Friday, July 20, 2007

Redskins Greatest Games Volume One: November 3, 1991 - Part 7

Every game has a story. This is the story of Sunday November 3 1991, RFK Stadium, Redskins 16, Oilers 13 (OT).

Curly R concludes the inaugural edition of Redskins Greatest Games with Part 7, The Aftermath.

Part 1: Who is Jack Pardee?
Part 2: What Jack Did
Part 3: The Oilers
Part 4: Jack Returns to the NFL
Part 5: The Game
Part 6: The Moment
Part 7: The Aftermath
Bonus Material


The game between the two offensive powerhouses had turned out to be a defensive affair, decided by a Redskins fumble in the worst possible situation, a botched Oilers field goal and a heads-up play by the greatest cornerback to play the game...


The Redskins were now the eighth team since 1970 to reach 9-0[8] on their way to 14-2, two playoff blowouts and an easy Super Bowl 26 win over the Bills in a game that featured Thurman Thomas' missing helmet and Jim Kelly leading the Bills in rushing.

The Oilers were now 7-2 and still hot, but Jack got no sleep. The next day, Jack cut kicker Ian Howfield, who appeared in tears leaving the Oilers facility. Somebody would pay for losing that game.

After the 7-1 start and the loss to the Redskins, the Oilers ended the season 4-3 to finish 1991 11-5, winning the AFC Central Division, good for third seed in the playoffs. After beating Ken O'Brien's New York Jets, the Oilers lost a heartbreaker in Denver 26-24. With 2 minutes 7 seconds left in the fourth and trailing 24-23, John Elway took the Broncos 98 yards in 1 minute 49 seconds for the winning field goal on what is known to Broncos fans simply as The Drive II.

In 1992, the Oilers were still a hot team but the league was cooling to the run & shoot. Warren Moon was intercepted five times in the first game but then went on to win four straight. Warren was hurt in the tenth game of the season against the Vikings, and Cody Carlson took them the rest of the way to finish 1992 10-6, second in the AFC Central and good for the fifth playoff seed.

The Oilers had pummeled the Buffalo Bills 27-3 in the regular season finale, knocking the Bills off a playoff bye and setting up a Bill-Oilers 4-5 seed rematch at Rich Stadium on January 3 1993. By 1:41 into the third quarter, the Oilers had cruised to a 35-3 lead. The Oilers went on to lose, 41-38 in overtime in a game that is known simply as The Comeback. The next day the Oilers fired defensive coordinator Jim Eddy and defensive backs coach Pat Thomas, coaches who, along with Gregg Williams, had been (TimesSelect) with Jack and held those positions going back eleven years, through the USFL Houston Gamblers and University of Houston Cougars.

Jim Eddy would be a tough coach to replace. He had been with Jack for eleven years and after four straight years[10] of defensive decline under former defensive coordinator-turned-head coach Jerry Glanville, the Oilers defense had become a perennial top ten squad.[11]

The answer? On January 30 1993, Jack hired former Eagles head coach and father of the 46 defense Buddy Ryan as defensive coordinator, a role he played on the Bears' 1985 Super Bowl team.

Buddy, a Korean War veteran, had been fired in January 1991 after five seasons as the Eagles head coach, and openly aspired to be a head coach again, a fact that did not put off Jack Pardee. Houston owner Bud Adams was getting impatient and the Oilers needed to win, now.

When the 1993 season came around, things started rough. Warren Moon was benched after the third game en route to a 1-4 start. In the sixth game, against New England, elevated backup Cody Carlson got hurt and Warren came back and won the game. The Oilers then went on to finish the season with an 11-0 run to finish 12-4. Buddy's defense was brutal. Bob Hulsey:

Ryan's defense specialized in mismatches and pressuring the quarterback. In 1993, the Oilers would lead the NFL in run defense (73 yards per game), lead the AFC in fewest points allowed (238), lead the conference in interceptions (26), set a team record for quarterback sacks and scored six defensive touchdowns.
Things were boiling behind the scenes though. In the 1993 season finale on January 2 1994, differences between offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, running the offense all four years of Jack's tenure, and Buddy Ryan came to blows, literally. Buddy had been deriding Kevin's run & shoot offense as the 'chuck & duck,' and the Oilers offensive squad was complaining about too-hard hits in practice and open disrespect by the defense.

