If Coach Jack Pardee loses his job at the end of this season, it will be attributable more to growing philosophical differences with General Manager Bobby Beathard over how the Redskins should rebuild rather than because of the club's unexpected losing record.
Although the two men are not openly feuding, there is a definite and potentially irreparable split that already may have made it impossible for them to work together in the future.
Pardee says he doesn't believe a purge of aging personnel is necessary prior to next season. Other sources say Beathard is convinced a major turnover, especially involving older players, is the only way the Redskins can begin rebuilding.
Pardee also is far less anxious to gamble now with younger players than Beathard, who belives inexperienced men should get more game time immediately instead of waiting until next season.
Beathard reportedly is more willing than Pardee to risk a string of losing records while the Redskins restructure. Pardee says he's convinced that the maturing of players already on the roster, plus some talented draft choices and free agents, could quickly remedy some problems. Beathard, however, is certain the team's problems will take much longer to solve.
Unless there is a drastic change in their positions, owner Jack Kent Cooke ultimately could be forced to choose between them -- or fire both -- before the Redskins begin fulfilling Cooke's pledge to rebuild. Beathard and Pardee reportedly agree on little, if anything, about the club's personnel and future moves.
Cooke has openly complimented both men. But he has said he would like to see the use of younger players, and he has criticized the team's lack of overall motivation and imagination on offense.
When Cooke considers the case of Pardee and Beathard after the season, he most likely will try to decide whether they can work together, whether Pardee has enough patience to deal with young players in a rebuilding program and whether Beathard has enough skill to handle the trading part of his job.
The differences between Pardee and Beathard reflect the muddled lines of authority that have existed in the club's front office since the two men were hired seperately by President Edward Bennett Williams after the 1977 season.
Pardee clearly is in charge of on-the-field matters and Beathard has sole authority regarding the draft and contract negotiations. Neither has complete control over personnel actions. There has never been a total commitment by the team to either build through the draft -- and rarely, if ever, trade away choices -- or build through player deals. The Redskins have tried to do it both ways in the past three years and now have a losing record and only two of their top five picks in the next draft.
All three men deny there is any front-office split. But Pardee was concerned enough about the problem to have Beathard address the players and tell them it wasn't true when reports of the shism first surfaced.
Sources say last week's aquisistion-release of defensive tackel Curley Culp reflects many of the authority problems within the organization.
Four days before the Redskins picked up Culp, a 34-year-old, 14-year veteran, on waivers from Houston, Beathard said the club should begin giving its young players more game time. Pardee said he was considering lineup changes that most likely would involve these same younger players. Beathard also said he thought the team should be "looking around to see what (younger) players are sitting at home that might be able to help us."
But the only roster move made that week was the addition of Culp. Pardee pushed the waiver deal and Beathard, who was lukewarm to the idea, did not veto it even though it contradicted the general manager's public statements earlier in the week.
Pardee said he wanted Culp "because I thought he still had a couple of years of maybe near all-pro ability left. If that proved true, then we could have been able to use him while breaking in a younger player to eventually take his spot. That way, we wouldn't have to put as much pressure on the younger guy while also still maintaining a high-quality level at that position.
"We keep talking about using younger players, but the way we substitue, we are using mostly everyone on our roster, anyway. I believe we should be trying to win every time we step onto the field."
The Culp deal fell through when Culp demanded that he either be used at left defensive tackle or be paid more money -- or receive housing allowances -- to play right tackle. Beathard refused both. Pardee was not involved in the negotiations and Culp went home.
Beathard said that Culp "isn't the type of player I'd be in favor of picking up all the time. But we were in a situation where we thought he could help us."
Asked why the Redskins instead did not pick up any younger players, much as the New York Giants did earlier this season, Beathard replied: "We are always looking for someone who can help us. Sometimes those players are hard to find."
In a dual-authority front-office arrangement like the Redskins have, there usually are few problems as long as the coach and general manager agree on the type of player the team should be acquiring. Once their opinions start to differ, there is a constant hassle over practically every personnel move. On most NFL teams, the coach also is the general manager, or the general manager has hired the coach and is his boss.
The league source said that Beathard "would like a setup where the coach relies almost entirely on the general manager to get the talent. The GM would set the general building philosophy the team should take and then he would bring in the players. The coach would coach them."
Sources friendly to both men say that neither is blameless regarding the Redskins' current plight. They say Beathard's poor selections in the last draft and some questionable trades that have left the team draft-poor next year, have reduced the flow of quality players. They also say Pardee's conservative personnel philosophy -- he normally selects an older player over a younger athlete if they have equal ability -- has slowed the rebuilding process.
Currently, the roster contains only four players drafted by Beathard and 16 players (out of 45) who are at least 30, 10 of them starters. In contrast, Dallas has seven players 30 or older and Philadelphia has six.
Some of the problems can be attributed to a misreading of the squad's overall talent last summer. Cooke was convinced the team could go to the Super Bowl. Pardee loaded his season-opening roster with experienced players -- only three rookies and four veteran free agents were kept. And after John Riggins walked out of training camp, Beathard gave up two No. 2 choices for running back Wilbur Jackson, trying to keep those playoff hopes alive.
Pardee says he made final roster cuts based on "what players we thought could help us win this year. How could I put out a team that I thought was less than the best we could put together? We would have liked to keep more younger players, but some of them just weren't ready to play.
"Right now, I'd like to add (tackle) Jerry Scanlan to the roster, but what if a starting guard gets hurt and Fred Dean has to move to guard from tackle? Then Jerry would have to start. I don't know if that would do him or the team any good, if he's not ready for that role yet. In the long run, you can do more damage than good to a young player if he's forced in there too fast."
Beathard defended what has been called the Redskins' "plaster-and-patch" method of restructuring since he was named general manager.
"I think you can use both the draft and trades to rebuild," he said. "I felt and still feel you shouldn't go 100 percent draft. You can do a combination of both, if you do it right.
"If we had all our draft choices when we first came in, it might have been different. But without full drafts, it meant we couldn't add players very fast through that means. The trades we made weren't all temporary deals designed to get by for a few years. Some were for a longer time, like Tony Peters and Jeris White."
But he admits now he will be much more reluctant to give up draft choices for players. "We may trade draft choices for draft choices, but I realize teams like Dallas and Pittsburgh have been built by rarely giving up any draft choices. It just will take time and patience to rebuild through the draft.
"Can I live with losing records while we rebuild? Yes. But I think you can be respectable while you rebuild. Whether you can win right away is another question."
Quarterback Joe Theismann practiced yesterday for the first time this week and said his sore hamstring "feels better and better . . . but I really didn't push it. As far as I'm concerned, I can start (Sunday at Dallas)". . .Coach Jack Pardee said he would still wait until just prior to Sunday's game to decide whether Theismann or Mike Kruczek would start, although it seems apparent Theismann will get the call. "If Joe is okay, we'll go with him," Pardee said, "but if he can't do everything at full speed, we'll go with Mike."