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This Week's Charger Rally Cry: 'Rationalize, Rationalize'

November 22, 1987|BILL PLASCHKE | Times Staff Writer

SEATTLE — Noise, blocked punts and probably getting fogged in at the airport aside, it's not that big a deal.

Warner and Easley and the Wizard of Boz aside, it's not going to be the end of the world.

When the Chargers face the Seattle Seahawks today at 1 p.m. in the Kingdome, their best chance lies with their inherent ability to rationalize.

"So the Seahawks have always been a player or two away from being a powerful force, and now they have those players," said safety Mike Davis. "So they still have to go out there and play us."

"Nothing has ever come easy for us," said Charger Coach Al Saunders. "But it seems like when we've needed it, it's been there."

Whatever "it" is, give it an umbrella and get it up here today.

The Seahawks are the more talented team. They are the more versatile team. They are the home team.

If you believe the experts, the Seahawks are also the AFC West's first-place team. They are a full two games behind the leading Chargers, yet most folks are picking the runner-up Seahawks by at least a touchdown.

The Chargers will counter such disbelief with a starting quarterback--Mark Herrmann--who has started five games in 2 1/2 seasons.

He will throw to two wide receivers--Lionel James and Wes Chandler--who have spent more time this week figuring out ways to hide their limps than practicing.

He will be protected by two hurting offensive tackles--Jim Lachey and Gary Kowalski--who will wrap their legs with bandages that, when completed, will be the approximate size of beach balls.

Things are such that it has even been publicly suggested to Saunders that he throw this game. Take a big-league powder. Keep quarterback Dan Fouts, who is out with a pulled calf muscle but available as a pinch-hitter, on the bench. Let James and Chandler and every other aching baby boomer join him.

"Absurd, preposterous," said Saunders. "We don't know what will happen in our final games. We don't know how important this game will be.

"This organization does everything to win every game, and if somebody here doesn't feel the same way, I don't want them around."

So they will rationalize.

First, about the Seahawks.

"We will not worry about what they will do to us," said safety Martin Bayless. "We will only worry about what we can do to them ."

And anyway, what about running back Curt Warner? He has a big toe the size of a foot. He hung around in sweat pants all week. He played with the "turf toe" last week against Green Bay, even gaining 123 yards, but by about the 25th carry, he was looking around for help.

The Chargers aren't the only team with a bit of a quarterback problem, and that's the reason for Warner's overuse. The Seahawks' Dave Krieg was allowed to throw only 15 passes against the Packers. He completed only nine, and just one to a deep receiver. And they often line up with four of those guys.

Then there's the vaunted--or is that haunted?--Seahawk defense. Twice this season, the regulars have allowed 30 points or more. That hasn't happened once with the Chargers.

A month ago against the Raiders, safety Ken Easley separated his shoulder. He played only in passing situations against Green Bay, and he has yet to be a force.

Linebacker Brian (The Wizard of Boz) Bosworth hasn't, either, although nobody wants to believe it. The rookie is second on the team with 38 tackles, but that's largely because players are running his way. He has hammered, but more often he has been hammered.

And much to the consternation of Seahawk officials, he has made more noise in other ways, such as last week's decal scandal.

After the first play against Green Bay, officials stopped the game. Bosworth, they decided, looked less like a football player than a stock car. On every conceivable part of his uniform, except in the middle of his shirt, he had pasted his University of Oklahoma No. 44 (he wears 55 now because of league rules).

There were 44s on his wristbands, on his socks, on his towel, and a "44" decal was discovered on his rear end.

He was forced to leave the game and remove everything, missing a play that proved inconsequential.

"You can tell he's still a rookie," said Charger tackle Jim Lachey. "I'm sure after a while, when he learns the system, he'll be better."

Of more concern will be linebacker Fredd Young. The Chargers really do have to worry about him. He probably will join Billy Ray Smith or Chip Banks of the Chargers on this year's Pro Bowl linebacking team. He has had only 59 tackles (Smith leads the Chargers with 43) plus, oh, three forced fumbles and a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown.

"He lines up right across from me on one of their schemes," said Lachey. "I've studied him. He's something."

And what about Herrmann, who says, "I'm more comfortable coming in during the middle of the game, when I've had time to see what the defenses are doing"?

"He has never started a game for this team," Saunders said. "I don't care what he's done in the past."

In his one start last year, Herrmann was 11 for 29 for 122 yards in a 23-7 loss in Philadelphia. In his four starts in 1985, he was 1-3, including a 26-21 loss in his debut in, off all places, Seattle.

"I remember it was very loud there. It was hard to change any plays at the line of scrimmage," said the soft-spoken Herrmann. "But I think I'm more prepared now. I think we're all more prepared."

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