The new buzzword for coach Joe Gibbs yesterday was "balance."
As he evaluated the Washington Redskins' 38-10 Sunday night victory over the Phoenix Cardinals, Gibbs stressed the importance of balance between the running and passing game.
That's why Gibbs scrapped the three-wide-receiver offense, except on passing downs, against Phoenix and went back to the two-tight-end, two-wide-receiver offense that was the team's bread-and-butter formation in the heyday of John Riggins.
Gibbs was pleased with the results, as the Redskins ran for 179 yards, which made it easier for Stan Humphries to pass for 257 yards in his first regular-season start.
Gibbs feared he was getting away too much from the running game, especially against the Dallas Cowboys a week ago, when Earnest Byner and Gerald Riggs combined for 15 carries -- 13 by Byner.
"You second-guess yourself because I like to run the ball more than I did there," he said. "We got ourselves in a situation where it was all pass and we were dropping them. You're going to have days like that. What I want is balance. That game kind of showed me we weren't balanced up yet."
Gibbs went to the three-wide-receiver set last year with five games left after Riggs was sidelined with injuries. The Redskins won the last five with the air game.
"We were throwing the ball like mad last year and pretty much dominating games. But over the long haul, year in and year out, you're going to have to be balanced," he said.
He said there are times when a team is playing in bad weather or protecting a lead late in the game, it has to be able to run.
Gibbs also said an effective running game sets up the passing game.
"There's going to come a point where they're [defense] going to get nervous. They're going to say, 'We can't let them make first downs like this.' We've got to do something and get other people up there," Gibbs said.
When the Cardinals left Cedric Mack one-on-one against Gary Clark, Humphries hit him twice for 42-yard touchdown passes.
Byner and Riggs combined for 35 carries for 152 yards, as Riggs got 95 yards and Byner 56. Gibbs said Byner still is the starter, but said he and Riggs complement each other well.
Humphries was so impressive against the Cardinals that Gibbs stressed that was only one start.
"People have a tendency to go berserk around here. Right now, Stan's our lifeblood. He's our hope. But he's only played a game and a half," Gibbs said.
He ducked the question of what Humphries will have to do to keep the job over injured Mark Rypien.
"Right now, Stan's our starter," he said. He said a decision would have to be made "somewhere down the line."
The Redskins have an open date this week before they face the New York Giants in two weeks. Despite the open date, Gibbs still will have the team practicing tomorrow, Thursday and Friday before it takes the weekend off.
It's never too early for Gibbs to start worrying about the Giants, who've won seven of the past eight non-strike games against the Redskins.
"Maybe they're playing the best right now of any team in the NFL," he said.
Gibbs hopes the open date may be an advantage.
"We haven't done very well [against the Giants] with one week [to prepare]. Maybe it'll help," he said.
NOTES: Gibbs said the "biggest thing I'm happy about" in the first four games is that the team has had just one turnover and neither Rypien nor Humphries has been intercepted. . . . Gibbs blamed himself for not rotating Ricky Sanders, who did not catch a pass, with Clark and Art Monk once the Redskins switched to a two-wide-receiver set.