HIGH FLYIN' BIRDS THE EAGLES ARE OFF TO A 6-2 START THAT IS A TRIBUTE TO THEIR NO-NONSENSE COACH, RAY RHODES

November 04, 1996

The fans were chanting his name and leaning way out over the
stadium's railing with their arms extended, hoping, perhaps, to
touch him as he passed by. And when Eagles coach Ray Rhodes saw
them as he headed off the field on Sunday at Veterans Stadium in
Philadelphia, he responded the same way he has to just about
everything else he has faced throughout his life. He clenched
his teeth, lowered his head and plowed right on through the
crowd without so much as a glance away from his path.

That approach first served him well in the 1960s, when Rhodes
helped integrate the high school in his tiny hometown of Mexia,
Texas, and later, during his seven-year career as an
overachieving 10th-round pick in the NFL, where he was a wide
receiver for three seasons with the Giants before converting to
cornerback. He assumed the same straight-ahead stance in his 12
years as an assistant coach with the San Francisco 49ers, with
whom he won five Super Bowl rings. And there was no change in
his demeanor when the Eagles made him the third black head coach
in NFL history in 1995, nor any flowery embrace of success when
he won NFL Coach of the Year honors after going to the playoffs
in his first season with a ragtag team that had lost its last
seven games in 1994.

And Rhodes acted no differently on Sunday after his team had
pounded out a 20-9 win over the Carolina Panthers, improving to
6-2, a game behind the Redskins in the NFC East at the season's
midpoint. "I've gone through life like somebody's got a loaded
.38 pointed at my head," says Rhodes. "And I say to myself, I
have got no choice but to do this. I must succeed."

That kind of drive is what causes Rhodes to sometimes forget to
eat during the season. He does not sleep, either, according to
his wife, Carmen; instead he lies still in bed for a few hours
each night and "watches film in his mind," she says. He'll then
rise, as early as 2 a.m., and venture back to his office inside
the Vet, spurred on, perhaps, by the framed Super Bowl posters
on the office's wall--a constant reminder of his expectations
for the Eagles.

On Sunday, as he marched out of his postgame press conference,
Rhodes passed quarterback Ty Detmer, who, exhausted and
battered, had been waiting for his turn to meet the press, and
maybe bask in the spotlight after four years as a backup in
Green Bay. In light of Detmer's performance--he had 23
completions in 38 attempts for 342 yards while under extreme,
and sometimes painful, pressure from Carolina's blitzing
defense--a hug, a smile or a kind word might have been in order.
Instead Rhodes just barked at him not to brag in front of the
media.

It was classic Rhodes. As was the entire game, which featured
his trademark brand of physical football and highlighted, once
again, his skills as a talent evaluator, strategist and master
motivator. For starters, consider this: Last year Rhodes won
with quarterback Rodney Peete (a six-year flop in Detroit and
Dallas), but this season Peete was hurt in Week 5, and now
Rhodes is winning with a quarterback nicknamed Chicken Legs.

Rhodes's demanding style, it seems, has even rubbed off on the
six-foot, 194-pound Detmer. The former Heisman Trophy winner
engaged in a running trash-talk dialogue with Panthers
linebacker Lamar Lathon, who's 6'3" and weighs 260 pounds.
Detmer now has five touchdown passes in his last two games,
after having thrown only one in the previous four years.

The real strength of the Eagles, though, is their defense. Three
times Carolina drove inside the Philadelphia 21-yard line, and
all the Panthers had to show for it was a field goal. So staunch
was the Eagle D that the 5-3 Panthers converted on just two
third downs.

Rhodes's stamp can be seen everywhere on the defense. Carolina's
first drive stalled at the 15 when, on fourth-and-inches, rookie
linebacker Ray Farmer, taken by Rhodes in the fourth round out
of Duke, and tackle Kevin Johnson, a guy who was working in an
L.A. liquor store only two years ago, shot the left tackle gap
and snuffed running back Anthony Johnson for no gain. The
Panthers' final threat ended at the Philadelphia four when
cornerback Troy Vincent, whom the Eagles signed as a free agent
last March, forced his second fumble of the day, popping the
ball out of the hands of quarterback Kerry Collins.

