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Rams: Quarterback's slump has caught Robinson's attention, but the coach isn't ready to set off alarm yet.

October 31, 1989|CHRIS DUFRESNE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — Three weeks ago, they could have begun casting the mold for Jim Everett's bust in Canton and not feared such an early hall-of-fame-investment.

Monday, his coach was considering dance lessons to get Everett's feet untangled in the wake of a three-game losing streak and sputtering passes.

Three weeks is a short time to go from a hall to a fall but, as usual, all eyes turn to quarterbacks in losing streaks.

The Rams are losing, so it must be Everett's fault, right? Bring out the protractors and slide-rules and let's break this slump down.

And it is a slump, for sure. Sixty-five percent of his passes were completions in Everett's first five games, compared to 46% in the past three. He has thrown as many interceptions--five--as touchdowns in the span.

Theories abound:

--Everett is throwing from his heels.

--A strong pass rush in recent weeks, sacking him 10 times in the past three games, is causing Everett to release the ball too quickly, and disrupting his timing.

--He is looking for tight end Pete Holohan too much on third down. He needs to spread the ball around, maybe throw Ron Brown a bone. Brown doesn't have a catch in eight games.

--Maybe, at 26, Everett simply has lost it. Suddenly, there's no zip on his short throws and no zap on his long ones. This, though, isn't a popular theory.

Everett thinks he just needs a chance to be human once in a while, and possibly a quick film review from the glory days of September and games such as the one against Indianapolis, when he dissected the Colts for 368 yards and three touchdowns while completing 80% of his passes.

"I plan on doing that this week," Everett said. "I'll go back and look at what we did last week and what we did some weeks ago. But I'm not going to spend a lot of time dwelling on it. We have a good system. I trust the players in the system."

Naturally, the Rams' slump is teamwide, but Everett hasn't helped with his work in the pocket of late, and was erratic once again in Sunday's 20-10 loss to the Chicago Bears.

Robinson said the pass rush wasn't Everett's problem against Chicago.

"Jim just did not have a good game throwing the ball," Robinson said. "He's off, and I think he's pressing somewhat, as we all are. . . .

"We all become enamored with him when things are going so good. He was doing great things for those five games, and you begin to see him as a superstar. And he is very good, but you also have to recognize this is a football team that is still coming together."

Or coming apart, depending on your viewpoint.

Robinson likens Everett's slump to that of a hitter who has temporarily lost his batting eye. Everett just needs extra time in the batting cage.

"I don't think there's much difference between the act of throwing the football and shooting a basketball or swinging a golf club or baseball bat," Robinson said. "They're all those rhythm-type things that at times seem to disappear for some reason and, equally as surprising, come right back."

Robinson and his assistants will work on Everett's fundamentals this week in practice, but insists there is no great cause for concern.

"We don't want to make this into some humongous type of deal," Robinson said.

Like most coaches, Robinson thinks quarterbacks get too much credit for winning and losing, and he doesn't want Everett to take the slump personally.

"He gets criticized . . . in that context, which is fair," Robinson said. "I don't quarrel with that at all. But we cannot live with that, because the game is played by so many people and his success is fitting into part of that environment. . . . It becomes too convenient to blame him."

Everett says he knows he's tight and pressing some, and the vise seems to tighten with each loss.

"If any player's playing with a question mark, he's not going to snap his wrists for the home run when the pitch is there," he said. "There are down sides to this game. . . . I'm not going to get overly analytical about what's going on."

Ram Notes

More about Jim Everett spreading the wealth around. Through eight games in 1988, Everett threw 59 passes to his wide receivers, 48 to his tight ends and 40 to his running backs. This season, he has thrown 72 times to his wide receivers, and 38 times each to his tight ends and backs. . . . If all goes well, starting inside linebackers Larry Kelm and Fred Strickland will appear in a game together for the first time on Nov. 12, when the Rams play the New York Giants. Kelm has missed the entire season thus far with a foot injury, and the team hopes to get Strickland back from an ankle sprain suffered against Buffalo.

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