The offense, as usual, was a high-powered unit, but the defense remained a disaster zone despite the infusion of younger talent in the off-season. The Redskins still had no dominant pass rusher. The linebackers, with the exception of perennial All-Pro Chris Hanburger, were adequate at best. And the secondary was no match for quarterbacks who had all day to stand in the pocket and let their receivers get open. "It got to the point where Austin would come into our defensive meeting rooms and snidely ask the coaches, `Well, how are you guys gonna screw up this week?' " Huff recalled. "One time, Austin got on us and I'd had it. We were about to play the Cowboys and we knew it was a lost cause, but you have to try something. At one point I said to Austin, `You were a jerk in high school, you were a jerk in college, you were a jerk when we played together in New York, and you'll be a jerk all your life. So let's see how great a coach you are. Why don't we switch this week. Let us coach your offense and you coach the defense, and we'll see how damned great you are."
That never happened. What did happen, as expected, was that the Redskins lost big to the Cowboys, 34-0.
The Redskins managed to win their last two games that season, but everyone knew that Austin and his staff had little chance of coming back in 1971. Not with Williams in charge. Not after the Redskins president had seen the sort of magic a big-time coach could work on his team. Williams was accustomed to winning in the courtroom, and with a little help from Jack Kent Cooke, he did not wait long to make his move.
Even before he had hired Lombardi, Williams had been intrigued by George Allen, the intense head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. Their paths had first crossed in 1966 at a league meeting after Allen's first season with the Rams. They spoke for more than three hours, and Williams was impressed by Allen's single-minded focus on football as well as by his history. A brilliant young defensive mind as an assistant with the Chicago Bears under George Halas, Allen had been carried off the field by his players when the Bears upset the heavily favored New York Giants in the 1963 title game.
When Rams owner Dan Reeves wanted to hire Allen after the 1965 season, Halas was unwilling to let his assistant coach out of the two years remaining on his contract. Ultimately, the issue went to court, with a judge ruling that Allen had signed a valid contract and was required to stay with the Bears. Moments after the judge announced his decision, however, Halas stood up in court and said that he would allow Allen to leave, that Allen was a minor issue. The man known as Papa Bear told the court that he was far more concerned about upholding the sanctity of a contract. So Allen went west.