Redskins, Chiefs saddled by slow-moving offenses Both teams looking for needed spark


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If misery loves company, the Washington Redskins and the Kansas City Chiefs should enjoy meeting each other today.

The teams can trade tales of offensive woe when they go into this pivotal game that figures to be a low-scoring defensive battle.

The 6-3 Redskins have managed just two offensive touchdowns in the last four games, and the 5-4 Chiefs have gotten two in the last three games.

Kansas City ranks 21st in the league in offense and Washington 13th, but Redskins coach Joe Gibbs took an early lead in the poor mouthing derby by saying people will give the Redskins "little chance" even though his team is favored by a point.

Coach Marty Schottenheimer of the Chiefs responded, "If they want to slide the victory into our column without playing, we'll readily accept it. I have a feeling they'll show up and be very formidable. They're still the NFL champions and when you watch them play, you watch a team that still has a tremendous amount of pride."

Both teams also have quarterbacks under fire: the Redskins' Mark Rypien and Dave Krieg, in his first year with the Chiefs. Both teams also have heard boos at home this season.

Rypien is the lowest-rated quarterback in the NFC at 71.5, with seven touchdown passes and 10 interceptions.

Krieg has a slightly lower rating (69.8) with six touchdown passes and seven interceptions although he's ranked eighth in the AFC, one spot above -- would you believe? -- John Elway of Denver.

Both coaches have been defending their quarterbacks since they both won last week.

With the Chiefs trailing the San Diego Chargers, 14-13, in the final quarter, Krieg completed three passes on the drive that set up Nick Lowrey's game-winning field goal.

Schottenheimer said he is tired of hearing that Krieg, who came to the Chiefs on Plan B from the the former Seattle Seahawks, is inconsistent.

"This is an irritant to me and it shouldn't be," Schottenheimer said. "Maybe in my old age I'm becoming too sensitive. It is a personal irritation."

Krieg isn't thrilled about hearing it, either.

"I don't like to think of myself as an inconsistent quarterback. That hurts a little bit," he said.

That was the tag on Krieg his whole career in Seattle and he hasn't lived it down in Kansas City. The Chiefs never know which Krieg will show up, the one who passed for 272 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles or the one who passed for 82 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers two weeks later. He threw for three touchdown passes against a strong Eagles defense and hasn't thrown for one since then in the last three games.

Krieg knows he could be hearing boos if he doesn't get the offense untracked early.

Rypien doesn't have to worry about boos because he's on the road, but he's also got a good excuse for the Redskins' malfunctioning offense: the battered offensive line.

The Redskins have put four linemen (Mark Adickes, Jim Lachey, Jeff Bostic and Mo Elewonibi) on injured reserve this year, and Russ Grimm retired at the end of last season. Joe Jacoby is expected to start, but the Redskins don't know how long he'll be able to play with a pinched nerve in his neck. If he's forced out, rookie Matt Elliott would come in at center and Raleigh McKenzie would move to right tackle.

That would mean Elliott, the final player taken in the draft, would get extended playing time ahead of his much publicized college teammate at Michigan, Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard.

Under the circumstances, coach Joe Gibbs doesn't seem unhappy with Rypien's unimpressive statistics because he's working at a handicap.

"He's doing a heck of a job under adverse conditions," Gibbs said.

Gibbs has indicated that he may play rookie running back Robert Green over Ricky Ervins to attempt to jump-start the offense although it remains to be seen how much action he'll see. Last week, Gibbs talked about getting Howard in the game and he wound up seeing only a handful of plays. Gibbs usually is reluctant to play rookies.

In any case, this figures to be a low-scoring game dominated by two strong defenses. Washington's is the fifth best in the league and the Chiefs are sixth. It's not surprising that the best player on each team right now is a linebacker. Wilber Marshall of the Redskins is having his best season and last week he tipped a pass, intercepted and caused a fumble.

Linebacker Derrick Thomas of the Chiefs got four sacks in the first half against San Diego before they started double-teaming him.

Blocking Thomas with a make-shift line will be a key today.

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