Few things are more frustrating to a football coach than a gentle giant, a player with the size and potential to dominate a game but without the drive to do it.
A gentle giant is what the St. Louis Cardinals snickered they had peddled to the Redskins for two No. 1 draft choices and a No. 2 draft choice three years ago. In return, the Redskins got Dave Butz. Butz is 6-foot-7, 285 pounds, but the thing that stuck in people's minds was that his uncle, Earl, was Secretary of Agriculture.
The book on Butz said, in essence, that he was not tough enough.
Redskin Coach Jack Pardee and General Manager Bobby Beathard winced and shook their heads at last year's draft when they thought about what the Redskins had given up for Butz.
"That's not a knock on Dave, but that's an awful steep price to pay for anyone," Pardee said yesterday.
In his own quiet manner, Butz has made it known that he is not a gentle giant, that he is just as mean and tough as he has to be. As a result, he has emerged as an integral part of Pardee's defense. Seldom do teams run directly at him and he is double-teamed most of the time. He is also an important key to the newly installs 34 defense.t was Butz who hits New England's Horace Ivory Sunday and stripped him of the ball. Brad Dusek picked it up and raced in with the winning touchdown in the Redskins' 16-14 upset.
It was a great play by Butz, "but only one of about 10 great plays he made against the Patriots," Pardee said. "Because of his size and agility, he creates all sorts of problems for an offensive line."
Butz keeps mostly to himself. He doesn't rant or rave at offensive linemen or beat his chest in front of the press and that has helped contribute to the tag that he doesn't have the necessary killer instinct to be an outstanding defensive lineman.
That is a mistake.
"When I get a chance to hit someone, I hit them," Butz said. "All this stuff about me being too nice is bull. I don't talk to people across the line because I don't feel like it."
"All I want to know about a guy across from me is his height, weight and how long he has played. I don't want to talk to him before, during or after the game. The less I know about these guys the better. They're just obstacles in my way.
"In fact, I don't say anything had about anybody, even (Conrad) Dobler."
While some of his teammates have intimated that Butz has enormous untapped potential, Butz scoffs and says that it is often easier "for some people who are doing well to criticize others than to compliment them."
Despite what anyone else might say or has said about him, Butz is free with his praise for his teammates, particularly Ron McDole and Dusek, the end and linebacker, respectively, on his side.
"McDole gives me a lot of help and, with Brad out there, everything is forced back inside to me," Butz said.
Although the Redskins only used the 34 a few times against the Patriots, it is a vital part of their defense and it is expected they will use it more in the future.
Normally a defensive tackle, Butz becomes the nose guard in the 34.
"If the nose guard doesn't take on two people, you might as well shelve the 34 defense.," Pardee said. "That's a reason why Dave Butz is the nose man. You have to use two people on him."
As a nose guard, Butz said, "You are not supposed to go upfield or penetrate.You're supposed to just slide along the line. That's against everything you've normally been taught."
A severe ankle injury last season sidelined and embittered Butz. Ligaments were torn on both sides of his ankle, but he continued to play until it gave out completely.
Butz had been a starter, "but it was two or three weeks before I could even walk. After it healed, though, I wasn't playing," Butz said. "I asked (former Coach George) Allen why and he said he didn't want to break up the continuity."
Butz didn't like that.
But that is all behind him now, he said.
"It's a different philosophy here now. The person who can do the best job will get the chance to do it," Butz said. "With Allen, the young players never got a chance. Now they do and that helps the veterans play better, too, because they all have to look over their shoulders now."
Tuesday practice under Pardee is a piece of cake. He puts the players through "separate mental drills" for about 30 to 45 minutes and the rest of the time "they are on their own with whatever kind of workout they want to do."
Tight end Jean Fuggett, who missed the opener with a bruised knee, has improved and should be ready for Sunday's game against Philadelphia, Pardee said. Fugett's replacement, Reggie Haynes, "did well," Pardee said. "He didn't catch any passes, but he blocked and hustled. He ran some good patterns, but he didn't release too well at times. We'll use Reggie this week some even if Jean does play."