ASHBURN, Va. -- It was damage control time for the Washington Redskins yesterday.
Coach Richie Petitbon and general manager Charley Casserly tried to downplay the charges made Sunday by quarterback Mark Rypien that the team has decided to dump him at the end of the year and that someone "on top" (presumably owner Jack Kent Cooke) is ordering Petitbon to make personnel decisions.
"That's not true," said Petitbon, explaining that "good or bad," the decisions are his.
Casserly said: "The coach is making the decisions as far as who's playing."
They both said no decisions have been made on the future of any player and said Rypien's comments were the result of the frustration of the losing season.
"Obviously, Ryp is a little upset about the game [38-3 loss to Dallas]. As far as the coaching staff, we've never discussed Ryp's future or anybody else's future," Petitbon said. "After a game, a lot of things are said. A lot of things come out. He's obviously frustrated. That's the way it goes sometimes."
Petitbon said Rypien will start the season finale Friday against the Minnesota Vikings and said he can be effective if he gets protection.
"In 1991 when we protected him, he had a great year [Super Bowl MVP]. Last year, we didn't protect him, he wasn't very good. The same thing happened this year."
Rypien also suffered a knee injury in the second game of the season and hasn't been the same since.
Petitbon added: "Ryp's an experienced guy. He's very intelligent. He does a very good job in the audible part of the game."
Casserly also said that for a 4-11 team, the Redskins have had surprisingly few off-the-field outbursts.
"You've had some teams that have almost had a mutiny. We haven't ever come close to that. I don't think it's out of control," Casserly said.
Petitbon said: "I think it's worked out pretty well. For 15 weeks, nothing has been said or anything. The frustration point just hit. To tell you the truth, it's gone about as smooth as it could possibly go under very, very trying circumstances."
Petitbon also said he can deal with the second-guessing that goes with a first-year coach's suffering through a losing season.
"I think that happens when you lose. Everybody is looking for answers. The head coach is always a scapegoat. So let it be," he NTC said. "Second-guessing goes with the territory. You have to be prepared to accept that. It's not a lot of fun."
Petitbon said he hasn't lost any confidence in his ability.
"Not really," he said. "Sometimes things happen that are totally beyond anybody's control. I think to a large extent, that's what's happened this year."
Petitbon's explanation for this year is the rash of injuries the team has suffered. Two more players, defensive lineman Shane Collins and tight end James Jenkins, went on the injured reserve list yesterday.
"I think injuries have really been the main problem. It sounds like you're beating a dead horse, but when there's a lot of shuffling going on, you can't get the continuity you have to have to win," he said.
When Petitbon was asked what he's learned from this season, he said, "Don't let anybody get hurt."
Petitbon also predicted the Redskins can turn it around next season.
"I think the one thing about this league is you can move fast if you get the right people and things work right for you. The difference between a playoff team and 4-11 is really not that much. It may seem miles away, but it's really not the case," he said.
The one thing Petitbon doesn't know is whether Cooke will give him the chance to try to turn it around next year.
"I think you've got to ask Mr. Cooke," he said.
Cooke hasn't yet commented on Petitbon's future.
The one thing Petitbon won't do is change his taciturn style even though he's been criticized for a lack of communication with his players.
"I don't think you can ever change. I think then you'd be a phony and the one thing I'm not is a phony," he said.
NOTES: The National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund will attempt to get an injunction in Loudoun County (Va.) Circuit Court today to stop the NFL Players Association from attempting to suspend 37 Redskins for Friday's game for refusing to pay their $5,000 in union dues. The NFLPA has an arbitration hearing today when it will argue the team is located in the District of Columbia. The Redskins contend they're located in Virginia, a right-to-work state, so they don't have to pay their dues. Petitbon seemed to defend the players yesterday. "Unlike a lot of people who never put their money where their mouth is, I think this is a show of real guts. If somebody doesn't want to do something, it's going to cost them a lot of money. It's an individual deal. I don't think anybody can tell anybody what to do in a situation like that," he said. . . . The Redskins will bring up TE Ray Rowe from the practice squad and re-sign DL Gerald Nichols to replace James Jenkins and Ray Rowe, who are going on IR.