Jack Pardee is not the envy of his peers. Although most NFL coaches work in slum surroundings compared with his, few would trade places this season with Pardee. Who would be anxious to rebuild the Washington Monument with a spade?
For the splendor of the Allen years, or Washington's sporting Camelot, Paradee is paying a dear price. Everybody except the Redskins imporoved during the draft, or at least had that chance. The Redskins need several breaks to match last season's 8-8 record, yet one major break - to any of Joe Theismann's limbs - could bring disaster.
Still, as he prepares to open training camp this week in Carlisle, Pa., Pardee emphasizes the positive. He could have chosen to remind us that he inherited countless problems and almost no solutions; that may come later. For now, Pardee sees the Redskin cup as half full.
To the gloomy faithful looking for soft touches on the schedule - and finding none - Pardee says: "Who's better than we are?"
"Who's that much better than anyone else in the league?" he said. "There are two or three teams with better personnel (New England, Dallas, Pittsburgh, the Rams), but all of a sudden you get short of 'haves.'
"What you have after that is 12 to 15 clubs right in there together, us included. Teams where if a player or two stands out and injuries are kept to a minimum, (they) can win a division or get the wild cards.
"Atlanta got it done last year; New Orleans came close. I hope we can get out of '79 what the Falcons got out of '78 ( the playoffs and then victory in the wild-card matchup). If we have the intensity of the Falcons, we can have a lot more success. We certainly have the personnel to win."
But that personnel is in odd places. The troublesome fact is that the Redskins' best players are not at the cornerstone positions. Pardee is a builder with shiny and valuable stones, but without the foundation to give them proper luster.
Mark Moseley is as good as any placekicker in the league: he is helpless if the offense cannot give him decent distances from which to perform.
Even without Jake Scott, the defensive backfield is strong; it cannot be dominant, or even especially useful, if the opposition runs at will.
The offense has swift receivers, an exceptional fullback and a tight end with fine moves and hands; none can show those skills without time and at least a small hole.
"We have the big-play people, the guys who can come up with those six plays out of 60, the seven plays out of 70," Pardee said. "What we've got to get is the other 90 percent."
So the overwhelming concentration in training camp will be on the front lines, defensive and offensive, a unit that can give John Riggins space to run and John McDaniel, Jean Fugett and some others time to maneuver.
And to keep Theismann from having large and angry Cowboys and Eagles waiting for him in the pass pocket, saying as they grab him - gently this year: "What took you so long to get here?"
Interestingly, the first name out of Pardee's mouth in this regard was Jeff Williams, the poor fellow who helped several defensive left ends to pay raises last year.
Out of necessity, Williams played too much offensive right tackle too soon. But Pardee believes he will be helpful, if not a starter, this season, adding: "He's still got to lose some weight. But at 280 pounds he ran 4.8 (for 40 yards) during a minicamp."
Redskin fans asking what's my line this year will find the familiar names. And the Starkes and Butzes, the Nugents, Hermelings, Lorches and Kuziels will snort about now and remind everyone that the team went 6-0 with them last season, that the offense did not begin to become offensive until some starters were injured.
Or said they were.
Pardee is hoping more is better this season, that such as Bennie Malone, Louis Cater, Don Testerman and Tony Green will offer more yardage at halfback than the departed Mike Thomas. Green will be seen more this season, but not too often.
"He's not really big enough to be a three-down player," Pardee said of the elusive puff who made so many fourth downs so pleasurable last season with his kick returns. "But he ought to be able to play one or two of those downs, as a runner and also, as a receiver.
We'll have a lot more depth this season. When Mike and John were hurt last year, we really didn't have that much. That pretty much took away our running and passing (because defenses could dwell so heavily on Theismann)."
The other area with mostly strange names this season will be linebacker, or at least reserve linebacker. But Dusek still will be among the best linebackers with the least recognition in the league.
"Lines are the key," Pardee said. "But the defense has to be good all the time for us to win. And we might be substituting almost every down with the defensive line, trying to stop the run on first down and bringing Coy (Bacon) in when we need a pass rush."
One of the large - and largely unresolved - debates last season was whether the Redskins self-destructed after that splendid start or simply began to wear down about the same time they usually did under Allen.
Pardee implied it was a bit of both.
"We can't be beating ourselves, players killing each other privately or through the media," he said, his one reference to that postseason purge that sent nearly all of the Over The Hill Gang over the hill.
"But we've also got to get more depth, so a Jeff Williams is ready to step in when a George Starke goes down. And it's time for a Karl Lorch and Perry Brooks to step up and play well, to fill a need. We don't want to go from pretty good to the pits in one week, from a peak to a valley."
He mentioned playoffs, "if everything breaks right for us." This despite seven games against teams that made the playoffs last season, tow against a Cardinal team that should improve dramatically and ...
Why press on? July is much too early to interrupt a perfectly good dream.