The Washington Redskins have been outscored, 79-71, by their replacement team this season, and Coach Joe Gibbs isn't quite sure what to make of it.

Last Sunday against the New York Jets, the RFK Stadium crowd didn't chant, "We want Rubbert!" but they did ask for backup quarterback Doug Williams, which has never happened in the Jay Schroeder era.

Some Redskins, as well as Gibbs, say their forced vacation last month because of the NFL players strike contributed to the rusty performance against the Jets.

"Yeah, that's possible," said wide receiver Gary Clark yesterday, "but we were rusty like that in the middle of the season last year."

It has almost become the Redskins' personality to win in a vulgar way, though it is clearly not just the offense's fault. The Jets game was typical, in that the defense kept the offense in the game until the fourth quarter. Then, behind Schroeder, who figures if you throw the long pass enough times you'll eventually click, they rallied and won the game by a point.

But other times, it's the offense that has kept the defense in the game, such as last year's 30-27 victory over San Diego or this year's 34-24 victory over Philadelphia.

Gibbs stood in the cold yesterday and said, "It's no way to live."

As far as the offense is concerned, the Redskins' personnel is strikingly similar to what it was in 1982 and 1983, except Joe Theismann and John Riggins have been replaced with Schroeder and George Rogers. Theismann was adept at the short, ball-control pass, whereas Schroeder's strength is the long, run-under-it-if-you-can pass. Riggins bulldozed, whereas Rogers sometimes tiptoes. Without question, the offense is more risk-oriented.

"We've got a better arsenal now," tackle Mark May said. "Jay's got a great arm. You've got Clark, Rogers, and Kelvin Bryant -- that's a lot more speed out of the backfield. George isn't a power guy like John, but he's faster. John got eight yards at a time, but George will go and get you 30. You take what you have.

"Listen, you've got to change. If you want to run 40- and 50-gut all day, they'll figure out how to stop you. Everybody likes to be ahead 24-0 at the half. Who wouldn't? We're trying."

Lest anyone forget, the Redskins are 5-1 and in first place in the NFC East. Says Clark of the offense: "Basically with us, we don't feel like we'll lose a game. When it's close in the fourth quarter, we lay back and say, 'We'll win.' "

Says Schroeder: "Last week, I think everyone was a little overanxious and we just didn't play well. Yeah, it's been a pattern that we struggle early and find a way to win. But listen, if we put it together early, we'd really run it up on people . . . The way I see it, if we're losing, sooner or later we'll get it. We've got enough guys running around that it's hard to cover everybody."

Gibbs says he's less concerned with his offense than his special teams that gave up a 57-yard kickoff return and a 45-yard punt return last Sunday. Former replacement player Dennis Woodberry, a cornerback with 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash, is expected to be activated today for Sunday's Buffalo game ahead of rookie cornerback Brian Davis solely because of his prowess at covering kicks.

"I'm no scab anymore," Woodberry said yesterday. "I guess they'll take a look at me. It's a great challenge, and I can't wait to get out there Sunday and impress everybody. If that's what it takes, I'll dive and try to kill me somebody on Sunday."

Woodberry is a former Atlanta Falcon who last year intercepted Miami's Dan Marino twice in one game. He should flourish in Washington because he loves covering receivers one on one, which is what the Redskins primarily do. In Atlanta, he said he was cut partly because he had trouble in zone defenses.

Chuck Banker, the Redskins special teams coach, says Davis "is not the goat" for last Sunday's special teams follies. It's just that Woodberry had to take somebody's place in the secondary, and Davis, who has been constantly bothered by a quadricep injury, was the odd man out.

Davis, the Redskins top choice (30th overall) in last year's draft, said yesterday he doesn't feel "threatened" by the possible demotion.

"But all in all, this has been a frustrating year," said Davis, who played collegiately at Nebraska. "I came in here never having an injury in my life, not even a sprained ankle. And then I got hurt immediately at minicamp. I've been playing at 80 percent health, trying to learn at the same time. I just feel I could have come a long better than I have. I know I'm more able than this."

Davis said he was the "outside contain man" on JoJo Townsell's 57-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter Sunday, just after the Redskins scored with six minutes left to cut the Jets lead to two points. He said being the contain man means you have to watch and wait instead of tearing downfield. He said he'd rather be inside, so he can be reckless.

Still, General Manager Bobby Beathard said he has a high opinion of Davis.

"He was coming along well until he pulled his quadricep muscle {in training camp}," Beathard said. "Then once the season started, he pulled it again in Atlanta. He can cover and has good speed. What he needs to do is do a good job on special teams until his time comes. He didn't have a good game {on special teams} last week, but a lot of people didn't. That happens. It kills you when you have games like that."

Redskins Notes: With reserve linebacker Anthony Copeland sidelined with a knee injury, Kurt Gouviea got a lot of work in practice yesterday and could be activated today to take Copeland's place . . . Rogers (sore toe) still expects to start Sunday's game, but he will wear a special pad to give the toe more support. Trainer Bubba Tyer said both Rogers and Bryant (hamstring) have improved this week. Also, tight end Joe Caravello (back) worked out yesterday, though Gibbs said he probably won't be activated. That means the only replacement players likely to play Sunday are Woodberry and H-back Craig McEwen.