Redskin Coach Jack Pardee shed no light yesterday on the quarterback debate of 1978, saying only that Billy Kilmer and Joe Theismann will probably split playing time in Friday's final preseason game against the Falcons, "and we'll make the decision when we have to.
"I thought both quarterbacks played well," Pardee said yesterday after reviewing films of the Redskins' 17-16 victory over the Colts, Washington's second preseason triumph in three starts.
Kilmer started against the Colts and tossed an interception on his first pass of the preseason, but went on to complete seven of his 10 throws for 106 yards. There was another interception later on "but the ball was batted up in the air and it's hard to fault the quarterback for that," Pardee said.
Theismann opened the second half and hit seven of his 12 passes for 119 yards and threw his fourth touchdown pass in three exhibition games, an 18-yard hummer to tight end Reggie Haynes for the game-winning score.
Theismann has now gone 10 quarters in exhibition play without throwing an interception, has connected on 56 percent of his passes and averaged nine yards per carry on his nine scrambles.
Clearly, Theismann has never played so well in the preseason, but Pardee insisted again yesterday, "I'm not going to form any opinions on the quarterback until the time comes when we need to. There won't be any leaning until we have to lean, and when we do, it will be a heavy lean.
"Ideally, you want one man to stay in there and not keep switching back and forth. If you've got one man, it usually means you're moving the ball well, scoring points and doing a lot of good things. But I still believe we'll need both of them. It's a long season."
Pardee said he believes Kilmer is in far better physical shape this preseason than he was a year ago at this time, "and that's important ot us."
"Joe has another excellent night," Pardee added. "He moved around well, he moved the ball and he made two great passes to Reggie. The amount of work he's had has really paid off for him. He's thriving on it, he's kept his poise and we're very pleased with him."
Pardee also was delighted with the performance of rookie running back Tony Green, who had kickoff returns of 47 and 67 yards against the Colts and now may also be given a chance to show his skills as a punt returner and, perhaps, at the wide-receiver position.
Pardee is fighting a numbers game as he prepares to lop 10 players off the roster between now and Tuesday. Although he indicated he still has not determined how many men he will keep at each position, he said he wouldn't mind teaching Green a few pass patterns so he could be available in emergency situations. The Redskins then would probably carry only three wide receivers.
"Do we use him as a running back, a return specialist or a receiver? I'm really not sure yet," Pardee said. "But I do know he can catch the ball. He's got real good hands. We hadn't seen much of him before the Colt game, and it was an important game for him. I hope it continues."
Pardee also hopes the Redskins will be able to improve their defense against the NFL's stronger running teams. The Colts gained 154 yards rushing, and dominated play in the first quarter when they kept possession for 11 1/2 minutes, staying mostly on the ground.
The Redskins mixed their 4-3 and 34 defenses in that first period, then went heavily to the three linemenfour linebacker 34 the rest of the game.
"We had some trouble with the 34 early in the game," Pardee said, "so we decided to stick with it after the first quarter. We made some adjustments and did a pretty good job stopping them the rest of the game. We just wanted to test it, and I felt it was good to stay with it and iron some things out.
"We're going to continue to use both defenses. In the past, a lot of teams have tried to play both and haven't done very well. I think with our personnel, we can continue doing it, and I think we can do it better than any other team that's ever tried it."
Pardee also indicated he is pleased with the increased production of his wide receivers and the overall passing game, particularly the eight-yard-per-pass average.The running game had an off night, but Pardee attributed that to the Colt's defense. "They always play the run well," he said. "But we still won the football game.
And while the Redskins continued to pick up nagging penalties - there were eight against the Colts for losses of 75 yards - Pardee said, "At least we cut down on the holding. We only had two called, and that's not too bad.
"In the fourth quarter, in a clutch situation where we couldn't afford penalties, we didn't get any, and that's a good sign."
The Redskins also managed to escape the Colt game with no serious injuries. Casualties included Dan Nugent (bruised heel), Jim Mandich (sprained ankle), Jean Fugett (bruised shoulder and knee) and Dennis Johnson (dislocated finger). All should be available for the Falcons.
Pardde said he planned to meet again over the weekend with running back Calvin Hill. The two met for two hours in Baltimore Friday and Pardee said, "I sensed he still wanted to play when he left at first, and I still sense the same thing. He's still bothered by some things and I don't know if that will change or not. Whichever way it goes, he's a great individual.
The Redskins have today off before a busy Monday. They will be honored at the annual welcome-home luncheon at the Sheraton-Park tomorrow at noon and will practice later in the afternoon.