Thursday, Sept.6 at 11 a.m. ET

The Redskins

Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 6, 2007; 11:00 AM

Washington Post staff writer Jason La Canfora was online Thursday, Sept. 6 at 11 a.m. ET to take your questions about the Redskins.

The transcript follows.

Read Jason's blog, Redskins Insider.

Full coverage: Washington Redskins


Jason La Canfora: Hey there, let's get it going here. What do you have for me?


Crofton, Md.: Jason,

Aren't people overreacting a bit about the O-line chemistry thing? I mean we have 4 out of 5 veteran starters returning, and Kendall is an experienced vet that has changed teams like this before. Yeah, Samuels may not be 100 percent, but I'll take a 4-time Pro Bowl LT at say, 80 percent, over most LT's in the league. Know what I mean? Thanks.

Jason La Canfora: Guess it depends on the context. In terms of the season, it's a minor blip, something that will be conquered before October.

Now, if you're talking about this Sunday, facing that defense with Jason Taylor on the edge in what could be a hot sun against a Dom Capers zone blitz scheme aiming at a young QB, and Samuels himself admits he won't be 100 percent fit and might be lagging by the 4th quarter, while Kendall is still feeling his way through this system and learning the system ...

Yeah, I'd call that a big deal for the first few weeks, and especially in this opener for an offense that is still trying to get on track.


Leesburg, Va.: While I am certain he is respected as a person, is Joe Gibbs still respected as a coach among NFL coaches and GMs?

Jason La Canfora: He doesn't get a whole lot of kudos out there for his overall work as a personnel guy in this new role he's been cast in the last few years, and people mock a lot of the decisions made around here.

As a football man and a coach, he remains widely respected, but a lot of people wonder if the Gibbs/Vinny/Snyder form of team management will ever really work.


Woodbridge, Va.: Hey Jason,

Three things will make or break our season:

1 - Jason Campbell

2 - Defensive pressure on the opposing QB

3 - The emergence (or not) of other viable wide outs besides Santana Moss.

Do you agree?

Jason La Canfora: I'd say those are huge factors to watch, absolutely.

Stopping the run doesn't get talked about much, but it's the foundation of everything and they got gashed on the ground far too often. When you see them part with Salave'a and Wynn - guys who are generally paid to stop the run - it's an indication they need to be better there and think they will.

I'll put it this way - a healthy and in-form Cornelius Griffin makes the defense go, and a 100 percent Santana Moss is the key element to the offense.

If they have big seasons, I think the Redskins will be more than okay.


NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year: Laron Landry. Book it. Jason, just going on record with that so I can say so -- but are there some other candidates on other teams?

Also -- an alternative to iPod shuffle, is You just plug in a band you like (Pixies) and it will serve up similar artists along w/the band you chose.

Jason La Canfora: Pandora, eh? Never heard of it. I'll have to check that out.

Thanks for the heads up.

Got to the Park late and was just firing up the iPod right now.

As for LaRon, I think he will be put in every position to make plays on the ball and attack the passer. I would not be surprised if he was in the discussion for ROY if he stays healthy and the other guys on this defense perform to their ability as I think they will


Washington, D.C.: Jason -- this Chris Wilson guy reminds me of rookie Dexter Manley. This preseason I noticed him in the very same way I did when Dexter was a rookie.

What are coaches saying about him?

How the heck did this guy make the team without ever being on any NFL teams radar screen?


Jason La Canfora: Funny you should ask (is this a question from inside the Post??).

Check out Sunday's paper to learn about Chris -- a great kid with a pretty amazing story.

Now, as much as I like him, let's not ever compare him to Dexter just yet. He has a ways to go and his position in the NFL is by no means assured yet.

But he is a hard worker, loves to soak up coaching and has something you can't teach -- elite speed. Needs to get bigger and might never be big enough to play the run and be an every down guy at this level -- has trouble keeping his weight over 240 -- but there are a lot of people here who think he can far surpass what Chris Clemons did here in 2004-2005 as a rush end in the nickel package.

After getting to know him over the past few weeks I can say that he's the kind of kid you can't help rooting for.


20010: Any movement on another WR - Gabriel, Caldwell, McCardell?

