Thursday, Oct. 30 at 1 p.m. ET

Redskins Insider

Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 30, 2008; 1:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Jason La Canfora was online Thursday, Oct. 30 at 1 p.m. ET, to take your questions about the Redskins.

The transcript follows.

Read the Redskins Insider blog.

Full coverage: Washington Redskins


Jason La Canfora: Hey there, hope you guys are doing well.

Thanks for stopping by. Let's get it started. Ipod on shuffle and ready to go.

Seaweed - "Carousel"


Reston, Va.: Hey Jason, Any talk this week on Hines Ward's love of blindsiding defenders? Any plans by "Dirty 30"' to wipe that smile off his face?

Jason La Canfora: I spoke to several people about it and generally guys say that he can blur the lines and be a little cheap at times, but London Fletcher, Marcus Washington and Greg Blache all praised the way he plays and said essentially that, if you don't want to be hit then play tennis or golf.

Antwaan Randle El, Ward's old teammate in Pitt, said he only saw the guy really get dirty one time about 5 years ago when a Bengals safety kept taking runs at Ward. So for 5 straight plays Ward just attacked the guy off the lien of scrimmage no matter where the play was going.

The defensive players have been told to look out for 86 on the blindside, though, because he will take liberties when blocking away from the ball.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre - "#1 Hit Jam"


Herndon, Va. : Who's the starting RB for Pittsburgh this weekend? Does it matter?

Scouser nation must be joyous pulling that win out of the hat yesterday.

Jason La Canfora: Yeah, that was some finish.

As for the RB situation, the Skins fully expect to get a heavy dose of Willie Parker, but Moore has earned a lot of praise from them as well for his work with the feature back out. They are hearing he will definitely play this weekend.

Honestly, in this scheme, I don't think it makes a huge difference, especially considering how long Parker was out and how he is just rounding back into playing shape.


Virginia Beach, Va.: Hey Jason, keep up the good work. I am glad that the coaches and players are not thrilled about the lack of scoring or about the lack of forced turnovers -- however, it seems like the overall mood of the team is a bit down. You're there -- what do you sense? What is the overall mood in the locker room?

Jason La Canfora: It's more just fatigue than anything else I think.

These guys are beat up and tired and eager for that bye. They have the latest bye possible, have played a ton of physical games and also came to camp first and played more preseason games than the norm.

It's taking a toll. They are not practicing in pads this week to try to get fresh for the big Monday night game, and the coaches are trying to coax everyone up to health and fitness to give an all-out effort before the break.

Pretty much everyone is nursing something right about now, including some situations that certain should be watched closely in the second half.


Potomac, Md.: Jason,

How many wins do you think it will take in the NFC this year to make it in as a wild card? It looks like the records all-around this year at the midway point are better than last year's.

Jason La Canfora: Indeed, the NFC is the new AFC. Over there now, 9 wins and you're probably in, where this year in the NFC, someone might win 10 and be left on the outside looking in.

11 is definitely safe and 10 should be, assuming some of your losses come to the AFC. Obviously, winning the division is the goal and if you do that then you know you get at least one home game, and maybe even the bye.

Primus - "Spaghetti Western"


Washington, D.C.: Can you please delete the article about the Jets earning $16 million from Personal Seat Licenses before Snyder sees it? Doing it in this economy would be a PR disaster, but how long before Snyder runs with the PSL idea and officially makes going to a Redskins game the worst stadium experience since the Christians were thrown to the lions in the Roman Coliseum? Jets Earn Over $16 Million in Online PSL Auction (AP, Oct. 28)

Jason La Canfora: Man, that would be ugly, eh. I could see rioting all over the place should that happen.

But trust me, that's the modern NFL. If they ever do build that state-of-the-art downtown stadium to lure in Super Bowls, etc, you bet your wallet there will be PSLs attached.


Glen Allen, Va.: What's the deal with Shawn Springs calf and when is he expected to be ready to play ?

Jason La Canfora: As we have been reporting, he has a severely strained calf -- a second-degree strain -- and it would be at least a 3 week injury. He is starting to get a little better this week, but you have to guard against setbacks until that calf really starts to clear up.

He was healthy as a horse until Marcus Washington kicked him in the calf just before the season, and started to get over that, then suffered two setbacks, including the most recent on in practice a few weeks back (he was taking a ton of reps in that practice with Rogers, Smoot out and Torrence a little limited, and Springs playing corner, nickel corner and safety).

He's shooting to be right for the huge NFC East coming up, and he's often at his best against those bigger target guys like Plax and TO.


