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PRO FOOTBALL : Elway Still Looking for a Better Way

September 04, 1990|BOB OATES

At 27, a four-year NFL veteran, Everett starts the season as the coming giant of a profession in which Joe Montana is 34. He already resembles Montana much of the time and former star Dan Fouts the rest of the time.

As for the ground game, the Rams are getting by in the post-Eric Dickerson years on Robinson know-how and Pro Bowl blocking.

Houston cornerback Cris Dishman was caught showboating last week. Sprinting for a sure touchdown with an intercepted pass, Dishman taunted the pursuit by waving the ball with an extended arm but forgot to look both ways.

Hit from the blind side, he fumbled away the touchdown and the game to Minnesota, 22-21.

After returning to Houston, hardly chastened, Dishman said: "I'm human, and humans make mistakes. I'm sorry if anyone expects me to be inhuman."

Jack Pardee, the new Oiler coach, said he will continue to remind his starting left cornerback of the errors of his ways.

"(Dishman's) fumble is the featured segment on our follies film," Pardee said.

Asked if he'd trade Dishman if he blows another game with that play, the Houston coach said: "I don't think I'd trade him for any defensive back in the league right now."

The no-huddle offense and the run and shoot and other four-receiver formations were used extensively this summer and will apparently get a workout during the regular season, perhaps in ever-increasing numbers.

The innovations represent some of the most drastic changes in a game that is always changing--but seldom so strikingly.

Among other teams, the Raiders rode the no-huddle to a third-quarter touchdown against San Diego Saturday.

Its purpose is to keep defensive specialists off the field. Because every NFL team uses no-huddle plays in its two-minute offense, it isn't hard to incorporate into the game plan, Coach Sam Wyche of the Cincinnati Bengals said.

As for the run and shoot, Houston and the Detroit Lions expect to stay with it, they said this week, until somebody stops it.

Pardee was considered the most conservative of all coaches before he embraced the run and shoot in 1984 as the leader of the USFL's Houston Gamblers.

"I decided after coaching the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins (in 1975-80) that when I took another team, it would be a passing team.

"So I researched the best of them and saw that just passing isn't enough. You've got to get rid of the ball fast to have a good passing attack these days when there are so many blitzers around.

"I saw films of two kinds of quick-passing teams--Bill Walsh's and the Mouse Davis' run and shoot--and I decided to hire (as an assistant) whoever I could get from those (systems).

"I tried Walsh first, but nobody was available. Then I called Mouse, and he said, 'Sure, I'll be there tomorrow.' "

So Pardee, in his third NFL coaching tour, is in the run and shoot instead of 49er football.

June Jones of Detroit, the passing expert who works with Davis on Coach Wayne Fontes' staff, said football fans seem to be comfortable with the run and shoot because it doesn't look as radical as it is.

"Our quarterback doesn't do a lot of rolling out or running around," Jones said. "He usually drops straight back for a couple of steps before rolling out a couple of steps. If you aren't paying close attention, he looks like a dropback passer.

"And most fans don't know the difference between tight ends and wide receivers. We look a good deal like a mainstream football team out there. We just think we can get better results than a mainstream team."

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