The collapse of the Washington Redskins may have this town perplexed, but several knowledgeable sources in the National Football League who were interviewed yesterday said they could see the fall coming a long time ago.

The reason for the recent Redskins' misery is simple, said one source, who, like the others contacted, asked not to be identified. "They were never very good to start with. They've peaked and now they are sliding. What has happened to the Redskins is what a lot of people said would happen.

"You can't trade off all of your draft choices and expect not to be hurt somewhere down the line. A lot of people said the Redskins would fall with a thump; and now you are hearing the thump. Believe me, it comes as no surprise."

Another NFL source said the Redskins "just don't have the players. They have some good players, but I think as a team they were overrated all along."

An assistant coach of a team that beat the Redskins said that even when the Redskins were playing well he could see that something was lacking. He said that when he talked to another team about the Redskins, he was told, "They are no problem."

"I think the coaching change and their schedule got a lot of people (players) excited," another source said. "They beat New England and Dallas, but even with that, you never got the impression they were a good football team.

"The thing people should remember before they come down too hard on them, though, is that if you would have told Jack Pardee or Edward Bennett Williams that the Redskins would be 8-8 this season, I'm sure they'd have gladly taken that. It's just dishearting the way they are getting there."

"I have no bones to pick with the Redskins," one source said, "but in making an honest appraisal of their situation, one has to realize that they just don't have much talent. They weren't very good to start with and it doesn't help when they have to pick up guys like Jeff Williams to play tackle. He walked out of camp and didn't even have any training camp and he wasn't a very good football player to begin with and he's thrown in there."

"For the Redskins to win this year, they had to stay healthy, have a great attitude, and get awfully lucky. Well, they've been injured, their luck seems to have run out and the Mike Thomas thing had to hurt their attitude," a coach said.

"The bottom line, though, is what I said before. Nothing is really wrong with the Redskins that Pardee and most other people didn't know all along -- they just aren't a good football team. In time they will be, but it doesn't look like it's going to be too soon."

The loss of George Starke hurt the Redskins as much as anything, according to some of those questioned.

"He isn't an All-Pro, but he's a damn good tackle," another coach said. "What he can do is offset people like Ed (Too Tall) Jones and Jack Gregory and people like that so the quarterback doesn't have to worry about them all day long."

One coach said that if the Redskin offensive line is as bad as it seems, and Joe Theismann can't stay in the pocket because of it, they should try rolling Theismann out of the pocket on occasion to get him away from the rush.

This coach said that his team was sure the Redskins would try that, and even practiced against it. They were surprised when Theismann stayed in the pocket the whole game.