Clinton Portis: "Is it Really Hope?"
Here are a few clues that let you know you've stumbled upon another choice Clinton Portis radio appearance:
1) Host John Thompson tells Portis, "Boy, you're crazy," not once, but twice.
2) Portis refers to himself in the third person at least three times.
3) Portis volunteers to be the team's punter.
So yeah, in addition to Chris Cooley endorsing Vinny Cerrato on the radio this week, we also had Portis's final John Thompson Show appearance of the year on ESPN 980. In a year where Portis's radio appearances were often more entertaining (with a LOT more offense) than many Redskins games, you had to figure he had one more headline-grabbing performance in him, and sure enough.
It's hard for me to divine exactly what Portis was trying to say, though. Was he complaining about the play-calling? The coaching organizational ladder? Was he joking? Being serious? Was he wishing he had gotten more chances to help his stats? Wishing he had been able to better help the team? Just blowing off steam? Or merely throwing one final offseason bone to bloggers? Unclear, but if he wanted to end talk of Portis and discontent, this was a strange tactic.
For sheer ridiculousness, I suppose the highlight came when Thompson asked Portis whether he has enough seniority to offer suggestions on the team's offensive philosophy.
"I don't think my seniority had nothing to do with it," Portis said. "You know, they gave seating charts when we flew to the West Coast. I was in coach. So I don't have enough seniority."
"Boy, you crazy," Thompson said.
"It was a whole bunch of guys sitting up in first class," Portis continued, "legs kicked back, and me and Santana sitting back there crunched up in coach, along with Jason. So you know, I don't know what's going on around there, man. There's not much I'm gonna say. I'm gonna go out and try to take care of Clinton and make sure Clinton's all right, and however they go or whatever they do with it, that's on them."
So that was fun. But for "spending three weeks puzzling and arguing on message boards over what the man meant," this was the money quote. It came after Thompson observed, rightly, that Portis still sounded depressed about the end of the season.
"I mean, bro, to be in Week 9 of a season and five yards away from a thousand yards at the end of the third quarter, and all of the sudden you can't get five yards in the game because y'all trying to win the game?" Portis offered by way of an answer. "And you're finished, and can't even get to 1,500 yards? You know, I mean, you want to have hope, but is it really hope? You're telling me in seven games I couldn't get 500 yards after I was 300 yards above all competition in Week 9? So who knows, man? I can't do nothing but go ahead and just do what they ask me to do. If they ask me to come in and start punting, I'm gonna get my leg ready and learn how to be a punter."
Other memorable moments to chew over during an offseason that will likely be devoid of Redskins radio firestorms:
On his relationship with Jim Zorn: "I mean, I think it's gonna have to be a give and take relationship. You know, it can't be a dictatorship. I know he's the head coach and he's gonna be set in his ways, but it really gonna have to be give and take. You know, you can't rule with an iron fist. I'm gonna come out and give you everything that' I've got and I'm sure he's gonna go out and give everything he's got.
"I think the point is just learning your personnel, learning what you've got. You know, you can't listen to the outside world or get involved in what the outside world thinks. Because, no matter how it ended up, I wasn't the only guy not practicing, I was the only guy it was talked about not practicing."
On the team's offensive philosophy: "I think we was healthy in the 6-2 span and playing smashmouth football. And through that span of whatever we went, 2-6, I think we just lost the identity of what we were trying to do. I think when the running game was our focal point, I think Jason was playing great, I think Santana was playing great and Cooley as well and everybody else was getting involved. And once we got away from that and just started slinging the ball, nobody did anything. Jason's play fell off, my play fell off, 'Tana's play fell off, Cooley's play fell off. So I think we've just got to stick with what's working."
[For the record, the Redskins averaged 33.4 runs in the first half of the season, and 26.4 in the second. They averaged 29 passing attempts in the first half, and 34.8 in the second.]
On the two-back system: "I think when Ladell was healthy and we had our own rotation going and we were 6-2, things was going good. All of the sudden you come back, and this happen and that happen, now all of the sudden you come out of the game, 'Hey, Ladell's going in. All right, come back, your turn.' You know, you really can't get in a groove.
"And I think whatever ain't broke, man, don't fix it. You know, you come in, tampering, changing things around, I think me and Ladell coexisted fine in the beginning of the season; it was in the later part of the season where we began to be told how we was going in and when we was playing, and I think [Ladell] was kind of banged up as well as me, so our play declined."
On the coaches changing their minds: "I think Coach [Stump] Mitchell always shot us straight, man, and let us go out to be men. I think he did his best of keeping us alerted. He really wasn't in control. I think every other position coach on our team gets to control their guys. I don't think Coach Stump had the same opportunity. You know, it was above him, and he did his best, he came in, he prepared us.
"At 6-2, when he was in control, I think we were doing fine. You know, all of the sudden, things change, everybody have input on the running game all of the sudden. What the runners need to do and where we need to go and how we need to slide and how we need to run into a pile. You know, I think me and Ladell been in the NFL seven years, so my track record speaks for itself. I think I know how to [run the] ball, but I guess people weren't satisfied."
On whether the problem was the O-Line or the philosophy: "Hey, I'm just saying, that was the same offensive line we had at 6-2. I don't think we didn't trade no linemen during the middle of the season. It worked to get to 6-2, so if you feel like our offensive line wasn't a good pass-blocking offensive line and all of the sudden we throw 50 passes, well....
"You know, I mean, that's on them. That's on the front office, you know, that's on them to decide if our offensive line was good enough, if I was good enough, if anybody else was good enough. Only thing we can do is go to work. You can't control the front office, I won't try to control the front office. And like I said, I'm gonna try to do my part, to take care of Clinton Portis, and however that end up, that's how it'll end up."
January 7, 2009; 2:29 PM ET
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