Coach Jack Pardee said yesterday that the Philadelphia Eagles, who play his Redskins Sunday, are using illegal holding tactics to produce an effective running game for Wilbert Montgomery.
Pardee said the Eagles have become one of the "best" in the National Football League at holding on running plays. He said that they rarely are called for the infraction and that he intends to talk to the game officials about the problem prior to Sunday's contest.
"If I was an official, I'd call them for holding," Pardee said. "I want them to call it Sunday. But it's hard to call. It's subtle. It's not like Oakland where they pull down guys.
"They hold the elbows (of the defensive players). They get the outside elbow and they get the guy where they want to and they open holes. They create seams that way for Montgomery.
"It's hard to make a tackle when your elbows are being held. We knew what they did (before playing the Eagles two weeks ago) but we didn't think it would be that dominating of a tactic.
"We called it to the attention of the officials before that game, but they only call what they see. You have to be watching their arms. It's not a takedown; nothing that blatant."
In Philadelphia, Eagle Coach Vermeil dismissed the accusation by Pardee as if it was hardly worth comment.
Vermeil said something like, "Fie on him" when asked to comment on the charge.
"We probably hold less than any other team, in the league," he said. "We don't coach holding and when we see it on our film we correct it."
Pardee explained that in pass-blocking, the offensive linemen are allowed to use their hands to fend off charging defensive linemen.
But in run-blocking, no hands are allowed. The offensive linemen can use their heads and shoulders for leverage, and incidental hand contact is overlooked. But, according to Pardee, if an offensive lineman's hands wander outside the confines of the body, it's illegal.
"With Philly, the first thing they do is bring their hands around and grab your elbows. Now they have leverage. If I have your elbows, I can shove you any way I want. t
"We call it funneling. It's a very effective tactic, especially with a guy like Montgomery. All you have to do is give him a seam and he can gain yardage for you.
"It's got to be called. It's an unfair advantage for them, especially because they run out of the I-formation so much."
Pardee said the rules governing run-blocking were changed in part because Cardinal Conrad Dobler was able to use his hands so well.
"He was having enormous success with the tactic," Pardee said. "St. Louis linemen always did it, but Philly's is a recent development.
"It makes them so difficult and dangerous. It's a very effective scheme. I think it's illegal but if it's not called, you have to think of a way to defend it."
And that's one of the reasons the Redskins, according to Pardee, are closing practices this week.
"How you position people and play your personnel can affect how you handle what they are doing," he said. "We don't want to give them a clue about anything.
"They handled us so easily (on offense) two weeks ago that we have to come up with something to counteract them. What we tried the first game just didn't do the job.
"The problem defensively is that no matter what kind of charge you are using, it can be thrown off by holding the elbows. You might be able to counter it once in a while but the odds are in their favor."
The Eagles rambled for 209 rushing yards two weeks ago and Montgomery scored four touchdowns, three on the ground, while picking up 127 yards.
Philadelphia had particular success against the right side of the Redskin defensive line. Pardee talked afterward about the Eagles' "one-on-one" blocking scheme and how important strength was in defending against it.
Yesterday was the first time he has brought up the holding charges. He explained his complaint in calm tones but the message was clear: He was sending out a trial balloon to Sunday's game officials.
He also has talked constantly about how Philadelphia played "a perfect game" in the first meeting: no fumbles, no interceptions and two incidental penalties.
In these discussions, he has wondered aloud how any pro team can go through an entire contest without picking up some major penalties.
Ironically, Pardee's defensive maneuvering is being hindered by a slowly healing knee injured to Joe Lavender. The tall cornerback sprained the knee against Cleveland Sunday, but at the time it was not considered major.
However, he still has not worked out this week. Pardee yesterday said he was becoming increasingly more concerned about Lavender's condition.
"It's getting late in the week," he said. "The knee isn't that bad and if he wasn't playing cornerback he'd probably be okay. But with all the cutting and backpedaling at that position, there is a difference strain on the knee."
Without Lavender at full strength, the Redskins' defensive coverage are affected. The team had wanted to utilize the talents of Tony Peters on specific plays this week, but with Lavender ailing, Peters could become a regular.
One of the tactics the Redskins are trying to defend against this week is the Eagles' wing-T formation, in which Harold Carmichael is used as a blocking back.
"There is no reason for them not to keep using it until we stop it," Pardee said. "Maybe they won't use it as much but they will use it.
"We just can't concentrate so much on stopping Montgomery and their running that we forget their passing. That's what happened in the first game and we got hurt on play-action passes. We have to be aware of everything they do and be ready to stop it."
Beth Bragg, wife of punter Mike Bragg, had twins Wednesday night: Bridget Michelle (eight pounds) and Adam Michael (eight pounds five ounces).