Right before the half and pitching a shutout, Kevin called a passing play instead of running to keep the clock running. Quarterback Cody Carlson was sacked and fumbled. Buddy could not stand it any more, walked right over and punched Kevin in the head. It was caught live on the ESPN game broadcast and played hundreds of times in the following weeks. Said Kevin the next day:
It's a daily, ongoing thing. The comments, the sarcasm, the denigrating and disparaging remarks toward the offense. We try to just survive it. That's what we're going to do. My best way of handling it is to try to stay far away from the guy and try not to respond to his incessant remarks and just stay focused on who I thought the opponent was -- the teams we play week to week.
The Oilers had earned a bye after winning 12 games and the AFC Central, but the cloud from the punch hung over the team and Joe Montana and the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Oilers in the Divisional round in Houston. Jack seemed to be losing control of the team.

Buddy Ryan was offered (TimesSelect) a position as head coach and general manager of the Phoenix Cardinals in February and Buddy joined Norval Turner of the Redskins as NFC Beast rookie head coaches for the 1994 season. Jack kept Kevin as his offensive coordinator and hired San Francisco 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Fisher as defensive coordinator. Jeff played all four of his NFL seasons as a cornerback for Mike Ditka's Bears and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan. A year after retiring, Jeff took a position as Buddy Ryan's defensive backs coach, and was later elevated to defensive coordinator at the age of 30 (op. cit.). Three seasons later, Jack Pardee needed someone who could keep Buddy Ryan's mentality without being a complete asshole.

Warren Moon was traded to the Vikings and gone. Cody Carlson was left with the 1994 bag and separated his shoulder in the season opener. Plucky Bucky Richardson and couldn't get it done and after ten games and a 1-9 record, the Oilers fired Jack and Kevin and elevated Jeff Fisher to interim head coach. The Oilers finished 1994 2-14.

Jeff retained Gregg Williams, promoting him to defensive coordinator. After a Super Bowl appearance with the Titans and three difficult years as head coach of the Buffalo Bills, Gregg would join Joe Gibbs in his return to the sidelines, becoming the assistant head coach/defense for the Washington Redskins, the position he still holds. Jeff, well he's still head coach of that Oilers franchise two moves and a name change thirteen years later.


Jack didn't stay out of football very long. The CFL, mad for the Yanks in 1995 and with their odd ways of football, had five franchises south of the border. Jack signed on to be the one and only head coach of the Birmingham Barracudas. They finished 10-8 and made the playoffs, losing to the San Antonio Texans. They folded after the 1995 season and Jack retired from coaching.


Jack Pardee is the only man ever to have been a head coach in the WFL, NFL, USFL, NCAA and the CFL. Alongside 15 years as a player and a Super Bowl appearance, Jack amassed four coach of the year awards, made the playoffs nine times, went to a bowl game and produced a Heisman winner, all over a 21-year coaching career.

Jack Pardee lives in the Houston area where he still makes occasional public appearances.

Ian Howfield: Houston Pro Football from here, and there's a nice story at that link about how Ian is not, er, at peace with his NFL legacy. Go read it. Buddy Ryan from Philadelphia Eagles website here. Kevin Gilbride from New York Giants website here. Jack Pardee's Birmingham Barracudas business card from here. Thanks to Skin Patrol at Hogs Haven for reminding me that current Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams got his real start in coaching under Jack Pardee. Even after the purge that sent Jim Eddy and Pat Thomas packing, Gregg survived and went on to coach the Titans defense in the Super Bowl.