Thursday, Oct. 23 at 1 p.m. ET

Redskins Insider

Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 23, 2008; 1:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Jason La Canfora was online Thursday, Oct. 23 at 1 p.m. ET, to take your questions about the Redskins, their win against the Browns and their game this weekend against Detroit.

The transcript follows.

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Jason La Canfora: Hey there guys. Sorry I'm a minute late. Had to get something posted to the blog.

Okay, have at me. Got the iPod shuffling and I'm ready to go.

Jackson 5 -- I want You Back


McLean, Va.: JLC -- So where did Santana Moss learn how to block?

The other night I watched my Tivo of the Browns game and only watched offense and only watched Mike Sellers. That guy is a beast and doesn't get enough credit. He absolutely abuses linebackers and other defenders. One of the best blockers in the league right now.

Jason La Canfora: He is a big part of what Clinton is doing right now, especially on some of the outside zone stuff, where the RB has to move east to west a bit, rather than just putting his shoulder down and exploding.

I've been on his bandwagon for years (as any OG on RI can attest to). He was a Brown for a while you know, after he left the Skins the first time. Mike has really turned his life and career around since then.

He is a bad mamba jamba. Great guy, but man, I would never want to have to butt heads with that dude.


Baltimore: Was Tryon able to get on the field last week and has their been any improvement in practice? Was just hoping they could get something out of a 4th round pick. Most teams do.

Jason La Canfora: He was on teams mostly. He's not in many packages on defense at this point. It's gonna be a long development for him I fear from what I've seen. His size may end up being something too hard to overcome as well.

We shall see.

And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead -- Relative Ways


Ravenna, Ohio: With Clinton Portis healthy and running so great, and Ladell Betts as a tremendous back-up runner, as well as Rocky McIntosh on the roster, why did the Skins pick-up Sean Alexander, another running back, in lieu of an extra punter or a defensive back?

Jason La Canfora: Ladell is out until likely the Dallas game at least with a knee injury, and as much as the Skins are running the ball they wanted to have a full stable of runners available. No harm in that. Shaun may need a few more weeks to really round into shape, and when Ladell comes back they may have to let him go, but I love the three-headed monster approach to running the ball.


B. Wayne, Gotham: Hi JLC,

What can the Redskins do to avoid overlooking the Lions this week? Have you witnessed any potential nonchalance with the boys this week at Redskin Park?

Jason La Canfora: Nah, you can't really see "nonchalance" I don't think and even the Rams week, it wasn't like guys were practicing in flip-flops and drinking martinis between drills. They worked hard that week and killed themselves with turnovers, penalties and being a little flat at times.

I think they would have to implode on even a much grander scale than that to lose to the Lions. They aren't nearly as talented as the Rams. I don't see it happening.

Sinead O'Connor - "I Want Your (Hand On Me)"


Chantilly, Va.: What do you say we give a little love to Ethan Albright? The dude has been playing for this team for seven years and I seriously doubt he's ever botched a snap.

This will probably be the first, and last, time anyone every mentions Albright...unless of course he becomes the goat...

Jason La Canfora: He's a stud. No doubt. I did a huge feature on him about, wow, must be three years ago now. He's started every game for 13 straight years and, indeed, has never botched a snap in that time. He's also about as nice a human being as you will ever encounter. He's 37 but should still have a few years left as hard as he works and as dedicated as he is to his craft.


Dodgeville, Wisc.: Jason,

Is it my imagination or is it a fact that when Randy Thomas is in the game the Redskins run the ball quite well? Last year when he was injured a lot -- not so well. In fact I think he may be the best pulling guard in the biz right now -- can you think of any better? (And thanks for your coverage -- my daily fix of Redskins out here.)

Jason La Canfora: No secret there my friend. When he and Jansen are banged up and not themselves, it all falls apart in the run game. And coming into the season both were question marks given they were coming off season ending surgeries.

It took Jon longer to get back in form, but both are blowing people up in the run game. Randy is pulling like a maniac and looks as athletic as he did in 2005, when to me he should have been a Pro Bowl lock despite getting hurt late in the year.

I was shooting the bull with Shaun Alexander this afternoon and he said the thing that he jumped out to him most since he got here is what a beast Randy Thomas is. He believes Thomas is as good as any right guard in the game with the way he is playing right now.


Lorton, Va.: It's very interesting -- borderline lucky -- how the rest of the schedule is for these Skins.

Road games -- Detroit, Seattle, Cincy, Baltimore, Frisco.

Home games -- Pitt, Dallas, NYG, Philly.

