The preseason opener for the Washington Redskins left Joe Gibbs, the coach of the Super Bowl champions, shaking his head in disappointment.
"Overall, we've got a lot of work to do if we're going to be the kind of football team we want to be," Gibbs said.The Redskins were victimized for 31 points in the second quarter and went on to lose, 44-31, to the Pittsburgh Steelers at soldout RFK Stadium Friday night. What was most disturbing to Gibbs was the fact that his reserves were far more impressive than his starters.
"It is a concern because (Pittsburgh's) first lines were head and shoulders above us," Gibbs said. "I just think the Steelers looked much better than us."
The Steelers snared four interceptions, returning one for a touchdown, as the Washington passing game looked ragged in the first half under Doug Williams (5-of-9, 77 yards, one interception, one touchdown) and Jay Schroeder (5-of-16, 54 yards, two interceptions).
"I'm glad it was preseason," Williams said.
Mark Rypien, the Redskins' well-regarded third string singal-caller, played the entire second half and led the team to five scoring drives and 25 points. Rypien, who has spent his two NFL seasons on the injured reserve list, completed 16-of-27 passes for 210 yards, with one interception.
Rypien, whose powerful arm rivals Williams' and Schroeder's, positioned himself to make a serious bid to earn the second string spot behind Williams, the MVP of Super Bowl XXII.
"Everyone wants to start and play games. My objective is to come in here and push Jay and Doug the most that I can and leave the decision up to the coach," Rypien said. "Any chance I get is valuable time."
Schroeder, who lost his starting job after the regular season finale last season and has asked to be traded, looked particularly bad. He was booed loudly by the sellout crowd at RFK Stadium, with both interceptions leading to Pittsburgh scores.
But neither interception resulted from bad Schroeder passes. Terry Orr bobbled one pass into the hands of Pittsburgh's Tyronne Stowe, who returned it for a TD and Kelvin Bryant lost the handle on another pass, which was stolen by Pittsburgh's Greg Lloyd.
"I certainly don't think it was all Jay's fault," said Gibbs.