Three years ago, Jack Pardee left what appeared to be a budding program at Chicago to take over a seemingly decimated team in Washington. In three days he will return to Chicago and face the Bears for the first time as Redskin coach.
Pardee talked yesterday like a man who was not under any particular pressure to win a majority of his remaining games this season or risk losing the Redskin job he took after the 1977 season.
"There is no pressure on me to win so many games this season or I am gone," said Pardee, whose team has a disappointing 3-6 record, the same as the Bears. "I talk to him (owner Jack Kent Crooke) all the time. There is never any talk of get out this week and win or else.
"I've had no negative response at all from him. I have no reason to believe there is any extra win-or-else pressure. I want to win, and so does the ownership.
"But they are also smart people, they know the circumstances here and what we lack.When I came here, I said that, like everywhere else, the coach is expected to win, but unlike a lot of places, this team will do anything it can for you to help you win. There is the same commitment from ownership to win as there is from the coaches.
"All I can do is go out and do the best job I can. I know I can coach. I know I am a good coach, I have no doubt about that. So there is pressure on me just because I want to do well. My goal is to do the best we can every week. That's all we can ever strive for. If that's not enough, there isn't much I can do about it. Heck, I knew what this was all about when I got into the business."
Pardee declined to say whether Cooke had told him that he would be back next year, no matter what the circumstances. "That's a leading question," he said. "If I say he's given me a vote of confidence, then everyone will say it means just the opposite. Let me say that I'm not worried about the future.I'm too busy from day to day and week to week to get concerned about next year."
Most team sources feel it would be ludicrous to make any coaching changes with the Redskins. Pardee and General Manager Bobby Beathard have had just three years to try to rebuild the team, and they have had only one decent draft within that time. So far, there has been no indication that Cooke is growing that impatient with either man to consider a shakeup.
Cooke's public statements so far regarding Pardee, who has two years left on his contract, and Beathard, who has a new three-year pact, have been laudatory. He rates both among the best in the respective fields. But he also had predicted the Redskins would go to the Super Bowl this season, barring major injuries or other unpredictable events.
"I am out to win every week, regardless of the record," Pardee said yesterday. "I think we are better than a 3-6 team, just like I think the Bears are better. And I won't compromise on this commitment to win. I will not put out players onto the field in any game that I don't think we can win with, just to worry about the future."
Pardee said he had no second thoughts about his decision to leave Chicago, which some believed was a mistake three years ago, considering the youth of the Bears and the draft situation he inherited with the Redskins.
"I said then that, weighing everything, I couldn't see that much difference in the immediate futures of both teams," he said, "and people couldn't believe it. But I thought I knew the Bears' personnel well enough to see the fallacy in building them up too high. There were a lot of players in Washington, like Joe Theismann, who weren't playing but who I thought could do the job.
"The funny thing is, both teams have had about the same records since I left."
Under Neill Armstrong, Chicago was 7-9 in 1978, while Washington was 8-8. Last year, both teams were 10-6 though the Bears nosed out the Redskins for the last wild-card berth in the NFC. And this year, both teams have seen optimistic playoff hopes disappear by midseason.
Pardee is fully aware this will be an emotional game for many of his former Chicago players, and, he admits, for him.
"Oh, I certainly don't want to come in there and not have our team play well," he said. "I'd like for us to look good. It's a matter of pride. So maybe I've gone over my checklist even a little more this week, trying to make sure we cover everything. And I'm sure they'd like to show me they are better.
But I put in three years there and worked hard.I loved my players and I left a part of myself there when I came here. Because of the rules, I haven't talked to any of them since I left but I still follow their progress. hThey are a good bunch of guys and I have a lot of respect for them."
Pardee's personal stamp certainly is still readily apparent with the Bears.
Every member of their offense joined the club during Pardee's 1975-77 tenure, including Walter Payton and quarterback Vince Evans. And seven members of the defensive unit, including safeties Gary Fencik and Doug Plank, were also selected while Pardee was the coach.
The most obvious change since he left has occurred along the defensive line, where Alan Page was brought in from Minnesota and Dan Hampton was drafted last year out of Arkansas. Pardee admits he left for Washington in part because "I thought the Redskins' defensive front was stronger then, and I guess that is borne out because of the way the Bears have used their draft choices on defensive linemen the last couple of years."
Now that Chicago line has helped the Bears rack up 31 sacks this season. The Redskins have just 22.
Pardee yesterday said he probably would start Fred Dean at tackle Sunday in place of Terry Hermeling, who aggravated his thumb injury last week against Minnesota . . . Guard Jeff Williams worked out again and Pardee thought he would be able to start against the Bears . . . Paul Smith ran THE MAJORITY OF THE PLAYS YESTERDAY AT diron Talbert's defensive tackle spot. The two usually share the position during games . . . Pardee says he doesn't think his familiarity with the Bears' personnel gives the Redskins any advantage. "The things I know about them you usually pick up in film anyway," he said.