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Theismann wants Betts in, Randle El out

(By John McDonnell - TWP)

Joe Theismann has a reputation as an incurable optimist, and, sure enough, he was finding great hope in the offensive line Monday morning. Still, he's shown increasing willingness to challenge the Redskins' status quo this season, and he took on two frequent fan targets this week: Clinton Portis and Antwaan Randle El. Took them on hard, as a matter of fact.

The Portis stuff came early in his segment with Larry Weisman, when the columnist mentioned that the Redskins are "good enough to be better than they've been, and they're good enough to compete in every game."

"Did they feel like something was holding them back?" Theismann said, in the mother of all set-ups.

"You know, some guys don't want to say it, but you can tell that it's there," The Sourcerer the team's editorial director replied. "And I think that they think that Clinton Portis has been holding them back just a little bit, in that he doesn't explode into the hole. There's been this, I don't want to call it a subliminal feeling, but this feeling that he hasn't given everything that he could give to this team in terms of coming in in shape, in terms of practicing. And the problems you have on that offensive line, you know how important it is to be out there and understand the timing and the flow of the game. Ladell Betts is always there."

So a Redskins employee is sort of reporting here that some players in the locker room feel Portis hasn't given his maximum.

"Well we heard that also from Clinton, 'Hey look, I don't really need to practice, I know where I have to be,' " Theismann said. "I said it on this show after he made that comment, I thought your offensive line has to know where they need to be so that you can be where you need to be. He's coddled all through training camp. It's like, 'Oh, let's not [tick] Clinton off.' And it's one of the things that Jason has mentioned. Matter of fact, when we had the Night of Legends, with Sonny, Jason and myself, Jason mentioned the one thing that he felt like was missing on this football team was discipline, in that everybody needed to be held accountable in an equal fashion. Well gee whiz, if you can't read between the lines on that...."

(Other views: "Betts Isn't Better Than Portis, People," from Mister Irrelevant. "Betts Not Better Than Portis, But Certainly a Better Fit," from Stet Sports Blog. "Ladell Betts should start the team's next game in Dallas and every one after that if he's healthy. Clinton Portis should sit, and heal, and come back in 2010 with some motivation to practice and play," from Russ Thaler.

My own view: if offensive linemen say it's easier to block for someone they practice with, and coaches say it's easier for them to block for somebody they practice with, maybe we should believe them.)

"If he's healthy -- and that will probably be the question of the week -- does Ladell start against the Dallas Cowboys?" Theismann finally asked.

Weisman's answer was that the Redskins would likely stick with a healthy Clinton Portis, a view later endorsed by Jim Zorn at his Monday news conference.

"I don't want this to be something where Ladell came in and did a wonderful job -- good grief, he really did a tremendous job -- and yet have Clinton lose his job because Ladell came in in support," Zorn said. "[Portis is] our running back, and who knows what kind of game he might have had."

Theismann, though, would lean the other way.

"To me, it isn't even a question," he said. "I would think it wouldn't be a question.

"But then again, I would think that Antwaan Randle El returning punts was not a question either," he continued, in a refrain that every single breathing Redskins fan would agree with. "But forgive me if I was wrong, but I looked up yesterday and I saw the ball hit the ground and travel about 15 yards towards our goal line, and the man returning the punt was Antwaan Randle El. When does this stop? When does somebody -- and if it's Coach Zorn -- when does he decide that it is not in the best interest of this football team to have those things happen with that individual returning punts? And I can't say it enough, I love the guy, he made great plays yesterday, he's tough and everything, but he hurts this football team in the return game."

"I'm mystified as to why they stick with it," Weisman agreed, "and when you talk to Jim about it, he says he doesn't want to expose starters."

"Oh baloney," Theismann said. "Like Wes Welker for the New England Patriots? i'm telling you something, that's bad coaching.... Why wouldn't you just stick Santana Moss out there and let him go? What are we protecting? Are you protecting an investment? Are you protecting a player? I'm just sorry. It's like the Ladell Betts thing. To me, you earn the right to be on the field or you play yourself out of the ability to be on the field. If coaches don't make that decision, then they're not good football coaches. They're not making the right decision. They're not making decisions that are in the best interest of a football team winning. And this is the thing, I looked up and saw that yesterday, and I'm thinking Why? Why does this happen?"

Randle El's 5.2-yards-per-return average is 47th in the NFL. His 11 fair catches are sixth in the league. To the question of "Why does this happen?" you got me.

