Clinton Portis: "We All Believe"
Clinton Portis's weekly appearance on ESPN 980's John Thompson Show was most notable for his optimism and team spirit. In (I believe) his first public comments since the 9-7 win over the Rams on Sunday, Portis said he still thinks the team will be successful, expressed mild disappointment in the home fans who booed the ugly win, declined several opportunities to second-guess Jim Zorn's playcalling, and said that he and the team's other offensive stars are on the verge of a breakout. Some highlights. (Please bear in mind this was typed off live radio, and a few words might be off here or there.)
The Failed Fourth and 1
Jason Reid got into this in his recent Insider post, but Portis said the problem wasn't with Jim Zorn's playcall, but with the blocking call at the line. According to Portis, the Rams were lined up in a goal-line defense, and the Redskins had two tight ends on the field, hoping the Rams would match up with that defense. The alignment called for the Redskins to use one blocking scheme, but someone at the line called for a different approach, which ruined the chance of success.
"It's always the wrong [play] when they stop it, but we've had a lot of success on that same play...." Portis said. "I think it was a play that if we had executed would have been a walk-in [touchdown], but we made the wrong [blocking] call."
All that said, Portis acknowledged that his preference in such situations "would always be downhill" running, because "you see everything in front of you and you've got the choice to jump, dive, slide, whatever you need to do to get through there."
Life at .500
Portis isn't all angsty about the record, turns out.
"From the criticism we take you would think we're the worst team in the NFL," he said. "We're 1-1, just like the Patriots, just like the Cowboys, just like every other 1-1 team. It's better to be 1-1 than 0-2, and for the teams that are 2-0, I'm sure they'll get a loss soon."
"For the fans to come out and boo us?" Portis said near the end of the spot. "You put in a lot of work, and people are never satisfied. If [we] lose the game, boo us. We won the game. We 1-1. There's a lot of teams in the NFL that are 1-1. I think we're in the position to go and do something special, we've got the opportunity to do something special, and I think we will do it."
Faith in Zorn
On the absolute crucial question--whether this team still has confidence in Jim Zorn as its leader--Portis said the right things.
"I think so," he began. "I mean, I think everybody in the organization believes in what we're capable of. Like I said, when we go back on Monday and watch the film, it's obvious. It isn't the play that Jim Zorn called isn't successful."
Instead, Portis said, it's the execution. One time, for example, he said that Santana Moss was open on a deep route, but Will Montgomery was "overpowered" at the line. Portis didn't fault Montgomery, and said he was blocking the right man, but that ruined the deep chance.
"We execute the plays--Coach Zorn, ohhh, he's a great play caller," Portis said. "Being that we haven't executed, we're dropping passes, we're a second away, it makes it look like--Oh, what'd he call that play for? If the play is successful-- Oh, Coach Zorn, Coach Zorn, Coach Zorn....Like I said man, we all together, we all believe and we gonna keep fighting as a team."
Randy Thomas's Replacement
We've all assumed the next man up would be Chad Rinehart, but Portis didn't mention him when asked about replacing Thomas at right guard.
"The same thing that's happened ever since I've been here, we lose a key lineman," Portis said. "For us, what we do have in Will and, uh, uh, what's my man's name, number 50? Edwin, in Edwin [Williams] and in Will Montgomery I think we have players that are capable of filling in. I think Edwin's a hard-nosed player, and here's his opportunity, so hopefully he comes out and proves he's worthy of the job."
This isn't breaking news, but Portis said he thinks the offense can work, it just needs to start working in the red zone.
"I think players was glad we got the win, but I think everybody on our team know we have to go back to the drawing board and get things corrected," he said. "Once we perfect it and run this offense the way it can be run, we have the opportunity to put up a lot of points."
Portis said he was at fault in one of the red zone chances, when he ran the wrong direction on a play that "would have been a walk-in touchdown."
"Then we had two drops, that's 21 points you're talking about, compared to the nine points we got," he continued. "Then we had a turnover in the red zone, that's 28 points. Everyt ime we go back and look at our mistakes, we see where we went wrong," he concluded, saying the issues are more about the Redskins than their opponents.
Later, he said that the offense needs to find a way to make big plays for long touchdowns, as opposed to endless drives that bog down in the red zone after 10 or 12 plays.
"Until we develop that, teams are gonna continue to think we're gonna self explode," he said. "Until we get that right, it's gonna be hard to do anything, because our drives are so long."
But is that big-play paradise attainable in this lifetime, or, better yet, this calendar year? Portis said yes.
"I know it can happen, but what we need to do until it do happen is find a way to continue to win," he said. "Once it strike and all the playmakers explode...I mean, me or Santana have yet to have a big game, how long is that gonna last? Jason have yet to have a big game, how long is that gonna last?...When we catch on fire and we all get a chance to strike, we'll be fine."
In the meantime, he said, Chris Cooley and Antwaan Randle El and others have carried the offensive slack. Asked why himself and Moss haven't yet gone off, Portis cited the defenses.
"I mean, [Doc Walker] seen for himself how many people was in the box to stop the run, I heard him on the sideline talking about it," Portis said. "Right now, it's the focal point. They playing an over-under on Santana, they trying to take me away from the game, and Cooley and Randle El is really making plays. And it's only another week or two before teams realize, 'Well, now we got to stop Cooley, now we got to stop Randle El....It's only a minute away before we snap on, and when we do, I think we'll be fine."
The Halfback Pass
Like Zorn, Portis faulted the execution, not the play call on the controversial halfback option near the goal line.
"We really didn't sell the run on the play," he said. "From the start of the play, if you look, you see them dropping back. Nobody really bit on the run; because of us running sideways they didn't really bite that it was a run play."
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