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The NFL
Peter King
November 20, 2000
Special TeamA Trent Green-Bud Carson parlay put the Rams back on track
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November 20, 2000

The Nfl

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Green is also better than most quarterbacks in the league. After four years with the Redskins, he was signed as a free agent in 1999 at the urging of Martz, who had joined the St. Louis staff as offensive coordinator after two seasons as Washington's quarterbacks coach. Green completed 28 passes in 32 attempts during the '99 preseason before a knee injury K.O.'d him for the year. Warner took over, and the rest is history. In the 3� games since Warner was sidelined, Green has completed 63% of his passes for 1,218 yards, with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. Nevertheless, Rams general manager Charlie Armey acknowledged last week that the club will likely deal Green in the off-season.

Warner is expected back for the Nov. 26 game against the Saints. In the meantime Green will try to keep St. Louis rolling while auditioning for potential suitors. "It feels weird and frustrating," says Green. "I was brought here to run the offense at a playoff level, and that's what I'm doing. As much as I wish I could control my fate, I obviously have no say. I know I'll probably be traded. I just hope the Rams send me somewhere that will be a good situation. Until then, I'd like to think I'm putting to rest any doubts about my ability."

Moe in the Motor City
Lions Know Who's in Charge

The shock felt in Detroit when Lions coach Bobby Ross abruptly retired on Nov. 6 was followed almost immediately by disbelief when the team announced it had signed assistant head coach Gary Moeller to a three-year contract to replace Ross. Moeller, who resigned under fire from his last head-coaching job, at Michigan, five years ago and whose primary role in Detroit was working with the linebackers, seemed an appropriate interim choice—but three years? "It had to happen that way because it said to the players that I am the guy," Moeller said last Saturday, on the eve of his debut against the Falcons. "It gave me the authority I needed in that locker room."

The Lions, at 5-4, were in the middle of the NFC playoff race when Ross stepped down, but they had lost two straight games. It was the 23-8 defeat to the Dolphins on Nov. 5 that led to Ross's surprise decision. Conscious of signs that the players had quit on his exacting predecessor, Moeller immediately sought out veterans, such as wideout Herman Moore and defensive end Robert Porcher, to say that he expected them to be more prominent leaders. For effect, he harkened back to his days at Michigan. "I told them that as my upperclassmen—I think they liked it when I said that—this was their team, and they had to get their attitude right," Moeller said. "I don't know if Coach Ross lost them. I do know that they are human beings, and human beings have mood swings over [the course of] a season. But it's their team, and they needed to focus."

In light of Detroit's 13-10 win over Atlanta, it was apparent that by going straight to the players, Moeller had won them over. "I talked to Coach Moe more this week than I did to Coach Ross in his [three-plus years] here," says the outspoken Moore, who clashed with Ross over his diminished role. "A lot of guys here like having a communicator, and Coach Moe did that. He opened lines of communication with us, took the initiative to involve the team. That's priceless."

After a week of noticeably more inspired practices, wide receiver Johnnie Morton was also sold. "Football is fun [again], and when it is, it's easier to play," says Morton. "Before everyone was afraid to make a mistake. Now, it's more related."

After asking Moeller for a bigger role in the offense, Moore caught a team-high five passes for 76 yards against the Falcons, with three receptions coming on an opening drive that gave Detroit a 7-0 lead. Moeller's inspiration was apparent in the play of his defensive veterans as well. Porcher had two sacks, doubling his season total. His lack of production had upset Ross, who had watched Porcher stage a lengthy preseason holdout before signing a four-year, $25 million deal.

One of the sources of Ross's frustration was still evident in the victory over Atlanta. After its 66-yard opening drive Detroit's offense was typically anemic, mustering only 156 yards in the rest of the game. Quarterback Charlie Batch, while missing injured wideout Germane Crowell (broken left foot; not expected back until the end of this month), was awful. Batch completed 12 of 27 passes for 128 yards and threw one interception.

Despite the underwhelming win, Moeller was all smiles. Indeed, he seems particularly happy that this opportunity came in Detroit. Five years ago his highly publicized arrest after an altercation at a suburban Detroit restaurant led to his resignation at Michigan. (He pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct.) He resurfaced a month later as the Bengals' tight-ends coach, then moved to the Lions in '97 as Ross's linebackers coach and confidant. He added the assistant head coach title before this season, and according to a source familiar with the situation, Lions management and Ross had settled on Moeller last January to succeed Ross, probably at the end of this season.

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