Redskin Coach Jack Pardee has a problem and he is loving it.
The Redskins play their final preseason game tonight against the Atlanta Falcons at RFK Stadium at 7:30 and the quarterback situation remains an undecided issue.
The game can be heard on WMAL-Radio-630. On Saturday at 2, the game will be shown on WJLA-TV-7.
Joe Theissmann will play at first half and Billy Kilmer the second half tonight.
Both quarterbacks have been impressive in the exhibition season and tonight's game will be the coaching staff's last chance to evaluate the two and decide who will get the call against New England in the regular season opener Sunday, Spet, 3, in Foxboro, Mass.
"This is what I hoped would happen," Pardee said of his quarterbacks.
"I'm high on both of them, and that's the way it should be. I don't want to be high on one ane not pleased with the other. Sure, somebody won't be happy if he's not No. 1, but we'll deal with that when we have to.
"The important thing is to have a good quarterback and have him backed up by someone who is just as good. That looks like the situation we'll be in."
Theissmann went all the way in the Redskin's first two outing and played the second half last week against Baltimore. Kilmer's only preseason action was in the first half of the Colt game.
Kilmer threw two interception, but completed seven of 10 passes for 106 yards.
Theismann has completed 56 percent of his 66 passed with four touchdowns. He hasn't thrown an interception in 10 quarters.
Both Kilmer and Theismann obviously want to be the starter, but both concede it is a long season and that both will be needed. They say that no matter what Pardee and offensive coordinatior Joe Walton decide, there will be no hard feelings between them.
Kilmer is the steady veteran, the starter at the end of last season. Theismann is the mobile Mr. Excitement, eager to become The Man.
Neverthless, Theismann does not look at tonight's game as his last chance.
"I've done what I can do," Theismann said. "I still have a long way to go through. I'm not nearly the quarterback I can be.I have areas I need to improve on, but I'm not worried.
"If I didn't feel like I played as well as I feel I have so far, then I'd be remorseful that I only had one more game to show tat I could do. But that isn't the case.
"Jack put it on the line before any of this started when he said the job was open. That's all I could ask. I just went out and did my job. Now it's his decision."
Tight end Jean Pugett is hobbled by a more knee and will not suit up for tonight's game. His backup, Jim Mandich, has a sprained ankle, so Reggie Haynes will get most of the work at that position. Newly acquired Greg McCrary also will play, Pardee said.
Linebacker Chris Hanburger has an assortment of "nicks," according to Pardee and he may be held out tonight.
In that event, Pete Wysocki and Dallas Hickman would work in his position.
"Chris isn't all that bad, but I do want him healthy for the opener," Pardee said.
Regular running backs Mike Thomas and John Riggins have seen limited duty and Pardee said they will play more tonight. The other two running backs. Clarence Harmon and Tony Green, will get considerable work.
Green, who sparkled as a kickoff returner against the Colts, also will run back punts against the Falcon.
Except for the quarterback positions, Pardee is set on his opening day starters.But he said he won't "stick all of his regulars in and leave them. We have to get some other people ready, too.
"We know pretty much what everybody can do and it's just a question of getting them ready for the opener. I just hope we get out of this game with everybody healthy."
The Falcons have lost two of three preseason games. After beating the New York Jets, 20-17, they scored only one touchdown in each of the last two weeks, losing to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Coach Leeman Bennett said he was "embarrassed" after the loss to the Eagles. His team was called for 16 penalties.
Bennett also is not pleased with quarterbacks Steve Bartkowski and tonight will go with second-year man June Jones III.
Pardee said he is seeking a fifth running back and the longer he waits, the more it looks like Tommy Reamon could be the one he calls . . . No one has claimed Calvin Hill . . . The Redskins stressed the special teams in a short workout yesterday at Redskin Park and they unveiled their new kick returner, Cool Coy Bacon, 6-4, 265 pounds. Bacon fielded punts and kick-offs and pranced around like a young stallion. "They got a hell of a player when they got me," he said. "I'm a kick returner, punt returner, tight end, everything."