Posts Tagged ‘Clinton Portis’

Redskins could regret decision to not sign running back Brian Westbrook, who went to 49ers

August 18, 2010

Mike Shanahan and the Redskins walked away from a chance to sign running back Brian Westbrook, who signed with the 49ers. (Photo by Mike Frandsen)

The Redskins made a decision that might end up haunting them for years, letting Brian Westbrook sign with the San Francisco 49ers Monday despite the fact that Washington has no established third down running back.

In a passing league that necessitates a running back who specializes in catching the ball and getting yards after the catch, the Redskins will apparently go with Ryan Torain, who has played two NFL games, out of the backfield in third down situations.

The Redskins should have signed Westbrook.

It’s not as if Clinton Portis and Larry Johnson are awful at catching the ball. However, they are a far cry from the third down specialists that every successful team needs to have. Portis is a good blocker but has never distinguished himself as a good receiving back. Willie Parker is even worse. Parker had only nine receptions the last two seasons combined even though he carried the ball 308 times.

To read the rest of my article on, click here.

Washington Redskins should sign former Philadelphia Eagles RB Brian Westbrook as a 3rd down RB

May 19, 2010

The Redskins should sign former Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook to fill the team’s greatest need – a third down running back. Westbrook, when healthy, is not only one of the best pass catching running backs in the NFL, he’s one of the best in NFL history.

Westbrook, who was cut by the Eagles in February, visited with the Redskins and the Denver Broncos last week, and the St. Louis Rams have also shown interest.

The Redskins already have three running backs in Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson and Willie Parker who are, like Westbrook, close to 30 years old. But more importantly, they are primarily runners who aren’t nearly as adept at Westbrook at catching passes. Westbrook has 29 career receiving touchdowns. Johnson has six, and Portis and Parker have five each.

To see the rest of my article on, please click here.

Washington Redskins get better with Donovan McNabb trade, Philadelphia Eagles get worse

April 5, 2010

By trading quarterback Donovan McNabb to Washington, the Philadelphia Eagles just made themselves much worse, and made one of their greatest rivals, the Redskins, much better overnight.

New Redskins coach Mike Shanahan gets a quarterback with a strong arm, good mobility, great experience, and excellent leadership skills.

Meanwhile Eagles coach Andy Reid has given the keys to the offense to Kevin Kolb, a quarterback who has thrown four touchdowns and seven interceptions in his career.

McNabb could mean the difference between six wins and nine wins. And nine wins can make the playoffs. Heck, nine wins can even make the Super Bowl – see the Cardinals from two seasons ago.

Ok, let’s not get too excited. Nobody expects that to happen, but it has been said that the NFL stands for “not for long.” These days, teams get better – or worse – fast.

Look no further than last year’s Super Bowl champs, the New Orleans Saints, who finished 8-8 the previous year.

When Redskins general manager Bruce Allen made this move, he could have quoted a phrase made popular by his late father George, the Redskins Hall of Fame coach from 1971-77: “the future is now.”

But those who think that McNabb is part of a new “Over the Hill Gang” should look at Brett Favre. If Favre can play past the age of 40, then McNabb at 33 may have several good seasons left.

Also remember that McNabb has become the Eagles all-time leading passer in victories, completions, yards, and touchdowns despite only twice having a great receiver.

The first time was when the Eagles had Terrell Owens and they made the Super Bowl, losing to the New England Patriots 24-21 in 2005.

The second time the Eagles had a great receiver during McNabb’s tenure was last season when DeSean Jackson came into his prime and the Eagles ended up with 11 wins.

The Redskins now have a franchise QB and depth at running back with Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson, and Willie Parker. One of those three may go. All four of these players have something in common, though – they have something to prove.

Obviously the Redskins need to address the offensive line through the draft. They also need a third-down running back who can catch the ball. Another receiver or two would be nice to complement starters Santana Moss and Devin Thomas. McNabb and Chris Cooley should connect for at least 70 passes.  The defense is already solid.

But quarterback is the most important position on the field. And the Redskins finally have a great one.

McNabb is the best Redskins quarterback since Joe Theismann, and yes, it has been 25 years since Theismann’s last season. Mark Rypien was the Super Bowl MVP after the 1991 season, but Ryp had a relatively short career.

It’s not out of the question that the Redskins will still take a quarterback in the draft. McNabb could leave after the season.

Or, McNabb could be the Skins’ starter for the next five years.

Don’t underestimate the power of motivation. It can go a long way. McNabb will be pumped to play against the Eagles and to prove that Philly was wrong.

As for the Eagles, they will now likely be a few games worse than the 10 or 11 wins they usually get.

