Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 10, 2008 1:30 PM
Former Redskins running back, kick returner and radio host Brian Mitchell was online Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 1:00 p.m. ET to take all your questions about the state of the Redskins franchise, the Joe Gibbs era, his career in radio or life in the NFL.
A transcript follows
Mitchell is a football expert and host for Community Voice Line, for whom he focuses on the Redskins and the NFC East. Mitchell hosts an uncensored live weekly Redskins and football show -- "B Mitch Uncensored" -- on Mondays and Fridays that can be replayed around the clock on CVL lines. The content is free for callers and the phone number to call in is 712-432-6517.
Mitchell played 14 years in the NFL, which include 10 years with the Redskins, three years with the Eagles and one season with the Giants. Mitchell finished his career with 13 kick returns for touchdowns, a mark tied for third all time in non‐offensive touchdowns, and finished second all time in all-purpose yards to Jerry Rice.
Get complete coverage of the Redskins with The Post's dedicated Redskins section.
Brian Mitchell: Hi everyone! I'm excited to be online and talk with all you Redskins fans out there. Let's get this started to I can get to as many of your questions as possible!
Westminster, Md.: Happy to see you on here for a chat BMitch.
Not sure if you're willing to answer this but what type of coach do you think the Redskins need? Schottenheimer would probably put discipline back into this franchise (I know we wouldn't get him) but is there someone out there like that?
Ever thought of coaching yourself?
Brian Mitchell: I never thought of coaching, but I think whatever coach the REdskins need has to change the atmosphere. Vinny Cerrato and the owner needs to understand that the coach needs to have final say on teh football field. If they're going to keep putting their nose in there, it makes no sense to have Schottenheimer, Cowher, Holmgren.
New Orleans: What were some of the main issues/problems of the Gibbs II era?
Brian Mitchell: Joe Gibbs is always going to be a good coach. Always was a great coach. Still, he's a very good coach even if he didn't have the same drive. In the second stint, I think he dealth with an owner GM that were sticking their nose in things and he didn't want to deal with those issues. I think that was more important than his family.
Manssas, Va.: Will Vinny be the GM next year? Assuming that Jason Campbell is gone next season, what position do we draft with our first rounder? QB or offensive line?
Brian Mitchell: Well, I sure hope he is not. But I really don't know. I believe that Dan Snyder is a very intelligent business man, and if he sits down and looks over the past 10 years and realizes there is only one person what has been in place since the beginning is Vinny Cerrato. The success of that team is going to be hell bent on who puts that team together. If he wants to have the fans still back him, that change will be getting rid of Vinny Cerrato.
Anyone can say draft a QB, but my mindset is to start building an offensive line. The problem with this team more than the GM is the offensive line. Chris Samuels has had health issues and they haven't drafted a left tackle in the past two years. What were they thinking? If you're not starting to plan for changes on the offensive line, what the heck is Vinny still in place?
Brian Mitchell: Everyone says Joe Gibbs won the Super Bowl with three different QBs. I'll take it further: He won it with three different RBs. The one thing that was in place the whole time was the offensive line!
Washington, D.C.: Why not use Albert Haynesworth to run offensive plays when the Redskins are on the oponents 2-6 yard line. Chicago use to do the same thing with the "Fridge", remember?
Brian Mitchell: It could be something that you try out. I mean, they could really try it out. They made fun of the Wildcat, but why not? If they would just run the offense. To hell with running the stretch play, if they would just run downhill ...
New York, N.Y.: What do you think will happen when the change in play-calling responsibilities makes no difference in the game Mon night? If the Skins can't score a touchdown, will Sherman Lewis be fired? Will both he and Zorn get the boot? I don't understand what Snyder is doing...
Brian Mitchell: I don't think he will be fired. I think it's one of those situations which you're going to try something new but you have the same offensive line. I don't care what they say, if the OL doesn't improve, you're going to have the same thing. Plus, they're saying Sherm Lewis doesn't have a great reputation as a play caller. Did they do their homework with him? You start to wonder.
New Orleans: Who will be the starting QB next season?
Brian Mitchell: That's a big question mark right there. I think Jason Campbell has played exceptionally well. You hear that Jim Zorn is leaning toward playing Jason Campbell. I think you keep Campbell instead of a superstar QB and you re-tool the offensive line. See if he can be the QB everyone thought he was.
Suffolk, Va.: B Mitch,
First off thank you for your honesty when evaluating the current Redskins. It is refreshing to hear that instead of the steady spin some analysts put on it.
So how long to rebuild? Five years or more? And where do we start.
Brian Mitchell: I dont think it takes five years. If they just address the o line, within three years they're competing, IF you make the right move and have the right guys making the decision. You can't have great art without a great artist. They need to have the right guy making the moves and putting people in place.
