It is a rushed week for the Super Bowl teams, but Miami Coach Don Shula was able to get in 25 minutes of jogging this morning at Biscayne College. As he shuffled past a small gathering of reporters, he just had to call out, "Bring on Bobby Beathard."
Shula and Beathard, the Redskins' general manager, are best friends. Beathard called to offer good luck Sunday morning before Miami's 14-0 victory over the New York Jets for the AFC championship. And this was a triumph made possible in part because Beathard, as Miami's personnel director until 1977, drafted A.J. Duhe for Miami. Duhe had three interceptions Sunday, and the game-clinching touchdown on a 35-yard return.
Shula did not have all that much to say about the Redskins during a brief press conference this morning. "It's too early right now because we're still in the process of looking at the film and getting information from the computer," he said.
"I think the Redskins, starting halfway through last year and everything they've done this year . . . well, when they started playing for keeps their record is the best in football. I take my hat off to Joe Gibbs and the entire organization.
"Just watching their game Saturday, the physical aspect of their play was evident--on offense, defense and the special teams. We're very impressed by them."
Of course, the Dolphins have been rather impressive themselves over the last month, and particularly in their last two playoff victories, over the Chargers and the Jets.
Against San Diego, they totally dominated the best offense in the National Football League. Against the Jets, they held the NFL's leading rusher, Freeman McNeil, to 46 yards on 17 carries and limited wide receiver Wesley Walker to a single catch.
But today, Shula preferred to talk about his offense, a unit that was much maligned in the first two weeks after the strike but has come along quite nicely over the last five games. Miami's 198 yards total offense on a muddy field were not much better than the Jets' 138. But they made several critical plays, and Shula said quarterback David Woodley was inches away from long gainers or touchdowns at least three times.
He also went out of his way to praise Woodley, who had completed 80 percent of his passes in Miami's two previous playoff victories but had nine completions in 21 attempts for 87 yards, with three interceptions.
"I just feel we've got to do what we've done in the last few weeks to open up our offense. After the strike, we struggled. At one point we went seven quarters without scoring a touchdown . . . It was so evident we were a one-dimensional team, and all we could do was give the ball to Andra Franklin.
"The offense started to open up against Baltimore (in the last game of the regular season). It started to jell. And the thing I liked about Woodley yesterday was that he did go for it. On what might have been game- breaking plays, he went for it."
Franklin, meanwhile, went straight to Miami's Mercy Hospital after the game. He had been knocked woozy early in the third quarter and was taken to the hospital for precautionary tests. Shula said Franklin had no problems, and he will play in the Super Bowl. Kicker Uwe von Schamann, who has a minute fracture of a bone in his back, played against the Jets, without further injury.
Shula and his staff went directly from the Orange Bowl to their Biscayne College facility Sunday night to begin preparations for the Redskins. "It's the first time in my coaching career where I've gone back to work the night of a game and not gotten a chance to drink one or two Coors," he said.
The Dolphins were scheduled to leave Miami at 6 tonight and will begin practices Tuesday at Cal State-Fullerton. Shula was asked today what it meant to him to be going back to the Super Bowl for the first time in nine years.
"There's a great sense of accomplishment," he said. "Knowing this is an entirely different cast. This team has been completely rebuilt. This has been a year of accomplishment from what we've been able to overcome. Now we're back there, and our goal is winning the Super Bowl."