McNabb is not Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, or Drew Brees. But he’s clearly a top ten quarterback, and he’s a top five QB when he’s at his best. The only knock on McNabb is that is accuracy is sometimes a little off.

But overall, McNabb is a franchise quarterback – a sure thing. If history shows us anything, it’s that playing an unproven quarterback is a crapshoot.

For every Manning, there has been a Ryan Leaf. For every McNabb, there has been an Akili Smith (drafted one spot after McNabb in 1999).

Don’t forget, Heath Shuler, Patrick Ramsey, and Jason Campbell were all first round picks, and only Campbell has become a regular starter, and a mediocre one at that.

Campbell, who started three and a half seasons for the Redskins but struggled with different systems and shaky offenses, will likely go to another team.  Newly signed Rex Grossman should be the backup.  Colt Brennan, who was on injured reserve last year, may also be headed elsewhere.

Kolb did play well last year while filling in for McNabb for two games, throwing for over 300 yards each game and going 1-1.

But with McNabb, the Eagles were always on the verge of getting to the Super Bowl. How often does a quarterback lead a team to a Super Bowl in his first year as a starter? Hardly ever, except for Brady.

The Eagles also let a top ten running back, Brian Westbrook, depart this year although Westbrook had a couple of concussions last season.

Did Reid outsmart himself? Is he trying to prove he can win with a new quarterback?  Is it ego, or is the economy so bad that the Eagles were trying to save the money from McNabb’s salary?  Did the decision come from the owner’s box?

Say what you will about Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, but he will pay to put a winner on the field.

Ever since Eagles fans booed McNabb when Philadelphia drafted him second overall in 1999 instead of Ricky Williams, McNabb has never been fully accepted in Philadelphia.

But those fans miss the point. The object is to put your team in a position to win, which McNabb has done year after year.

We’re talking about a city that booed the greatest third-baseman of all time, Mike Schmidt.

These are fans who booed Santa Claus.

McNabb is too good for Philadelphia.

Welcome to Washington, Donovan.

To see my article on, click here.

Skins sign Larry Johnson – making the team slightly better?

March 16, 2010

I’m not thrilled with the Skins’ signing of running back Larry Johnson.  It’s not that he doesn’t have a lot left in the tank, it’s just that now we have two running backs in Johnson and Clinton Portis who are not only near 30, but more importantly are primarily runners who aren’t that adept at catching passes.

Let’s face it – the NFL is a passing league now and it helps a lot – in fact, it’s practically a must – that your running backs need to be excellent at catching passes out of the backfield.  (That is a cliche and redundant – where else are they going to catch passes from?)

Both players’ best years had them catching over 40 passes in a season.  Not much if you consider that’s about 2.5 per game.  Let’s hope the Redskins have plans to draft at least one running back who can catch the ball.  At least Portis can block.

I think the Skins should have gone after LaDanian Tomlinson who would have been more of a complement to Portis.  Or Brian Westbrook, who if healthy is still one of the best running backs in the NFL.  If you’re going to add another running back, why not Thomas Jones?  Because he’s better than Johnson?  That makes no sense.  You go for the best players.  Plus Johnson has a reputation as somewhat of a malcontent at times so that makes two with Portis.

The move improves the Redskins but I just think L.J. is too much like Portis.  Then again, you can’t have too many running backs and Shanahan likes to spread it around.  Now the Skins need some offensive linemen and a third down running back.

Redskins 2009 Season Preview

September 13, 2009

A few notes about the Redskins as the season is about to get underway:

DT Albert Haynesworth will help the Skins a lot, but the move was a little risky to put so much money in one position when he has a history of missing a few games each year due to injury.  The addition of first round DE/LB Brian Orakpo helps the Skins at a position where they haven’t had a Pro Bowler since Charles Mann in 1991.  At a position that is arguably the second most important in football after the QB, the Skins have been pretty bad for most of the last two decades.  So the Redskins improved their defensive line a lot but it makes you wonder if they could have spent money on several good players to provide depth at other positions such as the offensive line and running back instead of getting Haynesworth.  It reminds me of a couple of years ago when they acquired both Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd at WR, when only one of them was necessary, and they could have gotten someone else at another position.