The "good" teams at home, the so-so/bad teams on the road (Seattle is tough at home, and Ravens are not bad)

Is it conceivable that this team can go 7-2 or 6-3 the rest of the way? I still think the division is up for grabs...the G-men will fall soon.

Jason La Canfora: No doubt. We've talked about it here before -- they did an outstanding job staying up in the standings in the very difficult early stretch, and now just need to maintain in the second half.

And trust me, going to Seattle for what will be a meaningless late season game for the Hawks, with Hasselbeck hurt and no running game or passing game really to think of (injuries have crushed the receivers out there), well, it shouldn't be anything near as daunting as what they faced out there in '05 and '07

Ozzy - "Rock N Roll Rebel"


Cabin John, Md.: I hear a lot of folks on the radio and RI complaining about the number of points the Skins are scoring, but as Portis said, the offense is just taking what the other teams are giving them.

Don't you think that a team who can adjust to the D being thrown at them and win (regardless of the margin) is far better off in the long term than a one-trick pony that puts up 30 a game?

Jason La Canfora: I wouldn't sweat it too much yet. The passing game is still a work in progress and Zorn has scaled down a lot of the West Coast elements in that attack to suit the team and some of these opponents. All along my thought was to assess the pass game in the second half: Are they looking much more dangerous in Week 12-16 than they did in 1-4?

Because of some early success -- especially with the deep ball -- some things happened sooner than expected, but Zorn has also done a lot of things to help Jason get comfortable and work on things that will win right now.

They are ahead of the curve to me and should keep getting better with Jason so confident and soon teams will start stacking the box more, and then that should open it up down field more.

Faith No More - "Introduce Yourself"


New York: Are there any plans to get Shaun Alexander more involved in this week's match-up with the Lions?

Jason La Canfora: He is still learning these blocking schemes and what is expected in this running game -- it's different than Seattle, remember -- and hasn't played regularly in a long time, so I wouldn't expect a ton more right now. Maybe 5 carries or so, with Rock getting his share, too. Just my hunch.


Tampa, Fla.: Jason - my man with the PLAN!

I read the article on the Skins official site about the O-line and what they have accomplished this year and Coach Z referred to his offensive linemen as a bunch of "Salty Dogs."

Meaning no disrespect to Coach Z or the Seattle Seahawks but referring to his O-line as "Salty Dogs" sounds more like it would belong in Seattle and not Washington.

True there is nothing romantic about "Hogs" but that was what we were for like 15 years. Isn't it about time we reclaimed out heritage. I never saw anyone show up at Fedex Field as a "Dirtbag" nor I suspect as a "Salty Dog." Somebody needs to put a bug in Ol' Boss Hog's ear and coach Z-man's ear to get back with the program!

Jason La Canfora: I don't know man, the Hogs were the Hogs, you know? That already happened. You can't try to foist that glory or expectation on this group.

Crusty Dogs? Salty Dogs? Maybe not. But we can come up with something, can't we?

New Order - "True Faith"

_______________________ Jason's having some Internet connection issues, but should resume posting shortly.


Northeast D.C.: Jason It seems like the Redskins do not use many pass blitz stunts. When they do blitz, the offensive line usually does not have any problem picking up the rush. I cannot remember the last time a blitzer had a fairly easy shot or even rush at the QB because the O-line did not pick up things correctly.

Is Blache more comfortable with his front four rushing straight ahead and maybe a safety or LB blitzing every once in a while? Kind of makes if easy for the QB. Sooner or later, the receivers will start beating our DB's and we will have to start putting pressure on the opponents O-line and QB. Or will we have to rely on our DB's on an island all year?

Jason La Canfora: Well, he's blitzed a whole lot more the past two weeks than we saw all season, and I figure he will try to attack Orlovsky for sure this weekend. Match-ups decide a ton of it.

But as he's getting such great coverage we've seen Blache be more willing to deploy Horton first, and now Marcus and Landry on the blitz, even London sometimes.

It's true they do not stunt a whole lot, but they also don't have too many really gifted pass rushers who have the full package to be able to stunt inside and still get there. And with Jason Taylor still banged up, and probably not himself until after the bye, I'm guessing, I'm not sure we'll see too much of it.

He doesn't like the all-out, Cover-0 stuff that Williams used, and isn't a big fire zone guy, either.

Husker Du - "Somewhere"


Blachestan, land of the double-move terrorists.:"(Rogers is) good wine... He's ready to be sipped and savored... He's not going to beat himself." -- Blache from today's article about Rogers.

