It's probably appropriate that a touchdown pas enabled the Redskins to open the Joe Gibbs era on an upbeat note today.
Gibbs was brought to Washington to add some passing pizazz to the Washington offense. So when the Redskins found themselves on the Colt's 10-yard line near the end of a rookie scrimmage, Gibbs forgot about end sweeps and power drives up the middle.
Instead, rookie quarterback Phil Kessel dropped back quickly from center and lobbed a high pass to receiver Charlie Brown, who was clear in the corner of the end zone.
Brown made the touchdown catch easily, enabling the Redskins to beat the Colts, 12-7, before about 5,000 fans at Goucher College.
That scoring pass ended a 70-yeard drive dominated by the Redskin offensive line of the future. The line had three members -- tackle Jerry Scanlan and guards Melvin Jones and Fred Dean -- who are projected as starters. The other two members -- tackle Mark May, the club's No. 1 draft choice, and center Russ Grimm, a No. 3 pick -- should be starters within a season or two.
"It's awfully hard to drive 70 yards, especially in a game like this," Gibbs said. "I thought we played with effort and I was really glad we were able to do what we wanted to accomplish without anyone getting hurt."
Gibbs had hoped the line would take control of this game and finally it did, although at the start both teams stumbled under the pressure of trying to impress their coaches with sensational plays.
The Colts coulcn't handle Scanlan and Dean on the left side, where Washington was able to gain yardage consistently.
"We gave the line a lot of good, hard work so we could evaluate them," Gibbs said. "We'd like to see them start coming together and get a feel for each other."
First, however, Gibbs and his staff have to decide who will play where. May was used mainly at right tackle, but also switched to the left side. Scanlan shifted to guard for a series, replacing Dean, while May stepped in at his tackle spot. Grimm played guard as well as center.
"We're still searching for the right players for the right spots," Gibbs said. "We are going to take a long, hard look at everyone and then make some final decisions."
He'll also be looking carefully at his quarterbacks.
Tom Flick, Joe Theismann's new backup, was 11 of 22 for 101 yards while directing the Redskins to one field goal, a 20-yearder by free agent Brian Speelman.
Flick, like Kessel, improved as the scrimmage went on. His best moments came on a 27-year pass to Brown on the Redskins' first possession and tosses of 11 to rookie Jerry Hill, 15 to back George Ragsdale, seven to back Otis Wonsley and five to Brown during a long drive that ended at the three with an incompletion to tight end Rick Walker.
Brown, the eighth-round choice from South Carolina State, finished with threee receptions for 34 yards in his bid for a roster spot. Virgil Seay, who also had had a good camp, was held out with a slight leg pull.
Kessel, an 11th-round draft pick from Northern Michigan who is trying to beat out veteran Mike Kirkland for the No. 3 quarterback spot, looked bewildred early, but wound up guiding the Redskins to a 38-yard field goal by free agent Sandro Vitiello before the final drive. Passes of 11 yards to tight end Bob Raba, 15 yards to fullback Ricky Claitt and 15 to Brown preceded the field goal.
Kessel was accurate on seven of 13 attempts for 110 yards, and the Redskins' total was 18 of 35 for 211.
That was much better than the Colts managed against the Redskin defense despite an inexperienced secondary. But Baltimore quarterbacks Jay Venuto, the former Wake Forest star, and Dan Hartwig were subjected to a decent pass rush for most of the scrimmage. End Dexter Manley started the scrimmage with a jarring tackle on fullback Randy McMillan, the Colts' No. 1 choice.
Baltimore also was handicapped by the lack of good receivers. Only Dave Shula, son of Miami Coach Don Shula, got open consistently.
The Washington defense was especially impressive on one sequence in which the Redskins made two interceptions. The first was by cornerback Marcene Emmett after a tip by linebacker Farley Bell. The second went to linebacker Mel Kaufmann, who seiped the ball along the sideline with nothing but open field in front of him. But because of the scrimmage rules, which allowed only the offensive units to score his touchdown run didn't count.
Gibbs was hoping one or two of the four running backs who played today would stand out. Instead, all had their moments. Claitt, the second-year veteran, burst off the left side during the touchdown drive for a 19-yard gain. Ragsdale contributed a 10-yard run and two receptions. Lewis Walker had a none-yard catch and Wonsley a 25-yard reception.
The Colts were shut out until their final possession, when a couple of passes to Shula and McMilen's three-yard sweep around right end resulted in a touchdown.