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Houston Oiler owner Bud Adams says, "We've got to do it this year. Next season it'll be a whole new ball game." Translation: Adams is shooting the works at a Super Bowl shot. The 1994 salary cap, however, could scramble everything, the Oilers included.
More from Adams: "I've learned that you can't have all nice guys. You've got to mix in some renegades and reprobates. Leaders are what I want."
Jittery over organizational power struggles, mortified by the way they blew a 35-3 lead to Buffalo in a conference wild-card game, not to mention four other fourth-quarter leads last year, the Oilers are getting ready for a wild year.
Ryan said the defense would be Super Bowl quality if he could get his old Bear linebacker, Wilber Marshall, from the Redskins. The deal was made, and Marshall will be flying to the ball from the weak side, as he did in Chicago. He'll lead a typical Ryan mayhem defense. No more of the soft zones that allowed Buffalo to come back against the Oilers and cost coordinator Jim Eddy his job.
The Oilers will present a different mix from what we've become used to. Dominating defenses usually are paired with muscle offenses. It has something to do with toughness on the practice field. But the Oilers are committed to the run-and-shoot whether Ryan likes it or not.
The book says the run-and-shoot gets better as people become more familiar with it, and by now Warren Moon can run it in his sleep. But he's 36 years old and has taken his share of hits. One very unfair rap on Moon is that he choked against Buffalo. Hey, in the fourth quarter, after the Bills staged their comeback stampede and the Rich Stadium crowd was going wild, Moon twice drove the Oilers the length of the Held to send the game into overtime. A receiver made a wrong cut, Ernest Givins got mugged on his pattern, Moon had a pass intercepted, and, as a result, the quarterback had to take eight months of heat. Well, I like a high-scoring offense backed up by a Ryan defense. I like the Oilers for the Super Bowl.
Question No. 1: When you draft as low as the PITTSBURGH STEELKRS did (23rd), how do you wind up with so many good rookies? I mean defensive backs Deon Figures and Willie Williams, who are all over the field; a pair of active inside linebackers, Reggie Barnes and Chad Brown, defensive ends Ricky Sutton and Kevin Henry; and nose-tackle Jeff Zgonina, who bears a strong resemblance to a young Tim Krumrie.
Question No. 2: When you've got a good defense in place, why is all the help coming on that side of the ball? Don't forget that the Steelers wasted no time in making up for the loss of linebacker Jerrol Williams by grabbing the Rams' pass-rush specialist, Kevin Greene. Maybe the answer is that Steeler coach Bill Cowher is an old linebacker, and there's nothing that pleases him more than watching all those black shirts piling up at the point of attack.
While the defenders rest, Barry Foster and the crunching ground attack will move the sticks. Heavy perimeter blocking behind tight ends Eric Green and Adrian Cooper and fullback Merril Hoge is the key in that department.