Nickel Package: 5 Current Redskins Topics

John Keim analyzes five topics: Timeouts, No Huddle, Receivers, Sean Taylor, and the Draw Play.

1. Timeoutgate.

Joe Gibbs was grilled unlike any time during his second tenure. If they keep losing, it'll get worse because his decisions are even more ripe for second-guessing than ever. Gibbs looked bad for taking a timeout early in the third quarter. His explanation sounded plausible: they wanted a measurement to see if they were going to go for it and he wanted the time out to think it over more. However, the field goal unit was on the field when the play clock was around 10 seconds, signaling his intentions. At that point, take the delay of game. Gibbs said most of the league's 32 coaches would have done the same thing. I doubt it. I think most would have known BEFORE the third-down run what they would have done next. It's the constant confusion on the sidelines that is defining this season. It might not be the reason they're losing; other plays and injuries are a bigger problem. But it doesn't look good. However, one veteran told me the team has flat out not lost faith or confidence in Gibbs, that it's not even a discussion among them. Another thing on this play: why the heck did Mike Sellers take a leap three yards from the first down marker; gave himself no chance.

2. No huddle.

The Redskins used this strategy during the middle of a game for the first time all season. It worked well. Jason Campbell looked comfortable and the Redskins moved the ball each series they employed the no huddle. Two went for touchdowns; the third resulted in a fumble at the Eagles' 29.

Campbell completed five passes in the no-huddle to four different receivers. He tried to hit five different receivers. They won't use this every week, but it certainly provided energy and kept the defense off-balance, so it must be used more often. Several players said they've wanted to do this for a long time.

3. Receiver health.

This is a major issue going forward as James Thrash will miss Sunday with a high ankle sprain and Santana Moss is still battling a bruised heel. He said Tuesday that it's hard for him to put his shoe on. But the Redskins seem cautiously optimistic about his chances for playing against Dallas on Sunday.

4. Sean Taylor's absence.

Boy, is this going to hurt. Taylor will miss at least two games with a grade 2 sprain of the MCL in his right knee. Dallas could beat Washington with Taylor, but Tampa Bay in two weeks? Maybe not. It certainly gives the Bucs a big edge, which is important because that's a team the Redskins will likely battle for a playoff spot.

With all the Cover 2 Washington uses, the Redskins need a strong center fielder deep. That's Taylor. Pierson Prioleau is a good player and versatile. But he's not as strong on the jump ball situations that he got burned by Sunday. There's no way the Eagles attempt that 45-yard pass if Taylor is back there. With Prioleau deep, teams will test them down the middle. Both the next two opponents have receivers who can hurt them.

5. Draw play.

As big an issue as the wasted timeouts were the day after the game, perhaps the biggest call was the draw on third and goal from the 6. At first I didn't mind the call, but the more I thought about it the more I disliked it. Yes, it could have fooled Philly, but in watching the replays, there's just not enough room in that area for Clinton Portis to score. Defenders who were fooled weren't that far from the line. Also, the Redskins had succeeded with the pass all game inside the 5, go to it again.

The shame of it? Chris Cooley's false start on third and goal from the 1 prevented a score. James Thrash came off the line uncovered and he was the primary receiver on the play. Thrash said no one was within four or five yards of him. He admitted the defense stopped on the whistle, but that he still would have been open.


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