A fifth-year veteran and a former first-round draft choice of
the Dolphins, Vincent traded in the sunshine of Miami for the
snowplows and sourpusses in Philadelphia after just one meeting
with Rhodes. "The best decision I ever made was to play for this
man," says Vincent. "You can feel the fire he has to win. And he
instills it in you. You listen to him speak before a game, and
pretty soon you go, 'Yeah, yeah, I'm gonna go out there and kick
somebody's ass.'"

Rhodes is also the reason why Irving Fryar, another former
Dolphin, signed with the Eagles as a free agent in March. The
34-year-old wideout has 15 catches for 259 yards and four
touchdowns in his last two games. It was Fryar's pretty 42-yard
slant in the first quarter that set up the Eagles' first score,
a three-yard punch-in by running back Ricky Watters. Watters,
who won a Super Bowl ring with Rhodes in San Francisco, was one
of Rhodes's first free-agent acquisitions a year ago, and he's
now the NFC's second-leading rusher, with 782 yards and seven
TDs. "If there was no Ray Rhodes in Philly, there'd be no Ricky
Watters," says Watters. "He's no trophy-piece coach, he's a
fighter."

Watters nearly found that out the hard way on Sunday. With
Carolina stacking up to seven defenders between the tackles,
Rhodes had to abandon his running game almost immediately, which
clearly agitated Watters. After throwing a towel and snapping at
his teammates, Watters started whining to Rhodes. The coach took
him by the elbow and calmly, yet firmly, explained the
situation. Watters then reentered the game, dutifully serving as
an extra backfield blocker without further incident. And Rhodes
returned to his usual stance. Jaw locked, head bowed, he was
ready to mow down the next challenge.

COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS Detmer threw more TD passes in the last two weeks than he did in four years in Green Bay. [Ty Detmer and others in game] COLOR PHOTO: SCOTT WACHTER Simeon Rice A+ COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS Eddie George A+ COLOR PHOTO: ANDY HAYT Like many Raiders, Jackson was a big hit on Monday night TV. [Television set showing Bo Jackson on screen during Monday Night Football]

COMING UP

EAGLES AT COWBOYS

Dallas won't be facing the same Ty Detmer who replaced the
injured Rodney Peete at quarterback and struggled in a Sept. 30
loss. This Detmer is 3-0 as a starter and has thrown for 246
yards a game. How far can he take the Eagles? Watch how he
handles the NFL's best pass defense.

BRONCOS AT OAKLAND

Denver's Terrell Davis may be getting more publicity, but the
Raiders' own second-year runner, Napoleon Kaufman, is netting an
NFL-high 6.3 yards per carry. Oakland has had a bye week to
prepare for the AFC's top team, and should not be underestimated
at home on a Monday night.

CHIEFS AT VIKINGS

Kansas City's defense yielded 499 yards in Sunday's loss at
Denver, its most porous performance since 1990, when the Oilers
(led by current Vikings quarterback Warren Moon) rolled up 563.

RAMS AT STEELERS

Pittsburgh running back Jerome Bettis welcomes his former team
to Three Rivers Stadium. Steelers fans have taken to calling the
burly Bettis, who is averaging 4.5 yards per carry, the Bus.
Rams fans may soon take to calling his replacement, rookie
Lawrence Phillips (2.7 per carry), the Bust.

BENGALS AT RAVENS

This matchup will have an Erie feel to it. The former Cleveland
Browns welcome the team that, should it fail to get a new
stadium in Cincinnati, may very well be the next Cleveland Browns.

ROOKIE REPORT CARD

Keyshawn Johnson can be disruptive. Jermane Mayberry spends too
much time in the nurse's office. And Eddie George is destroying
the grading curve. Halfway through their rookie seasons, here's
an assessment of this year's 30 first-round picks:

1 KEYSHAWN JOHNSON, WR, Jets B
Undeniable, though petulant, talent who leads team in TDs (5)
despite having missed two games

2 KEVIN HARDY, LB, Jaguars A
Last year's Butkus Award winner is tied for team lead in
interceptions (2 ) and has three sacks

3 SIMEON RICE, DE, Cardinals A+
September's defensive rookie of the month has five sacks;
stronger against run than advertised

4 JONATHAN OGDEN, OG, Ravens B
Very strong pass blocker who's helping quarterback Vinny
Testaverde have a career year

5 CEDRIC JONES, DE, Giants F
Following off-season corneal transplant in left eye, has only
seven tackles and no sacks as a sub

