Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 28, 2008 11:15 AM
With training camp underway, Washington Post staff writer Jason La Canfora was online Monday, July 28 at 11:15 a.m. ET to take your questions about how things are going and what to expect from the Redskins this season.
The transcript follows.
Jason La Canfora: Hello there. Just posted a update on the blog - redskinsinsider - so now I'm all yours.
Fairfax, Va.: Can Jason Taylor actually raise the dead, or are his magical powers limited to healing the lame and the halt?
Seriously, now. The guy's a good pass rusher. He also weighs around 240 pounds. He's also 34. Do you think the expectations are a BIT high?
Jason La Canfora: Oh yeah, he can heal the wounded and, with one touch, restoe peace to the heart of even the most downtrodden man, woman or child ... I think people should expect to see a guy who can make a difference on third down, someone who must be accounted for by the opposition and who can still make elite plays.
He brings an element this team was lacked. Now, will be a beat on every down, for 50 snaps a game? I don't think so. But this team needs more sacks and turnovers, and he should aid that cause.
NFL people will tell you third down is the most important down in football, and this defense has significantly upgraded in that regard. I could envision Demtric Evans getting snaps in Taylor's spot on running downs, but we shall see.
Boston: Does Manny get traded, and if so, what do the Sox get in return?
Okay, how has Crummey looked so far in camp? Could he be this year's Heyer?
Jason La Canfora: Man, I get more Crummey questions that one would ever imagine. It's pretty baffling. Does he have like a great blog or something? He's an internet sensation. It's like he's this year's Jesse Lumsden (Go Tiger Cats? Or is it RoughRiders? Argos?)
Anyway, Crummey is looking okay. He's very raw but I spoke to Zorn for a while off to the side today about Rinehart, who has definitely impressed thus far, and he threw in Crummey as well as a young O Lineman who has a chance. He'll need time but certainly looks like a possible developmental prospect.
Dupont Circle, D.C.: How did the new guys like Zorn and Taylor react to 28,000 people showing up for a practice? They cannot be used to that whatsoever.
Jason La Canfora: It was nuts for everyone. I think it was basically overwhelming.
Honestly, the players and coaches didn't grasp it fully, because they get escorted in here early and then are tied up in meetings and stuff, so they didn't really see the bedlam on the roads and lines forming to get into the facility.
But just to look at that hill and see that mass of humanity caught people by surprise. Even guys like Samuels, who were here for the return of Joe Jackson Gibbs in 2004, were blown away by that scene Saturday.
Gotta move that thing back to a proper stadium. The infrastructre out here can't handle that volume, particularly if there is no help from law enforcement to aid the traffic congestion.
Burke, Va.: My imitation of two-thirds of the blog posts on RI:
"JLC iznt a Skinz fan, he's negitive, n I thnk he shld be run out of town."
Sheesh. Keep up the good work, JLC. Some of us appreciate it.
Jason La Canfora: No worries brother, and thanks for your support.
Never gonna please everyone doing this job, and if you do then you're probably not very good at it. Viva la free speech dude; that's what the internets is all about. I'm cool with it.
Thanks again, and stay classy.
Washington, D.C.: I was a big fan of our 3rd string QB (Colt Brennan) in college. How did he look Saturday?
Jason La Canfora: He's got a long road ahead of him. He kind of throws the ball like a shotput, and that's not going to play up here. He's getting ton of information and mechanics thrown his way and trying to digest on the fly.
This guy is a project, and will need years - plural - to be ready to even stand in as a backup. If he becomes a capable backup, then it will have been a great value pick, and to hope for anything more than that would seem a stretch at this early stage.
New York: There was a post last week (I believe by you) that described Jim Zorn as appearing disorganized at times. It seems to me that being organized is one of the most important qualities for the the head coach of an NFL team - especially on game day. Is there any positive spin on your description, or should we all be scared and envision a guy who is in way over is head on the sideline as the head man?
Jason La Canfora: There is a learning curve for him, too, and I know he's figuring out on a daily basis how to best present ideas, how much information to install at once, how the players learn best. I know that he's a guy who, if you walked into his office some days, you wouldn't necessarily think he's an NFL coach, but that's hardly the end of the world, either.
He's cut from a different cloth and something of an iconoclast. Personally, I like that ... But that don't mean he's a solid NFL coach. No one can say that yet one way or the other. Only time will tell.
