He is 3,000 miles away from RFK Stadium, where his legacy, a mundane 24-24 record, rests. He is far away from having to duplicate George Allen's ways and wins, far away from his firing, far away from where his bitterness is most painfully exposed, far away from the Washington Redskins.

Now, Jack Pardee is an assistant coach in charge of defense for the San Diego Chargers, the team of offense.

For the former Redskin head coach, only the criticism remains the same.

"It has been frustrating so far," Pardee said.

The Chargers are 8-5 after Sunday's 55-21 rout of the Oakland Raiders, even with an offense that is producing an NFL-best 31 points per game.

Which brings us to the Charger defense. It has allowed an average of 25 points, 274.2 yards passing yards and 390.5 net yards per game. The only defense that ranks worse in all three categories is Baltimore's, and you know about Baltimore.

Consequently, the vipers have taken aim at Pardee, who is finding the AFC as critical as the NFC, and the West as critical as the East.

"You can't worry about what other people are saying," Pardee said, using words from his Washington vocabulary. "They have to blame someone. Why not the coach?

"Criticism is a fact of life. You know what they say in baseball, 'When you get to the majors, they'll throw you curves.' Now, I'm getting thrown curves."

Pardee smiled as though he were a curve-ball hitter. He is a two-time NFC coach of the year, once with Chicago and once with the Redskins. He played under Bear Bryant at Texas A&M. He played in the NFL 15 years and in the Pro Bowl twice. He's been around.

He is reluctant to speak about his Washington days. "I can't worry about that now," he said. "Anyway, we're not a game behind Philadelphia, are we? We're trying to catch Denver and Kansas City here."

He tenses up when the subject is Joe Gibbs' new team rather than San Diego, Joe Gibbs' old team. "I don't watch the Redskins specifically. I just try to keep up with all of the NFL. They don't get much TV time, you know."

He said he is happy where he is. "I'm still in my profession, and any time you can come to San Diego and coach with Don Coryell things aren't too bad. Anyway, now all I have to worry about is the defense."

With his move from Washington to San Diego's defense, it is almost as if Pardee left a five-alarm fire for a four-alarm fire. Assistant coaches aren't supposed to have such pressures.

The Chargers lost the AFC championship game to Oakland, 34-27, last year. The memory of watching Jim Plunkett dawdle away the final 6:43 and of watching the Chargers' defense unable to get the ball for Dan Fouts one more time has not been erased for Charger fans.

So when Coryell named Pardee "assistant head coach," a gaudy title that in the terms of laymen and linebackers means "defensive coordinator," he hoped to reverse those troubles.

Jackie Simpson, the coordinator of last year's San Diego defense (which ranked sixth in the NFL overall), quietly left for Seattle.

The defensive troubles, however, have remained.

Defensive end Fred Dean left for San Francisco after two games this year and the sack count, best in the NFL last season, is dropping. Other than that, however, Pardee said, "It's mostly the same team as last year. Some of our guys are playing nicked (hurt) and some are young."

Said defensive tackle Gary (Big Hands) Johnson: "It's gotten so our goal is to keep the name of the defense out of the papers. They are always criticizing our defense."

Said 10-year cornerback Willie Buchanon: "We're better than what's happening. We just want to be as good as our offense."

Linebacker Bob Horn simply said: "All this criticism ticks us off."

When the Chargers lost at Seattle, 44-23, in a Monday night game, it was a sad time for the defense.

"It was depressing, embarrassing. We got bombed," said John Woodcock, who replaced Dean. "We haven't played well. This criticism has been justified. We've made mistakes. We recognize it."

So does Pardee:

"It used to be if you held an offense under 275 yards per game you were doing well. Now, with the rule changes and all the other changes in the game, you try to hold them under 350 yards per game.

"The root of our problems is turnovers. We haven't caused enough and the offense hasn't capitalized when we have."

It was now an hour after the Sunday game. In the dank coaches' room in the Oakland Coliseum, Pardee looked at the defensive statistics, which included seven sacks and a scoreless second half.

An alligator had replaced the Chargers' lightning bolt on his left chest and his victory cigar, once Luis Tiant-long, was now cigarette-short.

Pardee, 45, smiled and said: "It was nice seeing some turnovers today. We've got to keep it going."