"A running quarterback like Landry demoralizes a defense," Walker says. "Say it's third and six and he drops back to pass and your coverage is perfect. He tucks the ball away and runs for eight and the first down. Now you have done everything right, no one missed an assignment and still they got the first down. So after a while you start making adjustments and the adjustments leave gaps in the defense and he takes advantage of the gaps."
Chuck Knox, coach of the Lion offensive line, points out another benefit of having a running quarterback. "The defensive lines are so big and so quick now that a lot of clubs have to keep their running backs in to help protect the passer," he says. "That means you're only sending out three receivers into zone coverage, and they stand very little chance of getting open. But with Greg, the rush is inhibited by the chance he will run, so we can release our running backs into the passing patterns."
As of this year, the Cowboys, with Staubach, and the Saints, with Archie Manning, could utilize the option and the quarterback draw, but Manning has been injured much of the season and Dallas Coach Tom Landry, although an innovator in many respects, strongly disapproves of running quarterbacks.
"I like to run," Greg Landry says. "When I came up, Coach Schmidt used to tell me to stay in the pocket. I remember in one game last year I ran four or five times and when the game was over, he said, 'Greg, I told you not to run so much.' 'I know, Coach,' I said. 'I'm sorry.' He looked at me for a minute, then he said, 'If you keep it up, we'll do something to stop it.' "
The following week, despite Schmidt's warning, Landry ran seven times and gained 77 yards. After the game, which the Lions won, Schmidt cornered him. "I said, 'I didn't mean to run, Coach,' " says Landry. "He said, 'You remember what I said last week?' I nodded, figuring he was going to get on me again, but he just grinned and said, 'Well, forget it. Run whenever you want to.' "
When he was an All-Conference quarterback at Massachusetts, Landry ran about as often as he threw the ball. His indoctrination into the complexity of attacking a pro defense came when he played for the College All-Stars against the Packers in 1968, and his coach in that game was one of the nonrunningest quarterbacks in the history of pro football, Norman Van Brocklin, now the Atlanta coach.
Van Brocklin, however, did not try to inhibit Landry, a big youngster who looks so much like Gomer Pyle that the Lions have nicknamed him Gomer—to his disgust. He is remarkably self-confident for a 24-year-old in his fourth season, a quality he may have picked up from Van Brocklin, who exudes it.
"I remember one thing about that All-Star Game," says Landry. "I hit Charlie Sanders between two defensive backs and I had to drill the ball low, so there wouldn't be any chance of an interception. When I came to the sidelines after we had to punt, Van Brocklin patted me on the back. 'Hell of a pass, kid,' he told me. 'There's only one other quarterback I know who could have completed that pass.' 'Who's that?' I said. 'You're looking at him,' he said."
Landry, of course, has a good arm as well as two good legs; as of Sunday's game, he was the second-leading passer in the NFC. He is also the sneakiest pro quarterback ever, a distinction he gained last season against the Packers. "We were way ahead of Green Bay," he says. "We had the ball on our own 13-yard line and I was just trying to run out the clock. I had called a quick toss to the right in the huddle, but when I got to the line of scrimmage I saw Jim Carter, playing middle linebacker, moving over to his left to stop the play. So I thought to myself, 'What the heck, why not gamble a little.' "
Landry called a sneak, whipped through a wide hole in the Packer line, shrugged off two tackles and was away.