Dallas: Has Todd Collins solidified the No. 2 spot? Based on camp so far it sounds like he's not doing too well.
Jason La Canfora: There's nothing for him to solidify. It's his my man. Barring injury, that's his job. No competition there. No questions at all.
Burke, Va.: Did you see the recent column by a Yahoo columnist (the name escapes me) who named The Danny the THIRD best owner in the NFL? Man, don't bogart that joint . . . wouldn't you think that part of evaluating an NFL owner would be the on-field results?
washingtonpost.com: Owner rankings, Part 2: Kraft's no joke - NFL - Yahoo ! Sports
Jason La Canfora: Michael Silver does it as a publicity stunt, seems to me, and it works every year because it gots a lot of attention during what is usually a dead period in the sport-talk cycle (right around MLB all star game).
List are generally useless and this in particular. Not sure how many fans care about how much revemnue is brought in, or how many new marketing deals they have, or how rich the owner is ... But wins and losses; wins/dollar spent, the cost of a ticket price vs. the average wins per year the owner has produces, the ability to build and maintain a winning culture, the ability to foster stability in the front office and coaching ranks. Call me crazy, but that's how I would evaluate any owner. But that's not very controversial, is it?
Woodbridge, Va.: What is your real outlook for the WRs group? how much longer is Randel El going to stay at the No. 2 spot with Thomas/Kelly nipping at his heels? And what in your mind will be the total number of WRs they keep this year?
Jason La Canfora: I wouldn't worry about any rookie WR taking any starting job any time soon. Especially not this year.
Those two have to show they can fight through ailments and stay on the field, show that they can learn an offense and make plays in key situations ... I could go on and on. They need to find their niche in certain packages and certain in-game situations (third and long from around the 50; red zone, 5-wide sub group, etc.) before even thinking about being every down targets.
it's gonna be a process.
How is the punting competition looking so far?
Jason La Canfora: We will write about this later in the week.
The 5 preseason games will tell this tale. I can tell you that the coaches have been waiting to see if Durant Brooks blinks - if he freezes up or looks overwhelmed or has what Zorn calls that "fish" look: glazed over, mouth agape, bug-eyed. No one has seen it yet.
Frost knows that, having invested a pick in Brooks, he's got real competition on his hands. Should be pretty interesting.
Chicago: Mr. La Canfora:
How is Erasmus James doing so far? Will he play at all this preseason and do you think he will be a factor during the regular season?
Jason La Canfora: Today he seemed to be laboring just during individual work with the trainers. This is looking like a long-term project to me.
Zorn says that he may not get into any preseason games - perhaps the final one if all goes well - which would mean to me he'll need at least 3-4 weeks of regular season time to get in football shape and really ready to contribute.
I'd look at it as a bonus if he's able to contribute at all, and wouldn't bank on it. That's part of the reason they had to, in my opinion, get Jason Taylor like they did. There was no real proven depth at all left except for Demetric Evans when Daniels and Buzbee went down.
Fairfax, Va.: And if you're looking for another way to evaluate NFL owners -- how about the quality of the in-stadium experience? Hard to defend the horrible sound system/unrelenting advertising/parking/closing of roads at Fed Ex.
Jason La Canfora: No argument there.
BD Ashburn: How is Torrence holding up. Is he slotted as our nickel corner or has Trion been able to replace him. I can't get the image of the bears throwing the ball at Torrence the whole way down the field for 6 straight passes out of my head.
Jason La Canfora: Leigh has looked pretty good. He and Tryon are going to get a ton of work in the preseason (don't expect to see much of Springs or Smoot, and Carlos is being watched very carefully).
I've been surprised by Tryon to this point, but I want to see his size in relation to some bigger WRs in these exhibition games. They could end up the 4th and 5th corners, and given the fact that Rogers might need a logn while before he's truly himself, that's a position where you're likely gonna need to keep extra bodies on the roster.
Dallas: Haven't heard Cooley's name much through the first week of camp. Do you see him having an increased/decreased role with the new coach? More blocking or pass catching in 2008?
Jason La Canfora: He and Jason Campbell have very good chemistry and he's someone Jason always feels comfortable going to, in any situation. He'll get plenty of balls. Have no fear Cooley Nation.
