Gibbs longs for a quarterback for the long haul

September 25, 1990|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

HERNDON, VA — HERNDON, Va. -- When quarterback Joe Theismann was struggling during the early part of the 1985 season, coach Joe Gibbs had a meeting with his young backup, Jay Schroeder.

Gibbs' message to Schroeder was simple: He believed in sticking with his starting quarterback, and someday Schroeder would be the starter and would get the same treatment.

Gibbs stuck with Theismann for the first 76 regular-season and playoff games he coached for the Washington Redskins until Theismann suffered a broken leg in the 11th game of the 1985 season, ending his career.

The coach has yet to find another quarterback in the Theismann mold.

When the Redskins play the Phoenix Cardinals on the road Sunday night, they'll be playing their 74th non-strike game -- including the regular season and playoffs -- since Theismann was injured.

Gibbs will be making his 13th starting quarterback change since he lost Theismann, his 16th if you count switches made during the exhibition season.

Stan Humphries will replace Mark Rypien, who suffered a strained left knee against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

Since Rypien still wasn't able to stretch the leg out yesterday, the Redskins decided to have him undergo arthroscopic surgery today to find out how serious the injury is and whether he'll go on the injured-reserve list.

They also have decided to bring in Gary Hogeboom, who was cut by the Cardinals at the end of training camp, as their backup. Jeff Rutledge is eligible to return from injured reserve after one more game.

Gibbs, though, indicated that Hogeboom's fate is "tied more to Rypien's health," so he'll probably remain on the roster even if Rutledge is activated until Rypien is ready to go.

Gibbs said he thinks Hogeboom will be familiar with Washington's system because former Redskins assistant Joe Bugel runs a similar one-back offense at Phoenix.

The Redskins coach also indicated that Rypien can lose his job while sidelined.

Asked who will be No. 1 when Rypien returns, Gibbs said: "It depends on what happens between now and then. How Stan plays. How the team is doing. That's what will decide that."

After Schroeder injured his shoulder in the 1987 opener, Doug Williams started the second game against the Atlanta Falcons and the Redskins lost, 21-20.

The players then went on a three-game strike, and when it ended, Schroeder was elevated back to the starting job. But three weeks later, he was pulled in a game against the Detroit Lions and Williams started the next week, a 30-26 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

The next week, Williams came down with back spasms in practice and Schroeder started against the New York Giants.

Williams thought he'd get his job back the following week. But since Schroeder helped the Redskins beat the Giants, Gibbs stuck with him the next week. He finally pulled Schroeder in the regular-season finale, and Williams took the team to the Super Bowl championship.

Gibbs hasn't been hesitant to yank his quarterbacks since then. That means the job is still up for grabs between Humphries and Rypien.

"We'd like to have somebody step up and play 10 years," Gibbs said. "We haven't had that luxury. We're still looking for a long-term guy to get in there and stay healthy."

Gibbs gave basically the same speech he gave two years ago before Rypien also made his first regular-season start in the fourth game at Phoenix.

He again said a team never knows about a quarterback until he gets under fire.

"I think Stan knows his future is right out there Sunday," Gibbs said. "It's going to be the opportunity he's worked for a period of time, and I think he spent three years getting ready. I think he understands you've got to seize the opportunities when they're there at quarterback. It's a very unusual, tough thing in the NFL because you don't get many chances because you really don't know about a quarterback [until he plays].

"He can look great throwing in seven-on-seven [drills] and all that, but until he gets out there in front of 50,000, 60,000 people and has to get you down the field, you're never really going to know.

"I'm curious. I'm real curious to see how he'll do."

Although Humphries struggled in his exhibition start against Minnesota last year, he said, "I think I've matured a lot."

While Humphries prepares for his chance, Rypien will undergo surgery today and find out how serious his injury is.

"We're not making any predictions," Dr. Charles Jackson, the team's orthopedic physician, said yesterday.

Rypien said: "I'm not getting around too bad. "Hopefully, Tuesday, after we get done scoping it, we'll find out if there's anything serious or not. If not, we'll get to rehab and go from there."

NOTES: Gibbs said publicly for the first time yesterday that the main reason he cut Williams earlier this year was because he was concerned about his health. "To have major surgery on your back, I felt like he was getting to point where he was putting himself at risk." . . . Explaining why he didn't mention it before, Gibbs said, "He asked me not to say anything about his health, and I didn't." . . . Williams has since implied the Redskins were racist in not wanting him as a second- or third-string quarterback.

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