Fan of the Past: Brian,
You carried the load in the 1992 playoffs when Byner was hurt and then rushed for 100 yards in the season-opening blowout of Dallas in 1993. After that, you never were really the featured back. Do you ever wonder what you could have done as a 20 carry-per-game running back?
Also on those 1992 playoffs, is there any doubt that you would have scored if Ryp had given you that ball cleanly in San Fran? I still think about that play because I believe you guys repeat if you get that ball in your hands.
Brian Mitchell: I think about that play all the time. I think about the possibilities of things I could have accomplished if I'd been an every down back. Then again, could I have played 14 years? If you look at some of these guys getting 10-15 carries a game today, I look at it and wonder what kind of an impact I could have had if I even got to do that.
Brian Mitchell: And that play has been asked so many times, saying I fumbled the ball, but I never got it. I never got it. I wonder, the hole was so big I was licking my chops. I think we would have been going back to the Super Bowl.
Elkridge, Md.: Tony Kornheiser suggested that the Redskins hire Joe Theismann as head coach. Does that make any more sense than hiring Jim Zorn?
Brian Mitchell: Is Joe Theismann going to get the respect and authority to be the head coach? I don't care who they hire. If they don't allow the head coach to be the head coach, it's going to be the same BS we're dealing with now.
Section 139: Mitch,
The only thing that made me smile Sunday was leaving the stadium and hearing you say that Vinny Cerrato needs to be gone as I was exiting the gates.
You sort of got villified around here for saying a lot of the things that everybody else has now caught onto the past few weeks. You were ahead of the curve...many of us (the fans) just couldn't see it until we saw this franchise hit rock-bottom. Winning championships is the only thing that ultimately matters, and I think everyone outside the owner's box now realizes that will never happen with the status quo. Do you at all feel vindicated now?
Brian Mitchell: Well it's not about being vindicated. When I was saying things there's a lot of fans who thought I was hating, but I was saying what I believe, what I thought was true, and that's my job. A lot of people think analysts only talk about the positive, but it;s my job to look at the negative, too.
I love this team. I love it because it gave the chance to do things I never would have otherwise. And it pisses me off when I see people treat it badly. I bled, I sweated I cried for this team. I have a problem when people don't treat it with the right respect. The team may be owned by 4 or 5 people, but the Redskins ARE the Washington are. The fans here, from Canada, from around the world.
For the longest time, you had people around here who only said what they thought the owner and fans wanted to say. I'd rather just tell them the truth right off the bat, and that's been from the day I got here from Southwest Louisiana.
Washington, D.C.: Stepon Heyer has been beaten enormously by opponents which has led to the quarterback being sacked. Shouldn't he be benched rather than Jason Campbell?
Brian Mitchell: Well I think he's playing out of place right now. He should be a right tackle, not a left tackle. It's a different stance. Totally different technique. They're moving him and expecting him to play great. He's played bad, but what can you expect?
If you want to say who should be fired/benched, it should be the person who chose that guy and didn't have anyone behind Chris Samuels ready to come in.
Washington, D.C.: Brian, have you ever seen Redskins fans this angry?
Brian Mitchell: Never. And this is the reason: If you think back to when I played with Norv Turner -- I played with some bad losing teams -- you still saw improvement. In 1999, that team was one snap from being in the NFC Championship game. They saw that team be destroyed to bring in Bruce Smith and all these people. Fans are starting to see now that back in the day we were fighting, we were losing, but we were getting better and closer. Now, we just see new jerseys, jersey sales, flashy free agents.
Has this team gotten better, ever, since the 1999 Washington Redskins, when Dan Snyder bought the team, since he bought it? People see that, and they don't see the improvement.
Here's one thing that really bothered me: The Sean Taylor incident. When he passed away, they used that as motivation. But then they came back the next year and it was gone. Why didn't they keep that? Sean Taylor's been dead what, two years? They're playing like he never played there.
22202, Washington, D.C.: Hi Brian, Thanks for coming on. Just a quick question: if the Redskins are stripping Zorn of playcalling duties, why don't they give them to the Offensive Coordinator instead? Since he has been in the offense since the summer, it seems like the better option.
Brian Mitchell: Well, the reason is because two weeks ago we heard that Shem Lewis was just coming in to be eyes. They already had plans.
The reason the Redskins didn't give Mitchell or Sherm Smith, the offensive coordinator, those duties is because the Redskins don't operate the way a typical team does.
Do you think Bob Kraft would come down and strip plays calling from Belichick? No way. Would Rooney do that to Cowher or Tomlin? No way.