La Plata, Md.: Jason,

Is 10 wins a guaranteed spot in the NFC playoffs this year?


-Old Crow Medicine Show, "I hear them all"

Jason La Canfora: Not sure I'd take that all the way to the bank (assuming, of course, your bank still exists and hasn't been swallowed up, sold or gone bust).


Denver: Jason,

Thanks for taking my question. Any word on how Todd Collins is coming along with the new offensive system? Not that I want to see him play anytime soon, but he seemed pretty shaky in preseason.

Also have to disagree on your previous take (from last week's chat) -- The Killers aren't anything like Duran Duran. Keep up the good work.

Jason La Canfora: Spoke with Todd for a while this week. He's not getting any real reps now, but says he feels good about what the team is doing and his ability to get it done in this offense.

As for the Killers, if you asked those dude if they were trying to be a modern Duran Duran ripoff band, and they'd had a few soda pops in them, they'd cop to it. And I love Duran Duran. These guys don't do it for me.

Le Tigre - "Nanny Nanny Boo Boo."


Burke, Va.: Hey JLC, time to pin you down, if you will. What's your current opinion of this edition of the Washington Redskins? Have they overachieved to obtain their record? Seems that like Redskins teams of many years past, they just can't blow out a team now and then. It is always interesting right up to the end each and every game. What do you put their final season record at? I say 11-5. Which ain't too shabby.

Does DCU fire Soehn? And name your favorite '70s rock group.

May You Never - Eric Clapton

Jason La Canfora: I just don't know for sure. I think they have certainly overachieved and proved a lot of people wrong on a lot of things (me included) but I still think they have several hurdles to overcome to be a team that plays deep into January (need more sacks and turnovers, more short field, better field position, better red zone offense), and I figure at some point the QB will throw an INT or two, and the Skins have been slipped deeper into the pack of the turnover-ratio leaders the past 4 weeks already with the fumbles finally coming.

Seeing how Zorn adapts in the second half, and how other defense approach him in their second crack at the Skins, will help us all get a handle on exactly where they are. But it was a spectacular first half for sure.

And picking one band from that decade, the best decade in modern music history? No way dude. I'd start with The Clash, but man, Funkadelic, Stevie Wonder, Sabbath ... I don't even know where to start.

Merle Haggard - "I Think I'll Just Stay Here And Drink"


Fox Mill, Va.: Thanks for doing these chats JLC,

Earlier you had mentioned that: you are not sure 2008-draft pick Chad Rinehart will be a slam dunk to assume a starting interior role next summer. Although I remember numerous occasions this past summer that he was mentioned as someone who was ballin' and looking real good. Quite different from your statement made earlier today. Has there been some transgression in Rinehart's development or something else that your seeing that makes you state that he may not even be a sure shot by next season ? Is Kendall's level of play so good that you think he can be a key cog next year too ?

Black Moon - "Who Got Da Props"

Jason La Canfora: Well, he really got exposed after having to face better players, and play longer in games, in the final few weeks and has yet to beat out Jason Fabini to even by active on game days.

He did not look like he compete at tackle at the end of camp, and is having a learning curve getting used to playing inside. It's way too soon to know, but when the guy is one of the first dude deactivated every week I'm not sure you can just ink him in for the following season in what the Skins hope will be a playoff year.

The offseason and training camp will tell all -- because he's just a scout team guy now for the most part and getting him reps is anything but a priority.

Anthrax - "Caught In The Mosh"


Baltimore: What's the deal with Moss? Is their real concern that he may not play Monday? If this hammy lingers we're in big trouble the second half of the season.

Jason La Canfora: Could be the single biggest story of the second half if it flares up repeatedly.

They say he will play, and will take it down to game time and give him a lot of rest. If it's me, and there's a chance he's not at least 90-percent, and its a cold night against that defense with a bye on the horizon ... I sit him.


Arlington, Va.: I just want to say, it sure is fun to debate things like not scoring enough or forcing enough turnovers while the team is 6-2. For once they seem to be winning ugly, close games instead of finding weird ways to lose (the Rams game and that stupid fumble for TD play notwithstanding). I'm enjoying it!

Troubled Times - Fountains of Wayne

Jason La Canfora: No doubt. It's like a lot of what we've seen in the last four years, except finding a way to win rather than to lose.

I give Zorn tremendous credit for essentially winning with Gibbs's players and the bulk of Gibbs's system. He's adapted very well and called some great games.


Annandale, Va.: Jason, How is Malcolm Kelly doing?

Is his knee better?

Jason La Canfora: He's not doing a darn thing again this week and just trying to be ready to practice fully when practice resumes after the bye.

