The Baltimore Colts have been giving up gobs of yards all season, on the ground and in the air. What's the solution, secondary coach Ralp's Hawkins was asked the other day.
"Bert Jones," came the quick reply.
"Let me ask you a question," said Hawkins, who coached the Redskin secondary for four years before moving to Baltimore this season. "What would have happened last year on the Redskins if the two quarterbacks had gone down and Brian Dowling had to come on. Don't you think there might have been a letdown?
"Of course, it may also be my coaching. I'm doing a lousy job."
From the looks of it, a lot of the Colts (3-6) could say the same thing. They are giving up 197 yards a game rushing, 187 yards a game passing, all owing opponents an average 5.5 yards per offensive play.
Redskin scout Kirk Mee, who has watched the Colts for countless hours in person and on film, also subscribes to Hawkins' quarterback theory.
"I just believe that when Bert Jones (who has been sidelined with an injured shoulder) steps out onto that field Monday night - and I believe he will start - that his presence is going to lift that football team sky-high," Mee said.
"They know he's a leader, that he takes charge. It's kind of like Billy Kilmer's presence. He may throw short passes, he may not be able to throw at all, he may just hand the ball off. But with his presence, they're going to be a pretty good football team.
"They're also going to be a healthy football team for the first time in a long time. I saw them play last week in Miami and a lot of guys went out with nagging kind of injuries and never came back. We expect them all to play Monday night."
Colts defensive coordinator Maxie Baughan admitted yesterday his men have not played good football.
"We've been giving up easy touchdowns, bustling coverages, missing assignments, what else can you say." said Baughan, another former Redskin player and assistant, "And when you do that, it makes you look very bad."
Injuries are part of it, sure that you can't use that as an excuse, everybody's got'em. We've had a lot of different people playing out of position. But in the last two or three weeks we've been able to get some people back and we're playing a little better."
Last week the Colts held the Dolphins to 120 yards rushing. But they were burned by two blown assignments in their nickel defense coverage that went for long touchdowns, and were thrashed, 26-8.
"People keep saying our pass rush is the problem," Baughan said, "but when teams get ahead of you, and when teams can run the ball on you, you can't get a very effective pass rush. The key for us is getting an early lead, and then we can come hard."
The Colts front four has come slowly this year. They have only 19 sacks and opposing quarterbacks have completed 59 percent of their throws with 16 touchdown passes.
Baltimore's offense has mainly centered around running back Joe Washington, obtained in the trade with San Diego for all-pro Lydell Mitchell Washington leads the Colts in catches with 27 and is also the leading rusher with 528 years and a 4.7-yard per carry average.
"With the quarterbacks they've been playing, he's the one guy they can get the ball to," said Redskin Coach jack Pardee. "With the things they've been forced to do, he has probably helped them more than Lydell would have.
"But with Jones in there, I think you'll see a whole different Colt team. I expect him to play, yes I do. He makes them go, and we've got to be prepared to stop him or we're in for a long night."