I can't get enough hilarious Blache quotes, I suspect the ones clean enough to get in the paper are the tip of the iceberg. Is there a Web site or something where I can find even awesomer, NSFW Blatchisms? Injury Sparked Rogers's Growth (Post, Oct. 23)

Jason La Canfora: Dude, I've said for years he is the best quote on the team. When he went underground with the media for a couple of years and stopped talking it broke my heart. He's the best, without doubt.

He seems to have pulled back a little bit after the "Don't fall in love with a rookie/don't fall in love with a stripper" riff from training camp. I'd love to be a fly in the wall during a Monday film session, like after that Rams loss, and what comes out of his mouth.

He, himself, is a rare wine when it comes to turning a phrase.

The Futureheads - "Decent Days And Nights"


Anthony Mix: Hey if Kelly is going on IR, would someone please give me a ring? I'm available.

What do you think. Jasno?

The Butthole Surfers, "Pepper"

Jason La Canfora: From what I hear they are going to let this go at least a few more days and see.

If they do make a move I would think Mix and Mann would be in the man mix (pathetic, I know, yet somehow I could not resist).


Dale City, Va.: Jason,

I saw you on First Take this morning. Nice get up, haha.

Seriously though, what is the feeling in the organization and in the locker room in Clinton Portis as a leader?

I read an article on the day after the loss to the Rams and the guy was critical of CP as a leader. He said Portis should've spoke up during the week on the team's attitude instead of saying it in his post game presser?

Your thoughts?

Jason La Canfora: Clinton's a baller and he brings it on Sunday. That's his role. That's who is and what he does. Most guys know to let a lot of what he says roll off their back and I wouldn't call him a leader in the standard meaning of the word.

He leads by example with how hard he plays. It's not like he was voted a team captain. He's a different cat in some ways, but most have embraced him, and even those who privately chafe at some of his antics know that the dude is tough as nails on the football field.

X - "Year One"


Los Angeles: Can you give me some updates on Devin Thomas? When will we see him in the starting lineup?? He should be outside with Santana lined up opposite, with Randle El in the slot. Thanks.

Jason La Canfora: He got his shot in the 3 WR sets several times when Thrash was hurt or not 100 percent, but he just doesn't have the reserve of knowledge yet to be trusted to that degree.

Last week Fred Davis was on the field more and Thomas will get shots again, but to me it's more important that he master a few routes/personnel groups and make an impact a time or two on a deep ball, even it's just on fly routes.

Arctic Monkeys - "Riot Van"


Rome, IT: JLa,

If the season were to end right now, who on this team is a first teamer in the Pro Bowl?

Also, I just started listening to The Killers. I actually think they are underrated. That's a good, good album.


Jason La Canfora: They always seemed like a weak Americanized ripoff of Duran Duran. I just can't buy them. Probably just me and a weird bias, but I can't take those dudes seriously.

As for First Team, man, I don't know. Frankly, I think voting in like Week 12 is even too early the way they do it, so Week 7, I'm going to politely refrain until we get a bigger sample to evaluate.


NYC: Dirtbags + Salty Dogs = Dirty DAWGS

(or salty bags?)

Jason La Canfora: I don't hate it (though I must confess I prefer "salty bags" but that's probably just my general lack of maturity shining through).


Arlington, Va.: Sinead O'Connor? Really???

Jason La Canfora: Hells yeah, dude. I don't lie about the iPod brother. Some things are sacred.

I'm not like her biggest fan or anything, but I have a few CDs. She's a pretty incredible artist. I loved "The Lion And The Cobra" when it came out. She's done some cool dub-ish reggae stuff too.


Columbia, Md.: What do the Skins players think of the Browns' decision not to inform them that Winslow had a staph infection?

Jason La Canfora: I think a lot of people are confused as to what exactly is going on there. It's a little weird on both sides, but if what Winslow is saying is true, then to me I'm 1,000 percent on his side and that suspension is a joke. Phil Savage loses his marbles sometimes.

Bottom line is the whole league knows the Browns have an ugly problem there with all the staph infections and if I'm a free agent it's a place I would avoid until it gets corrected. The Skins had some MRSA cases back in like 2005 and they did the right thing and changed the entire way they do some things and spent a lot of time and money to get it fixed.

Pixies - "Wave Of Mutilation" (awesome version from the first show at DAR back in 04. that first show was epic/second one was great, but to me not quite as sharp/goosebump causing)

_______________________ Called On in a Snap: Redskins' Albright Mostly Goes About His Own Business, but He Still Must Deliver (Post, Aug. 29, 2005)

Jason La Canfora: There you go. How about a hand for Paul and all the good people at providing the link and the goods? That should have everything you ever wanted to know about The Red Snapper right there.