6 LAWRENCE PHILLIPS, RB, Rams D-
His 2.7 yards per carry is the second-lowest average for any
back with 50-plus carries

7 TERRY GLENN, WR, Patriots A
Despite slow start, leads all rookie receivers in receptions
(37) and receiving yardage (497)

8 TIM BIAKABUTUKA, RB, Panthers I*
Was team's leading rusher (229 yards) before suffering
season-ending knee injury in fourth game

9 RICKEY DUDLEY, TE, Raiders B
Already being called the NFL's most athletic tight end; has 14
receptions and four TDs

10 WILLIE ANDERSON, OT, Bengals D
Came to camp too heavy at 346 pounds and joined an offensive
line that has allowed 29 sacks

11 ALEX MOLDEN, CB, Saints C-
Has yet to displace frequently burned 5'7", 148-pound Mark
McMillian on the depth chart

12 REGAN UPSHAW, DE, Buccaneers B-
"I won't have done anything till I have at least 10 sacks a
year," says Upshaw, who's way short with 1 1/2

13 WALT HARRIS, CB, Bears B
Has only one interception and is fifth on the team with 49 tackles

14 EDDIE GEORGE, RB, Oilers A+
More than 200 yards ahead of pace of last year's top rookie
backs, Curtis Martin and Terrell Davis

15 JOHN MOBLEY, LB, Broncos B
Has 43 tackles for the AFC's top-ranked defense, proving
Kutztown U prepared him well

16 DUANE CLEMONS, DE, Vikings D
Intercepted two passes and recovered two fumbles in preseason
but has barely played since

17 REGGIE BROWN, LB, Lions I*
Missed first five games with knee injury; started the sixth and
reinjured knee; now he's back

18 EDDIE KENNISON, WR, Rams A-
League-leading punt returner (20.5-yard average) unfortunately
plays for team with league's worst D

19 MARVIN HARRISON, WR, Colts B
Has cooled off after hot start, with only 12 catches in last
four games, for total of 27

20 DARYL GARDENER, DT, Dolphins B-
Eclipsed by fellow Dolphins rookies Karim Abdul-Jabbar and Zach
Thomas, but still solid

21 PETE KENDALL, OG, Seahawks I*
Given excused absences for fractured thumb, sprained knee
ligament and pulled calf muscle

22 MARCUS JONES, DT, Buccaneers C
Has more tackles than fellow Bucs rookie Upshaw, but hyper
nature has cost him playing time

23 JEFF HARTINGS, OG, Lions B
Ended contract holdout on Sept. 27; 16 days later, played entire
game and didn't allow a sack

24 ERIC MOULDS, WR, Bills C
Valuable so far only on special teams, where he averages 22.4
yards per kickoff return

25 JERMANE MAYBERRY, OT, Eagles I*
Lost 25 pounds after developing pneumonia, then asthma; recently
activated but has barely played

26 RAY LEWIS, LB, Ravens C+
Pursues extremely well but, at 235 pounds, must bulk up to
handle middle linebacker duties

27 JOHN MICHELS, OT, Packers C
Handed large responsibility at left tackle and has done so-so
job of watching Brett Favre's back

28 JEROME WOODS, CB, Chiefs C
Not a threat to supplant Dale Carter and James Hasty, but does
have eight tackles on special teams

29 JAMAIN STEPHENS, OT, Steelers I*
Was never intended to be more this year than what he is, a
project on the inactive list

30 ANDRE JOHNSON, OT, Redskins I*
Also a project, has spent most weeks this season on Washington's
inactive list

*Incomplete

On the very first offensive play of the first game the Oakland
Raiders played on ABC's Monday Night Football, on Oct. 19, 1970,
they served notice that they were a team to watch in prime time.
Quarterback Daryle Lamonica handed off to running back Hewritt
Dixon, who raced 39 yards for a touchdown, and the Raiders went
on to beat the Redskins 34-20. Over the years, no team in the
NFL has owned Monday night like the Raiders, who have played the
most games (46) in the 26 years of MNF and also have the best
record (32-13-1). And certainly no team has provided as much
good theater. "[Coach] John Madden used to call it The Monday
Night Special," says Pete Banaszak, a Raiders running back from
1966 to '78. "Our team, personality-wise, was like The Dirty
Dozen times four. Playing on Monday nights, when we knew we had
our biggest TV audience, was a way for all our guys to express
themselves."

