Tuesday Nickel Package--Will Portis be Back?

The Tuesday Nickel Package--Among the five issues surrounding the Redskins this week is whether or not Clinton Portis and Shawn Springs will return

1. Will Clinton Portis and Shawn Springs play? It appears Portis has a good chance to play this week. He says he's fine and Gibbs at least hasn't ruled him out. Springs is a lot more questionable. He's still not running and doing things at the level he wants. But he's getting close. If there's any doubt, he won't play. But it's too early to tell with him.

2. What's wrong with Mark Brunell? Age, for one thing. He looks like a tired and old quarterback, just like he did at the end of last season. He is not in sync with his new talent, perhaps because they barely played together this summer. Forget the plays that were called in the preseason, the Redskins needed to work on their timing in a timing-based system. That didn't happen and now they're paying the price. Brunell is not the only problem, but he is certainly not the solution right now.

3. Can the line protect Brunell? Do we need to answer this after the other night? But it's not just the line's fault; the blitz pickups by the backs were not good at all. There were several pickups that Ladell Betts and T.J. Duckett failed to make that resulted in hurried throws or sacks. Clinton Portis is much better in this area than those two. But it would help if Derrick Dockery would finish his blocks, too. He wasn't alone in messing up, but don't stop blocking guys. He did so on one pass set and his guy ended up with the sack.

4. Where's the pass rush? Not in Washington, that's for sure. Yes, Dallas kept seven guys in to block many times. And the Cowboys often doubled Phillip Daniels among others. But they didn't double Andre Carter all that much and he was not a factor. Carter is a terrific guy and well-rounded, but we weren't sold on him when he was signed. Always curious when other teams allow young defensive ends to bolt. Yes, quarterbacks tend to throw off shorter drops against Washington but the coaches here act as if they're the only team to ever have to deal with that. Until the Redskins can pressure consistently, the defense will remain outside of the elite.

5. Is there enough time to turn this around? Sure, there's 14 games left. But Sunday becomes a must-win. Just look at what comes after Houston: Jacksonville and the New York Giants. For them to do anything this season, they'll have to split those games -- at worst.

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