Redskin Coach Jack Pardee, insisting yesterday that "I still think we have a chance to win our last two games," said he will not change quarterbacks this week when the Redskins travel to Atlanta for a Sunday game neither team can afford to lose.
"We haven't finalized all our plans, but at this point I don't contemplate any changes (at quarterback)," Pardee said. "I'm not going to swear the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but I'm not going to make a change."
Quarterback Joe Theismann threw four interceptions against the Dolphins Sunday in a 16-0 loss and the Redskins have scored only one touchdown in the last nine quarters, but Pardee insisted that switching to Billy Kilmer was not the answer.
"Kilmer's lack of playing time, the team we're playing, I just think Joe's the player to go with. I certainly plan on using him this week.
"Yesterday, he had two bobbled passes for interceptions and I don't blame him for that. We've just got to get everybody to do a better job and that will make Joe's job easier... But there's no use changing at this point."
Offensive coordinator Joe Walton, who calls the plays, also offered a vote of confidence for Theismann.
"Joe's taken some pretty good beatings the last few weeks," Walton said. "He's trying to execute, but it's not coming as easy as it did before. The little extra time he had that made him more relaxed, he's not getting any more.
"He's frustrated, too; we all are. He's still doing the same things.He's throwing to the right man most of the time. But nothing is 100 percent, and you can't expect him to be either."
Walton also said he has simplified the Redskin attack the last few weeks, trying to compensate for having so many inexperienced players in the lineup.
"When you have new people playing, we can't do a lot of things we've been doing," he said. "I've tried to get more basic to keep them from making mental errors. We're not the same offensive team that started the season. And it's also hard to have training camp during the season. We had to do a lot of teaching on the move."
That was one major reason, Walton said, for trying to run the ball so frequently against the Dolphins, even if the fans did not appreciate the grind-it-out philosophy that produced no first downs the first quarter.
"When you throw too much, teams can just tee off on you and come," he said."We've got young people in the line. They're improving every week, but we're missing George Starke. We missed Ron Saul, and Jim Harlan is playing a position that's strange to him.
"If you can establish a little run, it gets the other team more conscious of your running game, and if you do have some success it gives your own people some confidence. So we tried to settle them down and run early in the game.
"I'm sure nobody liked it, but we felt it had to be done. But it's the same old story. The effort wasn't bad, they're all trying like hell, but if it's not one guy making a mistake it's another. We just can't have that happen."
Eight weeks ago, when the Redskins were 6-0 and all seemed right with the world, Walton was being acclaimed a miracle man for his innovative offense that was producing yards and points.
Compared to the final 14-game statistics of a year ago, the offense has been more productive this season, gaining 417 more yards, and scoring nine more touchdowns and 50 more points.
"But obviously things are not going well for us now, and we've got to turn it around," Walton said. "It's funny. When they were all telling me I was a genuis, I told them they were crazy, there's no such thing. The players won the first six, I didn't.
"And if we do turn it around -- and I think we can -- it will be the players who do it, not me. I still believe in them; they're trying so hard, we all are.
"But regardless of what happens, this year certainly hasn't been wasted offensively. They've all learned a tremendous amount of things. What people don't realize is that we've got a lot of young guys on this team, and some of them didn't even have our training camp.
"The experience that Harlan, Dan Nugent, Jeff Williams, even Joe has gotten has been invaluable, and these guys are going to be good football players. This is the first year Bob Kuziel has played regularly. For a lot of them, it's the first time they've been through this.
"They know now not to take winning streaks for granted, not to think they're better than they are, not to give up on the techniques we're teaching, not to give up on setting up in the right stance or reading the right keys.It all takes time and experience to eliminate some of the things that are happening, and I believe they will be eliminated.
"We'll work hard and, hell, it might come back. But that's what happens to young people. They have a tendency to lose confidence.
"Look at a guy like Terry Hermeling.He's a veteran, and he's playing well. He's been through it. If he has a bad play, or a bad game, he shakes it off and keeps going and does better the next time. A young guy worries about it and it pressures him.
"I don't want any of this to sound like we're making excuses, because you could do that all day. The most important thing is that they keep working hard, and eventually it's going to turn around. I hope it's this week."
Walton said he erred in berating tight end Jean Fugett at the end of the first half against the Dolphins.
With only four seconds left on the official clock and the stadium clock not operating, Fugett caught a pass at the sideline and was expected to go out of bounds. Instead, he turned up field.
The Redskins had hoped to be able to stop the clock in time for Mark Moseley to kick a long field goal. Instead, the gun went off as Fugett was tackled and Walton started yelling at him on the sideline, in full view of the RFK Stadium capacity crowd.
"I feel bad about that," Walton said. "Jean's had leg problems all year, he's given us a damned good effort. I'm normally not that emotional. I just thought we'd have a chance to kick a field goal and I called a play specifically for him to go out of bounds. Jean just thought he didn't have any time left and tried to make a big play out of it.
"It was a misunderstanding and a mistake on my part."