It sounds like the FO likes the young, speedy KR guy (forgetting his name), but will he actually contribute at all this season?


Jason La Canfora: Nothing going on now ... but that's pretty much true around the league. If you sign a guy of their tenure now they are "vested veterans" and their base salary basically becomes guaranteed if they are on the roster Week 1. After that week that changes, so all of them will get more sniffs next week.

Gibbs seems to like Bodiford, but he's been oft-injured, and, if anything, with his skill set would displace someone like Lloyd - 5-11, great speed, deep threat, not so much over the middle - while they really need a legit 6-2 guy or taller as a possession guy to move the change and go up and get some jump balls from Campbell in the red zone.

(I would think Clarence Moore, a 6-6 dude who can make plays on the ball in the air, would be a perfect compliment to their other WRs, and maybe they'll come calling next week).


Pittsburgh: I always thought it was interesting that although the Redskins love to pursue free agents, they haven't tried to go after a proven kicker since they signed John Hall a few years ago. I'm not sold on this Suisham fellow quite yet. I hope the kicking situation doesn't come back to haunt us like in 2000.

Jason La Canfora: Only time will tell. There is no way to replicate the pressure and emotion of game day for kickers, who must shut off that adrenaline rush and deliver or hit the unemployment line.

Shaun has been very good since getting here, but it's not easy to establish yourself. It's true, since Hall it's been guys like Ola Kimrin, Novak and Suisham.

But often all these guys need is a few chances and they find a Pro Bowler. Ask the Bears what expectations they had for Robbie Gould before they brought him in on a lark ... and he ended up being a huge asset.


Burke, Va.: I love and respect Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff, but isn't it about time they hang up their headphones? The Redskins radio broadcast is becoming more comical every year. Larry Michaels does a decent job all things considered, but the number of errors from Sonny and Sam is quite frustrating. Danny boy should try and get Joe Theismann now that ESPN has let him go. Your take??

Jason La Canfora: I'm the wrong dude to ask, because I admit my bias for those guys as human beings and on the radio as well. That's all part of their charm and in a business that is often so cookie-cutter, all of their Sam-and-Sonny-isms make it worthwhile.

I actually think those are the two guys who make it work at all and give it some flavor and the other guy is a typical company guy who offers very little.


Game Plan:

Do you get a sense of how the Redskins offense is specifically preparing for Miami? A lot of sprint right to get away from Taylor?

Jason La Canfora: I actually think they will run at Taylor and Porter quite a bit. It's hard to get big chunks of yards against Miami, but I expect a close game and I think they need to stick with the run and keep pounding it, even if it's 3 yards per carry -- which could be the case against this D -- to help protect Campbell, protect the football and grind the clock.

No style points here -- old school NFC East football and a dedication to a ground-based game plan at all costs is imperative in this one, home opener or not. I wouldn't get too cute with the football.


McLean, Va.: Jason, any word on when the 'Skins are planning to wear the throwback uni's this year? Can't wait to see the yellow helmets again!

Jason La Canfora: They will wear them at one home game from what I am told, but it's a super, double-triple secret when they actually do.


Vienna, Va.: Jason, do you think the game has passed Joe Bugel by ?

Jason La Canfora: I don't really think it works that way and these guys work way too hard to simply get passed by.

Now, do I think they have a flawed player procurement model that leads to people being put in positions they are not fit for. Not enough checks and balances there.


Rockville, Md.: Where did Howard Bryant go? I like you better, but he seemed like a cool dude? Did you pull some strings to get him fired because you felt threatened by him?

Jason La Canfora: That's pretty funny.

A) If I had that kind of pull I wouldn't be a beat slug.

B) Howard is one my favorite people in the business and is indeed a cool dude. No threat there. It takes a village to cover this football team.

C) If I did in fact get Howard whacked, I'd also make sure one of my boys got hired to help me cover the team.

D) Howard got the deal of a lifetime from ESPN and trust me, he's not lamenting not being in this media room out here at The Park anymore. His career could not be in better shape right now.


Upper Marlboro, Md.: Pookie,

What is up with your boy Fred Smoot. What can we expect from him this year?

