Tom Flick walked toward the Dickinson College film room.
He knew that, unlike his offensive line Saturday night, the projector would not break down. The Redskins' reserve quarterback also knew he did not need his sense of sight to envision Miami 24, Washington 7.
Instead, he could use his sense of touch for immediate recollection of the soreness brought in the second half by four sacks, three fumbles and one interception. Duly pained, Flick's muscles twitched and his bones did a dance.
So this afternoon as he stood outside the room where the reels would again send him reeling in team meetings tonight, the gentlemanly and tactful Flick admitted, "I'm going to get my butt chewed in there."
It helps Tom Flick to be a man of optimism. Since leaving the University of Washington with Pacific-10 player-of-the-year honors in 1980, Flick has thrown 80 professional passes.
During his entire 1981 rookie regular season, he completed 13 of 27 for 143 yards. There were games in college when these were his halftime statistics. In 1981, however, Flick didn't have half a chance. The durability of Joe Theismann did not permit him much playing time.
Further, in a total of five NFL preseason games, Flick has completed 28 of 53 for 286 yards. In all, he has thrown four professional interceptions.
And no touchdowns passes.
"I guess I knew the NFL wasn't going to be a garden of roses when I got here," said Flick, who fumbled on his first NFL regular-season play last year, then watched from the prone position as Philadelphia's Greg Brown scooped up the ball and ran seven yards for an Eagle touchdown.
Flick knows statistics create more than media guides. They create opinions. "I guess people can make what they want to out of my statistics," he said. "They are entitled to their own opinions. The only opinions I care about are mine and Coach Gibbs'."
After practice today, Gibbs gave his opinion: "Tom is more mature as a player now than he was a year ago. A lot of things have stayed the same -- like the accuracy of his throws. We'll have a lot better understanding on just how far he's progressed after the preseason."
Self-examination, Flick confessed, is enough of a dilemma. "The problem is I'm too self-critical sometimes. I used to be worse when I was younger. I guess the good part is that it does make me work harder. It pushes me."
Saturday night, it was the Miami Dolphins' pass rush that pushed Flick. Mainly, it pushed him down. Besides the five sacks (one didn't count officially since a Redskin penalty was marked off), Flick fumbled twice when hit from behind, once by linebacker Charles Bowser, once by linebacker Ron Hester. After Hester's hit, Miami's Eddie (Meat Cleaver) Weaver picked up the ball and ran 28 yards for the final touchdown.
It was all enough to make coach Joe Bugel, the man who oversees the offensive line, say of his troops and his trauma, "After the game, it was kind of a sick feeling. We were hoping to allow under 12 sacks for the season, then we allow seven in the first game."
For Flick, the alibis were there for the asking. He could have said that it was only the first preseason game.
Or he could have said that he was playing with some third-string players who would no longer be Redskins by the fourth week of August.
Or he could have said when he called "Hike," his line took one.
But he didn't. Flick spoke sincere words. Using a diplomacy that put the machine-gunning memory of Saturday night's crisis at a peaceful cease-fire, Flick merely said, "I don't think about the sacks or the fumbles. I'm very positive. I like to look at the improvements. I got more out of Saturday night's game than I have in all of training camp.
"There are certain parts of the game that I'm pleased with. I made some mistakes, but I did some things right, too. I did get beat up. I did get hit. But I threw more passes than ever before. Last year, during preseason, I only got to throw about six to eight times a game."
His age is two weeks shy of 24. There is yearning. "I always fear that I'll get cut. The competition makes it go around. Until the last cut, I won't feel safe."
With today's cut of second-year quarterback Phil Kessel, only rookies Bob Holly and Chris Garrity remain behind Theismann and Flick on the quarterback depth chart. The chances are they will remain behind.
Said Bobby Beathard, Washington general manager: "Flick is not one of the guys whose job is in jeopardy."
When he heard of Flick's fear of being cut, Gibbs chuckled. When he heard of Flick's fear of bearing his coach's wrath, Gibbs said, "We don't chew people out here. We give them written evaluations of their mistakes."
"Really? That's good news," said Flick, feeling high after hearing the words of the hierarchy. "But I still don't want to go in the film room."