By Dan Steinberg  |  November 16, 2009; 3:51 PM ET
Categories:  Media , Redskins  
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Next: Kornheiser vs. Wise, Part XXVII


When the Skins win a game this year it is in spite of the coaching.
Zorn is a bad joke.
Riggo is a narcissistic clown but he is right about Jimmy Z

Posted by: jonthefisherman | November 16, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I sure hope they listen to Theismann, but he's just stating the obvious. Unfortunately I think they won't.

1) Players have to practice and work for their jobs
2) If you screw up several times as a starter then you get benched, because there are 10 guys who want your job really bad
3) Don't play someone just because you paid too much for them -- play them because they're good

These are team building basics that go back as long as there have been organized sports. Snyder, Cerrato and perhaps Zorn have forgotten these very simple rules.

Posted by: unclelonghair | November 16, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

He's been nothing but a bust since we overpaid dearly for this lazy, above the team, too good to practice like everyone else, whiny, non-preseason playing, friends with the owner so I don't have to respect the coach, grossly overpaid-- done nothing whatsoever of note in Wash so naturally I get an enormous contract from a front office buffoon, do as I please little bit**!

First step to recovery.. EXIT PORTLY!! Dammit just pay attention folks! Don't let this fool disarm you with his cat that awallowed the canary smile and demolition of the English lauguage!!

Posted by: iubiquity | November 16, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Betts vs. Dallas. Can 't Kelly or Thomas catch punts?

Posted by: jnsbear | November 16, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

cut Portis, it's obvious he's too comfortable and he's also done physically

cut Randle El, as noted here his return game is pathetically non-existent and he's a below avg small receiver. good guy, but when's that been worth beans in the not for long league?

cut Rogers - immediately for chrissakes!

cut Landry - get a real free safety who can qb the secondary and actually help out our dainty Angela Hall.

let's face it, stepping back from the euphoria of an unexpected win, the only reason we won was cause Orton got hurt. he torched us in the first half and I was seeing visions of 40-7 if he hadn't gotten wrapped up in the legs by Orakpo. who is a great player btw, proving even blind pig Snyderatto finds a good player once in a while, one who fits in even, who'd have thought?

Posted by: greatteamdan | November 16, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Randle El's 5.2-yards-per-return average is 47th in the NFL. His 11 fair catches are sixth in the league. To the question of "Why does this happen?" you got me.

By Dan Steinberg

What? Aren't there only 32 teams in the NFL? I'm sure this stat is based on a certain amount of attempts. Why is ARE still returning punts?

Posted by: priceisright | November 16, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Zorn probably knows that he's on the way out at the end of the season, what does he have to lose by sitting Portis and/or ARE?

Posted by: jgluke | November 16, 2009 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Zorn is a weak person. By staying to collect a paycheck despite all the indignities and ridicules that Cerrato and Snyder has put him through tells you that much. Even now, if the Redskins were to get on a roll and start scoring points the credit will not be showered to Zorn, but to Cerrato for hiring Sherman Smith. Even now he will not "rock" the authorities of the "hands that slap him" and just go with what management wishes. Zorny baby, if you still have a backbone left, straighten up and put the players that produce on the field instead of the players that gets paid the most. Because if salary numbers were the basis of starting, Zorn would not even be QB coach let alone a head coach.

Posted by: JohnWWW | November 17, 2009 12:23 AM | Report abuse

JohnWWW, I agree with a couple of your points regarding Zorn and how Synderato has totally undermined his ability to be the "leader" of the team the way a head coach should be. BUT given the debacle/train wreck this franchise has become wouldn't you stay put if you were guaranteed MILLIONS to put up with this joke of a franchise for another 10 weeks or so? Lets be real, Synderato has already screwed him over enough, what more can they do - put him in a "special coaches press box" during the games, complete with bottled water, pretzels and a broken headset??? I credit Zorn for taking the screwing and seeing the big picture..his fate is sealed here and I am sure he can't wait to get the certified letter (doubt Synderato has the class to do it face to face) from the office of Synderato terminating him and get the he11 outta here...along with MILLIONS as his parting gift knowing he will be set financially for life. We should all be so lucky.

Posted by: regis429 | November 17, 2009 1:40 AM | Report abuse

"Randle El's 5.2-yards-per-return average is 47th in the NFL"

I thought there were 32 teams (he says facetiously)

Posted by: jsmith33351 | November 17, 2009 1:51 AM | Report abuse

let's get theisman to coach the team.....he's a no nonsense guy.....he's a tough SOB......people would play for him....heck I remember him breaking up a pass in Pasadena that could have cost us the game...HE"S A FIGHTER....all this b.s with the players and there egos will end.....hahahha.

