The Inside Slant

Redskins linebacker Eddie Mason joined the chorus of the starting 'backers with his endorsement of new defensive coordinator George Edwards. Mason has seen numerous changes in his short time in Washington and tells why he's happy about the latest change.

''There are two parts to it. One, I'm real encouraged but saddened at the same time. Marvin should have been a head coach a couple of years ago. For him to actually get the job is something I'm excited about. It should have happened a few years ago.

''But coach Edwards will be a great defensive coordinator. He has a great knowledge of the game and he understands how to motivate players. He knows how to work with all sorts of personalities and God knows we had a lot of personalities at linebacker.

''He'll do a great job for us, but it will also be great to keep someone with knowledge of the system and he knows us. We know him. It's someone we're familiar with and comfortable with, someone we know. We can continue to take strides in the right direction. The Redskins have learned from the past and I think the front office realized the best thing for us was continuity.

''It's really important that he already knows us. It's like you're in a relationship and when you're first into it, you feel your way around different subjects or issues, not knowing which buttons to push. You don't know the person.

''If they had brought in someone new, then you have to feel your way around the situation. The communication lines are already there. Now if there are changes then guys feel more comfortable saying, 'What are we trying to get done?' Guys will be more open and willing to talk more and will want to play for him because we know him. If you have a new guy you have to start all the way over.

''George knows the guys who will be there and he knows what to expect from me and we know what to expect from him. There aren't hidden agendas. The other players haven't had as much interaction or a relationship with him. But anytime you have players making plays, you have to have a coach in place. LaVar didn't just make the Pro Bowl based on doing whatever. So anytime you do that as a coach that just gives players that much more confidence to believe in you.

''This is not someone unproven. I'm telling you, man, he has a great knowledge of the game and is a great motivator. One word stands out to me and that' s passion. He's very passionate in what he does and he's committed to the vision and was committed to it from day one. He didn't try to overstep his boundaries in any way. And he's a professional. Anytime you get a coach like that as an assistant, he has leadership qualities. He's ready to be a coordinator.

''I see the passion in meeting rooms, the way he coaches us. He wants us to know our stuff. He wanted us to be very smart players so it would make us very fast on the field. He spends a lot of time in the meeting rooms breaking down film with us. Sometimes I'd come in on our day off and I'd look for him and he's in there in the film room breaking down film and no one else is in there but him. That's the kind of commitment and passion for the game he has.

''During games and practices he's constantly coaching us on the little things, like using your hands and, 'You've gotta play low!' Things some coaches don't coach you on at this level. But he does and once you get to the point where you think he's done with it, he keeps on coaching you. You can't go wrong having someone like that who pays attention to the details. That's why he gets my vote of confidence.

''George loves doing this. On Sundays, we'd be like, 'Do you want to put some pads on?' That's how intense he is. You can just tell he loves the game. And he treats everyone the same. It didn't make any difference who you were, whether you're the top guy or the lowest guy, because he's a coach at heart. That's what George and Marvin brought to the table. That's why George gets my vote of confidence.''

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