On the eve of what could be his last game as Redskin coach, Jack Pardee said today he has a good feeling about this season, but if owner Jack Kent Cooke decides to dismiss him, "I can't understand because it's his ball and he can do what he wants with it. I can't change that."
Pardee said he would not resign, even after six weeks of turmoil and revelations this week that the Redskins have contacted, informally, a half-dozen prospective replacements.
"No I'm not going to walk away," said Pardee, who has two years left on his contract. "What would I do? I haven't got another job lined up. I'd be a farmer, I guess.
"But there is a right way and a wrong way to solve problems and I've tried to go about doing this the right way, including the way I've coached.I'm sure I'll be given an opportunity after the season to discuss the situation.
"I don't know when I'll have a meeting (with Cooke). That's up to him to set it up. I'm sure it will come soon. But I'm not really in a hurry one way or the other to get this solved. What will happen will happen." h
Pardee said he is excited about the season finale Sunday against the Cardinals (1 p.m., WDVM-TV-9) that probably will be played in very cold weather. Both teams are 5-10; the Cards are favored by two points.
"This is why I'm coaching," he said. "Getting game plans together, practicing for an opponent, then playing the game, that's the best part. That's why coaches have a hard time withdrawing after the season. There are no game plans to prepare.
"I've been excited and anxious all week. I'd love to end the season with three straight wins; it would be a bright spot for us.
"I haven't dwelled on anything else going on beyond my control. I'm sure there will be a lot happening the next few weeks, and once the season is over, I'll be able to turn my attention to those things.
"I've got enough confidence in myself that if he (Cooke) doesn't want me around, I won't feel rejected."
Although Pardee said he had no idea what Cooke would decide, there is little optimism at Redskin Park that Pardee will be retained. "The handwriting seems to be on the wall, wouldn't you say?" remarked one assistant coach this week. Cooke has said nothing that has encouraged Pardee and his staff, although the owner maintains he has not made a decision.
Cooke had said he would meet this week with Pardee. But the get-together never took place. Instead, Cooke met with General Manager Bobby Beathard. Pardee said today he wasn't upset about not being able to talk with the owner.
"I guess I didn't think we had to talk this week," he said. "Whether our record was better or not, we'd have season-ending summaries anyway, when we get together with him. That hasn't changed."
Pardee is confident the Redskins will play aggressively against the Cardinals, although he acknowledges they lack a major incentive.
"This is not for the Super Bowl or anything like that," he said. "But we have some individual and team goals we can accomplish. We could be the top pass defense in the league and one of the two or three best defensive teams in the conference.
"And Joe Theismann can add to some of his real good statistics and Art Monk can improve his reception total.
"I thought we prepared this week. I feel we are ready to play a good game. We certainly should know the Cardinals are going to come out and play hard. They've had nothing to prove the last few weeks, but their defense has been especially aggressive."
Both teams are suffering from end-of-the-season woes. The Cardinals have a horde of injured while the Redskins are recovering from a major flu wave that has weakened their running back corps.
Cardinal quarterback Jim Hart probably will start, although his cracked ribs could keep him on the bench. Hart was given five pain-killing shots last week and lasted less than a half against the Eagles. If he doesn't play, he will be replaced by inexperienced Mike Loyd, who was woefully ineffective in Philadelphia.
The Cards also will not have their best receiver, Pat Tilley, so Pardee expects them to concentrate on running against the center of the Redskin defense. Ottis Anderson, one of the league's best, will be the main running threat.
"Even with everyone healthy, they'd try to run the ball," Pardee said. "Under the present circumstances, I'm sure that's even more true. But our defense has shut down the run pretty good the last few weeks, so we'll be ready for them."
His own ball carriers may not be as ready, however. Fullback Clarence Harmon still was sick today and probably will see only spot duty. His backup, Rickey Claitt, is sick, which means Buddy Hardeman, who began the season as the No. 1 halfback, could see most of the action at fullback.
Pardee would not say whether Wilbur Jackson would start at halfback. Jackson has had trouble fumbling the last three weeks, and Pardee could turn to Bobby Hammond, who played so well against the Giants last Sunday.
"Bobby gave us a spark," Pardee said. "He deserves some playing time and he'll get it."
This could be the last game in Redskin uniforms for a number of players, including Ken Houston, Diron Talbert and Terry Hermeling, all longtime stars with the club. Houston could receive extra playing time, depending on how well flu-ridden Lemar Parrish holds up at cornerback. If Parrish comes out, Houston would become the nickel back in the pass defense.
"All I'm thinking about right now is the Cardinals," Pardee said. "Everything else will take care of itself down the road."