Posted by: ghostrider505 | November 17, 2009 2:56 AM | Report abuse

So we have Joey T and other former players (Riggo, B Mitch...) questioning what is going on with the decisions made regarding personnel and playing time.

Guess what? They don't work for Snyder and can say what they want. They care about our team and I am grateful for them.

I would love to hear what Zorn would say after he is canned but he has too much class to do that.

If only we had an owner who cares about the Skins more than making a buck.

Danny, I still hold out hope for you.
Get a real GM and use the draft to get linemen and build the team from the inside. It may take a few years but we all will be patient if you do it the right way.

Posted by: REDSKINRAYINCA | November 17, 2009 3:49 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't cut Randle El, but I'd definitely get him off the punt team. When you look at it, he's actually seemed to step up this year, receiving wise - made some nice catches, nice blocks, first downs - he's decent in the slot.

But put the guy out of his misery on punts. 47th in the league? And with a turnover to boot? And still near the top in fair catches? I don't understand what happened to Randle El. He used to be good. Just lost the nerve, I think.

Randle El will be back there returning punts long after Jim Zorn is gone.

Posted by: Thinker_ | November 17, 2009 4:32 AM | Report abuse

great article. theismann is basically reiterating what brian mitchell had said many times over. you practice with the team, you play with the team. you earn the job of being the starter you don't just have it handed to you. unfortunately, snyder getting close to any one player creates conflict. you would think he learned his lesson after the debacle w/ arrington who was also close to dan until money got in the way. i like portis and i think he can still play but betts and cartwright have truly earned the right to get more playing time. zorn is merely a figurehead so he can't force the issue. he'll probably be coaching some unseen college division next season.

Posted by: charronegro1971 | November 17, 2009 5:00 AM | Report abuse

What? Aren't there only 32 teams in the NFL? I'm sure this stat is based on a certain amount of attempts. Why is ARE still returning punts?

Posted by: priceisright

More than one punt return man on certain teams will give you more than 32.

Posted by: hessone | November 17, 2009 6:38 AM | Report abuse

Why is Theismann just now getting around to saying this? I mean, this has been obvious since week 1 -- glad Joe has awoken from his slumber to make a (rare) cogent point. And how about the dig at Zorn? That sounds like maybe he's helping grease the skids for management to get rid of him end of season.

Posted by: dbunkr | November 17, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Joe,Riggo,the fans...everybody knows whats going down. Snyder has allowed this rot to set in. Zorn,Blatche,need to go. Danny Smith and Buges can stay. Jerry G can stay. But it's a mess. Untill Snyder relinquishes control it'll stay that way. So we're pretty much done.

Posted by: ridgely1 | November 17, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

If Randle El is 47th in a league of 32, that means he's worse than all the starters on every team and worse than some of the 2nd string punt returners. That's a damning stat.

And what's this nonsense about not losing your job to injury? Are we in college? This is pro football. You produce or you don't play. Zorn is an unfit coach but he's got that single stupid dogmatic characteristics of NFL coaches down pat. Am guessing he's forgotten that punt return is the first offensive play.

Posted by: tundey | November 17, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

The redskins have a tendency to hold on to old players beyond there ability to contribute in a positive manner, thus clinton portis.He(portis)should realize that practicing with the team is important.Sit portis for rest of year get healthy start fresh next year or get traded.

Posted by: BJ921 | November 17, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Great Scott! Zorn is really a coward and everyone is right about him not being ready to be a head coach, HE'S A CLOWN! He doesn't have the balls to make the right decisions either that or because he's still moping around when Cerrato took his play calling duties and handed it to Bingo Lewis, He doesn't care anymore about this team and that is evident with his continued defiance to at least in the short scheme of things win just a few games.

1. Fire Cerrato
2. Fire Zorn
3. Fire Blache
4. Cut Rogers or bait some other team for draft picks
5. Cut Portis or maybe trade him for picks
6. Trade Landry for picks
7. Trade Campbell for picks
8. Trade Randle El
9. Trade Kelly
10. Get a GM
11. Get a competent and strong Coach

Posted by: datruth21 | November 17, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I forgot to add on my wish list this year:


Posted by: datruth21 | November 17, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Say what you will but stats don't lie Betts is better and Randel-El should be replaced as far as punt returning is concerned,now he does get open when he's on the field in pass situations, i would give Devin Thomas a shot. This whole Portis thing is getting a little tired Portis should know that this is a distraction just like last season when Portis put Zorn on "blast" with his comments,he's almost an outcast with his teamates because of his diva treatment by upper management. They can't trade him because he's got an untradeable contract. They need to play Betts and let the "diva" come off the bench for the time being and if he doesn't like it then play Rock and let Portis sit.