Speaking of Randle El, he’s been demoted to number three or even number four  receiver, with Malcolm Kelly at number two.  Kelly seems ready, Randle El isn’t getting any younger, it’s tough when both starting WRs are short, and Randle El has a chance to be used in the Wildcat QB this year.  Still, it’s not as if Randle El had a terrible year last season.  He had 53 receptions and 4 TDs, so we’ll see if Kelly’s production is any better.  What is striking is that Randle El only had one carry last year.  For a fast WR, he should be running a lot more reverses.  Randle El has 436 career rushing yards for 5.6 yards a carry, yet only had one attempt last year?  In fact, Jim Zorn didn’t do a good job last year of using either Santana Moss or Randle El running reverses, and he also missed the boat in not using Randle El as a wildcat QB.  The former college QB has thrown 25 passes in the NFL, completing 20, for 281 yards and 4 TDs.   They need to use Randle El in the Wildcat.  He could have been very dangerous his whole career if teams had used him more.  It also makes you wonder how effective former Skins RB Brian Mitchell could have been as a Wildcat QB.  (Speaking of Mitchell, we all remember the punt and kickoff return records he set, but did you know that his career rushing average was 5.1 and he had 1967 rushing yards?  Now I’m getting back to Skins history again, but what about Kelvin Bryant, known more as a pass-catching RB, who averaged 4.6 yards per rush during his four-year NFL career?  He also tore up the USFL for a few years.)

Clinton Portis is ok but he’s getting older and losing speed, and has never been a very good receiver out of the backfield.  We (yes, I will sometimes say “we” don’t have much depth at RB.  TE Chris Cooley is a bright spot.  Safeties and LBs look solid.

Back to money, I think the Skins may have overpaid for CB DeAngelo Hall, who hasn’t lived up to his draft status as a high first round pick, so again, the Skins could have gotten some lesser known players who didn’t have the big names.  Reminds me of when the Skins acquired S Adam Archuleta and gave up Ryan Grant a few years back, but at least Hall can play.

Another point – the Skins during the last 15 years have had a lot of bad to mediocre kickers and punters, and in a league that is very evenly matched, special teams counts for a lot.  In fact, the Skins have had a lot of 8 or so win seasons in which if they had had one or two more wins they could have made the playoffs.  Our kicker and punter are again average.  Our kickoff and punt return teams and coverage has been below average for the last 15 years.  When was the last time the Skins blocked a punt?

The offensive line has gotten a lot of criticism, but this unit has actually been together for several years, so they should do ok, although they sometimes lose ground to bigger lines.  The big problem is the lack of depth, unless there are some diamonds in the rough that we don’t know about.

As for QB, Jason Campbell should have a decent year.  He needs to improve his accuracy on the deep pass.  In the NFL, first round QBs like Campbell usually get handed jobs without having to earn them, but after just a few seasons, they get thrown to the side if they don’t produce, and the time to produce for Campbell is now.  I have a problem with the Skins putting Colt Brennan on IR for the whole season when it appears that his injuries weren’t that severe.  If I were him I’d be very upset.  He’s already 26, though he’s only in his second season.  He should get a chance to not only play but to be the backup QB.  Todd Collins has played 16 games in the last 6 years.  Don’t tell me he’s that good.  He’s a statue.  When I run I feel like I’m running in quicksand, and I don’t think Collins is much faster.  Now that Brennan is on IR, though, the Skins should pick up Jeff Garcia.  He would be a great backup, and realistically, is probably better than Campbell in the short run.  I’m not saying he should start, but you make your team a lot better by getting an experienced player who has started for most of the last 12 years in the league and has had success.

I also told someone that in a weird way, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dan Snyder almost wants the Skins to have a mediocre season.  Since they’re probably not going to win the Super Bowl, Snyder probably doesn’t want the Skins to be better than making the playoffs with 10 wins and win maybe one playoff game.  Why?  So that he can hire Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan, Tony Dungy, Mike Holmgren, or John Gruden next year.  Of course, he’d love a Super Bowl win, but since it probably won’t happen, look for Snyder to hire one of those guys, most likely Cowher, Shanahan, or Gruden.

What the Skins should really do, though, is hire an experienced NFL GM.  I think Pat Kirwan, currently an NFL analyst for Sirius NFL Radio,, and CBS’ NFL Today, would be a great GM.  Kirwan was the Jets’ director of player administration in the mid-1990s to 1997.  From 1997 to 2002 the Jets never had a losing season, and Kirwan helped build the foundation for those teams.  You always have to look at a few years after a personnel person leaves a team to judge the players they bring in, since many of the new players are rookies.  Kirwan’s radio show is very informative, and he brings great insight about the NFL.  There is no shtick on the show.  In fact, I’m going to use this show on my other blog at as an example to show that sportsradio has surpassed newsradio in pure analysis – accuracy of information without any bias.

Back to the Skins:  my prediction is that they will finish 9-7, which usually results in about a 50% chance of making the playoffs.