Humphries' value rising as Rypien's takes plunge

November 18, 1992|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

Whether it was tough luck or slovenly work habits, Stan Humphries lost out to Mark Rypien in Washington in a three-year battle of sixth-round, Redskins draft picks.

Humphries was exiled to the bench after a five-game stint in 1990 as starting quarterback, and stayed there for the next year and a half. He escaped last August in a trade to the San Diego Chargers.

Since then, the fortunes of both quarterbacks have changed dramatically.

While Rypien struggles behind a patchwork line in a season-long slump, Humphries has found a home -- and maybe even a playoff berth -- in San Diego. That the Chargers (5-5) have won five of their past six games is largely attributable to Humphries' performance. He has averaged 257.3 passing yards during that stretch with nine touchdowns and six interceptions. Meanwhile, Rypien has thrown one touchdown pass and three interceptions in his last four games for the Redskins, who are 6-4.

Suddenly, it's not as certain that Rypien, a sixth-round pick in 1986 and Super Bowl winner last season, is the better quarterback.

Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard drafted Humphries while at Washington in 1988 and traded a conditional fourth-round pick for him last August after starting quarterback John Friesz suffered a season-ending knee injury.

"He's a real take-charge guy," Beathard said. "He seems to have a knack for making big plays. He believes he's going to, he believes he can, and the team believes he can."

Humphries made the biggest play in Sunday's 14-13 victory at Cleveland. Trailing 13-7 with two minutes left, he threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Miller on a third-down post pattern. On the preceding play, Humphries had overthrown Nate Lewis in the end zone -- going for the big play when he had a receiver open on a shorter route. Beathard likes that big-play mentality in his quarterbacks.

Beathard admits he had reservations about making the trade, though. He said that during his time in Washington, Humphries and Tom Flick were the only quarterbacks not willing to commit to the Redskins.

"Commitment," Beathard said, "is moving to Northern Virginia and working out all the time. It just never worked out. I'm not saying anything that happened there was Joe Gibbs' fault. They do a great job with quarterbacks back there. It was fortunate for us things didn't work out."

Humphries, 27, also had some tough luck as a starter in Washington in 1990. In five starts, he beat the Phoenix Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles, but lost twice to a New York Giants team that went on to win the Super Bowl. In one of those losses, Humphries saw a potential go-ahead touchdown pass deflect off Earnest Byner's shoulder pads and turn into a Giants interception. Humphries was pulled from a start at Detroit and in his final appearance for the Redskins was hurt in a Monday night relief role (and loss) at Philadelphia.

"Stan's grown up," Beathard said. "He realizes it's a full-time job and it seems he's made the commitment. He's a model student."

Saints talking tough

When the New Orleans Saints lost to the San Francisco 49ers for the eighth time in 10 games Sunday -- surrendering first place in the NFC West -- there was more than the usual angst for the losers. The Saints blew a 20-7 lead with 11 minutes left, and there were questions later about their defense and their clock management after the 21-20 loss.

"If we're supposed to be so good, why didn't we get it done?" asked Saints linebacker Rickey Jackson. "If our defense is supposed to be so good, why did we give up two touchdowns at the end of the game? We've got to put up or shut up."

The Saints could face a crossroads when they play the Redskins Monday night at the Superdome. "We plan to take it out on the Redskins," Jackson said. "Somebody's got to pay for it. I think it'll be the rest of the teams we face. And that includes the 49ers. There'll be another showdown with them. San Francisco hasn't seen the last of the Saints."

Small crowd in Indy

The Indianapolis Colts drew only 42,631 fans for Sunday's 37-34 overtime loss to New England, the smallest Hoosier Dome crowd since a strike game against the New York Jets in 1987. It was also 155 fewer than they had for an August preseason game against the Jets.

Miscellaneous

Since 1970, the Green Bay Packers are 41-23-3 at Milwaukee's County Stadium, compared with their Lambeau Field mark of 37-57-2. . . . Seattle has scored one touchdown in its past six games and has five for the season. By comparison, Minnesota's defense has scored six touchdowns this year. . . . Raiders RB Eric Dickerson is averaging 40.6 yards a game and 3.6 yards a carry.

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