RB Guest Blog
Our guy Lincoln has a great guest blog that I am sure all will enjoy. He makes the case for the Betts/Portis or Portis/Betts - depending on your flavor - combo as being second best in the NFL.
I will be at Lauren's parents house in rural New York from midweek until I return to work next Monday - no internet or cell phone up there - so the blog might be a little dry until then (although Cindy is probably on the case this weeK).
Hope everyone is enjpying the last few days before camp starts.
Here's the guest blog:
Why Washington Has the (2nd) Best RB Duo in the League (And Assorted Musings Which Might Vex and/or Hopefully Entertain):
Greetings again from Cincinnati all. I moved here last year from DC because my girlfriend lives here. I miss DC dearly, but she's worth it - young, smart, pretty, and most importantly she's adopted the Skins. I even got her an autographed Carlos Rogers jersey. Hey, he's gonna bounce back this year, I can feel it; besides, she's new to Skins Nation; next year we'll graduate to Cooley, maybe Moss. Anyhow, most felt that my last posting was too negative and after-the-fact. Fair enough. Today I want to focus on one of the brightest spots on the team - the running game, and why these guys are not just one of the best pair of RBs in the league, but also, by most accounts, pretty cool cats as well. Hope you enjoy, and I look forward to your feedback....
ESPN recently ranked the Top 10 running back tandems in the league; actually, they ranked every team, 1 thru 32, but I am too cheap to pay for the ESPN Insider. Being the miser that I am, I only got to see the first ten, which is fine by me - I could hardly care if Cleveland is ranked next to last or dead last, or whether Detroit takes the cake. Anyway, where was I? Ah yes best tailback tandems. As for the top dog, it's hard to disagree with ESPN's choice, San Diego, which, thanks to the inimitable Ron Burgundy, I now know is of German derivation. They have LaDanian Tomlinson, enough said. Hell, Chargers new head coach (good luck with that, SD) Norv "The Sexiest Man in Football" Turner could moonlight as his backup and I might still rank them in the Top 5 - LT is that good.
Quick note on calling LaDanian "LT" - until very recently I subscribed to the old school conviction that "There is only one 'LT'and that is Lawrence Taylor". But the stuff this guy is doing, wow. You could reasonably argue that his past 3 seasons (averages of 1,550 rush yards and a staggering 23 touchdowns) compare favorably with any 3 year stretch by any RB ever. He's also a dangerous receiver, averaging 55 catches per year over that same period and as if that's not enough, he was 2 for 3 with 2 TD passes last year....I've gotta think he has proven himself worthy of those hallowed football initials, with all due respect to the original LT, who once terrified Redskins quarterbacks like Rosanne Barr terrifies the manager at a $7 all-you-can-eat pancake diner.
But again I digress...back to the topic at hand...the Chargers are a lock for the top rushing duo because not only do they have the best running back (and arguably overall player) in the league in LT, they also have quite possibly the best backup in the league in Michael "Burner" Turner. Because LT is so durable (he's only missed one game in his first six seasons), The Burner's chances have been limited, toting the rock just 157 times in his first 3 seasons. Nonetheless, the guy is making the most of his limited opportunities, averaging an eye-popping 6 yards per carry. As George C. Scott said to Paul Newman (aka Fast Eddie) in The Hustler, "You got talent, kid."
So while the top spot is out of reach, I think that you can very easily make a case for the Redskins as the number two tandem in this debate (incidentally, ESPN had KC at #2, the Skins at #3).
Exhibit A: Clinton Portis
Known aliases (partial list): Coach Janky Spanky, Jerome from Southeast, Sheriff Gongetcha, Reverend Gonna Change (for more, see http://www.clintonportis.com/characters.html). He's a character for sure, but the man knows how to lug the pigskin - in his first five seasons, he's amassed 6,453 rushing yards, 52 rushing TDs, and an exceptional 4.7 average yards per carry. In the history of the NFL, only seven other backs have rushed for more than 6,000 yards and 50 TDs in their first five seasons: Jim Brown, Eric Dickerson, Walter Payton, Earl Campbell, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, and LaDanian Tomlinson. Of those seven, only Brown, Dickerson and Sanders averaged better than 4.7 ypc - pretty solid company. And to think that some critics felt that a Reverend having a dancer's pole in the basement was a bad idea. Although slowed by a shoulder separation last preseason and a cracked mitt in Week 9, Portis has been fairly durable, having only missed 4 games prior to last season, and he doesn't even turn 26 until September.
Exhibit B: Ladell Betts
As good as Southeast Jerome has been, Betts has been just as capable (if a little less flashy) when given his chance to shine. Skins fans always knew that Betts could produce, but last year he resoundingly confirmed that he possessed the skill and consistency required of a top-flight featured back. Starting just seven games after Portis went down, Betts ended the season with 1,154 rush yards and 4 TDs, including 5 straight games with 100+ yards (narrowly missing a sixth game with 92 yards in the season finale against the Giants). What makes his second half even more impressive was it was with essentially a rookie QB at the helm - Jason "The Silent Assassin" Campbell had just assumed the reigns (God I love this kid....but I'll save that ramble for another posting, Mr. LaCanfora permitting...which by the way I believe is Italian for "The Big House").
Even more impressive still, Betts did so not only against some of the better rush defenses in football (Carolina, Philadelphia and Atlanta), but also in spite of the fact that the Skins had given LB a vote of no-confidence by coughing up a 3rd round draft pick for TJ "Pork Chop" Duckett after Portis' preseason injury. Some might say that the Duckett trade was an insurance policy; I say that is like being the nightshift manager at Burger King and going across the street to McDonald's. Why would you pay $4 and risk getting plowed over by some blue-haired codger for a Big Mac when you've already got the Whopper - which we all know is way better than a Big Mac - for free?? Oh, and Ladell also shares a birthday with my beautiful girlfriend, Tracy - don't ask what that has to do with his prowess as a professional footballer, nor why I know his birthday. Let's just say that I have a knack for memorizing Redskins' birthdays. Some might call it obsessive/pathetic/nerdy/stalking or some combination thereof; I prefer to call it enthusiastic journalistic research.
So there you have it - Portis might have a weakness for garment-challenged adult entertainers (what straight man doesn't?) and multiple personalities (my buddy Wills is tri-polar, totally harmless), but he also has good speed, excellent strength, superb vision, and he will play until he's puking up a lung. Talk about a true football player. Let's not forget how he separated his shoulder last year - by sprinting halfway downfield to tackle Bengals defensive back Keiwan Ratliff after he'd picked off a meatball from Mark "I Now Make $6 Million To Carry a Clipboard" Brunnell....in a preseason game. Not sure how many running backs would make that play in the regular season. Did I mention he's got a stripper pole in his basement? What's not to love about this guy?? And if something else should happen to Sheriff Gonna Getcha, Ladell Betts churns out 100 yard games like Shaq's wife pumps out kids - six Little Diesels and counting last I checked. That poor woman, I mean she's 5 foot nothing, he's what 7 foot, 350 lbs? On second thought I'll leave that one alone. Even I know that some things are better left unsaid.
Next time I'll wax tangential about Jason Campbell aka "The Silent Assassin" aka "The Savior" (no pressure, JC), why Shaun Suisham - yes, Shaun Suisham - will play a key role in the Skins success (or lack thereof) this year, and why Vinny Cerrato needs to make a trip Down Under.
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