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For Robinson, Tinkering With Rams Can Wait a Few Days

January 14, 1986|RICH ROBERTS | Times Staff Writer

The day after the Rams' 24-0 pasting in the NFC title game at Chicago, Coach John Robinson didn't want to discuss it--not the weather, not the Super Bowl, not Dieter Brock. Especially not Dieter Brock.

"Today's my day off," he told a reporter who phoned him at home Monday. "The last one I had was July 13."

He said it wasn't that he couldn't, uh, bear to talk about it.

"I just resolved to myself that if we won or lost, I was gonna take the day off," he said. "We'll probably do some work Wednesday. We've gotta get ready for the Pro Bowl."

Robinson, as coach of the NFC runner-up, will coach the NFC All-Stars at Honolulu Sunday, Feb. 2, a week after the Super Bowl at New Orleans. Then he'll start taking hard looks at his own team.

"I'm not gonna worry about anything about our football team until after the Pro Bowl," he said. "What we're looking for in the draft and that type of thing."

Earlier in the day, however, on his weekly radio show on KMPC, Robinson had said: "I thought (Bear quarterback Jim) McMahon was really the big difference in the ball game."

But he stopped short of directly criticizing Brock, who completed only 10 of 31 passes in the swirling winds of Soldier Field, while McMahon completed 16 of 25.

"I've come away from these last two weeks really impressed with (McMahon)," Robinson said. "I didn't think he was that good a player until I'd seen him under pressure.

"McMahon has done a great job, and I don't think anybody watching on television realizes how hard it was in that environment for a quarterback. Maybe he's more used to it than the ones that come in there but, boy, he did a good job.

"They had three 50-yard drives for the (first) 17 points, and he put those drives together himself. Eric Dickerson did not have a good day, but (Walter) Payton had less of a day. We did OK there, but we just couldn't stop McMahon."

Robinson said he never thought about changing quarterbacks during the game, and that he isn't thinking of it now.

"You would like to be more balanced from an offensive standpoint, but I think the dominant defensive lineman or the dominant offensive lineman become important to you. There's a lot of evaluation ahead."

After the 1984 season, Robinson demoted offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye to receivers coach and took over the passing game himself. Raye resigned and joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Robinson replaced him with Lew Erber, who had been with the Raiders for six years and was offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots for three.

Erber is credited with the early development of Patriot quarterback Tony Eason, who led the Patriots into the Super Bowl.

Robinson hasn't indicated whether he plans to shuffle his coaching staff again, but it's clear he didn't achieve what he set out to do this season: Build an effective air game around a new quarterback, the 34-year-old Brock.

The Rams' loss to the Bears followed the pattern of other Ram setbacks when the defense and special teams played well but couldn't overcome the self-destructive tendencies of the offense.

Not only did fumbles by Brock and Eric Dickerson lead to Bear touchdowns, but the Rams badly mismanaged the clock at the end of the first half, blowing a scoring opportunity when they trailed only 10-0.

The Rams, after recovering a punt that hit a Chicago player at the Bears' 21, had one timeout left. Dickerson ran twice for four and five yards, then after his second run, at 31 seconds and counting, the Rams strolled back to the huddle with no apparent sense of urgency, disdaining their timeout. They broke the huddle with 15 seconds showing and snapped the ball at 8 seconds.

Brock looked into the left corner of the end zone and saw that Bobby Duckworth was double-covered, but instead of throwing the ball away to stop the clock and save time for another play or a field goal attempt, he dumped off over the middle to Dickerson, who had four Bears surrounding him and was tackled at the five as time ran out.

It was a classic example of how not to run a two-minute offense.

Robinson said Monday: "We might have taken a little long getting the play off, but we still felt we could throw in the end zone and have it be incomplete. Dieter's guy in the end zone was double-covered, and Eric was loose underneath and he chose to throw the ball to him. Eric almost went in and scored, but he didn't.

"I saw two seconds on the clock when Dieter was screaming time out, and Eric got up screaming time out and the clock went one and zero.

"It was a mistake on our part because the clock did run down. We also felt like it was a mistake for the official to . . . you know, the official has a chance to respond quickly to what you ask, or respond slowly."

Did the clock run out on Brock, too? Will Robinson, despite what he's saying now, have his fourth quarterback in as many seasons when the Rams reconvene next summer?

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