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UNDER FIRE : Wilson Feels Heat but Not From Flores

November 04, 1986|MARK HEISLER | Times Staff Writer

If it's Monday and this is Raider headquarters--where else would you find a pumpkin in front with "(Bleep) Denver" carved on it?--they must be running post-mortems on the live body of Marc Wilson.

And they are.

With Wilson being tabbed everywhere as the man responsible for four interceptions and an output of one touchdown in the 21-10 loss to the Broncos, which way would Tom Flores, his foremost supporter, go?

Surprise, Flores ducked the rush and went in no direction. He neither joined the indictment, nor argued with it. He seemed almost to accept it, if on a one-game basis.

Mostly, he pleaded mitigating circumstances, like the sluggish running game. Wilson remains his starter.

"It's just a question I don't prefer to get involved in," Flores said. "You get involved in something like that and, all of a sudden, you're doubting the quarterback. And I don't doubt the ability of Marc. He can move this club."

Who else was as responsible?

"The whole team is. The blocking. The receivers getting open. The coaches in our design."

Were people being unfair to Wilson?

"It doesn't matter. The quarterback is going to take the heat. Unfortunately, when you throw four interceptions and you lose a big game like that, there's a lot of heat that's put on the quarterback. He's trying just as hard as anybody. And the pressure is put on that quarterback, constantly.

"I've always said, quarterback is a hot position, a hot spot. You take the good with the bad."

On the 16-yard sack Wilson took at the Denver three-yard line that truncated one drive: "When something happens like that, it takes all the good things a quarterback does away. People focus on the mistakes and not the good things."

Since more is withheld here than is said, you have to guess at the meaning. One guess: Even among his most fervent supporters, Wilson isn't getting off unscathed in this one. It's not costing him his job, though, either. With the Raiders headed into Dallas, maybe the coaches are remembering his big game there in 1983.

But if he encounters further difficulty--and the Cowboys are big blitzers--they may start heating up in the bullpen.

Should anyone be surprised?

Throw out the games against the woeful Dolphin defense and the foolhardy Oiler defense, and the Raider offense has been only limping along after its opening-day splash in Denver.

Here are their touchdown outputs--Game 2 vs. Redskins, 0; Game 3 vs. Giants, 0; Game 4 vs. Chargers, 2; Game 5 vs. Chiefs 3; Game 6 vs. Seattle 2.

The Bronco game makes it five of nine in which they have scored two or fewer touchdowns.

They had regrouped with the most basic of offenses, running straight ahead, which Marcus Allen could still do even with his sprained ankle, and which Napoleon McCallum could do, too.

But the Broncos figured that out and took it away.

"They were trying to close down, from the outside in, to force us maybe to go outside," Flores said.

Allen, who had rushed for 410 yards in his last three games against the Broncos, was held to 71 and a 3.2 average.

What happens when everyone else starts taking away the inside? Has Allen healed enough to go wide?

Playoff picture: The battle for the wild-card spots, with the top two teams here making it: New England 6-3, Cleveland 6-3, Cincinnati 6-3, Kansas City 6-3, Raiders 5-4, Seattle 5-4. Either Cleveland or Cincinnati figures to win the AFC Central. The winner makes the playoffs and the loser is in this race.

The Raiders have already beaten Seattle at home but still must play in the Kingdome, where they haven't won since 1981.

The Raiders still have home games left against the Browns, Bengals and Chiefs. So they will have some control over how those teams do.

When is a fumble not a fumble?

With the Raiders leading, 3-0, Andy Parker was called for batting the ball toward the Bronco goal line on Ken Bell's kickoff fumble. The Raiders recovered, but the penalty cost them possession, which went back to Denver.

Several Raiders called it a controversial call, but Flores conceded that "it's in the rule book. The last team to control the ball gets it."

Of course, the Raiders have traditionally taken maximum advantage of fumbles. Ken Stabler and friends invented the Holy Roller, an intentional fumble they herded into the end zone where Dave Casper fell on it to beat the San Diego Chargers. That also resulted in a rule change.

Rookie defensive end Mike Wise was taken off the preseason injured list last week. That was the Raiders' one allowed move.

That means safety Mike Davis, who underwent three arthroscopic knee operations within a year and is also on that list, can only be removed by going through waivers. Stacey Toran has the No. 1 job now, and Flores says he isn't thinking about taking Davis off the list.

What does that mean for Davis, 30, a starter since 1980, the man who made the interception of Brian Sipe to win the famous playoff game in Cleveland?

"I guess what they're saying is they don't need me," Davis said. "They had to do what was necessary. Howie (Long) was injured, and they couldn't go into an NFL game undermanned on the defensive line.

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