Redskin Coach Jack Pardee says that, were the decision his to make again, he probably would not trade wide receiver Frank Grant to Tampa Bay because of the "unsettling effect" it apparently had on morale when the team was 6-0.
Pardee's statement, during a Friday luncheon with editors and executives of The Washington Post, marked the first time he has admitted the Redskins may have made a mistake in dealing away the popular receiver.
The Redskins lost eight of their next 10 games, and the final six. Many players grumbled that the team's collapse to 8-8 began the day Grant left.
But Pardee and General Manager Bobby Beathard, who also attended the session, insisted that Grant had slowed considerably.
"We didn't want to stick with a pat hane," Pardee said. "At the time, we thought it was the right thing to do."
Pardee revealed that next season the Redskins will be shuttling more players to "get out best people on the field."
"We will be doing more situation substitution," he added.
That would mean shuffling players on offense and defense, on down and distance. In passing situations, for example, Pardee said Tony Green probably would be used more in the backfield to take advantage of his pass-catching ability and his speed.
Pardee said the system also would cut down on the constant pounding some older regulars receive playing every down.
"It would allow some of our players, say a John Riggins, to stay healthier," Pardee said.
Pardee and Beathard insisted the team has a solid nucleus of talent. Both also admited there were a number of holes to fill, particularly on the offensive line and at linebacker, where age and depth are serious problems. Pardee also said:
He likely will continue to call signals from the bench for quarterback Joe Theismann.
He expects Billy Kilmer to return for another season.
Third-team quarterback Kim McQuilken "was the best scout team quarterback I've ever had" and will be given a long look in training camp.
He considers the return of injured defensive tackle Bill Brundige a "very remote possibility." Brundige, hurt late in the 1977 season, underwent foot surgery at the start of the 1978 season.
Dave Butz, the huge defensive tackle, was the team's most consistent lineman and probably was the Redskins' most improved player in 1978.
Pardee said he was not surprised by anything that happened to his team in 1978, and that he was not discouraged even though the Redskins don't get a pick until the fourth round of the draft this May.
He said he has been working with a half-dozen young veterans at Redskin Park since the season ended because "these are the people who are going to have to come through for us if we're going to be a better team."
Included in that group were free safety Mark Murphy, strong safety Donnie Harris, guard Dan Nugent, tackles Jeff Williams and Jim Harlan and center Bob Kuziel.
Beathard said again he anticipates no problems signing strong safety Ken Houston. He also indicated that several teams have expressed some interest in obtaining running back Mike Thomas, who played out his option in 1978 and is a free agent.
Pardee added that he was not surprised by the bitter reaction of Ron McDole after it was reported that the veteran defensive end had not been offered a contract for next season.
"Jjust look at that list of salaries you put in the paper," Pardee said, "and you know why nobody wants to give up playing. Not for that kind of money."