Not to be an eavesdropper, but some things a guy can't help hearing. Here I am in a little office at Redskin Park, getting ready to type out what a great coaching job Jack Pardee and his helpers have done. And what do I hear from down the hall? Little giggles I hear.
And someone is saying, "Watch what Malone does to Lewis on this play." Bennie Malone, a Redskin running back, must have done something wonderful on film to the Cowboy linebackers, D. D. Lewis, because now the giggles turn into large chuckles, almost chortles, in fact.
Jack Pardee is not a demonstrative person. Mount Rushmore may smile as often as Pardee during football season. It is news, therefore, that Pardee, at 2:40 p.m. yesterday, put on a nice, warm smiles when someone asked him about Joe Theismann's first touchdown pass of Sunday.
That was the pass Theismann made while rolling to his left and throwing back to the right to wide receiver John McDaniel, open at the back of the end zone. It wasn't the play's success that pleased Pardee all that much, though he wasn't disowning it either. What Pardee liked was what he saw on film.
"The Cowboys had 10 men on the field," the coach said.
He smiled. The rules allow you 11 men at a time, of course, and America's Team, as Dallas allows itself to be known, is often so good that it seems to have 17 men playing. Not this time.
"Heh-heh, we need to get all the teams to use 10 men against us," Pardee said. "That's why Johnny Mac was so wide open."
Really? The Cowboys had 10 men? Maybe one was working the computer.
"All we saw on the film was 10," Pardee said.
He was absolutely loving this. No chuckles, no chortles, but he loved telling about the computerized Cowboys having 10 men on the field when the Redskins were at their four-yard line.
"Maybe the 11th guy was out of the picture," Pardee said, "but we sure couldn't see him."
Huh? The 11th man was so far out of position the movie camera couldn't find him?
"Anyway, there sure was a soft spot where we were going," Pardee said, and his smile blinded the air-traffic controllers a mile away at Dulles.
The Redskins' 34-20 victory over the Cowboys was the product of solid, imaginative use of 45 players who share more in enthusiasm than in talent. If any Redskin makes All-Pro this season, if likely will be Mark Moseley, the placekicker, with defensive backs Lemar Parrish and Ken Houston possibilities. Past those three, any other Redskin will do well to make honorable mention.
Yet the Redskins turned America's Team into Podunk's Team.
Tony Dorsett still is looking for daylight. Roger Staubach sat out the last few dances, inspiring some heroes in the bleachers to chant, "Rog-er is a sis-sy." The Cowboys did little offensively, and this is how much they did on defense: Seven times the Redskins moved into the Cowboy's end of the field, and they scored the last six times.
Billy Kilmer is a winner, always was, always will be. When he lost the Redskin quarterback job to Theismann two years ago, Kilmer took it graciously in public. In private, he said, "But can Theismann score on Dallas inside the 20?" Kilmer could, Theismann couldn't.
Now, Billy, Joe can do it too, Theismann has arrived more often than the Metroliner from New York, of course, but Sunday's game was confirmation, at least to an eavesdropper at Redskin Park, that Theismann has gotten over the panics that once marked him as a quarterback you couldn't count on.
Look: Washington moved inside the Dallas 20 four times Sunday, and they scored a touchdown each time. Look more: On third-down plays inside the 20, the Redskins were five for five in earning at first down.
Look at this disaster happening: On second and eight at the Cowboy 11, Dalls safetyman Cliff Harris is blitzing toward Theismann, who is certain to be sacked, as Harris has sacked a hundred guys at big moments.
No, not this time, no with this Theismann, who somehow, as he drops back to pass, sees Harris coming and promptly rolls to his right to elude the blitz. A second later, Theismann tosses a pass to Ricky Thompson, perfectly thrown so that only Thompson, by stretching full length, has a chance to catch it, avoiding any risk of interception. Touchdown.
With three wide receivers in on that Thompson play, the Redskins gambled that they could beat the Dalls blitz. That gamble was only one of several that paid off Sunday, another being the Clarence Harmon run inside on third and five at midfield (he made eight yards because the Cowboys slanted in a pass rush the opposite direction).
Gambles, certainly. But gambles that good coaches win more often than they lose. Just as it is a long-range gamble to platoon defenses the way the Redskins are doing; they sometimes change as many as five players according to down and distance, shuffling people to get the best talent in for the immediate need.
"if you had an All-Pro, you'd certainly hesitate to take him off the field," Pardee said. "We use everyone, for sure, it keeps everyone involved in what we're doing. But you won't see us taking Dave Butz out very often, or Brad Dusek. Lemar Parrish will be in there if he can walk.These are guys you don't want to take off the field."
Others can be replaced. The Redskins have first-down linebackers, third-down safetymen, second-and-long defensive tackles -- and on Sunday they even had a defensive end lined up at tackle whose only job was to inspect Roger Staubach's molars, if that's all the closer he could get.
Dallas Hickman was Staubach's shadow, his job being to stay at the line of scrimmage and cut off Staubach's scrambling. Let the other linemen do the pass rushing. They also serve who only stand and wait. Hickman had one sack of Staubach, negated by a penalty, "and three or four other times he made Roger throw it when he wanted to run," Pardee said.