The Tuesday Nickel: QB Question Looms Large

The Tuesday Nickel: Our Redskins insider looks at the five key issues at Redskins Park this week.

1. The quarterback issue. It won't go away as long as Mark Brunell starts. One NFC GM said he noticed a decline in Brunell's arm from the beginning of last season to the end. In the playoffs, the GM said, ''He couldn't get the ball downfield. As the season wears on, his arm wears out.'' This GM also doesn't understand why Jason Campbell hasn't gotten a chance. That day should come soon. If the Redskins lose this week, I'd strongly consider turning it over to Campbell. Does anyone think Brunell could lead a miraculous nine-week comeback? Not a chance. Brunell made rookie mistakes against the Titans -- eyeing beyond belief Santana Moss way too often, missing receivers (James Thrash, first play of the second half; no one within 15 yards) and throwing into double and sometimes triple coverage. If Brunell is going to make rookie mistakes in a loss, why not play someone who can learn from such mistakes?

2. Is it the playcalling? No. Yes, the Redskins could have pounded the ball a little more Sunday instead of trying gimmick plays (though many worked), but you won't win in this league simply by running the ball. Balance is always the key. The Redskins' receivers are built to go downfield; the quarterback does not help them do that. If you gave Al Saunders truth serum, that's what you would hear.

3. The defensive slide. In the past, the Redskins' defense could be counted on to at least be strong against the run. Now they're weak in that area and they surrender big plays. Tennessee gashed them. Yes, they played rookie tackles, but Andre Carter is not a rookie and he looked like a swinging door. Lemar Marshall is not a rookie and he couldn't get off blocks and rarely made a play. The list goes on. And on. There's not one side of the ball that can be counted on.

4. Hope for the weekend. Ah, there's always hope. With 10 games left, the old phrase of, 'You never know what can happen'' certainly applies. Indianapolis does not stop the run; the Redskins will line up and try to power the ball. A win here would make the bye week bearable. Then, with a home game against Dallas after the break, it's not inconceivable for them to be back at 4-4 and right in the hunt.

5. Joe Gibbs. He deserves the criticism that he's getting now. He's been a great coach in this league; he's not one right now. An 18-20 regular-season mark testifies to that. I respect him greatly; but this is reality. Gibbs' strength last year was being resolute in his belief in the team. He needs to summon that again. But at some point, I hope Gibbs realizes that he's better as a coach than as a team president. The T.J. Duckett move is a prime indication of that; panic moves are bad moves. Trust us, people inside the organization know it was such a move.


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