Weird or not, the Looney Tunes lead the NFL with 47 quarterback sacks. "We're the same four guys we were last season," Ehrmann says, "but you don't sack any quarterbacks when you're down 21-0 real quick, and the other club stays on the ground. We're cocky now. If the situation is right, we'll say, 'Hey, let's mess with their heads.' We run about 20 stunts a game, and the other club never knows how many of us are coming—or from where."
According to Ehrmann, John Dutton is the wildest member of the Looney Tunes. "John's different," Ehrmann says. "He was conditioned to winning at Nebraska. I went to Syracuse, Mike Barnes went to Miami of Florida and Freddy Cook went to Southern Mississippi, and we played for bad teams and got conditioned to losing. Dutton always complains to the referees a lot. Barnes is my roommate, a quiet guy. He's a gourmet cook, too, and can make pizza from scratch, which probably is why most of the guys come over on poker nights. Freddy Cook is a beautiful guy, mild, easy, with a lot of depth. He's someone you'd like to fix up with your sister."
While the Baltimore front four torments rival quarterbacks, Kunz and company rarely permit the opposition to make unannounced visits to Jones. "The old rap against me," Jones says, "was that I bailed out of the pocket too quickly and ran too much with the ball. Well, when you don't have any protection, you don't stay in there and get killed. Now I can stay in the pocket all day." Operating with that protection, Jones has completed 59.1% of his passes, thrown for 17 touchdowns, had only seven interceptions and become a big-play specialist.
"Our offensive philosophy has not been what I expected," Marchibroda says. "I thought we'd play more ball control, but Bert has that explosive quality, so we've designed our game plans around what he can do, not what we'd like him to do." Baltimore trails only the O.J. Bills in the NFL's scoring derby.
After practice last Saturday, Jones and his girl friend Danni Dupuis, who was up from Louisiana for the holidays, stopped off at Johnny Unitas' Golden Arm restaurant for lunch. "Never did it dawn on me that I wouldn't be a pro quarterback," Jones said. "I played center for the sixth grade team when I was in the fourth grade, but that was it. I was a pitcher in baseball, and the way the progression went, the pitcher always seemed to be the quarterback." During his high school summers, Jones lived at the training camps of the Cleveland Browns, for whom his father Dub was an offensive coach, and picked up quarterback tips from Frank Ryan and Jim Ninowski. "Back home my mother charted all my high school games play by play and mailed them off to Daddy in Cleveland," he said. "Then he'd call me, and we'd discuss what I did and why I did it."
Jones had an erratic career at LSU, mostly because Coach Charley McLendon had not discovered the forward pass, and when Jones didn't play like a boy Unitas in his first two seasons with the Colts, there was talk around Baltimore that he must be another dumb quarterback from Louisiana like that Terry Bradshaw.' 'Then Bradshaw won the Super Bowl," said Jones, "and he wasn't so dumb anymore. He's a beauty, though; you're with him at six o'clock and he says he'll pick you up at eight, then you won't see him again for two weeks."
Shortly after Marchibroda moved to Baltimore he summoned Jones from Louisiana for six weeks of skull sessions. "Ted did a mental job on me," Jones said. "We studied films, playbooks, theory, the whole thing. We even graded the other clubs we'd be playing and figured how we might attack them." Jones lives with his football flicks, studying them each night and, he insists, even over his morning coffee. "What it has all come down to is that now I know the reasons why we do things in a game. I never had that concept before. Things worked at times, but I didn't know why.
"Another thing, now there's an air of what I say goes. But there's a new rap against me. People claim I don't see my secondary receivers. Heck, when I throw 30 or so passes a game, I probably go to a secondary receiver 28 times. Ah, I guess you can't win."
Jones passed almost perfectly against the Kansas City Chiefs, missing only a little flare-out to Mitchell, and, of course, he did win. So what was Doughty's poetic prediction for this week's game against the New York Giants? "We're seven and four!" he shouted, "and going for more."