Jason La Canfora: Pookie? I am a man of many nicknames - J, J-La, Laca, Jackson, J-Bird, J-La-C, Jason Lackacommensensa (my personal favorite, La-can'treporta (my second favorite) .. but never Pookie. I think you have me confused with someone else.

Anyway, Smoot had a good camp. He should be good in that nickel role and at the very least if healthy is an upgrade over Kenny Wright. Staying healthy has been difficult for him the last few years, though.


Bend, Ore: Last year at the start of the season, I asked your former colleague Howard Bryant who would have a break out season for the Skins and he correctly predicted Ladell Betts.

How's your crystal ball working? Who breaks out this year for the Skins?

Jason La Canfora: Rocky McIntosh


D.C.: Why has Montgomery surpassed Golston on the depth chart -- has Montgomery outplayed him?

Jason La Canfora: I must have received 10 e-mails on this the last two days -- first with Brunell listed as the No. 2 Qb and now this about Montgomery.

That depth chart has zero meaning, is not done by coaches and could not be more unofficial. To spare me the agony, if nothing else, there should be a disclaimer on that thing letting people know it is by no means an accurate depiction of the starters.

Golston is a starter.


Jdawg in Woodbridge: After watching preseason last year, I knew the Redskins were in trouble - and they were!

Everyone said the Al Saunders offense takes a year to work.....

Do you get the feeling from players and coaches that its going to roll this year?

You saw camp this and last year.....what stands out as different this year, both positive and negative?


Jason La Canfora: From what we got to see of camp, the offense had much more tempo, was crisper, people knew what was going on, Jason can definitely get the ball downfield ...

But they have to do it against other teams and for three years this offense has been helter-skelter.

I think the defense will carry them again early in the season and I believe the offense will be better, but it'll take time and with a young QB, expectations must be tame.


Richmond, Va.: Any word on how Portis's knee is doing? Is he going to be at least close to 100 percent for Sunday?

Jason La Canfora: He can't be 100 percent fit in game shape after missing so much time, and this will be the first time he is really getting hit on the knee, so like anything else only time will tell how it responds.

They won't know anything themselves until he gets some carries under his belt.

If they don't really on Betts a lot early in the season I would be surprised. It just makes too much sense.


Baltimore: The way I see it, Brandon Lloyd could really be the X factor this year. They DESPERATELY need him to step up and make plays - go across the middle, go long, block, the whole works. If he steps up, I think it will really help there chances of making the playoffs. Would you agree that he could be the key??

Jason La Canfora: I don't know about him being THE key, but he is definitely a player who needs to live up to his contract if he wants to be around here a year from now.


Rockville, Md.: Jason,

Thanks for answering my Howard Bryant question. What about you? Any chance you will move to ESPN one day? You have a nice writing style and you even make us feel like you are a 'Skins fan.

Jason La Canfora: Yikes, that part about making you think I'm a Skins fan is a no-no. Trust me, Joe Gibbs would debate that depiction with vigor, and that's how it should be. I am a fan of football as a sport, but no team.

I need to be the eyes and ears of the fans around here and present information and opinions the Redskins would never want out there, being fair and accurate. But you can't have a rooting interest in the team you cover and do the job even close to how it needs to be done.

Thanks for the compliment though. As for ESPN, you'd have to ask them what they think of me. They've gone after quite a few washingtonpost people over the years, so I guess they know where to find me (and if not Howard could always draw them a map, eh?)


Sec 126: Jason,

It seems like the margin for victory (and error) in today's NFL is super thin. A bad call, missed FG or a dropped pass can change a game or a season.

If the 'Skins get some of those bounces to the positive where to you see them ending up record wise?

Jason La Canfora: I think they already got the two biggest breaks you could ever imagine in the preseason:

Their Pro Bowl LT and (potential) franchise QB both came inches from season ending injuries within a few weeks of August. And instead both are starting Sunday.

That's the season, folks. They already got more than their fair share of luck.


Richmond, Va.: How do I get a sweet job like you got and cover the 'Skins all day?

Jason La Canfora: I actually won it in an eBay auction, so I'd definitely check on-lin auction spots as often as possible ...

No, seriously, if you have some writing experience and have covered other teams, send a resume and some clips to the paper and shoot an e-mail to our sports editor, Emilio Garcia-Ruiz (

Good luck. Hopefully we'll be working together and Emilio won't actually give you my job, but you never know. This is a crazy business.


