Nickel Package: 5 Current Redskins Topics

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This week in the Nickel Package: The Quarterback, Jim Zorn, Fred Smoot, Safety and Wide Receiver.

1. The quarterback.

Despite it being a hot topic on the radio and message boards, it is not a topic for debate among the players. Based on what I've gathered, the players aren't pining for a quarterback switch. Rather, more of them seem to think the schemes or plays need to be adjusted. One player said he felt the offense had become predictable and that Jim Zorn was perhaps wearing down. That's only natural considering the many hats he's wearing – and it's a common first-year coach mistake.

2. More Zorn.

The coach needs to be careful about where he places the blame. The players like Zorn, but there's no doubt they're watching how he handles things. And one thing that is noticed is that he puts a lot of blame on the players and their execution. Zorn will point the finger at himself on occasion, but the players notice how much he talks about their lack of execution. That used to drive players nuts about Norv Turner. The difference was that Norv made a ton of excuses and would NEVER blame himself. Zorn does not do that; he's just honest. Joe Gibbs would never blame the players publicly, but there's no doubt he would do it privately. Zorn needs to stop being so honest on some occasions. As a writer, I should never have written that last sentence.

3. Fred Smoot.

He was phased out of the game Sunday and it makes me wonder what the plans are at this position. If Shawn Springs does not return, then the Redskins would still have a need for Smoot. But it's clear that Smoot will be the fourth corner if all four are healthy.

4. Safety.

It's also become clear that the Redskins like LaRon Landry more at strong safety, but are keeping him at free out of necessity. He has not had that burst that we saw last year, perhaps a lingering effect of the hamstring injury. He said a couple weeks ago that it had healed, but we're not so sure. The problem with playing him up is that Chris Horton is not very good in coverage. That's why Springs was at free safety once on Sunday – and would have played there more if he didn't tweak his calf.

5. Receivers.

The best thing that would happen for the Redskins in 2009 is to have Malcolm Kelly finish with a strong 2008. That way maybe the Danny won't be tempted to go out and shell out more big money at this position in the offseason. Because you know that he will pursue Anquan Boldin or Chad Johnson or, yes, Plaxico Burress. Some at Redskins Park – just regular employees, mind you – already are bracing for Burress. There are no rumors at the Park about this happening, but his agent is Drew Rosenhaus and he would be a big-time addition.

John Keim covers the Redskins for the Washington Examiner and is a contributing editor for He has covered the team since 1994. Some of his other stories can be found at

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