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THE NFL / BILL PLASCHKE : For the Shulas, the Son Is Rising, Thanks to Blake

October 21, 1995|BILL PLASCHKE

Nothing but notes . . .

STUFF

Does anybody else think that Dave Shula is saving his job while Don Shula is losing his? . . . The Cincinnati Bengals' Jeff Blake has been the most exciting passer of the first half of the season. You ask us, the Miami Dolphins' Dan Marino has been one of the most disappointing. Vinny Testaverde has thrown more touchdown passes. And Marino has a worse interception percentage than one-armed Drew Bledsoe.

Yet expect Marvin Demoff, the agent who is known around the league as "the Monsignor" because everyone tells him their secrets--and he keeps them--to finish a deal soon that will make Marino the highest-paid player in the league. More than $6 million a year for about five years should do it. Considering that the only top quarterback prospect is currently a college sophomore--Peyton Manning of Tennessee--and that Marino's backup is about 100 years old, the guy is probably worth it.

The Dolphins have bigger problems than their tough quarterback, who figures to return for next week's showdown with the Buffalo Bills. . . . The running game has gone south again--it has accounted for fewer than 50 yards in three of the last four games, including 28 yards against a team that ranked 28th in the league in run defense, the New Orleans Saints. The Dolphin players think the problem is that offensive coordinator Gary Stevens is reluctant to develop a running sequence and stick with it. Players think he is so used to dealing with an ineffective line and backs, he doesn't know how to coordinate for the sort of power game that could be possible with a big guy like Terry Kirby.

Things are also heating up again around defensive coordinator Tom Olivadotti, who should be fired after the season if he fails to maximize one of the best lineups in the league. Or perhaps the person fired should be the one who signed off on Terrell Buckley, still burned consistently, even though he plays only on passing downs.

The fans hated him in Green Bay but they hate him worse in South Florida. "It's just always 'Get Terrell Buckley Day,' " Buckley said. Yeah, for the opposing teams. . . . After putting this year's hottest free agent, Deion Sanders, in their defensive backfield, the Dallas Cowboys will probably lose next year's hottest free agent from the secondary. Darren Woodson, the league's best strong safety, can surely not remain in Dallas under the salary cap. . . . And Emmitt Smith will go next. Bets are already being taken on the length of next year's training camp holdout.

MORE STUFF

Does anybody else think that teams using alternating "change-of-pace" running backs--as the Pittsburgh Steelers and St. Louis Rams do--are simply trying to hide that they don't trust one guy to do it all? Funny, but Smith doesn't need anybody to help him change the pace. He can do it on the same run.

This thing with the Steelers' Kordell Stewart smells rotten.

A white quarterback is drafted in the second round, he struggles in training camp, so what? He should become a third stringer and stay there the entire season while he learns. Rob Johnson in Jacksonville, Chad May in Minnesota, Stoney Case in Arizona.

But what happens to Stewart, who is black? At the first sign of trouble, he is moved to wide receiver. The Steelers claim injuries forced the switch and he is still a quarterback, he still attends quarterback meetings . . . but he practices at wide receiver, and he played there Thursday against the Bengals. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and sounds like a duck . . .

Although the Steelers are owned by the liberal Dan Rooney and run by highly respected executive Tom Donahoe, this is dangerously close to what Warren Moon is talking about when he says black quarterbacks fight subconscious stereotypes even today.

It's a shame we live in a society in which Jeff Blake brags that he has never played anything other than quarterback. Blake, of course, was released by Pete Carroll and the New York Jets last season before he became a star.

Instead of the black kid from East Carolina, Carroll decided upon the white kid from Boston College. Surely you remember Glenn Foley?

STUFF LIGHT

Does anybody else think that with tight end Keith Jackson now in uniform, the Green Bay Packers are the second-best team in the NFC? A distant second, though. . . . On the eve of contract negotiations designed to keep reborn quarterback Jim Harbaugh in Indianapolis, Harbaugh said, "I'm just a grinder. If I were a horse, I would be a mudder. I'm never going to look like Dan Marino, Steve Young or Troy Aikman. . . . I'm the king of uglitude."

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