Rockville, Md.: Jason,

I was speaking more to your knowledge of the team than of your rooting interest. You've done your homework and the fans appreciate it. As for ESPN, I'd prefer you stick around here. That's just my two cents though buddy!

Jason La Canfora: Thanks boss, no worries either way, and I think it's a point some people don't grasp.

The Washington Post has been great to me and I've enjoyed my eight years here. With any luck there will be more to come.


Sonny and Sam: Good lord, they're the only thing that makes the radio broadcasts worth listening to - it's like Statler and Waldorf Talk Football! Larry Whatsisname is mediocre at best, and if all Theismann can come up with is "the longer they're in the league, the more experience they have" - that was one of his gems from the Jacksonville game - we're better off without him.

Jason La Canfora: Amen brother


Anonymous: Does Dan Snyder have any type of relationship with the players ? I know some owners get more involved on a personal level.

Jason La Canfora: Yeah, sure. There have been certain guys he has spent more time around than others -- LaVar was once his favorite; he sure got to see a lot of Coles during the whole PlasmaGate thing -- and he is often in his golf cart watching practice and around the team.


Chris Wilson....: Can you please provide a link to the story? My neighbor's teenage rapscallion stole my paper.

Thanks Jason, and thanks especially for your blog. Perfect antidote for Cube Farm Dementia, which manifests itself in a belief that the Skins are a playoff team this year.

You da man.

Jason La Canfora: I wish I could ... but the story will be in this Sunday's paper, so at the risk of playing Carnac, I'd just be guessing.

I imagine it'll be posted on the Web by Saturday night and is set to run in Sunday's paper.



D must carry team

As O seeks sweet harmony.

Early bye a boon?

Jason La Canfora: HaikuMan, sweet HaikuMan. Always happy when you are in the house.

You are to Haiku

what the grim reaper is to

hurtin' receivers


Hershey, Pa.: What do you think the probabilities are of getting a bigger, possession receiver this season off the wire rather than the speedy munchkins we have presently? What are your thought for why this was not dealt with in the offseason? Is it because they believe that Cooley gives them that?

Jason La Canfora: I think they ran a whole bunch of guys -- maybe 15 WRS here in all during camp -- and Bradford and others just were not good enough. And they made a run at McCardell before but did not want to spent too much for 4/5 WR (and with all they are paying the top 3, I understand that)

Like I said before, Moore, McCardell, Doug Gabriel - they could look at one of them next week.


Reston, VA: So has Jon Jansen taken a lot of abuse this week about his Wolverines choking away their National Championship hopes?

Jason La Canfora: Oh yes. Most definitely.

He predicts them returning to glory quickly, of course, and can still envision a Big 10 title, so you've got to admire his spunk if nothing else.


Centreville, Va.: If we do not have full faith in Suisham why do we not go get Vanderjagt?

Jason La Canfora: No one has faith in him, not even the CFL.

No one wants a lippy kicker even when he is at the top of the game; when you're kicker is a loose cannon and he needs help kicking off and blows some big kicks and seems to be on the decline, well, you can end up waiting a long time for that next call.


Pittsburgh: Am I the only one who thinks there is NO WAY we can lose to Miami at home this Sunday? That offense headed by Trent Green just doesn't pose a threat to me with the way our defense has been playing. Unless there are a number of turnovers against the Redskins, I've got 20 - 6 'Skins.

Jason La Canfora: I think you are in the minority and that's stands for any game in this league.

No way?

There is a way any team can lose to any team on any given Sunday (hate that cliche but it's true).

Turn the ball over 5 times.

Lose in the kicking/punting game.

That can pretty much do it right there, even if its Indy vs. Oakland.


New Name: How about 'Jason LaCantbeforya'

Jason La Canfora: Hey it works for me. But I'm easy.


Tampa Wideout: Jason... keep up the good work. Your blog is tree-mendous!

I have two questions for you today. First I understand there is an adjustment going from one level to another especially college to the pros. Everyone talks about the speed in the pros. I'd say almost all of the QBs in the pros started out as QBs in high school and kept doing the same in college. One undeniable quality a QB must have is leadership. How does a successful field leader up to now just blows it in the pros?

