Chandler drops to No. 3 QB as Falcons prepare for Hawks

  • SCOTT M. JOHNSON / Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, November 29, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports


Herald Writer

Chris Chandler’s teams have faced the Seattle Seahawks three times in his 13-year NFL career, and he’s been on the field only once. So why should this weekend be any different?

The oft-injured Chandler is expected to miss another meeting with the Seahawks this Sunday, although his health might not be the only reason.

Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Reeves announced Wednesday that he will go with rookie Doug Johnson, who played during the second half in a loss to Oakland four days ago, as the starter for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks.

“I just think it gives us the best chance to win,” Reeves said on a conference call Wednesday. “I think Chris and (backup) Danny (Kanell) are not completely healthy, and the young guy is. This gives us a chance to evaluate him and gives a chance for a guy like Chris to get healthy and see over these next three or four weeks if we can get any better.”

Chandler, an Everett native who starred at Everett High School and the University of Washington, has suffered a rib injury and a concussion this season. He had to leave Sunday’s game for one play after being sacked, then eventually gave way to Johnson in the second half. But Chandler is not listed on the team’s injury report, even though the Falcons announced that he will be the No. 3 quarterback against the Seahawks.

The true reason for Chandler’s demotion might be a growing rift between himself and the coach. Chandler was critical of some of the play-calling following the loss to Oakland, and eventually had a meeting with Reeves.

Reeves met with Chandler again on Wednesday morning to tell him Johnson would start.

“He’s disappointed, but he also realizes that he’s not 100 percent,” Reeves said. “This will give us a chance. He’s going to be supportive and help the young guy play as well as he can.”

While was disappointed with Reeves’ decision, “I understand his reasoning,” Chandler told the Associated Press, emphasizing that he and Reeves hold no resentment against each other.

“I just do what’s asked of me,” Chandler said. “I don’t read anything personal into it. I believe personal relationships should stay out of it.”

Chandler, however, took issue with Atlanta’s coaching staff after the Falcons were drubbed 41-14 by Oakland on Sunday. He said the coaches should share the blame with players for the pitiful performance of the Falcons’ offense this season.

“It’s the players’ responsibility to play better, and also I think it goes beyond that,” Chandler told the Associated Press on Sunday. “… I think maybe we can do better as a coaching staff also. It goes from top to bottom.”

Chandler, 35, is signed through the 2003 season, but a lofty salary (almost $18 million over the next three years) leaves his future in question. He has played 13 or more games in only five of his first 12 seasons. He has started 12 games this year, but ranks 12th in the NFC in passer rating (71.9).

Johnson has completed 14 of 24 passes for 128 yards in limited action this season. One of the few Seahawks who knows what to expect out of him Sunday is rookie wide receiver Darrell Jackson, who played with Johnson at the University of Florida last season.

“He’s very capable,” Jackson said. “He knows how to read defenses, he has a great attitude and he knows what to do.”

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