"This is my pledge to this city. For so long as the city will support this team, it will stay here," Williams assures.
People in the Nation's Capital are worried. There were 10 no-shows at the season's opener against the Oilers and Baltimore suddenly is an "open city" in the NFL for 1980, Colt owner Robert Irsay having renounced Jacksonville, Jefferson City and Joplin in favor of a new home for his franchise in Nome for 1980.
Except for this sort of nonsense, the 1979 professional football season figures to be rather routine for area faithful. The Redskins are going no place in particular. An 8-8 record will be excellent, under the circumstances.
Bobby Beathard keeps crying in print about the team he and Jack Pardee "inherited" from George Allen. Well, that group of over-the-hill players was inept enought to go 6-0 through the first six weeks last year. Allen would have coached that squad into the expanded playoff format. Pardee didn't.
And, for all the comments Beathard has uttered concerning youth-versus-age, the best move the general manager has made since coming here was to give up draft choices for Lamar Parrish and Coy Bacon, in what was an Allen-like trade.
With assistant coach Joe Walton free to run the offense under Pardee, we were told early last year that the Redskins would, at the very least, lose excitingly now that Allen's penchant for dull defensive dominance was gone. For six games, watching Washington's offense was fun. Then Pardee's conservative nature came to the fore and the 1977 'Skins out-Allened Allen by December.
This year, in the first two exhibition games, Mark Moseley provided the entire offense and Pardee quickly resorted to talking about "establishing the running game" at all costs and relying on the defense to keep his team in contention. Shades of you-know-who.
The point is, Allen's imprint is till on the Redskins. What little established quality is left consists of the players who helped him fashion his defensive unit.
But there is one almighty difference. The genius that was George Allen when it came to preparing a defense, game after game, and bringing an entire squad to an emotional peak for a really important contest, is gone.
Pardee, by comparison, is a nice guy. Allen, for all his critics, was a miracle worker in Washington. He quickly transformed the team into a playoff contender, and kept it there.
Beathard may be as good as his reputation when it comes to appraising young talent. He has said, however, that it probably will take him five years to build a championship club here. That must be a comforting thought to Pardee. By the time Beathard has achieved his objective -- if he does, Jack Kent Cooke permitting -- Pardee will be gone.
Washington, again this season, will not be mentioned as frequently in "Playing Football" as it was when Allen was the coach. George was money in the bank -- hypothetical money, of course -- on many occasions. I miss him.
Don Coryell, happily, is set for a full season again. Coryell is to offense what Allen is to defense among the NFL'S highly paid thinkers. He has rapidly molded a team to his image in San Diego. The Chargers' performance in their final 1978 outing at Houston was most impressive. The subsequent additions of Willie Buchanan from Green Bay and former Redskin Mike Thomas have to further strengthen the roster.
There have been several other noteworthy talent shifts.
Dollas is going to miss Too Tall Jones more than most observers realize. Conversely, Lyle Alzado is going to help make Cleveland a serious contender in the rugged AFC Central.
Miami, Pittsburg and San Diego should be the AFC divisional favorites. Dallas, Detroit and Los Angeles are the logical NFC selections.
The Redskins? They still are better than the New York Giants and they should not be afraid to suit up against St. Louis or Philadelphia. But it will take a great run of luck if Washington is to wild-card its way into the playoffs, especially since the Miracle Worker doesn't work here anymore.