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PRO FOOTBALL : Ram Notebook : When Questioned, Coach Takes Offense Because He Has None

December 14, 1987|CHRIS DUFRESNE and STEVE LOWERY and GENE WOJCIECHOWSKI | Times Staff Writers

Touchy subject: It's advisable to anyone coming in contact with Marion Campbell, Atlanta coach, in the near future to avoid one subject.


During his postgame comments, Campbell was asked about the Falcon quarterback situation, and, whether rookie Chris Miller, who completed 10 of 20 passes for 170 yards, has a chance at starting next week.

"I cannot believe you (reporters) ask me that question. We just got our butts kicked all over the field and you're asking me about that? I don't believe this."

Maybe part of Campbell's annoyance springs from the fact that the Falcons came into Sunday's game 21st in the NFL in passing and 27th in total offense.

Must be new math: To give you an idea of where the Atlanta offense was going Sunday--nowhere fast--it was announced in the press box late in the second quarter that running back Gerald Riggs had 30 of Atlanta's 26 yards in total offense.

Riggs was asked after the game if he thought the Falcons' poor performance Sunday was a carry over from their game against Dallas the week before.

Atlanta won that game, 21-10.

"I don't see how it could have," Riggs said. "I just hope none of this game carries over into our next game."

Atlanta plays division-leading San Francisco next week.

Gloom Bowl: The Falcons have heated up a debate as to which was the worst team, the 3-10 Falcons or the 2-11 Detroit Lions.

Well, for better or worse, that will be decided the last game of the regular season when Detroit travels to play at Atlanta.

That caused debate as to how many people would show up at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. One observer figured, "To get them (fans) in there, they'll have to give each one of them a car."

Is it finally Miller Time? Rookie quarterback Miller made his NFL debut, mopping up in the second half for starter Scott Campbell.

Miller, from Oregon State, entered the game with his team trailing, 26-0. He completed 10 of 20 passes for 170 yards with one interception.

"You need to be able to get out there and experience it and learn from your mistakes," Miller said. "I had a lot of adrenaline flowing at first but I thought I settled down and did all right. We moved the ball, but we didn't get any points, and that's what I really wanted. I'd like to start, but that's not up to me, it's up to Coach Campbell. I'll just work hard in practice and see what happens."

When cornerback Clifford Hicks was forced to leave Sunday's game briefly with a knee injury, the Ram secondary almost was forced to take drastic measures.

Faced with the possibility of having only five healthy defensive backs, Ram coaches returned to their locker room at halftime wondering how to compensate. Already they had lost safeties Johnnie Johnson (broken forearm) and Vince Newsome (knee) for the season. Now Hicks was hobbling along the sideline, possibly out for the remainder of the game.

"We had a plan," said defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur. "We came up with it at halftime."

And here it was:

If Hicks went out, the Rams would have gone to a zone pass defense, used five linebackers, one safety (Nolan Cromwell) and two cornerbacks (LeRoy Irvin and Jerry Gray).

"We would have been OK," Shurmur said.

Shurmur didn't have to try the experiment. Hicks returned and played well enough.

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