McKyer's style, play are perfect fit with Falcons

TURNING THE CORNER

November 10, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

Washington -- It didn't take flamboyant Atlanta Falcons coach Jerry Glanville long to figure out that cornerback Tim McKyer would fit right in with his team.

"I sat down and talked to him, and he had black sunglasses and the top of the frames was covered with snakeskin and the snakeskin matched his [cowboy] boots. I knew he was one of us," Glanville said.

McKyer, whose outspoken ways wore out his welcome in San Francisco and Miami, has found a home in Atlanta with Glanville.

"He's everything we're looking for. He's a little bit too quiet for us. We never hear him speak in practice. He never says a word. We'd like to get him out of his shell," Glanville said.

Glanville apparently was joking, because nobody else has much trouble getting McKyer out of his shell.

McKyer has been taking a lot of potshots recently at his former 49ers teammate Jerry Rice, saying, among other things, that Rice is a "has no class" and is a "big baby."

McKyer so riled 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. that DeBartolo said last month that he'd rather lose without McKyer than win with him. The 49ers managed to do just that, and lost twice to the Falcons this year.

Before the first game, McKyer predicted he would give give up a touchdown pass to Rice and then make a late interception to win the game. He had two late interceptions and then made what the 49ers said were obscene gestures to the San Francisco fans.

McKyer pleaded not guilty.

"All I did was spread my hands to the side like a crucifix, which is what I felt was happening to me. They were trying to crucify me down there. I didn't do one thing that was obscene. I think I went down there, and I kind of in-your-faced them and the team," McKyer said.

Whatever McKyer did or didn't do off the field, there's no question he can play on it and he fits perfectly into Glanville's system.

McKyer said: "Glanville is my kind of coach. We're not clashing. We're not competing. He just wants me to go out and play corner. I like his style, challenge and bump-and-run. All corners need that kind of backing from the head coach, because it's a tough position."

Glanville gives him that kind of backing.

"He makes me look like a better coach. Every time we wanted to do something last year, we gave up a touchdown, and this year we get an interception, so he made me much more intelligent. It takes a lot of good players to make me look like that," Glanville said.

In contrast to the intricate schemes that Richie Petitbon draws up for the Redskins defense, Glanville's philosophy is elementary. He has his two corners -- McKyer and Deion Sanders -- press the wide receivers, and then blitzes.

If his corners can't cover one-on-one, it's easy to burn that defense. If they can -- and Sanders is hurting with a thigh injury, although Glanville says he'll play today against the Redskins -- the style can give an offense fits.

"It'll be one of the toughest games we've faced, because they're coming [blitzing] on almost every down," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "They'll bring everybody, and those games are kind of scary, because it's hard to run on a team like that and you have to hit things passing. If you don't, you get in trouble."

One thing McKyer won't do is knock the Redskins wide receivers -- Art Monk, Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders -- the way he knocks Rice.

"I have nothing controversial to say. I have a lot of respect for them. Those guys can flat out embarrass you," McKyer said.

Glanville said he's worried about the Redskins defense. He doesn't like that Petitbon is getting a chance to prepare for a run-and-shoot team for the second straight week.

The Redskins held the Houston Oilers' run-and-shoot to one touchdown in a 16-13 victory, as they used a variety of defenses.

"Our plan was to give them a lot of different looks to keep them trying to figure out what we were doing. We didn't want to fall into any type of pattern. If you stick with one thing too long, they'll have it figured out," Petitbon said.

The Redskins started out with the normal 4-3-4 alignment, except that middle linebacker Matt Millen was pulled for Kurt Gouveia. Petitbon later switched to a 3-3-5 alignment, inserting rookie Bobby Wilson and veteran Jumpy Geathers up front in a three-man line and adding two cornerbacks, Anthony Johnson and Alvoid Mays, to his secondary while pulling a strong safety.

The Redskins, though, are saying they haven't solved the run-and-shoot, a four-wide-receiver offense without a tight end.

Cornerback Darrell Green said: "I don't think you can lay it out and say, 'Boom, we've got it.' "

Although Petitbon thinks the run-and-shoot has problems operating in bad weather and the weather could be a factor today, he said: "I don't think you stop the run-and-shoot. It has to stop itself."

Glanville, though, doesn't want to give the Redskins the chance to work only against the run-and-shoot. Because he doesn't have any tight ends on his roster, he's worked linebacker Aundray Bruce as a tight end this week so the Falcons can run some conventional plays. With quarterback Billy Joe Tolliver expected to make his first start as a Falcon in place of ailing Chris Miller, Glanville may want to be more conservative.

"I'm not going to give them the chance to defend against the same formation for eight straight quarters," he said.

If the Falcons have trouble scoring on the Redskins, it'll put more pressure on the Falcons defense.

McKyer welcomes that challenge.

"I like having balls thrown at you and having a chance to make plays. That's what it's all about," he said.

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