Nickel Package: 5 Current Redskins Topics

John Keim reports on and analyzes five huge topics. In this installment, John takes a look at the impact of losing Carlos Rogers, the Running up the Score situation, Ladell Betts versus Clinton Portis, how the Redskins need to respond to the Patriots game and Asante Samuel's stellar play.

1. Losing Carlos.

The third-year corner was playing solid and was his old self against the run. Rogers was just starting to get it as a cover guy, too. He was better against double moves and was clearly making strides. He was also the young legs among the top three corners and now they're left with two corners who have injury histories that make you wonder how much longer they'll be effective. Shawn Springs has actually been fine, but Fred Smoot already has missed three games with a hamstring issue. He'll play Sunday, but don't be surprised if he misses more. Rogers is not yet a Pro Bowl corner, but he will be missed.

2. Running up the score.

I'm tired of this issue and if any players have a problem with what the Patriots did, they had a chance to do something about it on the field. I'm not talking about starting a fight, but I am talking about drilling someone. If this had been a match-up between a Division I school and a Division III school and the former team has its starters in late with a 45-point lead, then that's different. I'm not a Bill Belichick defender, but I do know that the reason the Pats scored so much is that the Redskins played horribly. They tackled as poorly as in any game this season. They had a chance to prevent New England from scoring more and failed. Heard a good point today, too, about Randall Godfrey. He's probably still steamed about what happened at the end of the Chargers playoff loss to the Pats last year. Remember, he played for San Diego.

3. Betts vs. Portis.

Just a hunch, but if it were up to Al Saunders, I'm guessing he'd start Ladell Betts. He won't say that because he knows who's in charge here and he hasn't even said it to me privately. But he likes to count on one guy and right now the Redskins can't count on Portis. When Ladell Betts got more carries last year, he got into a rhythm as did the running game. So far, nobody is in rhythm. I don't blame Portis for all the woes; not with what's happened to the right side of the line. He's still a good back and does an excellent job in pass protection. But why not mix it up for one game and see if it helps? The running game is going nowhere right now. Of course, that could change Sunday against the woeful Jets.

4. Quick response.

The Redskins need to make a statement Sunday by coming out and winning. That's the best way to recover from any loss, whether it's 45 points or 3. What I am tired of hearing is Joe Gibbs talking about how proud he was of the offense at the end of the game. That's Pop Warner stuff. He sometimes seems more concerned with boosting their self-esteem than anything else. That stuff isn't working, in case anyone hasn't noticed. Yes they were all saying the right things Monday, but they realize the season isn't over. But, please Joe, stop trying to sell some of this stuff. I can't imagine even he's buying it. One thing I did like: Santana Moss sitting in front of his locker for 10 minutes answering questions Monday. Why did he do that? Because he was one of four starters who showed up in the open locker room session. Mike Sellers, last seen whiffing on numerous blocks Sunday, popped his head in, saw the media, and left.

5. Asante Samuel.

I'm really curious as to why he was jumping so many routes. Just a theory, but the guess is, he knew where the pressure was coming from and he knew that the Redskins line would not be able to hold up under it. If the Redskins don't fix their pass protection problems, then this could continue. It's not just the line; Sellers was not good in this role, either. He's better as a lead blocker than he is as a tight end helping in protection. Rodney Harrison and Mike Vrabel abused him.


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