Jim Hart was chirping the blues long distance from St. Louis yesterday and the Cardinal quarterback admitted, "We're a struggling football team, and I wish I knew what the problem was. We're just doing a lot of bad things."

Worst of all, the Cardinals are losing. They have dropped back-to-back decisions to Chicago and New England, even though the Cardinal defense, according to Hart "has played better than it ever has. I wish I could say the same about our offense."

In two games, Hart has completed only 47 per cent of his passes, significantly below his 50 per cent career average, and the Cardinals have scored only two touchdowns.

He has also tossed three interceptions and been sacked four times, although he insists he is enjoying the game more because Coach Bud Wilkinson allows him to call his own plays.

"It seems like everyone is taking a turn messing up," Hart said. "We've had mental breakdowns and physical ones, too. It no one person, no one phase of the game. It just seems like every week something different goes wrong."

Cardinal running backs Wayne Morris and Jerry Latin have been major disappointments, and the Cardinal offense is ranked 11th overall in the NFC, 14th rushing and eighth passing.

Injuries have taken a toll. Starting tight end J. V. Cain ripped his Achilles tendon the second day of training camp and two of his backups also went down with season-ending injuries.

Charles Davis, the starting nose guard in Wilkinson's 3-4 defense, underwent knee surgery last week and will be lost for the year, and the offensive line has been bruised and battered for the last month.

The Redskins are all breathing a little easier this week knowing that they will not have to concern themselves about Terry Metcalf, the dangerous tailback who gave them fits - and a number of fumbles, too - the previous five years.

Metcalf played out his option last year and opted for $1 million in the Canadian League.

"What we don't have with Metcalf not being here becomes more obvious with every game we play," Hart grumbled over the telephone. "No, I'm not going to go on record as blaming anyone for that. But it's pretty obvious what you do miss with him not available."

Joe Sullivan, the Cardinal director of operations, insisted yesterday that Metcalf's presence would not have made that much difference in the Cardinals' slow start.

"Hell, he was a fine player for us for four years and then played quite well for us part of last year," Sullivan said, "but he had played five years and we just didn't expect him to be a world-stopper any more. He'd played out his string.

"He was quite a fumbler for us, too, if you'll remember correctly. He didn't save our last four game for us last year, nor did he save any of our last four games agains the Redskins. We lost them all, and he did have a few fumbles in them, didn't he?

"He was also hurt for us every year. Sure, we would have liked to have kept him, but we weren't going to ruin the team. He was asking for $200,000 a year with a six-figure bonus and all that stuff. We didn't buy it, nor did any other NFL team."

Neither Hart nor Sullivan will talk about the notion that the Cardinals do not have the same intense dislike for the Redskins coached by Jack Pardee that they did when George Allen was the Washington coach.

"They've beaten us four straight and kept us out of the playoffs the last two years," Sullivan said. "Being in the same division I think would get us fired up and emotional about it. And coming off two losses, we better be."

"Not making the playoffs still leaves a sour taste," said Hart, "and they've got a lot of the same people back, even if George is gone.

"I will say this, though, (former Cardinal Coach) Don Coryell didn't like George very much. It had something to do with when they were both coaching back in college. I don't know all the details. But he definitely wasn't a fan of George Allen's.

"Actually," added Sullivan, "Don had a great hatred for him. George did something to him that Coryell thought was just reprehensible. And he never trusted him after that. He really wanted to beat George.

"Oh, no, there's not the same feeling toward Jack. How could there be? We also know that's quite a football team he's put together there. The Redskin offense has improved so much it's unbelievable. And defensively, I think they've got better personnel than they ever had with George."