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Times Nfl Writer T.j. Simers Poses--and Answers--the Burning Questions On Game Day

November 23, 1997|T.J. SIMERS

1. Question: Jimmy Johnson has Craig Erickson backing up Dan Marino in Miami, but what does he think about the drop-off in quarterback talent around the league?

Answer: "If you're going to have a winning football team, you have to have a winning quarterback," Johnson said. "That's the starting point, the number one spot. It doesn't have to be a Pro Bowl quarterback, but he has to be good enough to make plays and avoid the bad play.

"A young quarterback is going to have problems, but I think [playing young quarterbacks] accelerates their development rather than being a problem. I see Jake Plummer playing in Arizona. The experience he is getting right now, even though at times it is frustrating, is going to make him that much of a better player down the road. I disagree with some of the quarterback gurus. Steve McNair at Houston, I would have thrown him into the lineup right off the bat. If he's going to be their guy, let him be their guy.

"If it costs you a couple of ballgames one year, it may pay dividends the next year. What's the difference between winning seven or five? The difference might be that you win five that one year, but the next year, you may be in the playoffs."

2. Q: Why will Pittsburgh Coach Bill Cowher be more emotional than ever today?

A: Cowher played his last football game in Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium in 1984, injuring a knee on a second-quarter kickoff return while blocking in the wedge for the Eagles against the 49ers. Cowher never played again, and a year later was hired by then-Cleveland coach Marty Schottenheimer to work with the Browns' special teams.

Had he never hurt that knee, "I could be teaching school," Cowher said. "I remember the spot and I remember the play."

3. Q: What's the deal with Raider defensive lineman Chester McGlockton?

A: McGlockton, famous for jumping offside, did so against San Diego although everyone in the stadium knew Charger quarterback Craig Whelihan was going to spike the ball. Dumb?

No, heroic. McGlockton realized that Raider linebacker teammate Mike Morton had hurt his back, and figured the Chargers, who were sitting at the nine-yard line, would pick on Morton and try to score. Morton was trying to be tough because the Raiders were out of timeouts and the team would have been penalized for stopping the clock to treat him.

So McGlockton stepped offside and took the penalty, allowing Morton to go to the sideline. Morton went on injured reserve because of a ruptured disk, and as he said later, "Chet got beat up a lot over jumping offsides, but he was just looking out for me; if they had run a play at me, I would have gotten killed."

4. Q: Who is having the best defensive year, and going unnoticed?

A: Seattle linebacker Chad Brown, who lost a shoe against New Orleans, but held his ground to stuff the Saints on third and one for no gain.

Brown has missed only one of the Seahawks' 674 defensive plays even though he is asked to take on big blockers, drop into coverages and rush from the defensive end position in every nickel passing situation.

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