The Washington Redskins acquired Lemar Parrish because they had a highly visible need for a first-rate cornerback. The reasons they wanted defensive end Coy Bacon are more subtle.
The agile, quick and good-natured Bacon could very well be the key man in the Redskins' move to become more versatile defensively, something coach Jack Pardee feels is a must if his team is to be a playoff contender.
"We plan on doing a lot of different things with our defense this year and Coy is the type of defensive specialist we need in the line to be able to do those things," Pardee said.
"We'll play the 3-4 (defense) sometimes but that is basically a run defense," he continued. "When we are up gainst a scrambler like Roger Staubach we'll do other things. Versatility is the key."
Ironically, while pardee has mentioned going to a 3-4 defense on occasion, Bacon cites that same 3-4 as the reason he wanted out of Cinicnnati. The Bergals have announced they will go with that defense exclusively next season.
"I don't want to play the 3-4 all the time because I don't like getting double-teamed and in the 3-4 that's what always happens to you," Bacon said "I don't mind mixing up the defenses though. The 3-4 is all right as long as you only do it sometimes."
"Coy Bacon loves to rush the passer and that is what we want him to do here," Pardee said. "He's got the speed and the agility. We don't plan to waste any of those assets."
Bacon, who led the National Football League in sacks in 1976 with 26, will be 36 in August, but Pardee said his age is not a factor.
"He's one of those guys who always looks young, you know what I mean?" Pardee asked. "He is just what we want."
Coming to Washington is also just what Bacon wanted.
"I feel great," he said yesterday over the telephone from his home in San Diego. "I used to play with Pardee when we were both with the Rams. He knows my capabilities and how to use them."
Bacon has moved around. After six years with the Rams, he went to San Diego for two seasons and then to Cincinnati for the last two. He was slowed considerably last season with a pulled hastring muscle but says he is 100 percent healthy now.
"People think bad things about you when you get traded a lot," Bacon said, "and I don't anybody thinking bad things about me. I want to prove that I can play so I always go hard. When I get to Washington, I'll be happy an relaxed and just ready to do my job."
Bacon is basically a right defensive end and Pardee indicated that is where he will tried initially as a Redskin. That position was played last season by Dennis Johnson.
Bacon is also a ratity among Redskin defensive linement in that he is a natural defensive end, no a converted tackle, as is Johnson.
The basic difference between a defensive end and tackle is that the end has containment responsibility but has more room in which to maneuver by his blocker and get at the quarterback. An inside rusher, or tackle, is usually going head up with an offensive guard in a more confined area. It takes different skills to play each position and they are not as easily interchangeable as it would seem.
Bacon is also the type of player who doesn't like to clutter up his mind with contract hassles and personality conflicts.