Redskins vs. 'Iranians'
Redskin tackle Diron Talbert, in a motivational move for Sunday's game against the Cowboys, got up at a team meeting yesterday and suggested, "Just pretend they're Iranians."
Redskin Coach Jack Pardee learned to hate the Dallas Cowboys long before he ever became associated with Washington, as a player or a coach.
It began the season he was recovering from cancer surgery and coaching at Texas A&M, his alma mater. It continued for three offseasons after that living in Texas while playing linebacker for the Los Angeles Rams.
"Being from Texas to begin with," Pardee said, explaining a dislike that George Allen exploited for all its motivational worth in his seven seasons here, "and I was working down there in the offseason and I heard so much about them and how great they were.
"And they were the only team in the league and everything they did was right. And everything everybody else did was wrong. I heard enough about the Cowboys.
Someone mentioned Tex Schramm, the president of the Cowboys, and Allen.
"It was before them," Pardee said.
Somewhat like a college rivalry, the coach said, backing off of the word "hate."
"I don't hate them as much as it's just fun beating them," Pardee said as the Redskins continued long workouts for Sunday's 1 p.m. game at RFK Stadium. The Redskins (7-4) would tie the Cowboys (8-3) for first place in the NFC East with a victory.
However, Pardee's worst experiences with the Cowboys were not verbal ones and it is said that battles against the crack-back blocking of former Cowboy wide receiver Lance Alworth put an indelible hatred for the Cowboys in Pardee's mind.
"The last year I played here, they were sending a man in motion at the linebacker, the end man on the line, and he was getting a running start and getting a blind shot at my knee," Pardee recalled.
"I wasn't very happy over that tactic. It was long overdue, but after that year they changed the rule on that. It had to be a shirt block, instead of a leg block. It did hurt my knee a little bit, but in a couple of days, it was okay again. It was the type thing that could have put me out for the year. It could have shortened my career by a couple of weeks (Pardee was 36 at the time)."
The Cowboys, Pardee said, were innovators and this particular strategy, which assisted in the outside running game, was a first in the National Football League.
"It can be an intimidating-type block," Pardee said. "In the running game, you try to figure out how you can run outside. You've got to be able to block the end man on the line. Everybody goes about it in a different way. t
"That tactic was a good one, but it also can be a vicious one and, as the league does, it makes necessary changes every year and that was one of the changes that was long overdue."
What Sunday's matchup basically comes down to, Pardee said, is the Cowboy computer approach versus the Redskins' rah-rah approach.
"Football," Pardee said, "is such an emotional game of getting up to play.And they take just the opposite approach. Everything's routine. Don't get too excited. It's the computer approach versus the human aspect. They may not say that. Maybe it's not right. But it's the impression I get.
"It's real challenging. Which is better? Of course, their record speaks for itself. On an individual-game matchup, you try to get up and show them who's better."
The Redskins will be doing that this week with rookie linebacker Rich Milot, who had earned the starting job on the right side before breaking a bone in his left wrist against Cleveland five weeks ago.
Milot now is recovered enough to play regularly on the special teams, some 30-40 plays per game. But Pardee is in no hurry to return Milot to the starting lineup, for two reasons: Pete Wysocki and Monte Coleman are doing a fine job there now, and Pardee's philosophy concerning injuries differs radically from Allen's.
"His wrist, he's still favoring it a little bit," Pardee said. "Until he's ready to hit full speed and play like there's no injury (he won't play). We're pleased with the play of Pete and Monte, anyway. So we want his wrist to get completely well. With a wrap on it, he'd have a hard time catching the ball and doing some things."
Under Allen, who usually played his starters the entire game despite whatever the score was, Redskins who could limp onto the field played. The backups gained little, if any, game experience, being limited to special-teams play.
"I'd rather have players that are ready to play full speed on the field," Pardee said. "You've got to measure it -- is a player who is not ready to play full speed better than his backup? You try to feel, all things being equal, I'd rather have the player who is well but inexperienced or to as good.
"A good healthy player is better than a good hurt player."
Pardee has deployed players in this manner at many positions this season, especially in the defensive secondary and the lines. For instance, left guard Ron Saul, a stalwart blocker, told Pardee he would be able to play after suffering a sprained ankle.
But Pardee overruled him, opting to let Saul get healthy again while Fred Dean played six quarters in his place.
The meetings and practices have run longer this week even though the same amount of material is being covered. Pardee explained: "To get a good picture of all the shifts and to make sure you're getting a good scout-team picture of what Dallas does . . . to cover all the formations. That's one of the reasons they use all that stuff, to give opponents more things to work on. So we just take a little more time." The meetings took an extra 30 minutes, practice 15 minutes.