EL SEGUNDO, CALIF., SEPT. 28 -- There have been no 300-yard games, few touchdowns and only a handful of long completions. It is not exactly a Pro Bowl re'sume' that quarterback Jay Schroeder is putting together for the Los Angeles Raiders.

But Schroeder's detractors nonetheless are quiet. Trade rumors also seem to be fading. And the boos? Schroeder rarely hears them now.

The right arm that in 1986 accounted for 4,000-plus yards for the Washington Redskins is all but locked in the handoff position. His reaction: "It doesn't affect me at all."

Now that he is a starting NFL quarterback again -- an unbeaten starting NFL quarterback -- Schroeder really doesn't care how many passes he throws in a game.

As long as he's starting.

"We have great running backs {and} we have a great offensive line," Schroeder said. "We're going to try to run the football."

That approach has worked so far. With a quintet of capable runners and an occasional clutch play from Schroeder, Los Angeles has scored often enough to support the league's most punishing defense. Thus the Raiders are 3-0, one of five unbeaten NFL teams.

The Raiders may find out just how good they are when they play host to the Chicago Bears (3-0) Sunday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It is a game that, especially for Schroeder, holds great importance, as the Raiders and their quarterback try to reestablish a reputation among the league's elite.

"You could be 15-0 and still there would be people who were skeptical," said Schroeder, in his third year with the Raiders after four seasons with the Redskins (1984-87). "We have a very tough test coming in this week. Let's see how we match up."

To beat the menacing Bears, Los Angeles must overcome injuries to pass rushers Howie Long and Anthony Smith, who with Greg Townsend form a fearsome defensive front. Scoring more than 20 points -- something the Raiders haven't done yet -- might help.

Schroeder is optimistic the points will come, even though the Raiders now use the run to set up the run instead of the pass to set up the run.

His direction of the Raiders' conservative offense has been virtually mistake-free -- except for an interception on his second pass of the season -- prompting a once-critical press corps to dub him "Schroeder the Raider."

It is quite a switch from 1989, when he threw five fewer touchdowns than interceptions, won only four of nine games as a starter and watched Steve Beuerlein start the last seven games.

The AFC's fourth-rated passer, Schroeder (only 54 attempts in three games) has regained his health and confidence. The torn rotator cuff he suffered in his nonthrowing (left) shoulder was surgically repaired during the offseason, allowing him to come to training camp healthy.

With Beuerlein holding out for the summer, the job was Schroeder's -- at least until the Raiders could complete a rumored trade for New Orleans Saints holdout Bobby Hebert.

That deal hasn't happened. Beuerlein has signed, but has yet to be activated. Raiders backup Vince Evans was waived and reclaimed at the end of training camp. So thus far, Schroeder's job appears to be safe.

"If I play the way I'm capable of playing, I don't care who they bring in," Schroeder said. "I feel really good about the way the offense is going right now. I'm in complete control. I know exactly what they want to accomplish. It's true {that} I would have liked to pick it up the first week I was here. That's just unlikely. I don't think anybody can do that."

Said Beuerlein: "It's just a matter of time when the Raiders organization feels they can put me in a uniform. . . . I just believe sooner or later the opportunity will come."

Supplanting Schroeder, 29, will not be easy because the former Redskin, although he throws the ball sparingly, is starting to click with his receivers.

As Gary Clark likes to say, the quarterback has found his "bacon" in wideout Mervyn Fernandez, who has caught 12 of Schroeder's 28 completions.

While he is not quite as good as Clark, Art Monk or Ricky Sanders, Fernandez has emerged as a reliable target.

There was the 24-yard Schroeder-to-Fernandez play Sept. 16 that set up the game-winning touchdown in Seattle. Against Pittsburgh last week, the two combined on a 66-yard scoring pass in a 20-3 victory over the Steelers.

"When I was {with Washington}, I knew what routes Gary would get open no matter what the coverage was, and I think it's the same here," Schroeder said.

"There are certain situations when you're looking for one guy to make the big play, and when I was back there Gary made a lot of big plays for us.

"Now, in the first three games, Mervyn's been the guy. And it's . . . {because} people are doubling Willie {Gault} on the other side.

"The {Raiders} offense is completely different. We had a great group of receivers back there and a great offensive line, but the offense was structured differently. We threw the ball a lot more because we had running backs hurt. I had a good time doing it and we had success doing it."

Schroeder no longer needs to throw often to be successful.

In the Raiders' offense, he must display patience, waiting for the right moment to throw long. With Fernandez, Gault and former Notre Dame speedster Tim Brown, Schroeder has numerous options.

But his first priority is overseeing the running game, getting the ball to Marcus Allen and Greg Bell and letting them go with it. When the situation arises, Schroeder said, the pass will come naturally.

"It's a challenge because now you have to be more precise," Schroeder said. "You can't relax. You want to make every play perfect, granted it's never going to happen that way."

Schroeder knows the thing for him to do is play as he has, and improve on it by putting the ball (via run or pass) in the end zone more often.

"When they come to me and say they want something different, then we'll change the game to something different," he said. "Right now, we're playing the style of football we want to play. . . . I don't see us changing any time soon."