Posted by: dargregmag | November 17, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I agree with most comments on the board. Whatever happened to starting the person that has the best practice? Players should earn their starting status and not just be given it. Competition will make everyone better. This is the problem with Zorn. He is just too nice a guy. He's not a real head coach. He can't make decisions; the decisions have to be made for him! Go with Betts and Cartwright. They've earned an opportunity.

Posted by: HelplessinDC | November 17, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

As with most things wrong with the Redskins, it's the fundamentals. What you do in practice is what usually happens on the field Sunday.

Portis has been a prom queen since he got here. Not only should Bettis start, they should trade Portis. That's right, trade Portis. He's done and has been for now for going on a second season. Can we get Benny Wells from Az Cardinals? They may be dumb enough...

Posted by: ScottChallenger | November 17, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Listening to you people say "cut Portis" or "Trade him for picks" makes my ears bleed! ARE YOU SERIOUS? Why would ANY player in the NFL want to play for a fan-base that is THIS cynical and quick to turn on their own? It's not uncommon for aging RBs to sit out practices, Emmit did, Sanders did, Westbrook does. Calling Portis a "Diva" after everything he's done for the team and the community is basically calling yourself ignorant!

And to those of you who mimic everything Brian Mitchell says, you need to find another "guru". The man has NO CLUE what it takes to be a starting RB in this league, yet he criticizes Portis for not practicing.

It's truly amazing to see a good back-up performance by Betts cause so much negativity and media-created drama. All of you are like blind sheep.

Posted by: wewbank1 | November 17, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Let's all face it, Portis is like the old roadster in the garage. He had his moment in the sun, but there are too many miles on that engine. He ran hard every game and gave it his all, even if it wasn't in practice. He has taken a beating over the years and now he deserves to ride off into the sunset.

I appreciate his contribution to the team but it's time for a change. This entire team needs to get younger and faster.

Posted by: skinfannomore | November 17, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

You can make the argument that Portis' time here is up, but I find the whole "prom queen", "prima donna" titles to be ridiculous. Portis has played his tail off for this team in years past. The problem is that he isn't healthy and he hasn't been for some time because of the beating he's taken because management never saw fit to build the kind of offensive line to help make the running game and the QB effective. So in essence, this team has wasted the talent of Portis. Part of the reason that Emmitt Smith had a long career was due in part to the fact that his o-line never let him get beat to hell. And if Portis was really any kind of drama queen, or whatever negative adjective you want to attach to him, would he really be cheering for his team mates the way he was on Sunday. If he was really taht bad, he couldn't have cared less how the team was doing.

Posted by: Rahwaj | November 17, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

What I find funny are the numbers of posts here that are calling for the Skins to trade a number of players -- namely Portis and Randel-El.

Do you guys honestly think that another NFL team would actually trade (be it draft picks or live bodies) for ANYONE on the Skins' roster (and, consequently, pick up that player's contract)...? Face it -- your best hope is that next year is uncapped and the management can dump unwanted contracts/players...

Posted by: arizona4 | November 17, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

wewbank1 ...I think your loyalty is misplace. Portis isn't just washed up, he's a cancer. The Sellers incident alone is enough to make his teammates resent him. Add to that his disdain for preseason games and practice and he's a diva. Throw his inappropriate relationship with Snyder into the mix and you have a gigantic tumor of resentment his teammates wouldn't be human if they didn't feel...and resentment kills football teams. They like blocking for Betts and it shows. Your bleeding ears notwithstanding, he's washed up, he's a cancer, and the Skins are better off without him.

Posted by: MColeman51 | November 17, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I like the whole Beanie wells possibility but how about one of those carolina RBs. Anyone who can break shoe string takles. Betts would have been good and is good but dude wasted his best years on the bench behind the million dollar man Portis.

Posted by: sthai75 | November 17, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I dont want to trade Portis, when healthy he is a good back, look at his numbers, as far as the non participation sit him for a few games let him get healthy or ir him, when healthy and motivated he can preform. He will be motivated just by the talk of Betts starting but he NEEDS TO BE HEALTHY!!!!

Posted by: BleedBurgandGold | November 17, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

C'mon people...Zorn isn't running this thing! These guys are playing cause Danny Boy says so. Simple.

Posted by: kone | November 17, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Portis doesn't practice!! He's not healthy! he's not prepared to play this season. That's a no brainer to sit his butt and let him be hungry again. But I for one would like to trade Rogers and Randle El if its possible, even Landry, this year's draft comprises of some good db's that can be acquired in the 2nd and 3rd rd. Heck Trade Portis if its possible but I sincerely doubt that.

