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Change Possible for Coryell, but Not for Chargers

September 23, 1986|CHRIS COBBS | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — Don Coryell isn't superstitious.

Well, maybe a little.

He's considering a change of attire for this week's game with the Raiders at the Coliseum.

The ensemble he has been wearing, which consists of white shirt, blue slacks and white shoes, has lost two straight games, most recently a 30-27 defeat by Washington.

Coryell didn't say exactly what he had in mind, but it probably won't resemble his old coat-and-tie days at San Diego State. Back then, he appeared in a button-down shirt, skinny tie, dark trousers and black ripple-sole shoes with white socks.

The Charger coach may change clothes, but he isn't going to change cornerbacks this week.

As of Monday afternoon, Wayne Davis and Donald Brown were still the starting cornerbacks, according to Coryell. It's possible that John Hendy, recovering from an injured knee, and newcomer Ken Taylor may get a look at corner this week in practice, but no changes are contemplated at the moment.

As for new personnel, Coryell isn't shopping.

"We have to play with what we've got," Coryell said, laughing. "Shoot, you don't just go out on the street and find new people."

Since last spring's mini-camp, both Coryell and defensive coordinator Ron Lynn have listed cornerback as their biggest concern. Nothing has changed to alter their assessment. If anything, the concern has deepened with the loss of cornerback Danny Walters, out for the year with a torn Achilles' tendon, and the poor play by Davis and Brown in Sunday's defeat.

"Cornerback is still a problem, no question about it," Coryell said. "But we have a rookie (Brown) and a second-year man (Davis), and I think they're both going to get better."

Brown said he had tried to forget Sunday's troubling loss but found that the game lingered.

"It left a bitter taste," he said.

"But it's not going to affect my confidence. We just have to make the big plays go our way. There's a lot of luck in it. When Wayne got beat by Gary Clark (on a crucial 55-yard pass that set up the winning score), he was in good position. It was just perfect execution by the Redskins."

Brown argued that none of the San Diego defensive backs had been badly beaten in the game, although fans may have been left with a different impression.

He conceded that the Charger secondary must improve on holding the ball when positioned for possible interceptions. There were several drops Sunday, just as in last week's defeat by the New York Giants. Brown refused to challenge the coverage called by Lynn on the third-down play in which Clark beat Davis deep. "Our defensive philosophy is man-to-man coverage and let our line blitz and dog all day," Brown said.

Although Lynn said Sunday that it probably was a mistake not to play a deep zone, Coryell thought otherwise.

"If we made the play, it would be a great call," the head coach said. "I don't feel you should ever second-guess yourself. . . . Davis jumped at Clark's out move. That was a mistake."

Although the Charger pass defense has plummeted to the familiar depths of the bottom of the statistical heap, there's an effort among the players to remain upbeat.

Taylor, the former Chicago Bear signed last week to replace Walters, was doing his best to be optimistic.

"You take what you have and you keep a positive outlook," he said. "It's just the structure of American football that the defensive backs are going to get the blame. You make a mistake and it's on the scoreboard.

"We need to support each other and pat each other on the back when we can. We had 'em beat Sunday. It shouldn't have even been close. We outplayed 'em on defense all the way. I'm surely not going to sit here and shoot down our defense."

Taylor said he is ready physically to contribute to the San Diego pass defense, but that he isn't sure about his assignments and calls.

"I'm not 100% in my knowledge of the system," he said. "I'm not completely comfortable yet."

After a week of study, he may be ready to play some against the Raiders.

As tight end Kellen Winslow said, it should be an unforgettable afternoon for Chargers new to the experience of facing the Raiders.

"There will be some pretty mad boys out there on the field," Winslow said, mindful of the Raiders' 0-3 record.

Coryell said he would almost prefer that the Raiders had won a game so that they wouldn't be quite so intent on looking for their first victory against their biggest rivals.

But Winslow said he enjoyed seeing that 0-3 record and wished it was already 0-4.

Defensive end Lee Williams agreed: t "I know the Raiders will be damn hungry, but I never want them to win a game.

"This is the critical part of our year, and I just hope we can come out of it 4-2."

The Chargers, at 1-2, may be fortunate to split their first six games. After the Raiders, they travel to Seattle, then return home to play Denver.

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