Edward Bennett Williams paid a visit to the Redskins' final practice of the week yesterday, but there was no fiery pep talk, no impassioned speech from the club president to his football team.
"No speeches," Williams said. "Yes, I think we can turn it around. But the hour is getting late."
Williams was asked if the Redskins still have a morale problem as they prepare to face a slumping Miami Dolphin team today at RFK Stadium at 1 p.m. (WRC-TV-4).
"I don't think so, not now," he said.
"I think any time a team loses five out of seven, it loses confidence, and loss of confidence may create morale problems. But I think Jack (Pardee) has got them back on track. We'll find out in the next few weeks."
The Redskins will find out plenty this afternoon against a Dolphin team with the same record, 8-5, playing for the same sort of stakes -- a wild-card playoff berth. "It's a big one for us; we need to come to life," Pardee said. "Right now, the playoff spots aren't determined. Whoever can get hot now can win the thing. We just need to play better. That's the key thing, for us to improve and play good football."
Oddsmakers say the Dolphins will play better football, installing the visitors as three-point favorites to end a two-game losing streak against a Red-skin team that has lost four of its last five games and five of its last seven.
"I believe this is the week we got it back," insisted Redskin safety and cocaptain Ken Houston. "I think this team is ready, to the man. Guys realize what's taking place, that we're in as good a position as anyone to be in the playoffs.
"I've seen people get a whole lot more serious this week. Practices have been good, there's an intensity here that's been missing since we did so well earlier in the year. Any time you get down to one of these champion-ship games, and that's what this is. guys know they do what they have to do. Everyone here should respond."
The Redskins seem to be fairly physically fit. Only guard Ron Saul, nursing a sore ankle and a sore groin muscle, is not expected to play. He will be replaced by second-year man Jim Harlan.
Fullback John Riggins' sore right ankle is still tender, but he is expected to start. Kicker Mark Moseley, troubled by a numb right leg earlier in the week, kicked in practice yesterday and said he would have no difficulty performing today.
The Redskin defense, meanwhile, is gearing up to stop one of the NFL's more explosive offenses and hoping to avoid a repeat of the last two games when the Cardinals and Cowboys rolled up big early leads.
Miami has the same sort of capability. The Dolphins have outscored their 13 opponents, 91-24, in the first quarter and 205-111 in the first half.
Miami quarterback Bob Griese, a 63 percent passer, comes into Washington off one of the worst performances of his career -- a three-interception, one-fumble effort that caused Don Shula to bench him for the final nine minutes of last week's lopsided loss to the Jets.
The Redskins do not expect a repeat performance from Griese. They also are particularly wary of Dolphin tail-back Delvin Williams, who has gained 1,171 yards rushing this season and has gained 17 or more yards on a carry 16 times this season.
The last time the Redskins saw Williams, he made a nasty habit of streaking into their end zone wearing the uniform of the San Francisco 49ers. The year was 1975 and Williams' performance was staggering -- 180 yards rushing, an 85-yard touchdown pass-run and two other scores.
"I sure can't go into this game thinking I'll do it again," Williams said the other day. "I'm a little banged up. I've had some neck and rib problems, but everybody playing now is playing with some kind of injury.
"Whatever happens, happens. The tempo of the game will determine what I do. A big game would be nice, but I'd settle for a win and no yards if that's what it had to come down to. We need this game bad, and so do the Redskins. We're both kinda desperate, and I'm sure that's how both teams will play."
The Redskins offense, meanwhile, will operate against a Miami defense that has allowed opponents an average of 328 yards total offense a game. Miami plays the four-linebacker defense "and they put a lot of people back there in the coverage," said Redskin quarterback Joe Theismann.
"I know they've given up a lot of yards, but I've got a lot of respect for them," Theimann went on. "They've got three big strong rushers up front, and they try to cut down your percentage of area to throw in.
"I've either got to be extremely accurate in my passes or control them some other way. How do I control them, you ask? Hopefully, you'll see on Sunday."
Hopefully is right. Like the man said, "the hour is getting late."
Dolphin defense has allowed opponents 59 percent pass completions, 45 percent third-down conversions and 5.1 yards per offensive play... Miami's punter is rookie George Roberts, a left-footed kicker the Redskins had in training camp last summer. He averages 40 yards a kick, with a 34.4 net... Kick specialist Garo Yepremian has con-nected on nine straight field goals and is 12 for 16 for the season... Kickoff returner Duriel Harris is among the AFC leaders with a 23.4 mark, and also is the leading receiver, with 38 catches is the leading receiver, with 38 catches.