Redskins perfect, but ready to tinker Johnson may leave injured reserve

October 02, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

HERNDON, Va. -- The Washington Redskins are about to violate the old axiom that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

The Redskins' defense isn't broken. It hasn't given up a point in three home games.

But they're ready to fix it. Coach Joe Gibbs indicated yesterday after Monday night's 23-0 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles that the Redskins are ready to make their first roster move since the start of the season.

With defensive back Alvoid Mays likely to miss a game because of the sprained ankle he suffered against the Eagles, Gibbs said there's "more of a possibility" that cornerback A.J. Johnson will be brought back from the injured reserve list.

Johnson, who was put on the IR list at the start of the season with a dislocated wrist, is likely to challenge Martin Mayhew for the starting cornerback slot. Safety Clarence Vaughn could wind up being released to make room for Johnson.

Gibbs said he had no problems with making a roster change even though the team is undefeated, especially since the Redskins lead the league in pass defense.

"We'll make any move to help strengthen this football team," Gibbs said.

Not that the Redskins need much strengthening. They're fourth in offense and second in defense in the league and are off to a 5-0 start for only the second time in Gibbs' 11-year tenure with the team. They are first team since the 1934 Detroit Lions with shutouts in their first three home games.

The best the Redskins coach could do yesterday was to be concerned that too many good things are being written about the team. He wasn't happy that a Washington columnist wrote yesterday that the team is going to the Super Bowl.

"When you get a run going like this, almost everybody in town is going to slap you on the back," he said. "There's going to be great things written about you. It sets you up. You've got to look past those things."

Gibbs said the good things make the inevitable letdown even worse.

"I would try and stop it," he said. "I'd throw my body out there, but I don't think it's going to stop anybody from writing anything. They can write what they want. Those are going to be the same people who are really going to be upset when you lose. Because they feel like they're out on a limb. Then when you lose, you disappoint them so they write bad things."

He was quick to note that the Redskins started out 6-0 in 1978 under coach Jack Pardee and finished 8-8.

"I think 5-0 is just that. I keep saying that because it's true. That's not going to get you anything. But it's a great start," he said.

If Gibbs had any genuine concern, it was that quarterback Mark Rypien reverted to his inconsistent form with four turnovers.

Rypien fumbled four times -- two of them were center exchanges that backup center Russ Grimm had a hand in -- and lost two of them and was intercepted twice.

Rypien said he didn't play well, and Gibbs said, "I think he would rate that along with us that it wasn't as good as the other four."

Gibbs said the Redskins can't afford to commit four turnovers.

"When you turn the ball over like that, it's rare that you'd win a game. We can't win games and turn the ball over like. If we do that, we're going to lose. It just so happened in this game that we got away with it because our defense played so well and they lost their quarterback," he said.

When Jim McMahon strained his knee scrambling late in the first quarter, the Eagles had to go to Pat Ryan, who was signed after Randall Cunningham was lost for the season in the opener. Ryan, who had thought he was retired, hadn't played since 1989, and it showed. He completed four passes and was intercepted three times.

The next stop on the Redskins' victory tour is Chicago, where they play the 4-1 Bears on Sunday.

Gibbs said he isn't worried about a letdown against the Bears.

"When you start winning games, the crowd and the next team will start pointing at you," Gibbs said. "We know one thing. Chicago will be ready and their crowd will be ready."

NOTES: Besides Mays (ankle sprain), who will miss a game, the other players injured against the Eagles (OL Jeff Bostic, Achilles' tendon; DL Fred Stokes, shoulder and OL Joe Jacoby, knee) are all expected to play this week. . . . The Redskins will bring a 16-2 mark Sunday into games that follow Monday night games.

NFL shutouts

Teams that have registered 3 or more shutouts in the regular season since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 (listed by number of shutouts, team, year and opponents with scores in parentheses):

5: Pittsburgh, 1976 (N.Y. Giants, 27-0; San Diego, 23-0; Kansas City, 45-0; Tampa Bay, 42-0; Houston, 21-0)

3: St. Louis, 1970 (Houston, 44-0; Boston, 31-0; Dallas, 38-0)

3: Baltimore, 1971 (N.Y. Jets, 22-0; Buffalo, 43-0; Buffalo, 24-0)

3: Minnesota, 1971 (Buffalo, 19-0; Philadelphia, 13-0; Green Bay, 3-0)

3: Miami, 1972 (Baltimore, 23-0; New England, 52-0; Baltimore, 16-0)

3: Los Angeles, 1977 (Philadelphia, 20-0; Tampa Bay, 31-0; Cleveland, 9-0)

3: Miami, 1978 (Baltimore, 42-0; Cincinnati, 21-0; Washington, 16-0)

3: Seattle, 1984 (Cleveland, 33-0; San Diego, 24-0; Kansas City, 45-0)

3: Washington, 1991 (Detroit, 45-0; Phoenix, 34-0; Philadelphia, 23-0)

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