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RFK is OK with Ryan, but Gibbs is homebody


HERNDON, Va. -- Joe Gibbs and Buddy Ryan have different outlooks on football and life.

Gibbs, the Washington Redskins' coach, is cautious, always acts is if he's the underdog and seldom says anything controversial.

Ryan, the Philadelphia Eagles coach, is bombastic, publicly confident and never met a controversial statement he didn't mind making.

That's why it's not surprising that the two coaches have different views on the importance of home-field advantage in the playoffs if they meet in the National Football Conference wild-card game the weekend of Jan. 5-6.

If the season ended today, the 9-5 Redskins would be host to the 8-6 Eagles because they have the two best wild-card records.

The prospect of playing in Washington doesn't seem to bother Ryan, even though RFK Stadium has the reputation for being one of the toughest places for a visiting team to play and the Eagles are 1-4 in their five games there under Ryan.

Ryan brushed all that off.

"If we have to play on the road, I'd just as soon play in Washington," Ryan said after his team blanked the Green Bay Packers, 31-0, Sunday.

Gibbs, by contrast, said he thinks the home-field edge is important. He's putting a lot of emphasis on the final two games against the Indianapolis Colts and the Buffalo Bills because the Redskins will clinch the home-field edge if they win both games.

Gibbs, who has joined John Madden as the only other coach to win 100 regular-season games in 10 years, went on about the home-field edge yesterday.

"We've got a lot at stake," he said. "Everybody knows how important it is for us to get the home-field advantage. I think it's more important for us because of our fans here and our stadium, so we've got to do everything we can and fight our guts out to hold this advantage. We're fighting for a lot. There's a lot of pressure on it."

When he was told Ryan didn't seem concerned about the prospect of playing in Washington, Gibbs said: "Don't tell me about it. Tell the players. Tell our fans, too."

Gibbs said crowd noise is a big factor at RFK.

"If our crowd gets into it, the teams that are in shotgun and everything else, it's hard to audible. You're going to get guys jumping and going offsides, and the crowd definitely can be a controlling factor in these games. It limits what you [the opposing team] can do, so the noise is a problem," Gibbs said.

Gibbs can't guarantee the Redskins won't lose their edge now that they are in the playoffs.

"We're talking about people here," he said.

But he likes the way the team has responded with three straight victories since the Thanksgiving loss in Dallas.

"We have leadership there. We have guys who've stepped forward. They've had some meetings and they've stepped up and played with a great enthusiasm," he said.

Another thing Gibbs and Ryan disagree on is whether to pull the starting quarterback when the team has a big lead.

Ryan rested Randall Cunningham in the fourth quarter against the Packers.

"We want to get to the playoffs healthy," Ryan said.

But Gibbs said he doesn't like to pull his quarterback with a big lead even though Phil Simms of the New York Giants, Jim Kelly of the Buffalo Bills, Jim Harbaugh of the Chicago Bears and Steve DeBerg of the Kansas City Chiefs were injured Sunday.

"In most games, unless you're really, really ahead, I don't see much purpose in pulling a quarterback at the end of a game," he said.

Gibbs said a quarterback usually hands off only with a big lead, so he's not likely to get hurt anyway.

Although Mark Rypien threw only 11 passes in the rainstorm in New England, Gibbs liked the way he played.

"I like quarterbacks who play well in cold weather and bad weather," he said. "We've had guys around here who were great at that. I think if Ryp's that kind of quarterback, that's definitely going to help us."

Gibbs said he thinks Rypien is ready to make his first playoff appearance next month.

"I think he's matured," Gibbs said. "He's stepped up in a lot of areas as far as running the ball club and being confident about being out there."

NOTES: A Houston judge set Jan. 28 -- the day after the Super Bowl -- as the start of wide receiver Ricky Sanders' trial on charges of running down a parking-lot attendant. Sanders' attorney, Wendell Odom, said he thinks the judge will postpone it a day or two if the Redskins make the Super Bowl. . . . Running back Gerald Riggs is likely to start practicing this week. Gibbs won't make a decision on activating him until he sees how Riggs looks, but he'll stick with Earnest Byner as his running back as long as Byner plays well. . . . Defensive lineman Markus Koch is likely to miss the Colts game with a knee injury.

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