Redskins' Gibbs waits, but is Rypien verdict in?


January 04, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

HERNDON, Va. -- When Jay Schroeder was struggling as the quarterback of the Washington Redskins three years ago, coach Joe Gibbs outlined his formula for judging quarterbacks.

"A quarterback is judged on how far he takes you," Gibbs said. "That's exactly what he's rated on. Can he win a division? Can he take you to the Super Bowl? Can you do it right now? Can you do it this year?

"Until you do that, you're not considered to be a guy who's done it. If it's anything less than that [Super Bowl], then I think it'll be treated accordingly. It's the nature of the NFL. A lot of fine quarterbacks around the league never got their teams to the Super Bowl. If you don't, that's how you go down in history."

Schroeder, who went 2-1 in the playoffs in 1986 and took the team to the National Football Conference title game, never got a chance to do it in 1987. He was benched in the final regular-season game for veteran Doug Williams, who took the Redskins to the Super Bowl.

Schroeder is now with the Los Angeles Raiders and will get a chance to show how far he can take them this year.

Meanwhile, Gibbs' hopes ride on Mark Rypien, who'll make his first playoff appearance tomorrow against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Gibbs' expectations, though, seem somewhat lowered. He's not talking about judging Rypien on how far he takes the team this year.

"You're talking about a quarterback who's played two [actually, three] years," Gibbs said. "Is that what you're going to give him? This year will not make or break Mark Rypien. But he will be judged eventually, some day on how far he goes in the playoffs, whether it's this year, next year, the following year after that, seven years, eight years, if that's how long he plays."

There's an easy explanation for the difference in Gibbs' criteria.

There's already enough pressure on Rypien without Gibbs' adding to it. There are a lot of Redskins followers who are ready to judge Rypien right now -- and they find him wanting.

Even though he's 12-3 as a starter in his past 15 games, Rypien has been intercepted nine times in the past four games and was booed repeatedly by the home fans Sunday in the 29-14 victory over the Buffalo Bills.

All indications are that Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke has lost confidence in Rypien, which is an ominous sign for a Redskins player.

Cooke has declined to comment on Rypien, but Morris Siegel, a columnist for The Washington Times, wrote Monday that, "It would take a miracle for Rypien to continue as the main man at QB after his experience yesterday. Redskin officials who count were understandably and properly critical. None said so openly, but the expressions on their faces telegraphed their displeasure in no uncertain terms."

Siegel is not only a columnist, but also a personal friend of Cooke's. He often sits in Cooke's private box. There was little doubt that when Siegel referred to the "Redskin officials who count," he was referring to Cooke. In the end, Cooke's opinion is the only one that counts in the organization.

As long as the Redskins win, Cooke gives Gibbs wide latitude. But if Gibbs can't win with Rypien in the playoffs, Cooke will want a different quarterback, if not a different coach.

Nobody understands better than Gibbs that Cooke doesn't believe in rebuilding programs.

Talking about the maturing process in a young quarterback, Gibbs said: "He's young. Normally, it takes some guys a while to mature and really play well. But, yet, you don't like that because, hey, they can take a while to mature, but I can't. I have to win now. I want to be here for a while and certainly our fans aren't going to wait. So it makes it tough. When you go through young quarterbacks, it makes it tough."

Gibbs is looking for reasons for Rypien's inconsistency.

"There could be a lot of reasons. I think it could be a thousand things," he said. "The guy's been hurt two years in a row. Being out of there five or six weeks this year hurt him."

Actually, Rypien injured his shoulder in 1988 and then injured his knee in the third game this year against the Dallas Cowboys and came back in the 10th game, against the New Orleans Saints.

The booing at RFK Stadium seems to have bothered Rypien, so it may not be a disadvantage that he's playing on the road tomorrow.

He said he can understand boos after an interception is thrown, but not when he comes on the field to start a series.

He said the fans should support the players. "That's the way I'm going to teach my kids to become a fan. That's the type of fan I've always been. You try to encourage people who are playing," he said.

Rypien hasn't played in the past three games against the Eagles. He was injured for the two regular-season games this year and was benched for the second game last year.

He threw three passes that were intercepted in the second game in 1988 and was yanked for Williams, who led the Redskins to a 20-19 victory. In last year's first game, he passed for four touchdowns, but lost a 42-37 shootout to Randall Cunningham.

He said he's not intimidated by the Eagles, who've knocked out six quarterbacks this year, including Redskin backups Jeff Rutledge and Stan Humphries on Nov. 12.

"You get intimidated when you're in grade school and you get your report card and open it up," he said.

NOTES: The Redskins are expected to activate OL Ray Brown today because they're concerned about depth. . . .WR Gary Clark didn't practice yesterday but is expected to play tomorrow.

*Rypien vs. Eagles

Dec. 4, 1988 at Phila.



Rypien was replaced by Doug Williams, who passed for 206 yards and 1 TD to rally the team to a 20-19 victory.

Sept. 17, 1898 at RFK



The Redskins lost, 42-37, as Randall Cunningham threw 5 TD passes.

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