THE MAJIK MAN
Last year in Green Bay, fans started calling quarterback Don Majkowski the Majik Man. Not that he performed much magic: The Packers won four games, and Majkowski, a 10th-round draft pick in 1987, threw for only nine touchdowns. The sobriquet simply fit his last name. Now it fits his play as well.
In Week 2, Majkowski rallied Green Bay from a 24-7 second-half deficit to beat New Orleans 35-34. In Week 3, the Pack trailed the Rams 38-7 in the third quarter, and Majkowski almost pulled out that game too, but L.A. won 41-38. On Sunday, Atlanta led Green Bay 21-6 at the start of the fourth quarter. Three scoring drives later, the Packers had a 23-21 victory and a 2-2 record. "I don't know how the guy does it," said Atlanta defensive end Mike Gann after the game. "He gambles a lot." In the second halves of his four games, Majkowski has completed 75% of his passes and has had a huge 128.7 quarterback rating.
Although he has hardly done enough in his career to be considered in Dan Marino's class, the following stats, which compare Majkowski's play over the first quarter of this season with Marino's, are revealing:
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
"I think I can compete consistently with the great quarterbacks." Majkowski says. He thinks a separated shoulder he suffered as a college senior is the main reason he went so low in the draft, and his development was slow last year because of new coach Lindy Infante's complex offense. Now he believes he's ready to shine—without mirrors.
THE (NOT SO) MAGIC FLUTIE
New England owner Victor Kiam will pay his four quarterbacks at least $2.38 million this season. The cash register adds $25,000 to that each time Doug Flutie (base salary: $375,000) starts a game, thanks to a clause in his contract. Although Flutie completed only 15 of 41 throws against Buffalo in his first start of the season, which the Pats lost 31-10, the Patriots will stick with him in part because Steve Grogan, 36, and Marc Wilson, 32, are now strictly insurance guys. The erstwhile starter, Tony Eason, who will turn 30 on the bench Sunday, has probably thrown his last pass for the Pats, who will try to deal him before the Oct. 17 trading deadline. Finding a taker, however, won't be easy. Eason is making $1.1 million and his confidence is shot.
STRATEGIES OF THE WEEK
1) Houston played some eight-defensive-back formations in its 39-7 win over Miami. Result: Marino had his least-productive game—103 yards passing—as a pro. Houston dared Miami to run. It couldn't. In the previous two weeks, San Diego's Jim McMahon (389 yards) and Buffalo's Jim Kelly (363) had enjoyed NFL career-high days against Houston. "We knew if we didn't improve, Marino would throw for 500 yards," says Oiler defensive end William Fuller.
2) Before facing San Francisco, the Rams decided that above all, they had to keep Niner wideouts Jerry Rice and John Taylor from catching deep passes. So L.A. played lots of six-defensive-back schemes and double-covered Rice everywhere. Result: Rice, two catches for 36 yards; Taylor, three catches for 33 yards: Rams 13, San Francisco 12.