Lydell who? Marchibroda shakes Colts image with 44-, 51-point Bills explosions

January 25, 1991|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Evening Sun Staff

TAMPA, Fla. -- Ted Marchibroda can quote you numbers, names and places. He can tell you how his offense led the NFL in scoring in Los Angeles, Washington, Baltimore and Buffalo. He can point to the three division titles he won in five years under the meddling thumb of Bob Irsay.

And still he can't wipe the stain of conservatism from hi coaching collar.

Or couldn't, anyway, until he arrived amid great fanfare in Supe Bowl XXV with the Buffalo Bills. Here in this sleepy coastal town, Marchibroda, coordinator of the most feared offense in football, is suddenly being held up to a new, invigorating light.

If the Bills' no-huddle offense plunders the tenacious New Yor Giants' defense Sunday at Tampa Stadium (kickoff 6:18 p.m., Ch. 13), Marchibroda may come to be regarded as an offensive genius.

If the no-huddle offense defaults and the Bills are bounced, h may take a seat next to Mouse Davis, the creator and fervent promoter of the Run-and-Shoot offense. "Nice gadget, but show us something that will work against a top-notch defense," is what the critics will sneer.

While Marchibroda gets credit for his version of the hurry-u offense, it was Cincinnati coach Sam Wyche who actually introduced the no-huddle two years ago. Wyche, however, was more interested in gaining transition-type penalties against his opponent. Marchibroda has refined it into a viable offense.

In the last two weeks, Marchibroda's no-huddle scheme ha become the smoking pistol of NFL offense. Hot, hot, hot.

Under quarterback Jim Kelly's guidance, it raked the Miam Dolphins for 493 yards and 44 points. Then it obliterated the Los Angeles Raiders with 502 yards and 51 points.

Marchibroda insists that the no-huddle is no playoff mirage, tha it's here to stay.

"I'm not sure why everybody isn't doing it," he said yesterday "Maybe everybody will.

"It is [going to last] because it's sound football. It's somethin that will be used by many others. There has to be a first time . . . somebody has to start it."

*

"Hey, diddle, diddle;

"It's Lydell up the middle."

That was the plaintive cry in Memorial Stadium more than decade ago. Marchibroda's Baltimore Colts offense combined the dink pass with Lydell Mitchell bursts into the line.

It was good enough to win three division titles for Irsay's team but the residue of safety-first football left Marchibroda with the reputation of a conservative coach.

The delicious irony for Baltimoreans as Super Bowl XX approaches, then, is that their once-cautious taskmaster is now the architect of the NFL's most dynamic offensive attack.

Which image is perception, which is reality?

"When I was with Los Angeles, we led the league in scoring, Marchibroda said. "When I was with Washington, we led the league in scoring. We led the league in scoring in Baltimore, and we led the league in scoring here the last two years.

"The important thing in football is winning. If conservative footbal gets into the playoffs, I'm happy [to be called conservative].

"Am I conservative? I won all these years with different clubs."

Marchibroda has another way of refuting the charge. "If you hav a reputation as an early riser," he said, "you can sleep until noon."

Marchibroda has been offensive coordinator for six different NF teams, four of them since he was fired in 1979 by the Colts.

Curiously, the only chance he had to take a head coaching jo since then was when the USFL was trying to make its ill-fated jump from spring to fall in 1986. Carl Peterson was lining up

Marchibroda to coach the Baltimore Stars when the bottom dropped out and the league folded.

It is also ironic that while Marchibroda holds the NFL's hottes hand right now, it is one of his former Colts assistants, Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick, who is being touted for the vacant Cleveland Browns job.

Marchibroda, who turns 60 in March, doesn't begrudg Belichick's shot. Nor does he bemoan his own plight.

"Billy deserves it," Marchibroda said. "He's a hard-workin son-of-a-gun. He's got character. The fact he was with us [in 1975] makes it special.

"I'm happy to be in the situation I'm in. I've been a head coach. won my division three times in five years. I've been there. If I'd lost when I was head coach, it would have devastated me. If dTC you're a happy assistant coach and winning games and you've got responsibility, it's a good job.

"I tell my quarterbacks here it's better to be a backup on winning team than a starter on a losing club. It's the same situation with me. We're a winning club."

Another man might have become embittered to be fired afte winning as much as he did in Baltimore (Marchibroda's Colts were 41-36, winning 29 of 33 games during one stretch). But he says he hasn't.

"Hey, I won. I accomplished more than I thought. Had I not don that, I might have been bitter."

For now, Marchibroda will content himself to chase the on carrot that has eluded him, a Super Bowl championship. He participated in Super Bowl VII with Allen and the losing Redskins.

This Sunday is another story. The Giants represent the ultimat acid test for his no-huddle offense. It's the best offense in the league against the best defense. Winner takes the spoils.

"I don't expect [another scoring orgy] against the Giants, Marchibroda said. "They're the best defensive team in football right now.

"I know somebody is going to stop us eventually. I hope it last another week. But it's a sound offense. And it won't go away because somebody stopped it."

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