Federals owner Berl Bernhard supported Coach Ray Jauch more strongly yesterday than he has since he severely criticized the team and promised changes after an especially embarrassing loss to the Birmingham Stallions two months ago.
Bernhard said he watched the Federals (2-14) lose by a 27-25 score to the Michigan Panthers Monday night and was encouraged by the team's "increasingly coordinated performance."
"I'm beginning to see that Ray's getting the most out of the talent he's got," Bernhard said. "From what I've seen in the past few weeks, I think he's got a more-together team. I'm encouraged by that. We'll have to see after the season what we do, but I feel better about the coaching situation."
Bernhard said he was not sure whether to keep Jauch beyond this season, but added, "He's in control, he's in charge. In my meetings with him, he has very strong views of what we need and where we should be spending our resources. He's been most convincing to me that he knows what we need to win."
Jauch has a three-year guaranteed contract worth approximately $400,000.
Jauch began the season at a disadvantage, according to Bernhard, because he came to Washington accustomed to the Canadian system of play and without having had a hand in making important personnel decisions.
Bernhard said the team has been interviewing and negotiating with two NFL scouts to become director of player personnel. That job has been vacant since Mike Faulkiner left in March to become an assistant coach with the New York Jets.
"The talks are heavy and we should know something in a day or two," said General Manager Dick Myers.
Bernhard said he planned to meet later in the week with one of his general partners, businessman Gordon Davenport. Bernhard is hoping that Davenport will buy a greater share of the team and will shoulder some of the executive burden. "I certainly don't want to continue the day-to-day responsibilities."
The Federals' attempt to win their third game was televised in the Washington area. There was a chance, as there almost always is, but the Federals fumbled it, as they almost always do.
With a 25-24 lead and less than eight minutes left, the Federals needed to advance one yard, to their 31, to keep the clock running and the ball away from the Panthers.
Quarterback Kim McQuilken stepped to the line and crouched over center Tony Loia, a 320-pound veteran out of Arizona State. The snap slammed into McQuilken's cupped hands and was soon on the rug.
"I take full responsibility for it," McQuilken said.
The Federals recovered, but the ball had not advanced and the punt that followed gave the Panthers a chance to win.
A 36-yard pass from Bobby Hebert to Ken Lacy and a handful of runs later, the Panthers had the ball on the Federals' one. With 56 seconds left, Novo Bojovic kicked an 18-yard field goal and the lead changed for the last time.