Look at other teams, who's been worse than us in the past 10 years? The Lions, probably. Heck, the Cardinals have been to the Super Bowl. The Bengals have been in the playoffs and are sitting at 4-2. That's the problem with this team, it's not improving and getting closer to other teams. It's making tons of money, but it's not competitive.
The fans want to see more Lombardi Trophies. They want to see what this regime can do. I see those trophies every year, and it pisses me off because I know there's no chance we're going to get to another one next year.
Washington, D.C.: Jason Campbell made a comeback in his performance to win the game against the Bucs in which he had a poor performance in the first half of the game: Shouldn't the Redskins' allow him the chance to make the same comeback against the Chiefs before benching him to play a quarterback who hasn't took a snap since 2007?
Brian Mitchell: I didn't have a problem with them making that move, because they probably just needed a spark. But you found out why Todd Collins has been a backup for 10 years. But I think now Jason Campbell should be your guy. I think he'll respond to being benched. Todd Collins is a career backup, and that's where he needs to stay.
Depressed in DC: BMitch,
What would your reaction be if you were in the Redskins locker room and your head coach had just had his playcalling duties taken away from him by a personnel executive (Cerrato) that most people consider to be a joke to begin with? Is it possible for Zorn to walk back into that locker room today and have any authority?
Brian Mitchell: I would look at the reaction of my head coach. That's going to decide whether we were going to continue to follow and support our coach or not.
This was the same situation we had with Norv Turner. When they came into the locker room and berated him after that loss to Dallas, he basically lost our respect. When you hear that a snake was in the locker room at Redskins Park, the players are talking about Vinny.
That should tell Snyder right away that he has the wrong guy.
Washington, D.C.: The Redskins have been trying to fill that No.2 wide receiver spot and have yet to find a solid receiver. Will the Redskins ever give Marco Mitchell a chance to fill that void?
Brian Mitchell: I hope they would. Let's face it: one thing you've seen with this team, once they draft someone they seem to want to make sure that this person had the opportunity. It's obvious to everybody already that they made a mistake! It's time to give the man a shot.
We saw Marko make play after play after play in the preseason. Let's see if he can play in a big-time game. I think he has a chance to go out there and do it.
Fredericksburg, Va.: B-Mitch would you like to provide some insight as to why it appears that so many of the great Redskins players of the past including yourself have not become part of the new regime to help right this once great dynasty?
It appears from my viewpoint that many players have gone to lengths to distance themselves from this ownership/management group.
Do you see any circumstances under which this would change?
Brian Mitchell: We're not distancing ourselves, the ownership is distancing us. People like me that aren't going to be bullied by anybody aren't allowed to be around.
I was at the radio station that the owner owns, and I'm not there anymore. I speak my mind about the team. Think that's a coincidence? They said it was the economy, but Tony Kornheiser is back there now, and I think he's making more money on that show than Brian Mitchell was ...
There's a lot of people who played for the Redskins who would love to bring it back, and they're not given the opportunity.
Washington, D.C.: The Redskins have allowed Clinton Portis to perform while being injured? Shouldn't they allow Anthony Aldrige the opportunity to play rather than keep the "fresh rookie" on the bench?
Brian Mitchell: I don't know how to respond to this, becuase Portis seems to be able to do whatever he feels like. I feel like if you're not practicing every day, you shouldn't be allowed to play.
We've seen he had the one big run. You play like you practice. A lot of guys are playing like the practice: They're laying down, getting beat because that's what they do in practice, taking a day off. What's a day off? It looks to me more like a volleyball team or badminton team rather than a gladiator football team to me a lot of times.
Today guys are given starting positions. Put the fear back in these players and they're have to work for it. As much as I blame Vinny Cerrato or Jim Zorn, I blame the players just as much. Because they've got to go out and perform.
Washington, D.C.: Obviously there are teams that have someone up in the booth calling plays. But how chaotic is it going to be to have someone new to the team and the players trying to call plays from up in the booth? I'm envisioning confusion and multiple delay of game penalties. Am I off base?
Brian Mitchell: Well, I think you're right on point, but take it one step further: how confusing and strange is it going to be for the guy who was calling the plays to take plays from someone else, and is it ever going to get to the point where he sees something, and Jim Zorn takes a call from Sherm Lewis that he just really doesn't want to call? What happens then?
It's going to be strange, believe me.
Boulder, Colorado: When Joe Gibbs decided not to return for the last year of his contract, Dan Synder decided to select Jim Zorn over Gregg Williams. Why? Was Gregg Williams totally against the hiring of Jim Zorn as the offensive coordinator? Was it that Vinny wanted someone that wouldn't question his personnel decisions? Or did Dan Synder just not like Gregg Williams?
