Nickel Package: Whodunit?

The Nickel Package--The ESPN article critical of the coaching staff continues to be a topic. On the top of the talk is the question of who talked to the reporter. Also, Nick Novak needs to pick up his game or face being replaced.

Nickel Package


1. The Article. There's no need to explain which one considering it's caused such a firestorm. The question is, what's to believe? Well, we've heard some of the same complaints. But two things stand out: 1) Gregg Williams has been arrogant since he arrived. It's not the reason Washington is not playing well defensively. One NFL evaluator wondered a couple weeks back if the players had tuned him out, saying the defense was not playing as fast as in the past. But Sunday disproved that theory. Williams' methods have worked. 2) The coaches meetings are the same as they've been the past two years, where the safeties and corners do not meet together. It was not a reason for failure the past two years. Also, this leads to the conclusion as to the source of the story. It's not hard to figure out: take a guy who is disgruntled and, most likely, new and who probably wouldn't mind leaving after the season.

Another thing on the story: the Redskins would like to know the source was and the players say they would like to know, too. But the team is miffed with the writer, Tom Friend. Not because it was negative, but because he never called to get the coaches side before the article ran. It's pretty basic. At least one reporter heard some of the same beefs, but did not write the article because he wanted to talk to the coaches first to get their take. And just know that Friend's reputation is not the best. Don't think he made anything up, however.

2. Nick Novak. He's on a short leash at this point, thanks to making only five of 10 kicks. His kickoffs have not been overly good either. That's why the Redskins signed Shaun Suisham to the practice squad today. They weren't interested in Mike Vanderjagt, according to a team source. But this is a position that remains a problem.

3. The offensive line. They were the happiest bunch after Sunday, mainly because they were allowed to be who they are: a physical bunch. There were some points in the game when the Redskins could have taken their game plan another way, as they've done in a couple games. But they stayed committed to the run, not worrying about the 1-2 yard runs. Because of that, they squeezed out some nice gainers. They also might have finally found their identity.

4. Strong finish. Let's not go overboard and start dreaming of a playoff run. Get to 6-7 and then start dreaming. But there's no reason why Washington can't have a respectable run to close the season. Here's a question: would you rather go 9-7 and make the playoffs with Mark Brunell? Or go 7-9 but have Jason Campbell play well down the stretch? I'd take the latter. Campbell's development will be the most important thing to happen this season -- one way or another. If Campbell can show steady improvement in the final five games, Washington can enter next season with real optimism. With games remaining against sinking Atlanta, Philly and New York at home, seven wins is a real possibility.

5. The receiving corps. The Redskins wideouts have combined for 12 receptions the past two games, hardly what was expected from this group. The guy who has been most disappointing is Brandon Lloyd. He's been on the field probably as much as any wideout, yet still only has 18 catches and no touchdowns. Is it all his fault? Maybe not. But clearly he's unproductive. Makes you realize why the Niners unloaded him, doesn't it? Santana Moss has been hurt, but he's had just one really good game. And Antwaan Randle El hasn't done much lately, either. My problem with him is that they've stopped throwing to him underneath. That's where he's effective. He's not athletic enough on deep balls to make plays against good corners.


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