The reality is no one will know where he stands until he practice 2-3 days in a row. If it swells again they will put him on IR and probably go ahead and have that thing scoped again as soon as possible. My gut feeling is they end up making a move there, but maybe these 3 weeks will end up getting him over the hump.

Bottom line is even if they have to keep worrying about it swelling up, and having to do more MRIs, then expect them to IR him and sign a receiver (probably a bigger guy in the Mix mode).


Brooklyn, N.Y.: JLC, been good reading your work, man. Been reading you since your days on the Caps beat. Keep it up.

My question: doesn't it seem like the whole "scripting the first 15 plays" deal is overrated? It seems like the Skins have better results later in the 1st quarter or even in the second half after we get done with our first 15 plays. Zorn definitely seems to be able to make half-time adjustments, so what gives?

Jason La Canfora: Thanks brother.

I actually like it. They all have a feel for what to expect early on, and frankly, some of these drives have been very pretty up until the end (that Lions drive was art until the botched exchange with Portis).

If it makes Zorn comfortable and get him feeling good into the game and establishing what he wants (the run some weeks, Moss right off the bat last week) then I say what the heck.

Beck - "Sissyneck"


Columbus, Ohio:"I spent some time picking the brain of an NFL executive who has scouted the Redskins several times in the first half of the season, including early in the season and more recently. We chatted in general about the Redskins, some strengths and weaknesses, and general impressions."

Your full post this week must not have made it onto the blog, because I could see only weaknesses pointed out. Did your "NFL Executive" have anything positive to say? An Inside Look at Skins at Halfway Point

Jason La Canfora: Well, as I wrote, he praised them all over the place -- great running game, Moss dominating and kind of unstoppable, Campbell thriving, Zorn making great adjustments to the scheme and adapting to his personnel.

Should they all get rings for the first half?


Ade Jimoh: Marcus Washington looks to have found the fountain of youth, huh? What a difference when he's healthy.

Jason La Canfora: Well, I actually didn't like him so much this past week. A whole lot of jumping and running around, but not much impact. He has to start getting to the QB if he's going to be coming off the edge, or give Chris Wilson a shot.

Cinderella - "Back Home Again"


Asheville, N.C.: Hey, doesn't the team that wins our last home game before a presidential election anticipate its outcome? Supposedly, when the Redskins win, the incumbent party does, and when the opposing team (here, the Steelers) does, it's the contending party. Is that supposed to happen now, too?

Jason La Canfora: That's the word on the street.

I have no idea what's supposed to happen. I just hope I make deadline my friend.


Bend, Ore.: Shaun Alexander doesn't seem all that impressive. Any talk about getting Rock more carries this week? Are they concerned about saving him for special teams? Or are they hoping Alexander will round into shape?

Jason La Canfora: I think Rock may get a carry or two this week. Alexander is a stop-gap guy and is adjusting to a totally different running scheme here (which is why I thought Marcus Mason made a lot of sense as a change of pace guy), but if he helps them win a few games then that's all you can ask for.

Betts should be back after the Dallas game (maybe even for it), so barring someone getting hurt I would imagine they might part with Alexander at that time.


Richmond, Va.: Hey Jason, thanks for taking my question. Do you know if we could see Thomas starting if Moss isn't able to go Monday Night? I would love to see Thomas inherit more of a role in the offense, at least ahead of Thrash. Please give me your thoughts on the situation.

Thanks again.

"Otherside-Red Hot Chili Peppers"

Jason La Canfora: Well, he'd have to be on the field a ton running those deep outs from the outside, no doubt about it. They only have 4 WRs with Kelly out, and the third guy is Thrash, who is not here for his speed. The rookie would have to play a ton.

Richard Hell and The Voidoids - "Time" (This is a sick, sick song. Download it if at all possible)


Anonymous: Hello Jason, was I seeing things, or didn't Erasumus James draw two holding penalties in a row against Detroit? Do you see him as a contributor during the second half of the season?

Jason La Canfora: I don't think you can "count" on him, but he's another guy who, after the bye, perhaps could step up. With his knees it's always going to be a little bit of a guessing game.


San Diego: Hi Jason, your coverage is the best. I am very worried about this game. I think we are going to have a tough time running the ball against Pitt's defense. How do you see that match-up working out for the Skins?

Jason La Canfora: I think this is a very touch match-up given the pass rush of the Steelers, the Skins lack of pass rush, how fatigued and beat up the Skins are. I figure a tough, defensive struggle, but Big Ben maybe pulling it out. And if the Skins turn it over and get behind early, then they could be in real trouble,

It's certainly a game they could win and I would not be stunned should either club get the W. I just get the feeling it's a letdown game.


