’ve got to get it, call it and go, that quick. It just wasn’t going.”

And the fourth-down situation Shanahan described?

“That’s not one of the adjustments here. I came up and I reacted. As soon as I threw it, I knew I was in trouble. I threw it and I said, ‘Oops! James isn’t going up. James is coming back.’ ”

So Schroeder leaves.

And if Beuerlein plays well, as Doug Williams did with the Redskins?

“Good for him,” Schroeder said. “What it’s going to do, it’s going to leave me in a situation where I have to work extremely hard. And I’m not afraid of that. That’s what this game’s all about. I hope he does exceptionally well. The bottom line, what it does, it makes this football team a better team.

“I don’t think it was that difficult. I think everybody could realize the situation. This has never been done before, bringing somebody in at mid-season at this position. You look down the history books, it’s never been done. So who knows how to handle it?”

They’re learning, they’re learning.

Having failed to rewrite the history books, the Raiders will try to make the playoffs. It’s a longshot, too, but the only one left them.

Raider Notes

Bo Jackson is listed as probable for Sunday’s game. He said in New Orleans that he expects to be in the lineup.

Coincidentally, Walter Payton, the former Chicago Bears star who missed one game in his career, was at the Raider facility Wednesday, as a telecaster for the BBC. “I say,” said Payton, affecting an English accent. Payton said he couldn’t second-guess Jackson’s decision to leave. “People have to realize, he has to make that decision,” Payton said. “I wonder what people would have said if he’d gone out and torn the hamstring and missed the rest of the season.”

One season, Payton strained a hamstring in training camp, and played the whole season. Was he tough, or did he have a bionic body? “It’ll always remain a mystery,” Payton said. “It might have been the way I prepared myself. What you believe is what you are. If you believe you’re a fast healer, you heal fast.”


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