At the middle level of command, there will be two former assistants to George Allen going head to head Saturday when the New York Giants play the Redskins at RFK Stadium.
Joe Walton, offensive coordinator of the Redskins, is ascendant at the moment after the 40-16 conquest of the San Diego Chargers, and offensively, the Redskins are about even with the Giants, who have scored 219 to Washington's 214. Ralph Hawkins defense coordinator of the Giants, has seen his men give up 103 more points than the Redskins, 376 to 273. That is one reason the Redskins are favored by six to seven points to sweep the New Yorkers this season.
It was mentioned to Hawkins that he knows the Redskins well after six years as Allen's defensive backfield coach here and that Walton recalls the Giants from being their receivers coach before joining Allen here in 1974.
"No," Hawkins said. "The Redskins' personality and personnel have changed since I was in Washington. I think the Redskins looked as good as I have seen them in three years in the films of the San Diego game. They completely dominated the Chargers, and they are tough to dominate.
"Joe Theismann had time to throw. I give Joe Walton credit; that was an excellent game plan."
The Giants are coming off a 27-21 victory over the Seahawks in Seattle.The Seahawks beat the Redskins, 14-0, in the fourth game of the season, but Hawkins recalled that the Washington offensive line was "beaten up" at the time with injuries. "If the Redskins played the Seahawks today, they would win hands down," Hawkins said.
Going into the game at Seattle, the Giants ranked 13th in the National Football Conference in total defense, the same against the rush and 12th against the pass. They were no better on the attack, ranking 14th in total offense, 13th in rushing and 12th in passing.
Hawkins said about his unit: "We ended a game two weeks ago with eight free agents on defense, seven against Seattle, because of injuries. In the last four weeks, we have had three free agents in the secondary, three as linebackers, and one as nose guard, and different ones in every game. Kervin Wyatt, who was playing guard last year for the University of Maryland, started at middle linebacker against Seattle and probably will start against the Redskins.
"We have 20 guys on injured reserve and I guarantee you we are not hiding any able bodies there. We have only five players on defense with two or more years of experience. That causes a lack of leadership, the kind (of leadership) you get from a Harry Carson or a Brian Kelley.
"We pick up players every week to fill in. We lost linebacker Dan Lloyd to cancer. Carson missed most of the season with a knee injury, came back and then suffered a chipped bone in his back. Kelley tore up his knee when his foot caught in the artificial turf zipper at Philadelphia. Brad Van Pelt is playing with injured hands."
Quarterback Phil Simmons or Scott Brunner, who led the victory over Seattle, will be throwing against a Redskin pass defense that ranked first in the league going into the San Diego game.
But a Redskin unit that ranked No. 12 against the rush will face running back Billy Taylor of the Giants, who gained 103 yards in 19 carries against the Seahawks. Taylor gained 126 yards in 26 attempts against the Redskins last year in East Rutherford, N.J., when the Giants won, 14-6.
Simms needed to complete only seven of 14 passes to win as the Giants ran 193 yards. In the fourth quarter, the Giants went 79 yards on the winning drive and Taylor carried the ball 13 of those 14 plays for 74 yards, including a 27-yard sweep that set up his one-yard scoring plunge.
Reminded of that game and Sunday's production by Taylor at Seattle, Hawkins said: "He was healthy for a change, but he ran into a wall at Seattle with the top of his helmet while trying for a pass. His neck is sore and I don't know if he'll play Sunday. That was the best game we had rushing the ball this season (150 yards in 39 attempts)."