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Raiders Going Nowhere, and They May Be Taking Flores Along for the Ride

November 17, 1987|MARK HEISLER | Times Staff Writer

Al Davis has never fired a coach but he has put them all under pressure. The last time the Raiders had a two-year hitch out of the playoffs, they came out of it with a new coach.

He was Tom Flores, who replaced John Madden, who resigned in the wake of a 9-7 record in 1979. Flores went 9-7 as a rookie but won a Super Bowl as a sophomore.

In his ninth season, Flores' Raiders are 3-6 and there are rumbles--be they gossip or the usual front-office second-guessing that can be heard from Raider executives during any game--that Flores may be in trouble.

Davis isn't expected to fire him. Davis, after all, is always trying to have Flores installed in history as one of the game's great coaches. The low-key Flores is very different from the highly emotive Madden but can Flores withstand the heat that claimed his predecessor?

Will he take a walk?

"Let me put it this way," Flores said Monday. "I don't know what's being said. I haven't heard anything like that.

"There is a lot of pressure. Pressure falls on head coaches, whether it's from the outside or from myself. I put a lot of pressure on myself as head coach because it's my responsibility.

"It's my responsibility that this team perform well on Sundays. If we don't, I take it very personally. It's very painful. But all I can do is my best. I'm not going to speculate on anything else."

And it's not too early to start wondering who will quarterback next season, too.

Of course, it might be someone who is not on the present roster. Marc Wilson's contract will be up. Jim Plunkett will be 40. No one knows if Rusty Hilger will get another shot, or if Vince Evans figures in Raider plans.

Right now, the Raiders are going day by day. For the moment, it's Wilson.

"I thought overall, with the exception of one pass where Marc didn't see the linebacker (Billy Ray Smith), I thought he played pretty well," Flores said. "I don't think it was the quarterback. We had some breakdowns in the offensive line."

They had a heap of holding penalties, including two on guard Dean Miraldi. Flores called them mistakes.

Billy Ray Smith called them necessary.

"It was either hold 'em," Smith said, "or Marc was going to get hurt really bad."

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