It had been rumored for weeks, but when the end of Jack Pardee's Redskin carreer finally came, it left his assistants numb, their futures suddenly as uncertain as that of their former boss.

Secondary coach Richie Petitbon said the firing "didn't come totally as a surprise. We felt that the longer it dragged on, though, the better it was for us.

"No matter how you shake it, it's a tough business. We all knew that when we got in it.

"The whole thing hasn't sunk in yet, but the one thing about pro sports you have to remember is that you have to win. No matter what kind of excuses you have or how legitimate they are, they just don't wash if you don't win.

"This is a rough business. You don't play the game in short pants."

The firing did come as a surprise to defensive coordinator Doc Urich.

"I'm in a state of shock," Urich said. "I feel bad about the whole thing.

I never thought he'd get fired because he did such a good job.

"I feel sorry for Jack because he's a good coach and a good friend. We progressed a long way under him and he was getting things organized for the future, but right in the middle of that Mr. Cooke (owner Jack Kent Cooke) decides to make a coaching change.

"We had a lot of injuries to overcome this season and we were making progress," Urich added. "We worked harder this year than ever before because we had so many new people and so many people injured. There's no question in my mind that Jack did everything he could to make this a better football team. Ovbiously there were other reasons that made Mr. Cooke make the change.

"Hard work just isn't the only criterion for keeping a coaching job, I guess."

Asked if he wanted to remain with the Redskins, Urich said it would depend on the new coach. He appended: "But I definitely want to stay here."

Offensive coordinator Joe Walton, who took almost as much heat as Pardee for his conservative play-calling, learned of the firing late yesterday. Walton said he was surprised and uncertain about his future.

"I'm exploring some alternatives in coaching and some out of coaching," he said.

"You can only do so much. Football coaches are teachers. I can coach and I can teach. If in fact the Redskins are going with young people, that's what they'll need."