As the Redskins finished calisthenics yesterday at Redskin Park and broke into groups to start drills, defensive end Coy Bacon stopped, turned to two reporters and shouted, "Tell 'em we're going to kill the Cowboys."
Emotions aside, shouting will not beat Dallas and earn the Redskins aa share of the first place in the NFC East Sunday at RFK Stadium.
Overcoming Roger Staubach and the Dallas pass rush will, however, according to Redskin players and coaches surveyed yesterday about the most formidable aspect of the Cowboys' game.
There was total agreement about Staubach's ability as a quarterback, particularly his "ability to pull the game out," said Redskin defensive tackle Dave Butz.
"Oh, yes," said Coach Jack Pardee, when asked whether he considered Staubach more of a threat than running back Tony Dorsett. "Dorsett can run and break it downfield. But Staubach's going to handle the ball every down. Dorsett will some, but Roger can beat you any down.
"They've done different things real well at times. But this year the only real consistent thing has been Roger Staubach. They've been down just about every week and he's pulled them out with his scrambling, his running on first down, making clutch plays on the run. Of course, he's had guys catch the ball when he's thrown it.
"Through the years -- good times, bad times, everything else -- Roger's kept them in it."
There was no unanamity about the pass rush, which this season lacks Ed (Too Tall) Jones. The Redskins know they have to beat it -- consider last season when they did (a 9-5 victory) and when they didn't (a 37-10 loss).
Kirk Mee, the assistant coach who scouts future opponents, says the difference in the Cowboy pass rush with Jones and without Jones is "the difference between night and day."
That's obviously why the Cowboys traded for defensive end John Dutton, who refused to report to the Baltimore Colts. That trade was four weeks ago and it wasn't until Monday night that he saw any amount of playing time.
"It's kind of strange," Redskin tackle George Starke said about not lining up in front of Jones. "I'll adjust to it, I guess I don't know if it's hurt at all. They've got Dutton back there. I suspect he'll start and play most off the game against us."
End Harvey Martin and tackle Randy White, the defensive linemen on the Cowboys' right side, are "two of the best at their positions as far as the pass rush goes," said Joe Walton, the Redskins' coordinator.
White has an injured foot and is listed as questionable, to which, Pardee says: "He's as good on one leg as most of them are on two."
Asked for his assessment of the Cowboys' assets, quarterback Joe Theismann replied: "The defensive line is formidable and disciplined . . . They play the percentages and play them very well. They utilize their personnel well."
Asked what the loss of Jones means, Theismann said, "They're (still) good.I'll be better able to answer that about 5 o'clock Sunday."
Strong safety Ken Houston said, "You know you have to play 60 minutes or they're going to come back. Staubach's a great athlete. Right now he's scrambling more to run than any quarterback in the NFL, and he's doing a good job of it."
That, said Butz, presents the biggest problem for a defensive lineman, especially against the shotgun formation.
"He's got an advantage," Butz said. "He can see the defensive lineman approaching and the different pass rushes. It allows him -- if his receivers aren't open -- to position himself so he can either dump the pass quickly or scramble. He's got a better average gain than Dorsett."
Butz said that sometimes the rushmen hurt themselves by being too aggressive because Staubach's already back there setting up.
"So you really go and get off the ball," Butz said. "He can see some seams then, a guy getting double-teamed or pushed a little bit wider. That allows him to get past the lineman."
"Most of them (quarterbacks) are running to throw," said Houston. "He's running to run."
Then it's just a matter of scrambling after the scrambler.
"You don't worry about it (preparing for the scramble) too much," said Pardee. "If you worry about it being soft and keeping him penned in, you'll never get any pressure. You have to react . . . The best thing the Eagles did was just run hard and catch up with him."
Pardee said that Bobby Hammond, picked up off the waiver list this week, will be the deep man on punt and kickoff returns Sunday. That will allow Clarence Harmon and Ike Forte to return to their normal positions on those special teams, a move Pardee feels will improve efficiency and a major reason why he cut Dennis Law after one week and signed Hammond, a former New York Giant . . . Pardee said that tight end Jean Fugett, who did not play against the Cardinals, is in his best physical shape of the last few weeks and will be available for the Cowboys. But he indicated rookie Don Warren again will get most of the playing time . . . The team seems to be getting over the effects of a 24-hour virus that hit many of the players and Pardee in the past two weeks.