Reston Va.: Jason: With all the talk of the O-lines age I am a bit more optimistic about it, because you have Heyer, and Rinehart who from what you here looks pretty good. There is no reason to think that Sammuels want be a productive player for at least another 3 or 4 years so I think they are pretty good on the O-line even with the older guys like Jansen and Kendall. Your thoughts?
Jason La Canfora: To me they need to have a young interior guy (C/G) and young G/T who can be good enough to start if need be (with Randy and Jansen being hurt a lot the last 3 years and Kendall's knees, I don't think you can just brace for no injuries to the line).
Heyer showed signs he can be that guy last year and should build off of that this year.
Rinehart could very well be that guy at guard.
To me the big worry I'd have is that they didn't address center at all. They are hoping to get by with Kendall and Jansen as the backup centers. Maybe Geisinger develops, and Crummey snaps some, too, but Rabach to me was the offensive MVP last year and the center is so vital, especially to a young QB.
I was pretty surprised they didnt draft a young C with so many on the board late in the second round and into the mid rounds.
DC: Hey Jason,
Do you have details on when training camp is open to the public? Thanks!
Jason La Canfora: Sorry my friend, that time has passed.
This morning's session - 8:30-10:30 - was the last one open all camp. If anything changes it will certainly pass it along, but that was it.
Prescott, Ariz.: I swear I heard on Sirius Radio the other day that the Redskins picked up receiver Malcolm Floyd from the Chargers, but I can't find a report anywhere else. Is it true? It could be a good pickup. Malcolm Floyd is great if you let him run deep and let him out jump everyone else. He was a fish out of water when the Chargers put him as a No. 2 receiver and he did nothing but run slants and hitches.
Jason La Canfora: They haven't picked up any WRS. Might have given him a tryout but definitely not on the roster. They are getting thin there, though, so I wouldn't rule out adding depth there at some point.
D.C.: What's your take on the rash of injures so early. Is this an off-season conditioning problem, over-zealous training, or bad luck?
Jason La Canfora: In the case of guys like Thomas and Kelly, it's part of learning to be a pro, how to pace and condition and hydrate yourself. And it's part bad luck.
If this continues through the season like last year, then the franchise may have to re-think everything again, as it did last year, changing the rehab and medical staff, implimenting new stretching routines, altering practice, etc.
Some of this is inevitable but if it becomes like a hamstring triage room around here we will explore it in depth. Promise.
Going to Canton this weekend: Will there be any special news and commentaries about Nos. 28 and 81 in The Post this coming weekend. I am somewhat surprised that there has been so little news about Green and Monk so far. Any chance of a Redskins Insider meet-up in Canton?
Jason La Canfora: We will have plenty. We have special stories and sections of the paper planned, Jason Reid did video interviews with both guys that will be posted on the web, and we will have people obviously in canton as well.
I am not able to fly in until Sunday morning, howeber, so won't be able to imbibe with you guys, but I am sure it will be a blast.
Pittsburgh, PA: Got a question on the running game. With Buges still there how much of the counter will be run? Can't see that being thrown out of the playbook completely. Also zone blocking schemes: Are they beng implemented for more one cut and go running? Looking for big things from CP.
Jason La Canfora: CP loves the inside zoen stuff, one cut, pick a hole and get downhill as fast as possible. Doesn't like to be going lateral more than a step.
Sherman Smith assures me that while this will be a zone-heavy team, they will still run power stuff as well.
Washington, DC: I went to Fan Appreciation Day this past Saturday. I understand the traffic problem, which I didn't mind due to the Redskins enormous fan support.
It was a dissappointment on the part of the Redskins organization. No activities for the kids, concession stands were minimal, which made them long and move very very slow while standing in the hot sun.
I think they can do way better than that.
Jason La Canfora: It looked like total cluster to me, and I guess they just got overwhelmed, maybe?
With no bleachers you have to be in the front row to see anything, and there was definitely not enough ammenities to handle that crowd.
Again, it's probably best to do it in a stadium and I would imagine they will restore that scrimmage with the Ravens in future years.
Philadelphia, PA: Jasno, greetings from the land of the enemy. Peter King noted Jason Campbell's accuracy, even on long balls, during his time at camp. Have you noticed the same thing? Or did Campbell have a good day?
Jason La Canfora: There's been some good and some bad. Today he was particularly sharp. Hard to make too much out of any one practice. Zorn said today he expects his passers to complete at least 60 percent of their attempts. That's reasonable and I think Jason can accomplish that.
