Joe Walton officially signed a contract yesterday to take over as the Redskins' offensive coordinator and wasted no time declaring, "We are going to have an exciting offense, we'll have a little more flair."
Walton, Redskin backfield coach the last four seasons, said he believes in a multiple offense, varied formations, men in motion, occasional shifting and what he described as "clever plays" -- flea flickers, halfback option passes and a reverse or three.
"I don't like to call them trick plays or gimmicks, but we will have some of those clever plays in our arsenal," Walton said. "I believe in pressuring the defense without pressuring ourselves."
And yes, Walton admitted, he may even show a shotgun. "It's something I haven't completely decided on," he said. "But it's a possibility."
The Redskins also announced yesterday that Ray Callanan and John Hilton, both members of Head Coach Jack Pardee's staff in Chicago, had signed contracts. Callahan will coach the offensive line and Hilton will work with the special teams and tight ends.
Clearly, it is no coincidence that Pardee's first three appointments in volved the team's offense, a semi-sickly unit in 1977. The Redskins finished 20th among 28 NFL teams in total offense last year, 23rd rushing and 18th passing.
Their point total of 196 ranked 21st in the NEL, and Redskin quarternacks were dumped 52 times. Only one other team, the Detroit Lions with 54, allowed their quarterbacks to be treated so shabbily.
Walton said he preferred not to dwelll on the 1977 season, that he was not about to point fingers at players or former colleagues, and that critical injuries to John Riggins and Mike Thomas has as much to ko with the team's offensive problem as anything.
He also indicated that Riggins is going to carry the ball more this season, that he has no qualms about alternating his running backs and that Pardee will decide on the starting quarterback.
"Hell, yes, Billy Kilmer can still play, and still win," Walton said. "And so can Joe Theismann.We need both of them. They're both winners; they're both good football players.
"We hope to utilize Riggins a lot more. We were starting to use him more last season and of course, he got hurt. But we're going to tailor more plays for him. There are no secrets in this game -- you get the football in the hands of your best people."
With all this talk of a new, exciting offense, Walton was reminged that under Pardee, the Bears ran the ball two out of every three offensive plays last season. "Hell," he said, "if I had Walter Payton we'd run two out of three, too. You get the ball to the guys who will win. They played it smart."
Walton also believes Thomas will make a significant contribution in 1978 after a disappointing season. Thomas was negged by injuries, but also reportedly incurred the wrath of many of his teammates and coaches over his reluctance to play with pain.
Sources have indicated that George Allen even tried to trade Thomas during the season, nut had no takers. "I have a great relationship with Mike," Walton insisted, "and I'm one of the people who thinks he can really help us.
"He was hurting last year, and when you're running back and have leg problems, well, it can get you down. The main thing with Mike is to make sure he's healty. We want to get him on a good offseason conditioning program. I've talked to him about it. He's enthusiastic, and I have all the confidence in the would that he'll be 100 percent."
Walton hopes to discourage Calvin Hill from retiring, and says "I'd like to use him more, particularly in the passing game. And with a longer schedule, you're going to have to rest your backs and use more of your personnesl.
"I think our receivers can do the job, and I think we have a good offensive line, I'm not concerned about that. We've got a lot of weapons, people like Jean Fugett, Frank Grant, Danny Buggs, and we're going to use them all.
"We're going to have some fun, and we'll execute, too. It will be an offense that's on the attack. We need to give people as mandy problems as we can.
"We also need more offensive team unity. We'll be working together a little more than we did in the past. I won't say that was missing last year, but it's been meeting together, all the linemen, all the receivers. I think that's very important. We're all in this thing together. I want to develop that kind of feeling."
Walton said he will be working primarily with thequarterbacks and receivers. He has had previous experience in those years as coordinator of the New York Giants' overall passing game from 1970 until 1974.
Pardee is expected to hire a backfield coach and a club spokesman said yesterday the coach should have the rest of the staff selected and signed by the end of next week.