The normal starting lineup of the Washington Redskins these days has seven players who were not starters in Coach Jack Pardee's first game here a year ago. Those seven are sewn together with a common thread: youth, physical strength and desire.
Nowhere has this combination been more visible than on the Redskin offense, which has posted 27 points each game of this 2-1 season. There are three new starters on offense. Right guard Jeff Williams and tailback Benny Malone are the essence of the Pardee philosophy.
Pardee's goal is to develop the power game here that worked so well when he was a star linebacker and signal-caller for the Los Angeles Rams.
"You want to free athletes to do their jobs," he said. "I hope that what we can achieve here is a strong club and do the same thing primarily every week -- let the athletes play, don't handicap them with too much coaching. The best thing we did in L.A. was . . . as a signal caller . . . make sure we didn't handicap Deacon Jones or Merlin Olsen. Let them whip their man; it's a physical mismatch to start with. Let them play football."
In a lengthy interview following practice yesterday, Pardee evaluated his seven new starters, giving the whys and wherefores of the sometimes unpopular moves to replace veteran players.
HERE is Pardee's rundown:
Jeff Williams, right guard: "He gives us a big guard.For us, with the type of backs we have, we need to be able to run inside some. It's a new position for him, but he's 270 pounds. It's a little bit easer to get movement inside with a big man with speed. Jeff's best football -- he's playing well now -- ought to be ahead of him.
"He's the type lineman you can line up with and play. And the more he plays, the more we won't have to worry about him doing the job. We won't have to spend all night long up there in a meeting figuring out how we'll get help for him to handle his job. He's not far from that now, but there are a lot of new things happening to him."
Benny Malone, tailback: "He adds some real toughness to our backfield with his blocking and his running, his hard hitting, which helps the offensive line out. They're coming off their blocking and they know the back's going to be hitting there right behind them. It's not all finesse or pick a hole.
"So Benny will take the first seam he hits. If there's some room there, fine. If not, he'll lower his shoulder and take what he can. Does he better fit our team's concept? Yes. With Williams and the kind of linemen we have now, we can improve and get better blocking. But in the meantime . . . if there's not much of a hole, he gets a couple of yards. If you don't hit hard, there might be a three or four yard loss."
Ricky Thompson, wide receiver: "He came in and started quite a bit for us last year. He's developed into our most consistent pattern runner. You throw it out there, Ricky will catch it. You've got to have a receiver who will do that in the end zone or on third down. When the coverage tells the quarterback to go to him, he's a guy we can rely on.
"Well, yes, his size (6-0, 170) is a disadvantage. It would be good if he were an Isaac Curtis type receiver. He blocks and does everything we want our receivers to do."
Don Hover, middle linebacker: "He's still young but he's smart. He stays in the right position and I think the way for him to improve is to see more plays run, to line up and stop them. He's got the ability to play and the knowledge. I feel the same about Neal Olkewicz, but it would be hard if we shuttled them for either to get the work they need.
"His toughest adjustment? The different keys, recognizing at full speed everything that can happen to a middle linebacker. You get a lot of influence plays and everything the offense has done is deceptive. You try to lure a guy out of a spot to block him. It's just training the negative reaction . . . It's like touching a fire. Instead of pulling your hand back, you have to jam it back in there.It's opposites and it takes time to do."
Rich Milot, right linebacker: "Our players have to have the strength and hold up. Like this week against the Cardinals, we can't help anyone hold up. They have to have the ability to play run or pass. We think Milot has that ability, He's inexperienced and I'm sure the Cardinals will be trying to do some things to take advantage of him one way or another.
"But he's making progress. He really understands what we're doing. He's the type player that can help us improve as a team. His only weakness is his lack of experience. His strengths are just what you're looing for in a player -- he's smart, he likes to play, he's got the strength to play his position and the speed. When he develops that experience, we hope he can line up and be there a long time."
Mark Murphy, free safety: "He's improving our tackling in the secondary. He's getting back -- our goal was not to give up so many bombs -- and he's giving the cornerbacks inside help they need. When the corner man's out there isolated on a wide receiver, going to the corner or the post, it's a big job.
"Having Mark back there, he's a good center fielder and it helps the corner men play their position. He's been in position. Although he has just one interception, he's been a factor in two or three of our sacks and the quarterback grounding the ball. Everything he's doing hasn't shown up on the stat sheet. He's a big guy (6-4) back there. And the quarterback that wants to throw down the middle, it's tough to do against a tall center fielder."
Karl Lorch, left defenseive end. "He started quite a bit last season. He's been one of our most steady players, not spectacular every week, but he does his job. He's got a good football sense. The play (the interception and 31-yard return for a touchdown) he made the other night was a big play.
"It was just on skill. He saw it coming and was able to catch it. He can make the big play anytime, but it's the consistency he gives us that's important. He's one of the strongest linemen. He's pretty much equal on the run or pass. That's why we leave him in there on the 34."
Left defensive tackle Dave Butz, who missed the Gaint game with a knee injury, continues to walk and jog around the Redskin Park track while his teammates practice. He is listed as questionable for the Cardinals . . . Pardee would like to have him available for at least spot duty, so he can give his defensive line a rest. Pardee wants to rotate six players in the front four. With Butz out, Paul Smith played every defensive down and Coy Bacon all but two against New York . . . The Redskins special teams are doing well, Washington is second in the NFL in punt returns, first in fewest yards allowed on punt returns (16) and first in kickoff return defense (14.4 yards per return) . . . The Cardinals rank third in punt returns and first in kickoff returns . . .