HERNDON, VA. — C HERNDON, Va. -- When it comes to being focused on the next opponent, it's hard to top Joe Gibbs.
The Washington Redskins coach, who sleeps in his office three nights a week and hasn't been able to identify such public figures as Oliver North and Madonna in the past, is the prototype of the coach whose life is the game.
Bill Belichick, rookie coach of the Cleveland Browns, doesn't sleep in his office, but he may be even more intense than Gibbs about the preparing for the next game -- in this case, Sunday against the Redskins at RFK Stadium.
Asked yesterday whether he has any theories about why scoring is down in the NFL, Belichick said: "I'm not into evaluating the trends in the league. All that I'm trying to do is coach the Browns."
Belichick, the son of former Navy assistant football coach Steve Belichick, told the Browns in his first talk with them that all his life he had wanted the opportunity to be a head coach in the NFL, and that he wasn't going to screw it up.
He takes for granted that the game is his life during the season.
"The time you spend on the game is so great that it's really hard to carry a whole lot of outside interests at this time of year. At least, it is for me. I guess I put quite a bit of time and commitment into the season, and I think that's what is necessary to win at this level," he said.
In his first season, Belichick seems to be turning around a Cleveland team that went 3-13 last year. The team is 2-3 and has lost the past two weeks to the New York Giants and New York Jets by a total of six points.
About the Redskins, he said: "I think this is the best Redskin team that I've seen. It almost looked like in the last three years that you could almost see Joe molding this team with his hands to get it just the way he wants it."
"I think the record speaks for itself. They're 6-0, they're at the top of the league in every category. You look at their roster and you see All-Pro guys who can't even get on the field or are backup guys or in IR, [John] Settle, [Gerald] Riggs, [Russ] Grimm. They are better than the people playing for some teams," he said.
Not that Gibbs, who has been known to poor-mouth, was going to take that without a rebuttal.
"I think he said that six straight times when he was in New York. I wonder how good New York was if we're this good. I don't think that'll fly around here," Gibbs said.
Belichick was the defensive coordinator of the Giants when they beat the Redskins six straight times the past three years.
"I've been on the short end of the stick plenty of time against the Redskins," Belichick said. "I think RFK is one of the toughest places to play a game. I usually leave there with about four or five aspirins and a headache."
He had to be talking about his early days as an assistant coach with the Giants after he joined them in 1978. He was 1-7 in his first eight games at RFK, but 4-1 in the last five.
NOTES: DE Jason Buck, who was cut by the Bengals at the end of training camp and signed with the Redskins, said that Bengals coach Sam Wyche overdoes his off-the-field controversies. "We get a half-hour at the least in the mornings on the articles he's read over the weekend. My personal feeling is that the players get a little tired of the antics sometimes. It draws too much attention to the team [from] the national press. The locker room thing last year [when he tried to ban women], we got just overwhelmed with press every week and women purposely trying to get into the locker room to make a point. It became too much, and, hey, the players are adults, professionals."