Mike McCormack, the coach of the worst team in the National Football League, continues to talk about how hard his players are trying and how close the Baltimore Colts, losers of 13 games in a row, are to "turning things around."
"This may sound stupid because we're giving up 35 points a game, but we're playing better defense," McCormack said today at his weekly news conference, one day after the Colts were beaten by the Dallas Cowboys, 37-13.
"We're 1-13, but we've still got pride. We've got a lot of kids with a lot of pride in their performance and they're trying as hard as they can. We've got a bunch of battlers who believe we can turn this thing around."
The Colts have only two games left, beginning with Sunday's game at RFK Stadium against the Redskins, a team McCormack said, "I know we can beat. They're playing well and their defense is tough, but we can play with them."
McCormack made one major change for the Cowboy game, starting recently signed David Humm at quarterback for the injured and ineffective Bert Jones.
Humm had an undistinguished seven-for-24 passing day, and dislocated the middle finger on his left (throwing) hand on the last play of the game. His status is uncertain for the Redskins, McCormack said. The status of Jones, who has a sprained right shoulder, also is uncertain.
Yesterday, the Colts moved to bolster themselves at the position, signing Jay Venuto, a 23-year-old rookie who was cut during training camp. Venuto, the former Wake Forest quarterback, was the Atlantic Coast Conference's player of the year in 1979.
McCormack praised the play of Humm, a seven-year veteran from Nebraska who was signed only 10 days ago. "I don't like to compare players, but David is a feisty performer," McCormack said. "He gets back quickly and reads well. His performance was gutty. He stood in there well. His statistics are a little misleading, too. He had four catchable balls dropped and he just overthrew open receivers four other times."
With the quarterback situation unsettled, the big man for the Colts is halfback Curtis Dickey. He ran for 130 yards on 15 carries Sunday, including a 67-yard touchdown run.
"That touchdown run was one of the prettiest runs I've ever seen," said McCormack. "I mean for reading, acceleration through the hole and then just running away from people. For this to be a good football team, Curtis has to be on the field 90 percent of the time. Even if it takes five pairs of pads to keep him healthy."
The Cowboys rushed for 354 yards aainst the Colts and McCormack said he expects the Redskins to run on his team, too. The thought of Joe Washington, a former Colt, darting and dancing through his defense makes him shudder.
"We called him (Washington) 'Mr. Houdini' when he was here and I'm sure he'll get up for Sunday's game," McCormack said. "He'll put on the moves and do some dancing and darting."