Schroeder Has to Give Way to Marinovich : Raiders: Starting quarterback is demoted after having one of his best games, completing 25 of 40 attempts for 380 yards and two touchdowns during loss to Bengals.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The move that has been anticipated since quarterback Todd Marinovich was drafted by the Raiders, rumored since Jay Schroeder went into a slump and demanded by critics as the team lost its first two games was finally made Tuesday.

Marinovich will replace Schroeder as the starting quarterback in Sunday's home opener at the Coliseum against the Cleveland Browns, according to Schroeder.

But despite the expectations, the switch came as a surprise.

Schroeder is coming off his most productive passing day as a Raider. He threw for 380 yards Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, completing 25 of 40 attempts for two touchdowns.

But the bottom line apparently was that his team lost.

So Tuesday morning, a day off for the players, he finally got the call he had long dreaded.

Coach Art Shell told him that the 23-year-old Marinovich, a sensation at times at USC, would be handed the reins Sunday of the club his father, Marv, had once played for.

Before Shell's call, Schroeder had agreed to go on a Portland talk show conducted by an old friend, former Cardinal quarterback Neil Lomax.

"We were just going to talk a little football and some golf," Lomax said later.

Instead, Schroeder announced the switch.

"I just got off the phone with the coach," he said. "They're going to go with the kid (Marinovich).

"It's difficult to deal with. I'm disappointed."

Shell declined to comment on Schroeder's remarks or even admit that the switch had been made. He said he would discuss the matter today, his normal day for meeting with the media. The only one saying anything Tuesday was Schroeder.

Even defensive lineman Howie Long, a 12-year veteran and a team leader, said Tuesday afternoon that he knew nothing about the switch.

At Monday's regular postgame briefing, Shell gave no indication that a change was imminent.

But he gave an apparent clue last week when he talked about having "two capable quarterbacks" for the first time and said he would not be afraid to "pull the trigger" on a change if necessary.

It would seem now that the Raiders had decided to pull that trigger before last Sunday, perhaps even during the exhibition season.

Schroeder certainly did nothing Sunday to merit a demotion.

He moved the team impressively for the first time since last season. He had one pass intercepted, but that can't be blamed on him. A pass that should have been caught by fullback Steve Smith instead went off Smith's fingers to a waiting Bengal.

But Schroeder could not make up in one afternoon for the inconsistency of last season, an inconsistency that continued into this year.

He had 16 passes intercepted last season, exceeding his total of touchdown passes by one.

He had five more interceptions during the exhibition season, including two that were run back by the Washington Redskins for touchdowns on successive plays.

Then, during the season opener, Schroeder had two more passes intercepted and also fumbled the ball away twice.

Somewhere along the line, the Raiders apparently decided that Schroeder, even though he cost them star offensive lineman Jim Lachey in a 1988 trade with Washington, was not their man.

But when?

A look at the schedule showed two road games at the start, in Denver and Cincinnati. Those are tough places to start a young quarterback with two games' experience.

So, perhaps, the Raiders circled Sept. 20 on their calendar.

It would be a home game played in front of a friendly crowd at the Coliseum, where Marinovich enjoyed some of his finest moments as a Trojan.

And it would be played against Cleveland, a struggling club that would figure to be an underdog.

Probably the only thing that could have changed the Raider plans would have been a 2-0 start by Schroeder.

Perhaps only a victory Sunday against the Bengals, coupled with Schroeder's numbers that day, would have saved him.

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