"It's very depressing when you come to the line and the other team's middle linebacker tells you who is going to carry the ball and where. Sometimes I thought I was talking too loud in the huddle."
Redskin quaterback Joe Thermann commenting on last year's offense.
It ain't so, Joe. You weren't talking too loud. It's just that the Redskin offense of last season was one of the most predictable in the National Football League.
The Redskins ran certain plays from specific formations in specific situations and there wasn't much variance. The offense sputtered as it did because the defense always seemed to know what was coming.
Those days appear to be over. Coach Jack Pardee and his offensive coordinator. Joe Walton, have overhauled the offense. Many of the basic plays are still there, but it is difficult to recognize most of them now.
They are disguised with new formations, men in motion and new offensive terminology. The old six hole isn't even the six hole anymore. It's the nine hole.
The change has been well received by most of the players.
"We're definitely more wide open now, and that's what it's all about," wide receiver Frank Grant said. "We're trying to give the defense a lot more to think about. We have a lot of different alignments now, so when we come to the line, they (the defenses) are going to have to make some adjustments. That gives the advantage back to us.
"Last year we had basic formations we ran from and the defense dictated a lot to us as to what we could run. This year we are dictating more to them."
Tight end Jean Fugett said. "In the past we used a couple of formations and ran the same play. Now, we still run the same plays a lot of formations.
"The defenses have to think against us now, and the more the defense has to think, the more it is to our advantage. Defense is a recognition game and the more formations and looks we give them, the more difficult it makes their recognition."
Theismann agrees that it isn't always that important what you run, but what you make the defense think you are going to run that counts.
"You have to make the defense change and wonder what you're going to do next," he said.
"There are a lot of teams in the league bigger and stronger than us, so we can't just line up like we used to and expect to overpower them. We have to try to fool them.
"The greatest magician in the world can't do anything you and I can't, but he can talk over here and move things over there. That's what we are trying to do with our offense."
To Pardee, it is all a numbers game.
"We try to work thing for the odds," he said. We want to get it to where we have five of our guys blocking on four of theirs.
"Guys you can't block, you want to control or move with different formations or with men in motion. We are working strictly with numbers. We want to work them so they are on our side, and if we make the defense shift men around right, we'll have the numbers on our side.
"That's all I want. If the numbers are on your side, you have a shot to make the play go; if not, you just can't win, period."
No matter how different the Redskin offense looks to the opposition and to the fans, they still will run basically the same plays.
"There's only so much you can do," Fugett said. "The center snaps the ball to the quarterback and he either hands it to somebody or throws it to somebody. That's all.
"We'll be doing the same thing this year, only it will look different because we have more formations.
"It's like the Dallas shotgun. Roger (Stauback) runs basically the same plays from that formation as he does when he's over the center. It just looks different. All you are really trying to do on offense is fool the defense.
"Every play we have in our playbook, Dallas has in its. You go around the league and there just aren't that many different things," Fugett added.
The difference comes in what look the offense gives the defense.
"We want to make them (the defense) use their minds. If they have to think, that gives us that extra step," Grant said.
"We can run a lot of things from a lot of formations. It was frustrating in the past because we were so predictable.
"I remember a couple of times when we played the Giants and the Cowboys, they just about called the plays as soon as we lined up. That's discouraging.
"Teams can't do that anymore because now we can run this play from multiple sets and that play from multiple sets and men in motion. It gives the defenses more to work on in practice and it makes them think.
"When I go in motion now, the defense has to run something other than what it originally called. The new defense they go to may not be an advantage to me, but if they have a mixup, I'll have an advantage."
Because the Redskins are more wide-open now does not mean they will be throwing the football 40 times a game.
"All winning teams have a balanced attack, and it all starts with the run," Fugett said. "Balance is the goal, no matter how it looks. That's why teams are so effective on second and five because the defense has to play both the run and the pass and that makes it easier for the offense.
Oddly enough, the balance the Pardee Redskins want between the run and the pass is 40-25, the same balance the George Allen Redskins wanted.
"The key formulas to winning, (offensively), without exception," according to Pardee, are "to run the ball 40 times a game and get 300 yards offense. You want to have 65 offensive plays, so that leaves 25 passes.
"They had the same philosophy last year, but they ended up throwing 50 percent some times, and when you throw that much, you come up with a lot of holding penalties and sacks."
While the Redskin backs and wide receivers are shifting in and out for positions and going in motion every which way, there isn't much camouflaging or maneauvering going on in the interior line.
"The line blocking hasn't really changed that much," tackle Terry Hermeling said. "Basically we're running the same things we always ran. We're just calling them different things."