Jack Pardee, reeling from Sunday afternoon's nightmare, blasted the NFL tie-breaker system yesterday while predicting his Redskins will become a bona fide league power for years to come.
"I think at this point we are the best team in the NFC," he said.
Pardee also said, referring to the antics of Cowboy defensive end Harvey Martin Sunday, that "there are all kinds of weirdos in this world. Yesterday was his day. We'll have ours."
Martin angrily threw a funeral wreath into the Redskin locker room minutes after the game Sunday.
(Late last night, Harvey sent Pardee a telegram apologizing for his actions, saying they were "definitely not the actions that a professional would do. I consider myself a professional as I consider you a professional.
("I am very sorry about the wreath incident. I respect the Washington Redskins, the city of Washington and the fans of Washington and, even though the Redskins lost the game, I consider them a class organization. I am very sorry about my actions and deeply hurt. Please accept my apology.")
Pardee listed the Redskins top two draft priorities as a defensive lineman, "who can be broken in slowly," and a speedy offensive halfback "who can be used on first downs and who can fit in with the other backs we will continue to use."
Pardee who had little sleep following Washington's 35-34 loss to Dallas, was emotionally drained yesterday. He remained stunned over the game and despite repeated attempts "to forget about it, let it pass," he couldn't get it out of his mind.
What bothered him most was that the defeat may force him to alter his approach to coaching, unless the league decides, as he hopes, that net points should not have a high priority in deciding playoff tie breakers.
"I don't like running up points on anyone," he said. "I just don't think that is the way to go. But I'm going to have to change that thinking now.
"If in the future you get an opponent you are dominating, why not run up as many points as you can and get a comfortable net point cushion? You might not be so apt to do that against a division opponent that you meet twice a year but if you are going against someone you won't play in four more years, why not?
"I don't think that is good for football, for the fans or for the players. The point differential is the worst way. That's why my voice is going to be heard about this. I think the tiebreaker system should be changed."
Pardee opposed using net points as a tie breaker even before the unpredictable events of Sunday, when Chicago gained the final wild-card position in the NFC by wiping out Washington's 33 net-point advantage in one afternoon.
Now he is even more opposed. He feels they should use common opponents instead. "There are enough common opponents on everyone's schedule for that to be a factor.
"Or why not strength of schedule? If two teams are 10-6, wouldn't it be better to go with the one that has played the tougher schedule? I don't think Chicago beat more than two teams with winning records this year."
Under the present tie-breaker setup among conference teams, net points is the third-highest priority, behind head-to-head competition and conference record.
Pardee had a chance against Green Bay earlier in the season to score at least one more touchdown near the game's end. Instead, he ordered quarterback Kim McQuilken to fall on the ball, eschewing even a field goal try. But the Bears admitted they attempted to score as many points as possible in their 42-6 romp over St. Louis Sunday.
"None of us expected this to happen," Pardee said. "We had planned to come in today and start working on the playoffs. It's going to take a while to gear down to a different pace. Iv'e got to get myself away for a while, chop some wood or ride my tractor or I'll drive everyone crazy."
But even amid the quiet sadness of Redskin Park yesterday, Pardee glowed when talking about the future.
"This was a beginning," he said of his surprising club, which finished 10-6 after a 6-10 season seemed more reasonable coming out of training camp. "The most satisfying thing from a coaching standpoint is that we were consistent. We weren't unpredictable from week to week.
"We really only were out of two games and we certainly haven't played our best football yet. I'll take being competitive in 14 of 18 games next year."
To capitalize on this season, Pardee believes the Redskins' major priority should be continuing the offseason conditioning and weight-lighting program.
"We made great strides being a stronger team this year," he said, "but we must follow through on this so we can be a much stronger team next year.
"Working with the players we have now is our main priority. It will be fun to bring in a high draft choice, but we are at the point where we can play with the people we have and develop and bring our draft choices along.
"Those choices don't have to be our savior as a starter. We aren't in a position where you have to depend on a rookie to get to the Super Bowl. That way the young player isn't under great pressure.
"I'll be disappointed if (the) sophomores next year, people like Neal Olkewicz, Rich Milot, Monte Coleman, Don Warren, Ray Waddy and Phil DuBois, are not the most improved players on the team. They were one of the key parts in our program but they need to be a lot better by training camp.
"Joe Theismann will be a lot better too. He had a real fine year this year but he will develop to the point where he has 20-for-23 days all the time. yHe'll be more familiar with the backs and tight ends and receivers. Now he knows exactly why he makes a mistake when he makes one."
The Redskins' rebuilding program, begun last year by Pardee and General Manager Bobby Beathard, is far ahead of schedule. And the two men agree that their players have proven to themselves and their fans that they already are on a level with Dallas and Philadelphia.
"We are winners," Beathard said. "We know it and so does everyone else. It takes some teams years to know that. This team has come a long, long way behind some great players and coaching."
Pardee said, "We have a team that we can grow with. It's going to get better and better. No one else in the NFC is better. They know it and we know it.
"With the age of some of our defensive linemen, people like Coy Bacon, Diron Talbert and Paul Smith, we'd like to get a young defensive lineman. And a first-down halfback is another something else we'd have to look at."
Washington feels that a speedy halfback would add a major threat to its fast-developing offense. With the late-season emergence of its wide receivers, a pass-rushing defensive lineman has become the No. 2 priority in the draft.
Pardee said he would like all of his older players to return next year, including Bacon and Talbert.Strong safety Ken Houston seems likely to come back, although he will compete for playing time with Tony Peters. Guard Ron Saul will be pushed by Dan Nugent, a former starter who had a preseason back operation.
If a draft choice or a young lineman such as Perry Brooks develops, then Bacon, Talbert and Smith could be utilized as specialists next year. Pardee could decide to waive one or more of those veterans during training camp.
As for the loss to the Cowboys, Pardee had kind words for Roger Staubach. The Dallas quarterback took advantage of an inconsistent Redskin pass rush down the stretch to pick apart a Washington secondary that was switching coverages on almost every play.
"Roger had enough time to stand back there and see what we were doing," Pardee said. "Give him credit. He did a heck of a job. If we blitzed to help our rush, we were risking letting him break a play. But if we stood back, he was finding the open guy.
"Time is particularly important on the patterns run by Preston Pearson. They read each other really well and when Pearson can maneuver, he is awfully hard to stop."
Still, Pardee is convinced his club should have won the game. That was why he had such an empty feeling in his stomach yesterday.
"We played one of our best games and to have us fall out of the playoffs in every category, that's what makes this so unbelievable. We didn't think we'd stop playing for a couple more weeks down the road."
The Redskins will assemble at Redskin Park today for a team picture and final meeting of the season . . . Mark Moseley set a club career record for points scored with 546. He also led the NFL in field goals (25) and set club marks for career field goals and PATs during the season . . . John Riggins finished with 1,153 yards, second best in club history to Larry Brown's 1,216 in 1972 during the 14-game schedule. Riggins is the No. 9 NFL career rusher . . . The club set season records for rushing yards (2,328) and total offense (4,904), while its 348 points were three short of the record.