Silver Spring, MD : In your opinion how has Jason Taylor looked in practice? Also I haven't heard any reports on Chris Horton? Is he a strong or free safty?
Jason La Canfora: Taylor hasn't done much at all, barely taken part in most team drills. Still getting acclimated.
Can't say I have noticed much of Horton. There's a lot of guys in camp and a lot going on. I'll try to keep an eye on him this week.
JSacramento, Calif.: Peter King wrote earlier in the week, and today in his MMQB column, that Jason Campbell has been extremely impressive and had one of the best QB practices he has ever seen. Can you elaborate on Jason's progress. I believe that the franchise hinges on Jason as a player. If he becomes consistently good to great then the Skins are contenders for the next 8 years. If he is Okay to bad, well, then they'll be a team that occasionally makes the playoffs and has a top 10 draft pick in other years. Thanks.
washingtonpost.com: Peter King: Packers, Favre saga is going to get uglier
Jason La Canfora: Peter is the man, and someone I respect immensely. And when Jason has been on, he's been very sharp. Peter was here last week, Thursday I think, and believes Jason can get it done in this offense.
And without a doubt, if Jason fulfills that potential then this franchise will have crossed a major threshold at a position that has been full of tumult since what, 94? Going back to Heath? Not a whole lot of stability since then, save for a few years of Brad Johsnon, before the owner ran him out of town.
Sandy Spring, Md.: Last I checked, we're still in the month of July...please tell me why we're HAVING THIS DISCUSSION when the season don't begin until September???
Jason La Canfora: I aim to please my man. Like Confucious once said - Why wait 'til September to wonder how many safeties to keep on the 53-man roster, when you can already question it today?
or something like that.
Durango, Colo: Jasno, not to take anything from you and Reid, but with your promise of features on our HOFers, will you be able to get any reflections from the reporters who covered the beat then? BTW, you and Reid iz ok wit me.
Jason La Canfora: Not sure about reporters who covered them, and their opinions, but I do know we collected quotes and memories from a host of former teammtes, coaches and opposing players as part of the package on the HOFers.
New York: Are the Redskins really going to let a moment of sociopathy go by and not make a play for Favre?
Jason La Canfora: It appears as if that is so. Thank the Lord. That may have been enough to finally get me to jump my Jetta over Snake Canyon.
South West D.C.: JLC,
Which formation does the first team seem to be using the most often, 2 WR 2TE, 3WR 1TE?
Jason La Canfora: Depends on the day and which packages they wre operating in. These practices are often very specific - third-and-long, third and-3-to-6, red zone, short-yardage run game.
It's rare that they just run a full script in the base offense and go up and down the field. Also, with all of the injuries, they are very limited at times. Coach Zorn told me today he had to throw away 8 plays in two different sessions because he had only 7 WRs for 4 QBs.
Can't really generalize too much yet, other than to say expect to see them spread the fiels whenever possible.
Arlington, Va.: Which quarterback has looked the most comfortable to this point running Zorn's offense?
Jason La Canfora: Jason Campbell, by far.
Burke, Va.: JLC:
Doesn't the Giants' experience last year show us that you can NEVER have too many corners? They were three CBs down against the Cowboys, but survived because of depth. More cover guys, please. You can find safeties; you can't find corners.
Jason La Canfora: I'm with you. I think they need 6 CBs. Springs can play safety if you need it in a pinch.
Anonymous: How's the middle of the defense line looking, especially since Montgomery's injury?
Jason La Canfora: They feel good about the rotation there, as long as Griffin can stay injury free.
With Golston, Alexander and Evans, Blache has plenty of guys there he feels comfortable with. They will rotate bodies as much as possible - it's Blache's philosophy - and try to keep guys fresh for the fourth quarter. That's why getting even decent spot duty out of James could be huge, to give them a solid roation at end and allow Demetric to be frsh to be that guy to shoot the gap from tackle in the nickel package.
Bowie, MD: Actually Jason, that was the Confucious quote exactly. Read it in college.
Jason La Canfora: Okay, cool, thanks. I feel better about that now. Hate to pass on half-quotes to the kids out there. Glad I nailed that one. (Been a long time since I took Eastern Football Philosophy 101).
Jason La Canfora: Well guys, my time here is up. Thanks as always for all the great questions - even if it still just July - and as always sorry for those I did not answer. You can always drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the blog, redskinsinsider.
Have a great week.
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