Washington Redskins coaches put in an honest day's and night's work. Tuesday, for example, the assistant coaches didn't go home until Wednesday. They worked from 9 to 5 -- 5 a.m., that is.

Of course, some people's thinking caps are more productive at 3 p.m. than 3 a.m., and Coach Joe Gibbs did admit yesterday: "Sometimes, you may overdo it."

But, sometimes you don't.

Sunday in Buffalo, the Redskins ran three reverses to receiver Art Monk and gained a total of 54 yards. Quarterback Jay Schroeder also scored a touchdown on a bootleg. Buffalo coaches began yelling, "Contain! Contain! Stay at home!" Suddenly, Bills linebackers weren't crashing to the football, and running back George Rogers was free to crash up the middle for 125 yards rushing.

Redskins coaches devised that scheme by working from 9 to 5 a.m. a couple of times last week, so give them some applause and some No-Doz. But don't give them grief if they aren't that innovative each week.

Rogers, for instance, said yesterday that he doubts there will be much razzle-dazzle against the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday, just like there wasn't much against the New York Jets two weeks ago. The old saying is, "You do what the defense gives you," and if a defense doesn't give you the reverse or the flea flicker or the bummerooski, you don't do it.

Whereas the Bills were all-out aggressive to the football, it seems the Eagles read a play and then react.

"See, you change all these things week to week," Gibbs said yesterday. "And that's why it takes so long {i.e. until 5 a.m.}, because you're sometimes worried about the pass rusher on your left or sometimes worried about the pass rusher on your right or sometimes you think you can attack their right corner or sometimes it's the left corner . . . And to go through all that and make good decisions, that's what drives you crazy as a coach.

"Because I can tell you every game I've ever lost, I've always thought I could've done something else to help us. So you stay here late and try to go over it and over it and over it to make sure you've done everything you can do to help your players, and that's what drives you bonkers."

Gibbs admits he "loves" crazy plays, like those misdirection ones last Sunday. When he was hired away from San Diego before the 1981 season, it was with this in mind. Redskins football, at times, had been a bore under former coach Jack Pardee, but Gibbs was expected to change that and has.

Still, certain defenses have frustrated him, have forced him to be ultra-conservative. Redskins fans have complained that he sometimes doesn't pass as much as he should. Again, the Jets game, a 17-16 victory, is an example.

Actually, Gibbs probably would throw on every down if it made sense. Sometimes, it doesn't.

The Jets, for instance, used what Gibbs calls a "two-deep soft zone." Their cornerbacks played Monk and Gary Clark up tight, but their safeties were deep to guard against Schroeder's bread and butter -- the bomb. Gibbs' only recourse that day was to pound the ball with his running back, Keith Griffin, and hope Griffin broke loose so many times that the Jets safeties would creep up. Then, the bomb would be available.

Consequently, everything hinged on Griffin's production, which -- that day -- was relatively minimal.

The New York Giants, in the past, have played a similar defense, with their safeties playing way, way back. Gibbs could order only short passes and runs, and Giants linebackers were so good, the Redskins had little success doing either.

The Giants beat them three times last year.

So that's why Redskin Park is the city that never sleeps.

Of course, it helps that former Atlanta coach Dan Henning is back with the team. Gibbs has said Henning, who was a Redskins assistant in the 1982 Super Bowl championship season, brings a lot of innovation with him. It was Henning, in fact, who suggested last Sunday's reverses.

Sometimes reverses are ruined when a linebacker isn't suckered by the original direction of the play, but Henning had devised a way to block that linebacker out of the play. Gibbs liked it so much, he ran that reverse (Rogers going around end and handing off to Monk) three times against Buffalo.

"Three times, that's enough," said Monk, who took a little bit of a beating.

Henning: "I've said this before, and I'll say it again -- Joe creates an atmosphere that's conducive to me and apparently to him, because we've been successful. Joe creates an air of creativity here."

A tribute to the staff and its all-nighters was its unbeaten record during the replacement games. The Redskins ran reverses (one to Ted Wilson for a touchdown against Dallas), but Gibbs and Henning say, again, it was because they took what the defense gave them.

Gibbs wishes there could be razzle and dazzle every week, but sometimes it isn't there. Everyone remembers that quarterback Joe Theismann broke his leg against the Giants, but few remember that it happened on an attempted flea flicker.

The Giants' soft-zone was waiting for it.

And that was the last anyone ever saw of Joe Theismann.

Redskins Notes:

Wide receiver Clark (knee and hamstring) and linebacker Rich Milot (sprained ankle) skipped yesterday's practice, but trainer Bubba Tyer said both are still listed as probable. "They still have great chances to play," Tyer said. If players don't practice on Thursday, Gibbs usually doesn't let them play. But he said Clark, especially, could be an exception to that rule because he had similar problems last year and still managed to play well. If Clark doesn't play, Ricky Sanders likely would start in his place. Gibbs also is debating whether to activate Anthony Allen or Clarence Verdin in Clark's place. Verdin could be valuable because he's a competent kick returner, but Gibbs said Allen could return kicks, too.