Although the Redskins have surrendered 74 points to average opponents the last two games, the team's defensive coordinator, Doc Urich, said yesterday he has no plans to either junk Washington's multiple substitution system or to simplify the complex defenses the last six weeks.
"Granted, we've been inconsistent," Urich said, "but the problem has nothing to do with the tactics we are using. We just are giving up too many big plays in too many games to be playing good defense. It's that simple.
"We need to be more consistent. We were earlier in the year and now we have to get back to that point. That's what we are striving for every day in practice and what we are preaching.
"You always aren't going to be in the right defense all the time to stop what the offense is running. But the key is to make sure you limit it all the gains to small ones. You can't have a total breakdown by a lot of individuals, and that is what has been happening to us."
Urich said he did not think other teams had figured out the Redskins' substitution-by-down and-distance strategy, which they used so successfully in going 10-6 last season.
"I don't think any team has come into a game with us building a game plan around our substitution system," he said. "Of all the teams we've played, Minnesota probably did the best job against it, and they happened to run on plays where we gambled they were going to pass.
"We aren't the only club in the league which uses a lot of players on defense. The way things are structured for the offense right now, you've got to mix things up or they will pick you apart.
"The numbers, the percentages, tell us that on certain downs is certain situations teams are more likely to run or pass. It would be foolish to ignore those facts. But from day one, we have taught our people how to tackle and cover.When they go out there, they know they have to do both and not just one. I don't think any of them have become one-dimensional because of the way we use them."
A major reason the Redskins are struggling defensively is the slow front line. As long as this problem remains uncorrected, Urich and Coach Jack Pardee are convinced, they will have to compensate by employing a lot of players and taking advantage of each one's strengths.
"Until we determine that teams are going to run, run, run on us when we have our passing personnel in there, we still think the odds are in our favor," Urich said. "We modify things every week, to make sure no one gets confused. But our basic theory still holds up. Our substitution system isn't the reason we've given up so many points the last two weeks."
Urich also maintains that the Redskins can't play a standard 4-3 defense, as some players have suggested.
"We know our personnel and we feel that we have to mix things up," he said. "We'd be foolish not to. When we used a variation on the 4-3 to stop O.J. Anderson (of St. Louis) it looked great to everyone. We are still a basic 4-3 team; we haven't gotten away from that. But we need to play the defense that suit our personnel the best.
"It still boils down to breakdowns. Paul Smith, for example, played a heck of a game last week against Chicago. But he got fooled on Walter Payton's long touchdown run. And it cost us. Otherwise, though, he had a fine afternoon. We just can't have any of those major mistakes.
" we have to have everyone pursuing the football, playing aggressively, getting off to a fast start and not letting things get to them. We have a lot of players who are doing a fine job right now, and we have a few that aren't. They know who they are, and if they don't improve we'll get them out of there and put someone else in."
Urich said improvement by his linebackers the next six weeks could go a long way toward stabilizing the defense.
"None of the areas -- front line, linebackers or secondary -- has been as consistent as we would like," he said. "But we really have had our troubles at linebacker, mainly because of early injury problems. And it's tough to play consistent defense when our linebackers are hurting. It just cuts down on the things you can do.
"Brad Dusek is just starting to play like himself after that leg pull in training camp. Neal (Olkewicz) missed a lot of early games and it put a lot of pressure on Rich Milot just when he was still trying to learn how to play middle linebacker. Monte Coleman is still young and he still is learning. He's going to be a fine player, but he still has a way to go and he knows it. Some weeks he has played better than others. h
"You see, players don't see the whole picture like coaches do. They see their own spot and maybe the guy next to them, but they don't worry about whether what they are doing is coordinated with the linebackers and secondary.
"You go out there and just line up with the same defense and the same players all the time and opponents will eat you up. They see things in film just like we do. You have to change up and utilize your personnel the best way you can. That's what the coach's job is. It's our responsibility.
"We really haven't played that badly. I know people will say 'What' to that, but we've only had two bad games. Unfortunately, they've both come the last two weeks. They stick in everyone's memory."
A national football newspaper said this week that Pardee's name had been mentioned in connection with the coaching job at Texas A&M, his alma mater, and with the Los Angeles Rams, "It's amazing what people can dream up," Pardee said. "I'm having enough trouble trying to save my job here." . . . Both Clarence Harmon and Wilbur Jackson practiced hard yesterday and they should be able to play Sunday . . . Pardee said he expected halfback Wilbert Montgomery, who has been injured, to start for the Eagles. . . Pardee, who complained previously about what he thought were rules violations by Philadelphia players, brought up the subject again this week. He said receiver Harold Carmichael pushes off on defensive backs when he makes cuts on his pattern. . . Ricky Thompson, who has a sore foot, worked out lightly but is expected to be ready Sunday.