The second question is as I said your blogs are great and these discussions/chats are too but I really miss the BB chatter that the fans could talk to each other. It seems that the BBs ended when the blogging got started. Its been what one or two years since its been gone! Any chance of the powers to be letting it come back any time soon?

Again Pisano keep up the good work.

Tampa Wideout

Jason La Canfora: Wow, thanks for the questions. Great thoughts and I wish I had the answers (and if I did for the first one I would be applying for a job as a GM).

There are certain qualities a QB must have that seem to translate at all levels, but whether it be a lack of confidence, the level of competition, the scope of the offense, whatever, can make you a complete flop at the next level.

Hey, go back to the Peyton Manning vs. Ryan Leaf debates. I remember the big story in SI before that draft quoted a lot of very smart football people saying how they'd rather have the whacko from Washington State. You just don't know how it will play out and, to steal a phrase from Gibbs, they are "picking people" as much as "picking players" and some guys just can't fit in in the ubber-macho world of the locker room, on the field, etc.

As for the BB, do you mean bulletin boards? I think the powers that be have decided to move to this blog platform instead -- and, again, all of this is way over my head -- and if you e-mail Emilio he could give you the best info and let you know what we have planned for the future.

Thanks so much for reading the blog and being a part of it.


In the Quiet of the Locker Room: Who do you think the Skins fear most this season?

Jason La Canfora: Fear itself?


Toronto,Ontario: Do you honestly feel this will be Joe Gibbs's last year if this team fails to make the playoffs?

Jason La Canfora: I don't think it's as cut and dry as that, and I think that the health of his grandson, his own health, the thoughts of his wife, the state of his NASCAR team, the way the Redskins end the season .. all of that would have to be going through Joe's head by season's end.


South Georgia: Jason,

I'm a diehard Skins fan - always optimistic no matter the odds - but level with me using your journalistic impartiality -

what should we expect this year (6-10 or 10-6)?

Jason La Canfora: I think closer to 10-6 than 6-10.


Arlington, Va.: There is much debate over how much "spirit" or "team cohesiveness" or whatever one wishes to label it as, but: do the Redskins seems like a team that can excel as a team, or are they more apt (as we seem to see with some teams) to be a collection of talented individuals, who seem to play more to make themselves look good rather than concentrating on the good of the team?

Jason La Canfora: I wish I could answer that one straight away too, much like the Ryan Leaf/Manning thing.

Chemistry develops over time and winning early has a whole lot to do with it, I can tell you that. I think the new guys generally will fit in pretty well, but certainly that was not the case last year and it had a lot to do with that lost season.

Wish I had the answers myself, but I'm not nearly smart enough to have it figured out.


Durango, Colo.: Good morning, Jason and all, This isn't a direct 'Skins question.

Does the league's concussion policy have any enforcement teeth to it? What I mean is will there be suspensions of coaches, head coaches, if there's a finding that players were coerced or allowed to practice or play before recovery from a concussive injury? That'll be the only way a difference is made. Congrats to the Broncos for sitting guard Hamilton while he recovers.

Jason La Canfora: Good question. The league is allowing for whistle blowers to be protected and trying to create a means for this problems to be addressed, but this is also a sport and league that has been defined by chewing up bodies and spitting them out. There is a culture of playing hurt and getting back out there one play after getting "your bell rung" so it's going to take a lot of time to foster a climate where players and coaches are really stepping forward.

Players will tell you the NFL means Not For Long (non guaranteed contracts in this contact sport? Are you kidding me?) and the careerspans are short, so you don't want to be labeled soft or whatever. It's a tough issue to bridge but at least steps are being taken in the right direction.


Jason La Canfora: Hey guys, thanks as always for the questions. You rock.

Wish I had more time but about to run out on the field to watch practice. In the old days I would just send that hack Howard Bryant out to watch for me and I'd sit here and keep chatting with you, but now he could buy and sell me, so I'd better go do it myself.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and enjoys the game. I know I can't wait to watch a real game and feel that energy that only comes on Sundays. I can always be reached at or (just kidding) and on the blog, Redskins Insider.



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