Jack Pardee spent last night at the Touchdown Club's annual awards dinner being lauded as the NFL coach of the year.But he couldn't help thinking that, instead, he should have been preparing the Redskins for the Super Bowl.
"By playing the way we did at the end of the season, I think we could have won the NFC title off what I've seen on TV," Pardee said. "Yes, we'd be playing this week in the Super Bowl."
But a heartbreaking season-ending loss to Dallas kept Washington out of the playoffs, denying the Redskins the NFC East title and home field advantage in postseason play.
"We certainly are the equal of anyone in our conference," he said, "I thought that before but I'm more convinced than ever. There isn't a gap anymore between the teams.
"Next year, all we have to do is be solid and play together and get a little stronger and avoid key injuries and I think we can make a run at the East title. There is no reason why we can't make some fun again."
Pardee also said:
He would be in favor of using instant replays "on obvious situations when an NFL observer in the press box sees something that 10 million people can see but the officials on the field aren't aware of. There must be some way to get the word to them about what really happened. But I wouldn't want to add a lot of time to a game or make a big deal over it."
He believes the "pat answer" now on pass plays in the end zone similiar to the one in last week's Houston-Pittsburgh game "will be he didn't have possession. It's the easy way out."
The Redskin philosophy in the April draft will be "to take the best athlete available when our turn comes. It would be wrong to pass up a great defensive back, for example, just to take a less-gifted defensive lineman. Ideally we'd like to get a defensive lineman to bring along. We've got three guys 35 or older and they aren't goint to get any younger."
Pardee, who couldn't get interested in the wild-card games three weeks ago, said he has watched most of the other playoff contests.
"But I've had so much to do around the house and such that I haven't plunked myself down in front of the TV and not moved." he said. "Sure, it hurts to watch these teams and know our team could play with them. But there isn't much you can do about it.
"I think we can use the draft to add five or six good players and increase our depth. That way, if we do have injuries, maybe we can have the players to step in and ease the loss."
He did see enough of the Ram victory over Dallas to become interested in how Los Angeles employed seven defensive backs to befuddle Roger Staubach. But he said he felt his team's matchups were just as good.
"Mont Coleman is as quick as a defensive back and we'd like to have at least one linebacker in there," he said. "Monte could be safety If we wanted him to play there. Roger just never got hot in the Ram game like he did in ours.
"With these new rule changes and all, you like to have a running game but it almost forces you to pass. That seems to be the way to go."
Others honored at the dinner at the Sheraton Washington included USC's John Robinson (college coach of the year), USC's Charles White (college back of the year), Penn State's Bruce Clark (college lineman of the year), Joe Theisman (NFC player of the year). Dan Fouts (AFC player of the year) and Maryland's Dale Castro (local college player of the year).
Entertainer Jerry Lewis received the Hubert H. Humphrey Memorial Award, Thomas F. O'Neill the Mr. Sam Award, Jim Simpson the Local Boy Makes Good Award and former LSU coach Charles McClendon the Board of Governors Award.