Nickel Package: 5 Current Redskins Topics

John Keim analyzes five topics: Taylor, Pro Bowl, Gibbs' Tenure, Rocky, and the Playoffs.

1. Taylor earns Pro Bowl berth.

Late Redskins safety Sean Taylor earned a starting berth in the Pro Bowl after voting by coaches, players and fans was announced today. Taylor deserved the honor and was clearly having his best season. The longer he's gone, the more I miss watching him play and the way he impacted games.

2. Samuels, Cooley honored.

Tight end Chris Cooley and left tackle Chris Samuels both were named as reserves to the Pro Bowl. Cooley made it for the first time; Samuels did so for the fifth time, and third year in a row. Cooley has become the Redskins most consistent offensive player and has put up good numbers – 60 catches, seven touchdowns – after a slow start. Cooley gets open in clutch situations and is clearly one of the best runners after the catch. Samuels started off strong and had a couple spotty games. He had a strong game against Osi Umenyiora, save for one play. Because of the injuries along the right side, life changed for Samuels, who was in more one-on-one blocking as the help usually went to the right side. Samuels is not the best at his position, but he remains very good and reliable. That counts for a lot.

3. Joe Gibbs' future.

Gibbs told a couple of us Monday night that he doesn't want to address his future. But he hasn't changed his thinking about his intentions, that he intends to return next year. Of course, he clearly knows that there is wiggle room in using the word intends. Trust us on that one. However, the feeling after talking to him is that he would return; that comes from hearing how he talks and his body language. He won't say anything about an extension, though he has said that he'll get together with Dan Snyder in the offseason about one. That might be as much insurance for his assistants as for the idea that he would return for more than his original five years. Last year, Gibbs created a stir by talking unclearly about his future – a point he was reminded of last night. But he still would prefer to wait until after the season to talk further.

4. Rocky McIntosh.

The second-year linebacker is walking around just fine, which makes it hard for realize what happened to his knee. There's a chance that he won't be fully recovered for a year, though McIntosh said today that he would be fine long before then. Still, the hard part for the Redskins is that they've now lost three key young players from their defense for part or all of next year. Taylor obviously is one. But Carlos Rogers and now McIntosh will miss the start of training camp and then some. The defense already needed help in other areas – such as the line – but now they'll need to find a quality backup linebacker and a corner. Remember, they're probably going to lose Shawn Springs so, if camp started today, they would have Fred Smoot and Leigh Torrence as starters.

5. Playoffs.

Minnesota's win Monday night means the Vikes can eliminate the Redskins with a win Sunday night. But if Washington wins, the Redskins could earn a spot with a win in the finale over Dallas and a New Orleans loss in one of the last two games. The fact that Washington is in this position, given what the Redskins have gone through, is a major credit to the players and coaches. Gibbs can be knocked for many things, but filling the locker room with quality guys is among the things he's done right. Even if the Redskins win only one more game, they have reason to be proud.

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