Redskin General Manager Bobby Beathard doesn't call it a master plan. To him, that sounds too formal and inflexible. dInstead, he says he has a number of suggestions he believes will make the Redskins more competitive.
But Beathard, who won a power struggle with Jack Pardee this week, will provide the marching orders for the organization over the next six months and recommned a new head coach to owner Jack Cooke Kent.
Beathard also plans to:
Get involved in the free-agent market. The major development here could be the signing of Canadian stars Bruce Clark and Terry Metcalf. "We will examine the possibility of their interest in us," he said. "But all I know right now is what I have read, that they both want to come here. "It's not that easy to just go out and sign a player from Canada. I'd have to determine the price we'd have to pay on both."
Explore the possibility of major trades, particularly those that would improve the Redskins' current draft situation. Washington is missing a second, third and fourth pick in the upcoming draft and Beathard would like to get at least one of those back.
Improve, in Beathard's view, communication between the scouting department and the coaching staff. "I want a staff that really communicates, so everyone knows what is going on," he said."Only good things come out of that." Beathard didn't feel that Pardee or his assistants paid enough attention to the recommdations of the scouting department, resulting in the loss of some players who have made other NFL teams. (Reached by telephone, Pardee said, "I don't really have any comment, but I'd like to see how many players we let go are playing on NFL teams in three years.")
Reorganize the composition of the roster, so it becomes younger and reflects what Beathard says should be "an ongoing roster replacement system so that when a starter gets too old, there is a young player ready to take his spot. We don't have that setup now. We have too much age and too few players ready to step in."
Alter the current weight program so it includes more emphasis on cardiovascular development. "Pittsburgh and Detroit are both convinced this is the program of the future," he said. "Besides the weight training, they are asking their players to do a lot of planned running. I think Alan Page (who became a marathon runner late in his career) has shown what an emphasis on running can do for you." Beathard is a marathon runner who has competed in many of the major races in the U.S.
Beathard is being cautious regarding Metcalf and Clark to avoid any hint of tampering. But both players could be extremely important to the Redskins' immediate future -- they represent a way to get better quickly -- especially considering the club's draft situation.
Clark, the third man selected in last year's draft (by Green Bay), is the defensive-line intimidator Pardee felt that Washington lacked this past season. He is far better than anyone the Redskins could land in the upcoming draft. But the Packers still own his rights and until they hire a general manager and Washington hires a coach, talk is premature.
Metcalf, a flashy halfback whose outside speed could fill another glaring Redskin weakness, still has ties to the St. Louis Cardinals.
But those aren't the only free agents Washington will try to sign.
Beathard and his scouting staff had been frustrated by what the general manager thought was Pardee's reluctance to accept free agents brought in the last three seasons.
"There is no question we have to reduce the age of the roster, and to do that we have to have younger players," Beathard said. "Since we won't have that many draft choices, it's up to us to come up with quality free agents. The scouting department is going to have to do a hell of a job to find the new players we need."
"We need to have the scouts and the assistants and the head coach all talking to each other. Everyone should value the other guy's opinion. If we all are on the same page, the team should benefit."
Pardee said he agreed with that philosophy and followed it during his years as Readskin coach.
"We're not against people with age, as long as they will make the same sacrifices as the younger players," Beathard said. "I anm not going to tell the new coach who should be cut. It will be up to him to look at films and see these people in person and then make his own judgements."
Beathard did say that aging veterans Diron Talbert and Paul Smith, both defensive tackles, "can't help us. That's obvious. And I think it would be wrong to bring to training camp any older players we know don't have a chance of making the roster. They should be released before then. But I don't want to be too specific at this point."
"If a young player and an old player are equal, I think we should go with the young player. Everyone I'm interviewing for the head-coaching job is being asked his feeling about taking young players who have potential and working with them. If they don't like to do that, they aren't for us. If you have a case where the older player can be ready the first game but the younger player will be ready halfway through the season, it makes more sense to go with the younger guy. In the long run, that's the only way you have proper depth and continuity in the program."
Under Pardee, Beathard thought the Redskins gave up to quickly on to many young players, just because they weren't ready to play immediately. He says that is a key reason the club lacks more depth and has not advanced as quickly as he had hoped.
"We tried to coach and win from day to day and week to week," Pardee said.
This entire area of roster composition is crucial, mainly because, more than anything else, it led to Pardee's downfall. Pardee was not as receptive as Cooke wanted him to be to the idea of teaching and training a lot of young players. Beathard, in contrast, sold the owner on the concept of a squad comprised of a blend of old and new athletes, with emphasis on development.
It seems almost certain that the Redskins will also make some trades before the start of the next season. Sources say Beathard was close to a number of deals this past year, including one that would have sent Joe Lavender to Oakland for draft choices. But the trades reportedly were nixed by Pardee.
"We like to trade but this is the time of the year all clubs are trying to unload players that we wouldn't necessarily want," Beathard said. "As far as trading players for choices, the new coach would have to determine what he felt were the strengths of our roster and whether we could afford to give up an extra player in these areas."
"I'm not going to promise anything. You never know how trades will work in this league." But the fact that Beathard knows the Redskins need a winning season next year to help justify the Pardee firing should prod him into making moves.
Beathard already has asserted himself by strongly suggesting that the next coach hire Pardee aide Richie Petitbon as his defensive coordinator. He said that when a head coach is hired, "there will be a very settling feeling around here. He can then hire a staff and we can get going. My role really isn't any different than it's been. I'll be working with my scouts on the draft and I need to get going on some of the contracts that are expiring."
"I'm excited about what will happen. I know we are going to hire some good people. But I don't feel like I've got new power or anything like that. I never have thought this was a victory over Jack. I just want to do what is best for the Redskins."