THE WHISPER ROOM

The Redskins clearly have some unhappy players these days. And the coaches are upset with a few of them. What's going on?

For starters, quarterback Shane Matthews was livid that he was yanked from Sunday's loss against the 49ers. We hear Matthews, known for not showing emotion, was visibly ticked off near the end of the game. Not at himself--but at Steve Spurrier.

Matthews didn't even want to talk to the media after the game, afraid of what he might say. Matthews cooled down and spoke to the press, but that didn't make him feel better about getting pulled from a game in which he wasn't that bad.

Some were pleased to see how Matthews reacted. After all, it's a sign that maybe he's ready to take charge. Funny thing is, Matthews is hurt badly enough that he might not be able to play against Tennessee, even if Spurrier handed him his job back.

Other players' complaints were met with more disdain, particularly those on defense. Believe it or not, even Marvin Lewis' players in Baltimore complained about how they were used at times. And Lewis' reaction then? He shrugged his shoulders and kept putting them where he felt best. That's what he'll continue doing now.

The players may have a point about the defensive system being complicated. But what they want to hear is that the players are messing up because they're not doing what they're asked. Not because of the scheme. That's why they were upset when Bruce Smith players were hesitating as they learned the defense.

Smith is also upset about dropping into coverage. Never mind that the zone blitz is an effective way to stop the slants and crossing patterns featured in the West Coast Offense, which is all that Washington has faced so far. Smith wants sacks, not pass deflections.

The Redskins will tread lightly with Smith, however. The coaches know how much weight his word carries with other players. So they're not going to rip him publicly for a slow start, as Lewis has done with LaVar Arrington.

The players haven't lost confidence in the coaches, especially not the defensive ones. But they're frustrated and until they shut down another offense, they'll stay that way.


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