With Redskins' passing game, there's something in the err

September 22, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

ASHBURN, Va. -- All Joe Gibbs needed Sunday was a soda and a hot dog and he would have been just like any other short-tempered fan in the stands.

The Washington Redskins coach admitted he was getting as frustrated as a fan at the team's inability to throw the ball against the Detroit Lions.

"Our first drive, I was fired up. Our first drive the second half, the same thing," Gibbs said. "The rest of the time I was like you all. I said, 'All right, we're going to run this sucker.' I was so ticked off because we couldn't get the other thing [passing] going."

The Redskins wound up running the ball 41 times for 147 yards -- Earnest Byner got 120 yards in 30 carries -- in a 13-10 victory over the Lions because they couldn't get the passing game going.

Quarterback Mark Rypien was intercepted three times and completed only 14 of 24 for 136 yards.

After viewing the films, though, Gibbs supported his quarterback.

"I feel good about Ryp," he said. "It's not him. I don't think it's all him. It's all of us together, including the coaches. My job is to spot all these things and get it ironed out. The thing about the passing game is that it all has to fit together."

If things had fit better, Rypien's first and third interceptions could have gone for a pair of 54-yard touchdown passes and the Redskins could have breezed to victory.

The first interception came in the first quarter on a first down at the Washington 46. Rypien had Art Monk open, but he faced a big pass rush. Instead of taking a sack, Rypien put it up and safety Bennie Blades easily picked it off.

On the third interception, a third-and-eight at the Washington 46 in the fourth quarter, Gary Clark broke free against man coverage.

"We see that man coverage and it flashes touchdown," Gibbs said.

Gibbs said it's normally "suicide" to play the Redskins' receivers that way, but added, "We're letting people off the hook."

Detroit not only got off the hook, it got an interception because Clark was running on a gimpy leg he had injured earlier in the game.

"Normally, he explodes there," Gibbs said. "I don't think he could go full bore."

Instead of going deep, Clark had to break off the route and Melvin Jenkins jumped in front of Clark to intercept the pass.

"Gary was hurting," Rypien said. "He was probably at 80 percent. It's nothing against him. He's a competitor."

Rypien blamed himself for not throwing the ball higher and away from Jenkins in case Clark couldn't get to it.

Those two plays probably illustrated the biggest difference between this year and last year's 17-2 Super Bowl season. Last year, Rypien completed 17 passes of 45 yards or more. This year, his longest completion is a 30-yarder.

Rypien is willing to take the blame for the malfunctions in the passing game, although Gibbs wants to spread it around.

"I need to play better," Rypien said. "I'll be the first to admit that."

Talking about how the breakdowns in the offensive line have hurt the passing game, Gibbs said, "The single best way to affect the passing game is to hit the quarterback. You can't set your feet and throw."

Last season, Rypien was sacked seven times. This year, he has been sacked four times in three games and has been hit virtually every time he goes back to pass.

Gibbs, though, is pleased that the team has rebounded from its loss Dallas Cowboys in the opener to dominate the line of scrimmage with the running game the past two weeks.

He said that if he had to pick one, he'd rather have the running game working because that's the physical part of football.

"The running game has stepped up to the point where we're knocking people back," Gibbs said. "If you give me one, I'd rather that. It's hard to get that knock-'em-back approach."

When the Redskins first saw their schedule, Gibbs said he thought the bye week was a bit early. Now, he says he'll take it.

Although Gibbs will give the players the weekend off, he scheduled the normal heavy-duty practices tomorrow and Thursday. They'll work a lot on the passing game.

"The practices will be geared to some of the things we have to get smoothed out," Gibbs said.

NOTE: CB Darrell Green, who broke his right forearm a week ago, underwent surgery yesterday to insert a plate over the break to help the healing. He'll have the plate taken out when his career is over. Green, who'll be in a cast for six weeks, refuses to concede his season is over, although the odds are against him returning. "We won't rule him out," said trainer Bubba Tyer.

Ryp's off

Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien's statistics after three games have not been of Super Bowl MVP caliber:

Opp. Com. ... ... ... Att. ... ... Yds. ... ... TD ... ... Int.

Dal. 20 .. .. ... ... 38 .. .. ... 208 .. .. .. 1 .. .. .. 0

Atl. 18 .. .. ... ... 28 .. .. ... 181 .. .. .. 2 .. .. .. 1

Det. 14 .. .. ... ... 24 .. .. ... 136 .. .. .. 0 .. .. .. 3

Tot. 52 .. .. ... ... 90 .. .. ... 525 .. .. .. 3 .. .. .. 4

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