Johnny Thunders - "In Cold Blood"


Richmond, Va.: Can you dissect what you believe to be at this point as our '09 draft needs?

I'm thinking O-line, D-line(however based on past results...), LB, and maybe a first on a corner.

Oasis: Don't look back in anger...because I don't want to!

Jason La Canfora: To me all of those are strong considerations, and given the available talent, where the Skins pick, who is still left on the board, what they do in free agency -- well, then we should have a better idea.

My gut is a LB or corner at the top.


Alexandria, Va.: Jasno, keep up all the great work!

My question is about the offense. Do you think that at least part of the reason why the offense has been so run-heavy is because Jon Jansen is a pass blocking liability?

It seems to me that when we do pass, Jansen gets pushed back into the pocket, and while he's not giving up sacks left and right, he definitely forces Jason to have to reset his feet.

Jason La Canfora: It's not his forte, for sure, but the run-heavy stuff is based off where teams are vulnerable, how they are playing (a lot of guys in the box), and how effective the pass game looks, versus how the run game is going.

This team was built for power running, remember, when they put it together over the past 5 years (and mostly the previous four), and Zorn is playing to his strengths.

Ani DiFranco - "Adam And Eve"


Frederick, Md.: Is Philip Daniels still around? If a guy is out for the year on IR, does he still attend meetings, practices, games, etc? I for one hope he is around, because he is such a great leader for that D-line.

Jason La Canfora: He's around a lot and on the sidelines on Sundays and even making some road trips.

He is a vocal and emotional leader and is working hard in his rehab here to be ready for training camp.


Leesburg, Va.: Hey Jason,

Thanks for taking my question!

I keep hearing Zorn say that he might give some players (i.e. - Griff and Smoot) off this Sunday even tho they could probably play. Seems like he might be looking past the Lions a little bit. Didn't the Skins learn anything after the loss to the Rams?

Jason La Canfora: I don't think they overlooked the Rams in so much as they got themselves locked in a vortex of turnovers and penalties.

Trust me, if they felt like Griffin was going to be anything close to 100 percent they wouldn't even be contemplating this. He is very beat up, and with maybe the most physical team in the NFL coming up on Monday night next week, and Golston and Montgomery playing well, and Griff injured so much the last few years and it so important to have him healthy and at a high level in December and perhaps beyond ... Well I have no problem with sitting him.

If they lose to the Lions my friend, trust me, it will be because of issues well beyond Cornelius. And if he is the difference between winning and losing to that outfit -- and in no way am I implying that any one player is -- then you've got some problems.


Washington, D.C.: Jason, I know there's "any given Sunday" and no such thing as a given in this league, so to expect a win alone is a stretch. But doesn't this team need a statement win at this point? A blowout?

Yes, wins are wins, and I'll take a one-point win if that's all it is, but isn't it about time for the Skins to assert themselves at the tail-end of this three-game set that was supposed to get them fat?

Jason La Canfora: I actually don't think it matter so much. At some point, yes, they need to drop 30 on someone and show that the diversity is back in the passing game, but I don't think it has to be Week 8 against the Lions. That's just me.

Red Hot Chili Peppers - "No Chump Love Sucker"


Ventura, Calif.: What's the story with Erasmus James? Is he still recovering from his knee injury, or is he healthy and getting beat out for playing time? I figured once this former first-round pick gets healthy, he'd have been a steal. Seems like he can't get past Jackson and Wilson on the depth chart.

Jason La Canfora: He just doesn't have any burst from what I've seen. After all those knee procedures you might not get it back. It was a minimal gamble, but I'm not surprised that he hasn't been a factor. Maybe if you get in a pinch down the stretch and he give you a few plays then it was worth it, and if they get healthier in the secondary maybe they dress more DL, but obviously he isn't looking like anyone who will be part of the core at this point.


Fairfax, Va.: With the Seahawks being an absolute mess right now after dominating their division for so long, how much do you attribute that to Zorn leaving? I understand Hasselbeck is banged up, but no one expected them to be this bad. With the success the Skins are having combined with the Seahawks woes, it seems like Zorn was much more than just a QB coach.

Jason La Canfora: Curse of the Z-Man, brother. Cross him at your own peril. Dude has special powers. You are aware of that, right? ...

Seriously, I don't think much. They've lost the QB and like all of their WRs and some linemen and they have a lame duck coach. None of that will help you win games.

Elvis Presley - "That's All Right"


Jason La Canfora: Well guys, my time is up. Thanks as always for the great questions and for making this so much fun. Sorry for those I could not get to, but as always you can reach me on the blog (Redskins Insider) or via email (

Hope you have a great week and enjoy the game.



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