With Tony Green willing but mostly unable to run the way he knows how, the undefeated Redskins must take on the vastly improved N.Y. Jets today at 1 p.m. at RFK Stadium without one of their most potent weapons.
Green, the rookie return man with the sprained left knee, dressed but did not participate in the Redskins' final workout yesterday. Pardee did not rule him out completely for the game, to be televised on WRC-TV-4, but Green admitted, "It's still sore. I can't do some things I usually do, but I'll so whatever Coach Pardee wants me to. If I have to, I'll play."
"It definitely looks doubteful," Pardee said. "He hasn't taken part in the drills all week. He's made good progress, but it still is a little tender. We'll make a determination before the game.
"It'll be a real test for our kicking game: how we perform without a guy who's broken two big runs to help us win two big games."
The oddmakers are saying the Redskins will perform well enough to warrant seven-point favoritism against a Jet team Pardee described as "scary" because "you really don't know what they'll do.
"Philadelphia and New England were also explosive teams but you could anticipate what you had to stop. This team does everything, and that makes it a little tougher."
The Redskins, 3-0, have won their last six regular-season games and come into today's affair in sole possession of first place in the NFC East. A victory over the 2-1 Jets would add even more spice to their next game-a Monday night confrontation with the Cowboys (2-1) Oct. 2.
"Consciously, Dallas hasn't even been brought up this week," Pardee said. "I just hope subconciously they respect the Jets enough because the Jets deserve the respect . . .People who don't know the Jets still assume they're not good. We have the films. We can tell differently."
Fullback John Riggins, who left the New York team in 1975, agreed. "That's a whole different bunch of guys than when I last played there," said Riggins, who needs 101 yards to reached 5,000 for his career. "Of the 22 starters, I think I know three or four of them. "They're a tough, hard-hitting , physical football team, and they're coming here to get more respect. They've got mine."
The Jets also have an offense that has averaged 349 yards a game-200 yards passing-and a quarterback in Richard Todd who has completed 58 percent of his passes and thrown for six touchdowns.
Pardee is particularly concerned abut Todd's ability to throw deep to two swift wide receivers, second-year man Wesley Walker and rookie Derrick Gafney, and to tight end Jerome Barkum. Walker averages 28 yards a catch, Gafney 19 yards.
"We can't be giving them two or three bombs and expect to beat them," Pardee said. "They've been getting those every week. They've only had four sacks on their quarter-back in three games, so they're prefecting well. Todd has a good touch and a lot of dimensions. He's got the ability to make big plays out of bad ones."
But Todd also has the ability to be just plain awful. In the Jet's 24-17 loss to Seattle last week, he tossed up three interceptions, two of them with the Jets inside the Seahawk 25-yard line.
New York had a club-record 14 penalties in that game, and one of those nullified a touchdown. Seattle also converted 10 of 14 third downs against a New York 3-4 defense that has allowed 325 yards a game and a 62 percent pass-completion mark
We'll try to do the same thing we do e ery week.
"Their defense has a lot of people who like to hit. They hustle all over the field like to hit. They hustly all over the field and they come off the ball realwell. I don't think anybody is taking them lightly. I know I'm not."
Scouting reports on the Jets' first three games also indicate the New York are are somewhat vulverable to a short-passing attack. Theismann to Riggins will be pitching frequently to Mike Thomas coming out of the backfield.
The Jets also start a rookie corner-back on the left side, Bobby Jackson, a sixth pick from Florida State, and Theisman is expected to test him early.
With Green hurting, Redskin punt and kickoff returns will be handled by second-year back Clarence Harmon. Lemar Parrish also is set to handly punts.
"I don't mind doing it at all," Parrish said. "Whatever it takes to win, I'll do. Sure I'm gonna run with it. I'm not real big on fair catches. You can't think about getting hurt when you're cut there. You just have to think about getting whatever you can."
"The big thing is winning the football game. That's the hard part. Nothing comes easy in this league."
Pardee said newly acquired running back Ike Forte might run a few plays out of the backfield and will definitely be use on special teams . . .The Jets have not lost a fumble this season . . . Jet kicker Pat Leahy leads the NFL in points with 23 and hasn't missed on eight extra points and five field-goal attempts . . . Punter Steve Ramsey leads the AFC with a 44.6 yard average . . . The last time the Redskins opened with four straight victories was in 1971. They also have won 41 of their last 51 games at RFK Stadium . . .The Redskins have won both previous regular-season meetings between the teams . . . Redskin opponents are averaging only 4.5 yards per punt return, second best in the NFL, and 17.3 in kickoff returns, third lowest in the league . . . Fans in the stands will see the debut of three new scoreboards at RFX, with a full-color animated board expected to be completed by Nov. 12.