Although he directed the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl last season, was voted the NFL's player of the year and rated the top passer in the NFC, this has not been a particularly enjoyable training camp for Ron Jaworski.
First, people keep reminding him about his three interceptions in that 27-10 Super Bowl loss to Oakland. Second, most Philadelphians expect the Eagles to repeat as NFC champions. And third, well, the coach has been knocking him -- loudly.
"Right now, the offense stinks," Dick Vermeil said before the Eagles' 36-7 rout of New Orleans in their third preseason game. "I'm concerned about the entire offense. I don't think Ron is as far along as he ought to be."
Jaworski, obviously assuming that he didn't have to win a starging job again, was a bit perturbed.
"Sure, it bothers me," he said during lunch break at the Eagles' camp at West Chester State College. "It's the constant total evaluation all the time, it's seems like I'm always playing uner a microscope. I can't ever relax and just do my thing.
"This is my eight year in the league and I still feel I have to prove myself every game, heck, every practice."
After an opening 13-10 loss at Houston, the Eagles scored 72 points while easily defeating Pittsburgh and New Orleans, but then lost, 14-3, to the Jets in their last preseason game. They play for real beginning today against the New York Giants at 1 p.m. in the Meadowlands.
Playing part-time, Jaworski completed 45 of 88 passes for four touchdowns in the preseason. But he threw eight interceptions and, as Vermeil was quick to point out, his quarterback had only 12 last season.
"Sure, I'm still making some mistakes, but to say th eoffense stinks, well that seems a little strong to me," Jaworski said. "If I were 21 or 22 I could see the constant criticism, but you would think after seven years in the league, they would know I can play.
"Dick isn't going to change, though," the quarterback continued. "I probably know him as well as anybody, and that's just the way he is. He's never satisfied, but he's pushed me and made me a much better player. I realize that, it's just that this time of years, those things bother you."
One thing, Jaworski insists, that isn't bothering him is that lopsided loss to the Raiders in Super Bowl XV.
"Getting to the Super Bowl has gad a tremendous effect on this team," Jaworski said. "Everyone seems to have more confidence. You can feel it. The guys know now they have the ability to win . . . We know if we all do our jobs to the best of our ability, we can make it back. That gives everyone a lot of incentive."
Can the defending NFC champions (12-4 in regular season a year ago) win Super Bowl XVI?
"Yes," Jaworski said firmly. "But I will have to get better."
It may be a little unrealistic to expect the NFC passing leader to improve on his 257 completions in 451 attempts for 3,529 yards and 27 touchdowns, but he says it can be done.
"I believe I can be a higher percentage passer," he said. I was a 57 percent passer last year . . . I'm a highly motivated person, I'll push myself. I don't have to rely on anybody else to get me up."
The Eagles, of course, will have to get great performances from a lot of players.
"Right now, I think our offense is better than last year," he said. First of all, (Willbert) Montgomer is healthy. He's had a great camp and really looks sharp. If he can stay healthy he'll be a tremendous asset to our offense.
"Our offensive line is the best," Jaworski said. "Both our tackles are all-pros (Stan Walters and Jerry Sisemore) and Guy Morris is an all-pro-caliber center. We've had some injuries at guards, but that should straighten out."
Few teams can match the Eagles' recieving crops of all-pro Harold Carmichael (48 receptions last season), Charles Smith (47) and tight end Keith Krepfle (30), but there is one major concern as the regular season approaches.
Although Vermeil doesn't like to admit it, he must be worried about starting the season with Perry Harrington and Hubert Oliver, a 10th-round draft choice from Arizona, as his fullbacks. The incumbent, Leroy Harris, suffered a severe double fracture of his left forearm and probably will be out for the season.
Harrington, a 210-pounder trying to make the adjustment from tailback to fullback in his second season, doesn't have the blocking ability and needs to improve as a reciever because Jaworski likes to throw to his fullback.
Although he gained just 36 yards in 16 preseason carries, Harrington, from Jackson State, will start the season opener.
When asked if the Eagles are going to make a trade for an experienced fullback, Vermeil said, "I question whether we'll take that route right now. I happen to think we hve our fullback in our program right now."
Vermeil is satisfied with his defense, as well he should be. He has 10 starters back with only the injured Bill Bergey to replace. Right now Al Chesley, who learned the game at Eastern High in Washington, D.C., is playing well at Bergey's inside lineback spot.
"Overall, I think we'll have a better football team," the coach said. "Last year I know we were a good team and not I'm comparing this group to last year and it seems better."