Zebra, Serengeti: Thanks for taking my question JLA;

Rabach was a beast against 3-4 teams this year, chipping on the nose (Rodgers), and then getting to the 2nd level to take out the mikes - while Kendall and Thomas had outside leverage on the Nose after that.

It seemed to create some gaping holes in that game and in Big D. Since Pitt plays the same D, can we tire out Hampton the same way we did with Rodgers and use that scheme?

I have a feeling the Pitt LB's are quicker than the Boys or Browns so maybe Rabach isn't that effective in the second level?

Jason La Canfora: You are so on point on this my man. I gave Casey a lot of dap this week on the blog, but should have done even more. He's faced Dockett, Rodgers, Ratliff. Tough matchups and he's not used to a 350-pounder lining up right over him.

And I agree, you attack Casey Hampton the same way, by making him move laterally as much as possible. Run that outside zone stuff to death and get him going side-to-side. And, again, I'm with you -- the crazy speed of the outside LBs and their comfort in this scheme make it much more difficult to gash them to the perimeter as we saw against say, Dallas or Arizona or Cleveland. That's why Pitt is the No. 1 defense in the league and incredibly stout against the run.

New Order - "Age Of Consent"


Anonymous: Book On Zorn

JLC, I would imagine that with each game, other teams are obtaining 'trend data' on JZ that, of course, didn't exist at the beginning of the season. I would compare it to the 2nd and 3rd time around in the batting order against the same pitcher. Good batters learn from the first AB or two what the pitcher has going that game and usually adjust and have success the 2nd or 3rd time around. I would imagine the Eagles, Giants, and Cowboys will have enough trend data to prepare a good defensive game plan. Agree?

In The Colors - Ben Harper

Jason La Canfora: It will be very interesting, especially with the Giants and Eagles, because they run essentially the same system and often learn a lot about what works and does not work against common opponents from watching the other on film.

Zorn is a very shrewd guy and has done an amazing job to this point. He has tried not to tip his entire hand and has shown teams certain looks in certain formations early just to set them up for something else later.

This is an ongoing chess match with adjustments always being made, much like baseball. Like my man Jacoby Ellsbury -- dominant postseason player in 2007 feasting on fastballs; benched in the 2008 playoffs when he can't get on base chasing breaking balls in the dirt.

At this point though, I think Zorn deserves the benefit of the doubt.

The Who, "I Can't Explain"


Daly City, Calif.: The 'Skins have not have a consistent pass rush in over a decade. Everyone knows that you build a team from the lines on out, so why haven't the 'Skins done this? It's amazing to me that they keep spending first round picks on safeties and corners, but not on young, stud D-linemen.

Jason La Canfora: We've beaten this one to death. I feel you 100 percent. We can't make them draft linemen, but at some point they'd better invest some high picks there.


Silver Spring, Md.: Can you talk about Rocky McIntosh? Why does he not talk much on camera or in print? Does he talk to you off-the-record?

Jason La Canfora: I like Rocky a lot. He's got a quirky kind of sense of humor and doesn't take himself too seriously. But he's not interested in having a public profile to any degree and seems to tense up in "formal" media settings and wants to just play football and live in anonymity. He's very much a small town guy.

I can respect that. I never feel like I am entitled to speak to anyone and while the NFL wants guys to be available, we all have First Amendment rights.

Afghan Whigs - "I Am The Sticks"


El Paso, Tex.: Sup Jason... Santana Moss and Antwan Randle El have played well in the passing game. A lot has been said about the rookies receiver Thomas and Kelly and their inability to make any strides in the Redskins offense. But I want to know what has happened to James Thrash. In my household I'm the only guy in the James Thrash fan club. I saw him on the field early in the season but have not seen him on the field even for special teams in the last 4 games or so. Thrash isn't flashy or speedy but the guy is a gamer.

Jason La Canfora: He only fits in certain routes for the most part, but if you look back to the weeks he's been healthy, and who is on the field in 3-wide sets, it's Thrash way more often than it has been Thomas or Kelly or Davis, for sure.


Baltimore: The Killers are named after a fictional band from a New Order video. They know who they are and who they want to be; a new wave pop band, i.e, Duran Duran, New Order, The Cure. Have to agree with JLC.

Jason La Canfora: Thanks for having my back, bro.

And I love Duran Duran, the Cure and especially New Order. These guys just strike me as tarted-up ripoffs.


Elvis Grbac: Hey Jason -- Long time no see. Hope you've been doing well. I'm back in the area for a few days and thought I'd log on here.

