"Every day is another crisis." George Allen said yesterday. Today at 1 p.m. at RFK Stadium, the New York Giants provide the anxiety. And early next week, Allen says, he will make a final decision on Pat Fischer's status for the rest of this year.
Today's game will be televised by WTOP.TV9.
For the first time since Fischer hurt his back lifting weights in July, Allen admitted yesterday. "It's looking more doubtful every day" that Fischer, the 37-year-old cornerback, will be able to play again this year, if ever.
Fischer is scheduled for still another in a long serious of examinations Monday, and while Allen also insisted yesterday that he had not "ruled him out completely," other club sources indicate the coach is leaning toward placing Fischer on the injured-reserve list.
"I'll make that decision Monday or Tuesday." Allen said, Tuesday is the final trading deadline as well as the last day he can bring back any players previously cut by the Redskins. For now, safeties Eddie Brown and Brig Owens will be used in reserve at cornerback.
"We'll face that after the Giants game," Allen said, with a wry smile on his face. "But this has really been a year of decisions, hasn't it?"
Today against the 2-3 Giants. Allen really has no decision to make about who to start at fullback or Fischer's cornerback position. He has no choice except to go with one raw rookie and a shaky second-year man.
Allen will open with rookie fullback Clarence Harmon in place of the injured John Riggins and Bob Brunei. And he is hoping that cornerback Gerard Williams can get his head back together after a disastrous burned-for-two-touchdowns game against the Cowboys.
"I think Clarence will do a good job." Allen said. "It's a stuation we just have to face, and everybody has to contribute more, buckle up and give more.
"And I think Gerard is going to have a big game. He's goint to come up with a key paly to help us win. He hasn't let this thing get him down."
Even thought the Redskins will field their weekly patchwork lineup, the oddsmakers believe Washington is a nine-point choice to avoid a third straight loss to the Giants. Allen said yesterday he could not recall dropping three in a row to any team in his 12 years as a head coach.
There will be other fill-ins today at RFK. Mike Cumis will open in place of still-limping Chris Hanburger (sore knee) at right linebacker. And Bill Brundige will probably start at left defensive tackle in place of Dave Butz, who has a sore back.
As usual, Allen has been preaching "must game" to his team all week. "What the heck, when you're 3.2 you've got to win the next game," he said. "The next game is vital."
With the Cowboys already 5-0 and facing a piece-of-cake game at Philadelphia, the Redskins know another loss at this stage would virtually give Dallas a lock on the NFC East title.
Although a defeat would hardly be fatal to the Redskins' wild-card hopes in this topsy-turvy NFC season. Allen has also said that a 10.4 record should assure a playoff berth. With Dallas, St. Louis, Baltimore and Los Angeles still on the schedule, the Redskins can ill afford losses to second-division clubs.
"We know how important this game is," wide receiver Charley Taylor said. "The Giants are a good team but not good enough to beat the Redskins, not if we play our game."
The Redskins did not do that in the season-opener when three mistakes gave the Giants 17 of their points in a 20-17 victory.
"We owe them something," said left guard Ron Saul. "They heat us the last two times, and they always seem to get fired up for us. Oh, yeah, we do owe them. We've got something to settle."
The Redskins also would like to settle down on offense and avoid all the wasted opportunities, turnovers and penalties of the past weeks.
Tailback Mike Thomas, who says he now feels almost completely recovered from a sore hamstring, said he would have no problem carrying the ball "as many times as they want me to" against a New York defense ranked 10th overall in the NFC - ninth against the rush, 10th against the pass, Calvin Hill also should see some action.
Allen said again yesterday that quarterback Billy Kilmer had "looked good" all week and that he seems to be recovered from his various ailments - sore shoulder, knee, back and arm.
Kilmer, a 47 per cent passer this season, will be throwing at a Giant defense that is allowing a whopping 58 per cent completion average to giddy opponents. The New Yorkers have intercepted only three passes in five games.
One of those interceptions, however, was thrown by Kilmer in the first game. Defensive end George Martin pilfered and ball and ran 30 yards for a touchdown, and he wiil be back in action for the Giants today alter missing four games with a knee injured against Washington.
The Giants also are coming to town with a new starting quarterback. Joe Pisarcik, a 33 per cent passer who has had six of his passes intercepted, four in one game against the Eagles two weeks ago.
Last week, Pisarcik threw only six times in the Giants' 20-17 victory over San Francisco, the fewest for the clubn in 22 years. "I would think they'd thrown more this week," Allen said. "They'll probably gamble a little more and not be as conservative."
Allen said Pisarcik reminds him of Roman Gabriel. "He throws the ball hard." the coach said. "He seems to be strong, he scrambles a little bit and he can throw it 70 yards. The Giants overall are a better team than they have been.
"At one time, I thought they'd never beat us, but now we're faced with the threat of (losing) three in a row. It shouldn't happen, not if we play our game. But this is a year of a lot of firsts. I hate to even answer the question."