This week Oakland becomes the first team to play two of its
games in a row on Monday night. After disposing of the San Diego
Chargers 23-14 on Oct. 21 to even their record at 4-4 and get
back in the AFC wild-card race, the Raiders had the week off
before this Monday night's battle with Denver. This seemed like
the perfect opportunity to look back at the most memorable
Monday moments in Raiders history:

1) Nov. 30, 1987, at Seattle: On the way to a 37-14 Raiders win,
running back Bo Jackson scores after leveling rookie Seahawks
linebacker Brian Bosworth--Bo, Boz, Boom--at the goal line in a
play that will forever be remembered as the beginning of the end
of Bosworth's overhyped reputation. "It was a momentous play
because of the men involved," says James Lofton, then a Raiders
wide receiver. "You had Boz, who was this made-for-America star
with the wild haircut, and Bo, who was simply the toughest guy
I've ever been on a football field with. The funny thing about
it is that Bo probably could have avoided him and scored. He
wanted to hit him."

2) Dec. 3, 1979, at New Orleans: The Saints pounce for an early
35-14 lead as Oakland plays without wide receiver Cliff Branch,
benched in the first half for missing a pregame walk-through.
Branch makes amends with two fourth-quarter TD catches as
Oakland scores 28 unanswered points to win 42-35.

3) Dec. 6, 1976, vs. Cincinnati: A Raiders loss will give Cincy
the AFC Central crown and eliminate two-time defending Super
Bowl champ Pittsburgh from the playoffs. Steelers fans take an
ad in the Oakland Tribune imploring the Raiders not to "lay down
against the Bengals." The Raiders don't. They crush Cincinnati
35-20, then go on to beat Pittsburgh in the AFC title game and
win the Super Bowl.

4) Dec. 7, 1981, vs. Pittsburgh: The last Monday-night game in
Oakland before the Raiders' move to L.A., played by teams that
between them have won six of the previous seven Super Bowls. A
fourth-quarter end-zone interception by Lester Hayes allows the
Raiders to escape 30-27.

5) Nov. 22, 1982, vs. San Diego: After two road games and a
57-day players' strike, the Raiders finally host their first
game in L.A.--and watch the Chargers take a 24-0 lead. But Todd
Christensen's eight catches help the Raiders come back to win
28-24.

--John Walters

SIDELINES

What do the Broncos and the Packers have in common besides their
7-1 records? In all of their games, each team has started the
same 11 men on its defense....Redskins running back Terry Allen
has rushed for at least 70 yards in 13 straight games, a streak
currently bettered only by Dallas's Emmitt Smith (16)....After
studying film, the Bengals figured out that whenever
Jacksonville tried an onside kick, cornerback Dave Thomas was
the special-teamer designated to reach the ball first. So when
the Jaguars attempted one with 1:35 left in Sunday's game,
Cincinnati sent three players after Thomas, who suffered a
broken left femur on the play. The Bengals recovered and held on
to win 28-21....Frank Reich has been sacked only once in the
three games since he replaced Neil O'Donnell as the Jets'
starter. Before separating his shoulder in Game 6, O'Donnell was
taken down 18 times....The production of Lions running back
Barry Sanders continues to plummet. He entered Sunday's game
against the Giants--the NFC's second-worst rushing defense--
averaging 85.4 yards per game, 33.2 below his career average.
Sanders gained 47 yards on 16 carries in Detroit's 35-7 loss,
failing for the sixth straight time to pass the 100-yard
mark....Chiefs receivers are fast becoming infamous for
delivering illegal chop blocks downfield. Two weeks ago K.C.'s
Chris Penn threw one at Seahawks linebacker Winston Moss, who
retaliated and was ejected from the game. On Sunday at Denver,
Dale Carter chopped Broncos cornerback Lionel Washington, 36,
who may have suffered a career-ending torn medial collateral
ligament on the play....The Lions' Pete Metzelaars played in his
212th game on Sunday, breaking the NFL record for most games
played at tight end....In a private box at the Kingdome for the
Chargers-Seahawks game: recently released Falcons quarterback
Jeff George. The free agent, who spurned a six-year, $30 million
contract from Seattle in October, was a guest of the
organization. --J.W.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)