Cerrato Discusses Portis vs. Zorn
"I think it was frustration. I think we all get frustrated....And I told him, 'Just don't frustrate to everybody.' I told him, I said, 'Clinton, I do a radio show.' I said, 'I'm like a punching bag on a Monday after we lose for two hours.' I said, ''You know, you've just got to grin and bear it. That's part of the deal.' " -- Vinny Cerrato.
When the media asked Vinny Cerrato to comment on the very public dust-up between his best player and his head coach this week, the Redskins' top football man declined to comment. Of course, Cerrato does address the public directly a few times a week, and Thursday was one of those times we were allowed inside his head zone, via an appearance on Comcast SportsyNet's Redskins Nation.
Since the local and national media and many Redskins fans have been fixated on this story for days, you might have thought Portis vs. Zorn would have been host Larry Michael's first question. Well, you might have been born sometime in Week 12 if you thought that was happening. Sometimes when you ask for transparency you get vodka, and sometimes you get weak veggie broth.
"Vinny, the practice yesterday, the Wednesday practice, I thought [looked] very crisp for the Redskins," Michael observed to kick off the show, "especially under the circumstances with, you know, a lot of stuff going on. We'll talk about it in a moment, but I thought the practice looked good yesterday."
In the sort of deeply penetrating analysis that only unfiltered team media can provide, Cerrato agreed that the Wednesday practice, indeed, looked good, and that his players practice hard and work hard. Groovy.
Other topics of conversation: the organization-wide frustration at the losing skid, the need to eliminate mistakes, the need to adjust to a new coach's style, the generally poor health around the NFL in December, the need for big plays, the increasing comfort and confidence of the rookie receivers, the Redskins' increased chances of success when they have plays of more than 20 yards, the value of forcing turnovers, the folly of drafting according to need, and the importance of protecting the quarterback. As you can see above, Cerrato even demonstrated some pass-protection techniques on Michael, who, in a shocking development, offered only token resistance.
"If you grab like this around a guy, like if I grab you around that and the defensive guy gets his hands inside like this," Cerrato said.
"You've lost all leverage," Michael noted.
Finally, well into the second segment, they got around to discussing the primary notable topic of Redskins discussion this week. The basic message from Cerrato: both coach and running back are fine, they get along well, the media probably exaggerated the incident, but still, Portis should have dealt with his frustrations out of the spotlight. A sensible conclusion, and one that would have been a nice little quote in all those stories people were writing on Wednesday, back when the Exec VP wasn't commenting. The transcript:
Michael: How shocked, two-part question here, how shocked were you with the fact that Clinton Portis did pop off earlier in the week, and then how about the harshness of his words, kind of a two-part question there.
Cerrato: I think it's frustration. I mean, go back to like the Giants opening game, when Clinton said some stuff then. I think it was frustration. I think we all get frustrated. And you'd like Clinton just, and I told him, just don't frustrate to everybody. I told him, I said, 'Clinton, I do a radio show.' I said, 'I'm like a punching bag on a Monday after we lose for two hours.' I said, ''You know, you've just got to grin and bear it. That's part of the deal.'
It's just the frustrating part, and then he's got to go on the radio and then they ask him a bunch of questions and then sometimes you get caught and say things, but everything's fine. I mean, Clinton's out there practicing, busting his butt. You know, he's working hard, he and Jim get along fine. The media makes it a lot bigger than it is, and the thing about it is, you know, we're a team, and it's all in one.
Michael: Well, a public display of temper by any player, though frustrated or not, is gonna be jumped on by the media, no doubt about it. It was like a storm cloud moving in, but yesterday, it was like all the clouds disappeared. Clinton was happy, Coach Jim Zorn was happy, he's looking at us right now in the glass, and here is what Clinton said to the press yesterday.
Michael: Vinny, I predict a huge game by Portis on Sunday.
Cerrato: You predict it, I hope it.
Michael: I'm predicting it right now, because this guy, he is one of the outstanding backs in the National Football League, and he really is a great teammate, a good locker room guy. But I think you said it earlier, a general frustration [around the team], which was voiced by Clinton.
Cerrato: Yeah, I think you know you get frustrated, you know, because the guy is such a competitor and wants to win, so I think he gets frustrated and he just let it out.
Michael: Zorn met the media afterwards, and you probably saw this on Comcast SportsNet, and he had HIS words to say. So I think I don't want to say this was GOOD for the football team, but I think it's in their past.
Cerrato: I think a lot of guys didn't even pay any attention to it, you know what I mean? They made a big thing out of when he did it after the Giants game, then we went out and I think Clinton had like a buck forty or something.
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