TEMPE, Ariz. -- In all the euphoria over the Sunday night performance of Stan Humphries, there was another Redskins development that was nearly as important: the return of Gerald Riggs to a featured role.
Riggs hadn't gone anywhere exactly. Coach Joe Gibbs and his staff had decided to go more and more with the passing game. And there was the unspoken, indisputable fact that Riggs was sort of in the doghouse because he chose to work out over the summer here at Arizona State, where he attended school, instead of Herndon, Va., under the watchful eyes of the coaches. Also, Earnest Byner is proving to be the most versatile back the team has had since Joe Washington.
Riggs didn't sulk or mouth off and ask to be traded. He waited patiently. The Posse is spectacular and Byner is a wonderful complementary back. But if the Redskins offense is to be great, not merely good, Riggs has to get his carries. He got them against the Cardinals, 19 for 95 yards.
It's not coincidence that the offense started to cook when Riggs was in for an entire drive, one of the few times that has happened so far this season. Trailing, 3-0, Riggs carried for 13 yards in his first two carries, then three yards, then three more to the 12, three more to the 4, three again to the 1, plus the final one yard for the touchdown that put the Redskins ahead, 7-3. Don't think for a moment the Redskins have forgotten how to run the Riggo Drill.
"I understand the coaches figured they had developed a winning formula through the first few weeks and Earnest was in that formula," Riggs said. "We knew we were going to run, but we didn't know who would do the running. I've been patient, but I wanted to make the most of this opportunity."
If the Redskins continue to use Riggs as they did Sunday, Humphries will have less pressure, literally and figuratively.
The strange thing about the Redskins quarterback situation is that we all expect too much from a pair of sixth-round draft picks. If either of these guys was supposed to be John Elway, he would have been taken in the first round.
This isn't the 1950s, when John Unitas could slip into the 17th round. It isn't even the late '70s when Joe Montana can slip to the third. Round 2 is about as low as you go if you can play. Scouting should be thorough. Take the Super Bowl quarterbacks since '84: Besides Montana (three times), you've got Jim McMahon, Phil Simms and Doug Williams in the NFC; Elway (three times), Dan Marino, Tony Eason and Boomer Esiason in the AFC. All are first-rounders except the Boomer, who was a No. 2, and don't the Redskins still have egg on their faces for passing on him.
Because the schedule-maker has been so kind to the Redskins, we won't know if they can be a playoff-caliber team until the Giants come to RFK in two weeks. However, it's much easier to come to other conclusions about the first quarter of the NFL season.
Buddy Ryan is in trouble. His loud, overrated, underachieving Eagles have never won a playoff game under him. They've already lost to two of the weakest teams in the league -- the Cardinals and Colts, at home no less. "It's going to be tough living around here for the next two weeks," Ryan said. Quarterback Randall Cunningham said: "It's just ridiculous that we lose the way we do." Amen.
If Ryan isn't the first coach fired, Jerry Burns could be. The Vikings have more talent than the Eagles and yet they can't win at home against Tampa Bay. Did you catch Herschel Walker's line in the game summary? Eleven rushes for eight yards. Any team that trades a dozen picks and bodies for one (Walker), then undermines the whole deal by handing the ball to somebody named Rick Fenney more than Walker can only be asking for trouble.
Can any list of coaches in trouble be complete without Joe Walton's name for the second time in less than a year? The Raiders defense has three more touchdowns than the Steelers offense (zero), which Walton is supposed to be coordinating. The Steelers offense was bad last year in their playoff season, but is worse now.
Is whoever in charge of programming at WUSA-TV-9 so foolish he or she actually believed fans would rather watch a Giants-Cowboys rout than the Bears-Raiders game just because it's an NFC East game? Only some obscure network or league rules could possibly excuse the decision. But if the affiliate picked the Giants, please remember that this isn't a parochial town where fans will only watch what affects the local team: Put on the best game. Nobody draws like the Raiders and the Bears.
Last, and indeed least, Victor Kiam's nerve is not to be believed. After insulting Boston Herald sportswriter Lisa Olson for two days after several Patriots harassed her in the team's locker room, he now tries to dump all the blame on Patrick Sullivan, the club's general manager, for not communicating the severity of the ugly situation sooner.
Sullivan never belittled Olson. Kiam did. Now he goes on those NFL pregame shows and calls her "a lovely young lady." Faced with a public relations nightmare and a potential boycott of his Remington company, Kiam can't bail water out of the boat fast enough. The Patriots look like the dregs of the league and they can barely give away tickets to a game. How just.