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Robinson: Winning Isn't Anything, but Patriot Coach Does Not Agree

August 31, 1985|RICH ROBERTS | Times Staff Writer

The subject of exhibition football games puts coaches Raymond Berry of the New England Patriots and John Robinson of the Rams at odds, just as they will be at Anaheim Stadium tonight at 7.

"We play every game to win," Berry said. "That's the No. 1 object. We don't always attain it, but that's what we're going out there for. Preseason games, I don't see any different from an intrasquad game or the Super Bowl. If you go out there to play a contest and you're a professional athlete, then you go out there to win."

Berry's team, out there to win, is 1-2 this summer. He is in his first exhibition season as a head coach, having taken over when Ron Meyer was fired a week before Halloween last year.

Although Robinson's outfit is 2-1 and was 2-2 the previous two summers, he tends to be more blase, and it may have shown in a 14-12 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Columbus, Ohio, last week.

"I have no interest in the record, one way or the other," Robinson said.

Robinson is more interested in what he calls habit patterns. "If you stunk up the place and still won, that wouldn't be a positive thing," he said.

This being the final tuneup before the season opener against the Denver Broncos a week from Sunday, Robinson will at least have a game plan, which is more than he had at Columbus.

"Not as elaborate as it would be in the regular season but more organized toward the route of getting ready for an opponent," he said.

"If your team lacked confidence you might want to win this one. I don't think our team lacks confidence. We are yet to prove we're anything special, but we're prepared."

Berry has equally strong feelings on a different subject--the number of quarterbacks a team should carry--and on that subject, Robinson seems to be coming around to Berry's way of thinking.

"I'm a three-quarterback man," Berry said. Some coaches, with the roster limit reduced from 49 to 45, will carry two. "I've got that branded on my rear end from several coaching experiences around the NFL in which I (saw) exactly what it was like when you lose your No. 1 and No. 2.

"It doesn't take too many experiences like that to make your No. 3 quarterback look extremely valuable to you. You're salvaging a bad situation. The mathematical formula is that if you don't have a quarterback to run your offense, that equals zero on the scoreboard."

Robinson, who earlier had indicated that he would carry only two quarterbacks this season, is now leaning toward retaining all three--Dieter Brock, Jeff Kemp and Steve Dils--when he makes his final cuts next week.

Berry's third quarterback, behind starter Tony Eason and veteran Steve Grogan, is Tom Ramsey, formerly of UCLA and of the Express and Oakland Invaders of the United States Football League.

"He's my security blanket," Berry said. "I'll call every night to make sure he's there."

Football's classic case for a third quarterback is from Berry's own days with the Baltimore Colts. When John Unitas and Gary Cuozzo both were injured in a 42-27 loss at Green Bay, halfback Tom Matte had to play quarterback.

"That's the first experience I ever saw of getting your quarterbacks wiped out," Berry, then a wide receiver, said.

"Matte stuck his head in the huddle and looked to the right (and said), 'What should we call?', then looked to the left where I was (and said), 'What should we call?' Our right tackle said, 'Tom, you've gotta call somethin'. It's only third down. We can't punt.'

"I was a veteran, so Tom looked at me and I said, 'Call Flow 28.' That was a sweep toward (receiver) Jimmy Orr. I thought Jimmy could block. I couldn't.

"What we had going for us that year was that Don Shula, the head coach, kind of likes a challenge. We came in the next week and had a simple plan of how we were gonna win from then on. He told the team we were gonna go with Matte at quarterback, and he'd called Woody Hayes to make sure he had all his option plays right." Matte had played quarterback for Hayes at Ohio State.

"(Shula) gave us a simple game plan. He said: 'Defense, your plan is don't let 'em score. Offense, we gotta get close enough so Lou Michaels can kick some field goals.' "

Matte started the next game, against the Rams in Los Angeles, with the plays written on tape around his wrist. Ed Brown, acquired during the week, relieved Matte and threw a touchdown pass to win the game, 20-17, and get the Colts into a Western Conference title playoff against the Green Bay Packers.

But rules wouldn't permit Brown to play in postseason games, so Matte had to go again. He completed 2 of 12 passes for 40 yards and ran 17 times for 57. Shula wasn't kidding about the option offense.

Later, as an assistant coach, Berry saw teams getting caught with their quarterbacks down and wants no part of it. "I don't want to go with Tom Matte at quarterback," he said.

Ram Notes The Rams, who broke training camp 11 days ago, practiced straight through this week without a day off but will taper off into their in-season routine next week. . . . Ram radio broadcaster Bob Starr, who was hospitalized with chest pains Friday morning in New York, will be replaced tonight by Joel Myers, who does UCLA games. Starr, 51, was stricken while playing golf between telecasts of the Angels' games with the Yankees. He is in stable condition. . . . Quarterback Dieter Brock will play the first half and at least part of the third quarter. . . . The Rams will have starting cornerbacks Gary Green and LeRoy Irvin together for the first time, and inside linebacker Carl Ekern will make his first appearance since reovering from an Achilles' tendon injury. . . . Robinson said that Doug Reed, the new left defensive end since Jack Youngblood's retirement, has completed the transition from "project to solid player."

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