A 32-year-old, 12-year veteran whom the New England Patriots cast loose is a source of excitement at Redskin Park these days.
He has helped give Washington a pass rush.
The Redskins had been looking long and hard for an experienced and aggressive pass rusher, so when the Patriots put Tony McGee on the trading block two weeks ago, the Redskins grabbed him, yielding only a late-round 1984 draft choice in exchange.
"We got him to rush the passer," said Torgy Torgeson, the defensive line coach. "We looked at a lot of people and he was the best one we could get."
What the Redskins got is not only a quick and experienced pass rusher, but a well-liked player who has turned into a team leader and the type of influence coaches want around younger players.
Playing left end, McGee was credited with 1 1/2 sacks of Philadelphia quarterback Ron Jaworski in Sunday's 37-34 overtime victory for the Redskins. With McGee coming in from the left side and Dexter Manley, who had two Jaworski sacks, from the right, Jaworski wasn't able to roll out. Although he had one of his most productive passing games, the Redskins made him pay a physical price.
With the Washington secondary still unsettled, the coaches are hoping the defensive line will continue to perform as it did against the Eagles.
"Having a player like Tony helps everyone on the line," said Torgeson. "It takes the pressure off the other guys and some of the pressure off the secondary, too.
"I think with Tony and Dexter on the ends, we've got the outside rush we need, so we're in pretty good shape personnelwise on the line. We just have to keep improving. One game doesn't make a whole season, but we see the potential is there."
Manley, a second-year man from Oklahoma State and one of the swiftest Redskins, plays virtually all of the time and is developing into a steady and reliable all-around defensive end. Until the Redskins acquired McGee, however, the opposition could deal with Manley by double-teaming him and rolling to the other side. Now, there is just as much pressure coming from that other side.
McGee said that one of the most astonishing things about the Redskin rush against the Eagles was that it was done virtually with no blitzing.
"We were in a straight rush most of the time," he said, "because with Wilbert Montgomery in a slot a lot of the time, the linebackers had to cover him. The rest of us just went after the passer."
The Redskins utilized all seven of their defensive linemen and McGee said that was also a key to their success. McGee usually replaced Mat Mendenhall in passing situations.
"That's the way I was used at New England and it was successful," McGee said.
"We'll definitely spot him (McGee) and use him as a designated pass rusher," added Torgeson. "He can play in other situations, but we want him fresh."
With Perry Brooks and Dave Butz entrenched at the tackles and Darryl Grant and Todd Liebenstein also playing, the Redskins have a man for every situation and they used them all Sunday.
When he's not in the game, McGee studies his man, usually the right offensive tackle. He's already started looking at films on Tampa Bay tackle Charlie Hannah.
"Tony is no fluke," said Torgeson. "He's been a good pass rusher his whole career. I think New England parted with him because they decided to go with younger players and they want people in there who will play all of the downs."
The Patriots made Kenneth Sims the first player picked in last year's draft and put him at McGee's left end spot. "That's when I thought I was gone," said McGee.
McGee, 6 feet 3 and 249 pounds, led the Patriots in sacks the past seven seasons. Starting this season, he had 93 sacks in 129 NFL games. He was a third-round draft choice out of Bishop College (Tex.) in 1971 and was traded to New England in 1974.
"The most important thing is not to look too far down the road," McGee said. "At New England last year, we were looking all the way to the Super Bowl and we won only two games. We're still building and we have to improve if we're going anywhere."