Redskins ahead as others lose theirs

October 08, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

HERNDON, Va. -- Maybe it's time to start believing in the Cycle Theory.

That's the notion that the Redskins, San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants go to the Super Bowl once every four years, and that the Redskins, who went in 1983 and 1987, are up this year.

Things are going right for the Redskins, and their chief rivals are having all kinds of problems.

Their 20-7 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday gave them 22 victories in the past 29 games since ending the 1989 season with five straight wins.

Three quarterbacks who handed them five of those seven defeats -- Joe Montana of the 49ers, Phil Simms of the Giants and Randall Cunningham of the Philadelphia Eagles -- are sidelined.

Cunningham is out for the year with a knee injury and Montana is sidelined with an elbow injury and may not be back any time soon. Meanwhile, Simms, who has beaten the Redskins six straight times the past three years, was benched by coach Ray Handley for Jeff Hostetler, who has led the team to a 3-3 record.

On top of that, the Giants and Eagles have had internal problems. Last week, the Giants, who had dipped to 2-3, had so much turmoil that general manager George Young

compared it to Paris during the French Revolution.

This week, the Eagles are publicly knocking coach Rich Kotite's conservative play-calling in a 14-13 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

By contrast, the only blip on the Redskins' screen was the knee injury suffered Sunday by defensive lineman Markus Koch.

A Magnetic Resonance Imaging yesterday revealed he has a partial ligament tear in his left knee. Although it won't require surgery, he'll be sidelined at least six weeks and will likely go on injured reserve.

The Redskins are expected to sign another defensive end. Jason Buck, who was cut by the Cincinnati Bengals in training camp, is nTC the leading candidate.

But the way the defense is playing right now, the Redskins should be able to survive the loss of Koch. Fred Stokes will see more playing time, and the Redskins also will use a 3-4 alignment with Ravin Caldwell as the fourth linebacker.

"I like the way Ravin has played," coach Joe Gibbs yesterday.

It's difficult to find many things to worry about right now, but Gibbs is always equal to that task. Although he said that quarterback Mark Rypien made "five great plays when we had to have them" against the Bears, he didn't give the offense stellar grades overall.

"Offensively, we weren't as smooth in some areas. We've got to get back in a groove a little bit. We've

got to get polished a little bit," he said.

Gibbs also continued to preach the message that a 6-0 start doesn't win a team anything, even though the Redskins have a two-game lead on the 4-2 Dallas Cowboys and a three-game lead on the rest of the teams in the NFC East.

"Once you start winning, everybody has a tendency to go overboard and start making predictions. You've got to understand what kind of a team we are. How did we get here? Was it by just going out there with half an effort and beating somebody, or did we have to really play hard? That's the reason why it's hard to go undefeated for a period of time."

Gibbs also doesn't like to hear any Super Bowl talk.

"It's definitely too early. The last time the Redskins were 6-0 (1978), they didn't make the playoffs, and everybody gets fired in that situation.

"When people start saying they're going to the Super Bowl, they start bragging. Then, when you lose, their feelings get hurt. Normally, when that happens, they're upset. That's a bad scenario."

A lot of coaches would settle for Gibbs' scenario right now.

NOTES: The trading deadline is today, but the Redskins aren't likely to make any last-minute deals. That means that QB Stan Humphries will spend the season with the team. The Redskins didn't get what they considered a good offer for him. They want to keep their depth at the position because so many QBs have been hurt this year.

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