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Is Blitz Driving Flutie to Pocket?

March 24, 1985|GEORGE USHER | Newsday

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Doug Flutie doesn't have to take a page out of coach Walt Michaels' playbook to know his place on the Generals. The Baltimore Stars convinced him last Sunday where he belongs.

All they did was devise a defense that took away what he does best. His rollouts were no more than bailouts, and the scramble was mostly a backpedal to disaster. He was sacked three times for 46 yards--the last time for 34 yards on an aborted scramble--and ended up with just 6 yards on two carries in a 29-9 loss.

"This is what I expected from Day One," Flutie said at Giants Stadium last week. "I expected to be pressured, kept in the pocket, and it was going to be a challenge for me to stay in there and throw the ball."

Yet, when he is given the opportunity to run, he can light up a stadium, as he did the previous Sunday when he ran for 97 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-24 win over the L.A. Express.

"Teams weren't concerning themselves with that (his running)," Flutie said. "They were playing it normal, and I was able to scramble and make some things happen. If teams are concerned about containing me, as the Stars did, there is no question in my mind I'll become a pocket passer. And that should work out fine."

Michaels said the Stars used linemen to contain Flutie from the inside and blitzed two linebackers and sometimes a safety from the outside to contain Flutie laterally. Quarterbacks can beat such a defense by throwing to the areas left open by the blitzers, but Flutie was off-target on several throws and under too much pressure to be effective on others.

"We failed at pass protection," said Michaels, "and we didn't have the ball enough to get a running game going against that defense."

Left guard Vince Stroth agreed with Michaels that the line did not protect Flutie as well as it should have, but he said the linemen were confused by the Stars' defense, especially when Flutie attempted to roll out.

"We couldn't cope," said Stroth. "We were confused by that safety (Mike Lush) coming in, and we never discussed how to block against it. No adjustments were made, and we dropped that formation on the rollout because of that extra man coming in."

Chris Palmer, the offensive coordinator, said he didn't go away from the rollout, and there was no confusion. "We went to the drop-back because of their containment. Our real problem was we didn't execute the plays that were called. We didn't get the ball to people who were open."

Flutie admitted the Stars' defensive pressure got to him: "As the game wore on, I became concerned about the rush. And you can't let that happen to you as a quarterback. I was fighting with myself to keep my feet still and stay there and throw the ball. I started, at the first sign of pressure, taking off and trying to run. And containing as well as they did, I had no place to go."

Flutie knows where to go now, and he says he isn't worried about facing another blitzing team. "What we have to do is burn the blitz," he said. "If they get their hands in your face and are successful, they'll keep coming. So, you've got to do a better job of getting rid of the ball on time and picking up the blitzes as well."

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