Final note: Add about two wins to my 8-8 forecast for the Saints. For some reason I always pick them too low.
The carnival goes on. Saturday night. Oct. 10, 1992: Deion Sanders plays for the Atlanta Braves in the World Series, flies to Miami and lines up at right cornerback for the ATLANTA FALCONS against the Dolphins. Sanders leads the Braves with a .533 World Series baiting average and makes the Pro Bowl for the Falcons as a cornerback, but he could have made it as a kick returner, too. At the other corner number 22 Tim McKyer is beaten so often they are calling him Highway 22. He leaves Atlanta, bad-mouthing his teammates and the organization.
Nov. 15, 1992: Billy Joe Tolliver, backup quarterback for the injured Chris Miller, gets into it with Falcon coach Jerry Glanville after he's pulled from the game. December '92: Wade Wilson starts the final three games and passes for 10 TDs and more than 1,000 yards. Where has he been? On the bench after Minnesota cut him. Now It's '93, and where's he headed? New Orleans, which supplied Hebert to back up Miller this year. And on it goes, as the fans jam the brand-new Georgia Dome. The Falcons finished last in total defense last season. Atlanta was 0-8 against playoff teams, but its Red Gun offense crushed the weakies, 34-0 over New England, 35-7 over the Bucs.
Free agency brought in former 49er defensive end Pierce Holt, Redskin tackle Jumpy Geathers and Lion cornerback Melvin Jenkins. The draft supplied Lincoln Kennedy to step in at guard on an offensive line that had lost Bill Fralic and Houston Hoover. Eric Dickerson arrived to address the nonexistent running game. The organization would be better off if personnel director Ken Herock weren't caught in a squeeze between Glanville and the reigning Smith family. It's a circus.
On the LOS ANGELES RAMS, the top two wideouts, Henry Ellard and Willie Anderson, finished 54th and 77th, respectively, among the NFL's pass catchers, which isn't much help for quarterback Jim Everett, who is trying to battle his way back to respectability. The leading runner and receiver on the Rams, tailback Cleveland Gary, held out for much of camp. The defense got pushed around. Where do you start?
Well, Chuck Knox is a methodical guy, so this year the offense gets the attention. Top draft Jerome Bettis must make the switch from fullback at Notre Dame to tailback, stationed seven yards deep. No problem, say the Rams. We'll see. Troy Drayton looks like a promising pass catcher at the "move" tight end position, or U-back. Scan LaChapelle is expected to be the possession wideout, and Cal tailback Russell White could see action if the Rams decide to run the ball by committee.
The offensive line, which lost two starters via free agency and has the NFL's second-oldest player, Jackie Slater, manning the right tackle post, is a subject for next year. The defense? The Rams are hoping the young guys will mature—or something. It's a long road back.
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