Brian Mitchell: George Michael and Dan Snyder are buddies. Go back to the transcript of Mike Wise and George Michael two weeks ago, and he said that Gregg Williams personality wouldn't have worked with Snyder's personality.
Gregg Williams wouldn't have been a softie. He would have wanted his own coaches, his own deal. He would have made those guys live up to his standards, and they couldn't handle that.
Silver Spring, Md.: B-Mitch,
I'm not sure if everyone knows or not, but you're not just a former Redskin, you're a fan like the rest of us so you're criticism is out of love for the team.
With that said, what is the most substantial and influential move the Redskins can make at this moment to improve the team going in to next weeks' Monday night game against the hated Eagles?
Brian Mitchell: The most substantial move they can make this week? Oh my lord. You know what, they already have made a move that has hurt the team. If they would have come out and given Jim Zorn some type of vote of confidence that would have helped.
That would have helped breed togetherness in the team. But right now you have separation in the team, because some guys get favoritism. It has been affecting people's play, believe me.
Glen Burnie Maryland: Brian: Why do you think they are still using Randle El as a punt returner? He doesn't seem to know what to do back there. He can catch the ball , but he doesn't know how to get up field, so it seems. Do you see a lack of blocking for him, what would you tell him to do if he asked for your advice?
Brian Mitchell: If he asked my advice I'd tell him to catch the ball and start straight down field. I'd tell him to know where the kicker is sending the ball before it is snapped. You're always behind the 8-ball at that point.
But I'm wondering why he's back there, too. You have a bunch of hungry young guys ready to get back there and catch punts. Right now he's not doing anything as a return man.
Washington, D.C.: Is it true that Gregg Williams called Jason Campbell a "coach killer"? Do you agree?
Brian Mitchell: I don't know. I haven't heard that before so I can't really comment on it. I don't think he is.
All the way back to Patrick Ramsey, our quarterbacks have been getting killed because we have no offensive line. That's what's happening.
Milwaukee Wisconsin: I love you B-Mitch cause you're old skool. Is it me or does Jim Zorn ALWAYS have a positive spin on EVERYTHING. Sometimes you need to get in a players....ear. Do you think Jon Gruden would be a good fit here?
Brian Mitchell: You have been listening to me at my house. Are you a fly on my wall?
When you lose to a team that hasn't won in 19 tries, you don't say you're improving. It's great to always be positive when you're coaching high school or little league. Not the pros, who get paid for this.
I'm pissed that Greg Blache isn't talking to the media anymore. At least he'd say they didn't play well. You lost. Call some people out, don't say they're improving. That's where my comment about not seeing leadership came from.
Olney, Md.: BMitch,
How bad can bringing in a top dollar signee like Haynesworth hurt a team? What would Haynesworth need to do on the field to make up for it and is he doing it?
Brian Mitchell: Well you know what? When they signed Haynesworth they expected to see a multi-million dollar guy. Haynesworth is the guy who comes in to help other guys. You would hope that a guy like that comes in in a lot better shape and healthy. He didn't do that. But he's doing his job on the field.
He got $100 million. You could have gotten a guy just a touch down for $37 million and then two offensive linemen and you're quarterback wouldn't be on the ground. He messes up a salary cap when you have these guys trying to get him in just thinking about the player, not what will happen with the salary cap.
Re: volleyball team or badminton team: Those are taxing sports! Have you ever played them? It takes some effort, man. (Just some levity to lighten the mood...)
Brian Mitchell: Hahaha. Thanks man. But we're talking about football players who are supposed to play like gladiators!
Washington, D.C.: I read that you were hosting a call in show called "B Mitch Uncensored" ... can you tell me more about how to listen to that show? Is it really free?
Brian Mitchell: That's right. The show is called "B Mitch Uncensored" and on Mondays and Fridays, but you call listen to it for free any time by calling 712-432-6517.
Stephenson, Va.: You are going into the Redskins ring of fame Monday night. Will you talk to Snyder before your induction? If so, please don't hold back your feelings. I trust you won't.
Thanks for all you have done for the Redskins and yourself.
Brian Mitchell: I would like to talk to him. I don't know if he's even going to come down on the field. From what I'm hearing Doc Walker is introducing me. I don't know if Dan Snyder or Vinny Cerrato will even be down on the field.
I chose to enter the Ring of Fame to thank all the people who supported me, and I chose the game against the EAgles because they supported me, too. I'm going in to the Ring of Fame for the fans. Not for me, not for Dan Snyder. I deserve to be there, but I'm doing this for the fans.
Brian Mitchell: Alright, I have to run. Thanks for coming online and chatting with me today. I'm really sorry I couldn't get to all of your questions. If I could, I'd try and attack every one of them like the ones I did get to.
Peace, and thanks for all the love from the fans!
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