So what do you think about the Ravens this season? I've been impressed with Flacco so far, surprisingly. I really didn't think he'd get the start but I guess with everything that happened in the preseason he was the way to go. Also impressed with Harbaugh, but not sure this is a playoff caliber team just yet. Your thoughts?

Jason La Canfora: Elvis has returned to the building??

Dude, I took my then-girlfriend (now wife) to see you play Cleveland and spent a lot of money on club seats when you played the Browns (was covering the Caps for The Post and living in Baltimore at the time) and, bro, I have never seen anyone get booed off the field like that before in my life. I think that's the game when you cried on the sidelines.


How you holding up now? And if you are in town, I wouldn't spend too much time in Bmore.

As for Flacco, I think Cam Cameron is bringing him along in a great manner, and the stuff with the Wildcat, the unbalanced line, using Ngata as a O Linemeen, stacking the tackles, rotating three backs, going with two fullbacks -- ugly power football, just what you need with a novice QB and a great defense.

Faster Pussycat - "House of Pain" (swear I didn't plant that song, Elvis. Sometimes the shuffle knows all)


Zebra, Serengeti: Follow up;

Considering the Steelers strengths in those two areas mentioned, and not tipping your hand, I would love to see some misdirection running plays this week, using the counter trey, to over load one side and road grade those smaller LB's with pulling guards.

But if the steelers have quick enough DE's that can get down the line (when unblocked in this scheme)... can we out run them to the point of attack. I admittedly don't know much about their DLine.

I think it sure would be a surprising twist...

Jason La Canfora: Great stuff again. I have talked to Sherm Smith about some of the counter stuff, and the players are certainly more adept at the zone schemes right now, which is what they have been riding. I think in the end it will be a big day for Cooley and Yoder trying to gain an outnumbered side, and also for JC. The check with me run game will be huge. He's going to have to be on point with his audibles and checks.


Washington, D.C.: Does Campbell need some receivers who are as tall as he is?

Jason La Canfora: It certainly couldn't hurt. That was the idea with the splurge on three big pass catchers in the second round.


Beating up Ben: Doesn't this game come down to whether someone can knock Ben down a bunch of times, like the Giants and Eagles? Without some kind of pressure, I see the Steelers winning the game on their final possession.

Jason La Canfora: No doubt. And it's not just pressure, it's actually taking the big boy to the turf. Just hitting him isn't enough. he avoids the kill shots and bounces off arm tackles and all of the big plays in their offense seem to come after contact from him extending plays.

It's a crucial factor. The coaches are emphasizing going for his arms, tying him up, preventing him from throwing the ball at all costs.

Dead Kennedys - "Stealing People's Mail"


Dallas: I am a displaced Skins fan in the heart of enemy territory. Anyways, something was mentioned on the Randy Galloway show yesterday here in Dallas about the Washington Post Beat Reporters hating Matt Mosely from ESPN. What is that about?

Jason La Canfora: What? That's crazy. Mosely is my boy. In fact, I'm still giving him crap for not letting me know when he's coming to town, so I could buy him a beer, and just popping up at FedEx.

J Reid and Barry don't know him and I know Mosely is tight with Steinberg ... So, basically, I have no idea what you are talking about.

Swervedriver - "For Seeking Heat"


Arlington, Va.: TOTALLY off topic, but have you ever figured out the way Shuffle Mode works on the iPod? I have a large library (over 8000 songs) but there seem to be some bands it ALWAYS plays (and they are not among the most represented) and some never get played (despite statistically being prominent).

I think someone should do a study!

Richard Thompson - "Keep Your Distance."

Jason La Canfora: Completely. It, like, has biases. And sometimes I'll get one band like every three songs, and I've got like 9,000 tunes on it, so that ain't right.

And then I swear sometimes it plays little games, like find a certain word that runs through titles, or, like plays 4 songs in a row that are all about the same event/topic (and I don't mean love, I just got dumped, etc).

Very weird.


re: election outcome: Jason, That streak about the outcome of the Redskins' last home game before an election was busted when Green Bay beat the 'Skins in Fedex in 2004, but President Bush still won re-election.

Jason La Canfora: There we have it. I remember that game well. Thrash got the motion call that Gibbs went nuts about and Favre pulled off some late heroics to get the W.

Thanks for clearing that up.


Jason La Canfora: Man, this hour flew by. My time is up. I know there is a whole lot I didn't get to this week, and for that I apologize. Please email me at any point - - or get me on the blog - Redskins Inside - and I will follow up.

Hope you guys have a fun and safe Halloween and enjoy the game this weekend.



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