Posted by: alucard1 | November 17, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

It's clear that the mistake in Portis's treatment began under Gibbs 2.0. Gibbs clearly saw a parallel between eccentric but talented RB Portis and eccentric but talented RB Riggins. Problem is, the leniency that worked for one individual didn't work for another individual. And it's continuing under Snyder to this day.

When sock puppet Zorn said Portis would start again when healthy, couldn't you see Danny's lips moving?

Posted by: minorthread | November 17, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

You go Joey T.!!! I thought he delusional early on, thinking this team was any good. He's coming around.

Posted by: cmterpsnskins | November 17, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I agree with most of the comments. Why should Portis play when he is unhealthy AND Betts delivered? Shouldn't Betts effort and SUCCESS be rewarded by being allowed to start? It seems to be a no-brainer to me.

Posted by: Hate4Snyder | November 17, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Joe Theismann for the Redskins coach position....Go Joe!!!

Posted by: meximala | November 17, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

i am with datruth

Posted by: jpfterps | November 17, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

"Joe Theismann has a reputation as an incurable optimist" - yeah, try moron. ...but even a blind hog and all that. Betts practices, Portis doesn't. 'Nuf said. Is Randle Els in a Reggie Bush slump or never shoulda been returner (nice performance receiving last week)? Far from the 'skins' greatest problem.

Posted by: fr3dmars | November 17, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Joe for the truth and of course the wasted words. Unfortunately it's the Former Players, The current players, and the fans VS the Redskins Brain Trust. You have to admit the brain trust has a great record in those matchups. On the field we all lose.

Posted by: robjway1 | November 17, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

It's not uncommon for aging RBs to sit out practices, Emmit did, Sanders did, Westbrook does.

Posted by: robjway1 | November 17, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Joe Theismann is right on. Start Betts and end Randel El's tenure as a returner. Keep Portis and Rogers on the bench. Can't wait to see if this offensive line does well on run blocking again. Great job Joe Bugle!They also did well with pass protection. The Denver game reminded me of how the Skins played with great inspiration in that Super Bowl against Denver. Our front 7 on defense are OK. God help us if the other team gets a player into our secondary!! We still need a replacement for Landry and Rogers.

Posted by: gype | November 17, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Jim Zorn's action is simply a case of a coach either not knowing his personnel or do not have the guts to make the hard choices. It is pretty obvious that he should beanch Portis and Randle El and play other guys...especially the young guys. In either case, it is another example of Zorn being in over his head as coach of the Washington Redskins.

Posted by: csgraha | November 18, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Joe Theisman has hit it right on the button.You play the guys that perform the rest can sit there butts on the bench.We can take this a little further than Portis and Randel El.Now stickin up for El a little bit,granted hes done very little on punt returns but the blocking on special teams suck.Punt and kickoff returns.Rock hasnt don much on kickoffs either.Put Moss on punts and try Devin Thomas on kickoffs.Thomas has a little more speed than Rock.You cant take the out after one punt or one kick like(Zorn Turner)has been doin.To the next problem which is the main problem.Why is Campbell still in there.He is clueless.He missed a wide open Moss for a touchdown.Also ther was a wide open Todd Yoder down the middle for a TD on the drive that Hunter Smith threw the TD,Campbell didnt even see him.Collins should be in there playing the rest of the year.He wouldnt have missed Moss and he would have seen Yoder.Campbell is our main problem.....

Posted by: shadow13 | November 18, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

i don't really think that zorn is deciding who starts.

Posted by: BMACattack | November 19, 2009 1:30 AM | Report abuse

Everyone's on this Ladell should be the starter thing. Hey, let's face it the oline got lucky last week and was able to do some good blocking. I bet this week against the cowgirls they (Skins oline) will get Campbell and who ever starts at running back slaughtered. I would love to see a repeat performance of last Sunday and have them beat the mess out of the cowgirls, but I really don't believe the oline can muster up enough strength to do so. Hey it's nice to dream though and if anyone including Joe Theismann thinks that this particular oline can have two good games in a row, well I'll put it like they do on ESPN "COME ON MAN!" I'll gladly eat my words with some crow sauce if they do and the Skins beat the cowgirls.

Posted by: rmilton | November 19, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Joe T knows if you don't practice you don't know the gameplan. I'll take the guy practicing every week on the practice field. They start on sunday for my team not the guy who watched Betts practice.

Posted by: creepyjackolopeeye | November 19, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

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