The Pittsburgh Steelers of 1990, under new offensive coordinator Joe Walton, have picked up where the Jets left off last year when Walton was head coach.
The Steelers (1-3) have yet to score an offensive touchdown under Walton's system keyed to middle-range passes. They are averaging an NFL-low 8.0 points per game; they have scored on a defensive touchdown, a punt return and six Gary Anderson field goals.
Last season the Steelers finished in a flurry, making the playoffs and averaging 23.8 points over their final eight games, including two playoff games. Tom Moore, who in the offseason left to become Minnesota's offensive coordinator, was the director of Pittsburgh's offense since 1983.
In Chuck Noll's prior 21 seasons, the Steelers had never gone more than two games without a touchdown.
The problems are taking their toll. Last week running back Tim Worley said he wanted to be traded because he wasn't getting the ball enough. Quarterback Bubby Brister has been critical and in Sunday's 28-6 loss to Miami, reserve Rick Strom played the fourth quarter.
But Noll said this week there would not be any major personnel changes and that the system would stay.
"It's not the system, but change is something people resist," he said. "They say, 'It's been good for me all these years, why do I have to change?' A lot of times you resist change, but when it changes, it happens for the better. That's what we are after . . . for the long term."
Change has definitely been working out for the Jets under first-year coach Bruce Coslet.
New York finished 3-13, and averaged 15.8 points per game last year under Walton. They scored 14 points in their final three games. This season the Jets are 2-2 and averaging 22 points per game. On Fast Forward
There was not much remarkable about the unbeaten New York Giants defeating the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, 31-17, except for how quick they did it.
That game took 2 hours 27 minutes, one of the quickest in recent memory. It continued a trend in which several experiments to speed up the games have been successful.
Through four weeks this year, games are averaging 2:58; last season they averaged 3:11.19.
Two direct rules changes, and several subtle changes, are responsible, said NFL director of officiating Art McNally. One change involved starting the game clock on the referee's signal in several dead ball situations such as a player going out of bounds, rather than on the ensuing snap. Another three minutes is saved by the reduction of halftimes from 15 minutes to 12.
McNally said more than three minutes are also being conserved during commerical breaks. Breaks are averaging 13 seconds less than last year. And this year, there are 17 commerical breaks per game as opposed to 16 last year, which McNally points out, under the old system, would have stretched games even longer.
"This year, the breaks have been crisp," said McNally. "After the Redskins score a touchdown, we no longer are showing how happy the fans are and here are the Hogs. There are other times to do that. We are right back to the game." Frustrated Bengals
Seattle's 31-16 victory over previously unbeaten Cincinnati Monday night left the Bengals frustrated.
"When you know what a team's going to do, and you know how to stop it and you don't do it, it hurts," said Bengals safety David Fulcher.
Also frustrating for Fulcher is a knee that may require arthroscopic surgery. Looking Ahead
The Miami Dolphins -- they of the new ball-control offense -- will have to be taken seriously in the AFC East after going 3-1 for their best opening month since 1985. Miami's next five games are against the Jets (twice), New England, Indianapolis and Phoenix. Those teams have a 5-11 combined record. . . .
Quarterback Jack Trudeau, whose first start this season resulted in Indianapolis's first victory -- a 24-23 upset of the Eagles Sunday -- probably will start Sunday against Kansas City. Rookie Jeff George, who started the first three games, is suffering from an abdominal strain. . . .
The Eagles, off to a 1-3 start, are struggling for answers. Quarterback Randall Cunningham suggested the team is feeling the effects of Coach Buddy Ryan being in the final year of his contract without an indication from the front office that his tenure will be extended. Cunningham said Ryan was "getting more and more humble. I wish he's go back to his old, crazy self." . . .
Cleveland Browns cornerback Frank Minnifield, a Pro Bowl starter for the past three seasons, ended his 2 1/2-month holdout and signed with the team. Minnifield agreed to a reported annual salary of $700,000 this season and $800,000 next season, with this year's pay to be reduced $164,705, reflecting the four regular season games he missed. . . .
Running back Mike Rozier, a Pro Bowl selection in 1987 and 1988 but more recently a seldom-used substitute in the Houston Oilers' run-and-shoot offense, was waived. He led the Oilers in rushing four straight years but had 10 carries for 42 yards and no touchdowns in Houston's four games this season.
"If you look back at my quotes from training camp, I said at the time that in this offense we really only needed two backs," General Manager Mike Holovak said. "There's just not enough work to go around for three."