Wednesday, Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. ET

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Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 5, 2008; 2:00 PM

Washington Post staff writer Jason La Canfora was online Wednesday, Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. ET, to take your questions about the Redskins.

The transcript follows.

Read Jason's blog, Redskins Insider.

Full coverage: Washington Redskins

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washingtonpost.com: Jason will be slightly delayed, and should begin answering questions around 2:30 p.m. ET.

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Jason La Canfora: Sorry I am running late. DMV issues. No Ipod this week but I'm ready to rock and roll.

Happy election and happy bye week.

Ok, have at me

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Nova: Jason,

Monday's performance by the fans was far more disturbing than anything on the field. I do think the number of Steelers fans has been a bit overstated by some -- I'd estimate 20,000 to 25,000 -- however, I think the fact that it happened on Monday Night Football punctuates the fickle nature of some season ticket holders.

Is it time Dan Snyder seriously talks with D.C. officials about a new stadium deal, one that holds 10,000-15,000 less seats, and one that supports metro rail and a better transportation plan. I believe that going to FedEx no longer has an allure that RFK once had, hence the growing number of tickets listed on StubHub. And despite our 100K season ticket waiting list, those on there apparently have no interest in buying tickets on the open market (like Steelers fans did).

If Dallas fans could wave towels, we'd be in for a similar scene next Sunday night.

Jason La Canfora: The poor game-day experience, difficultly getting into and out of that place may certainly play a role. And the team's arrangements with StubHub have been brought up to me in email after email, though I am not sure if that was a factor in the Steeler debacle or not.

It was unlike anything I have ever seen, and for all the talk about home field advantage I have watched the Skins lose a lot of games at FedEx and have never seen a visiting team take over a massive stadium like that before, especially on a Monday Night.

In this economy, though, people gotta do what they gotta do and it's not like the owner spares any effort to max our profits at every turn - with fans taking the bills in many cases - so I don't see how you can begrudge people doing what they have to do in terms of selling tickets.

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Roanoke, Va.: Despite Monday night's no-show, I believe Redskins fans have to be happy with a 6-3 record. What is the biggest thing you think the team needs to do in order to sustain success in the second half? Get healthy? Rethink some of the offensive strategy? Something else?

Jason La Canfora: General health will be huge - with Moss and Samuels in particular.

Find a way to score TDs in the red zone (which means a rethink of some strategy.

Straighten out special teams (punting and punt returns need to be more consistent).

More sacks and turnovers on defense

6-3 is a tremendous start and I don't think the Steelers loss is that big of a deal, honestly, especially if they beat the teams they are "suppsoed" to beat in the second half like Cincy, STL, and Singletary's Pants Droppers

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Tucson, Ariz.: Jason,

The losses to the Steelers and Giants had at least one big thing in common.

The Skins offense, the offensive line in particular, were dominated by big, fast LBs/DEs...Guys like Tuck, Kiwanuka, Farrior, Harrison, etc...

Those types of players seem to be the only type that make the Skins offensive line look old...

Jason La Canfora: The Front 7 kicked their butts in those games for sure. You are talking about two of the more physical teams in the league there, and several players have commented to me that the Skins generally prosper when you try to get a little cute with them (Saints, Cards, Dallas, Eagles) but more physical teams give them problems. Baltimore, Giants fit that bill from an offensive and defensive perspective and it will be interested to see how the Skins hold up.

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The Nation's Capitol: With the bye week breather, I'm guessing news bits will run a little lower than usual (e.g., time to unpack moving boxes, get around to voting, whatever).

So whatever happened with how Coach Jim Zorn said that the rookies had to "earn" the logos on their helmets? Did that ever happen and how? I noticed that, during games, Chris Horton had a logo on his helmet (though it seemed that Brooks the Punter did too).

Jason La Canfora: Oh yeah, my honey-do list is longer than a candidate's list of promises right now. I gots plenty to do, spending time with the kids alwasy chief among them, though.

As for the logos, iut was indeed fact. During practices and the preseason, rookies did not get the logo on their helmet until they made the team.

Int he regular season and during preseason games you have to wear regulation helmets with the logos and such, but he was speaking to the gear the guys wear at Redskins Park.

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Pittsburgh: It seemed like Portis had no room to run without a lead block (even then it wasn't much better) Steelers too good at the point of attack.

With uber-aggressive defenses like that will it be an issue? Has Coach Zorn addressed that?

Jason La Canfora: I think Zorn chose not to meet power with power - not enough commitment to the run, not enough power I stuff, not much Sellers, very little of Cooley as a lead blocker.

The Steelers swarm the ball and create match-up problems based on talent and speed and scheme, but the Giants showed the week before that you can cram it down their throats a bit if you stick with the beef, give multiple RBS heavy duty and try to wear out that nose tackle over four quarters by running to the edges.

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Salisbury, Md.: Will the Redskins be interested in picking up D'Angelo Hall for a extra nickel back?

Jason La Canfora: I don't see them making a waiver claim, and with a 6-3 record, even if they did another team with a worse record would get him.

The guy has been trouble lately and I'm not sure he has the make-up atthis point to deal with being a nickel guy without stirring it up. The Skisn explored trading for him this offsweason but never reached a financial agreemnt and were unwilling to trade a second round pick for him.

If he clears waivers and is on the street, maybe you nose around on him, but I'm not sure he will be looking to sign a vet. minimum deal.

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Philadelphia: Big fan, Jason, big fan. Going through the schedule, its pretty easy to count to ten wins, which usually means "playoffs." If the Skins can beat the Cowboys, Seahawks, Bengals and 49ers, thats 10. That seems realistic, right?

Jason La Canfora: Thanks so much.

Well, I hear you, but not every team wins every so-called "gimme," and try to think of the NFC now as you might have thought of the AFC the past few years = 10 wins might require a tie-breaker or two to get in.

If they win 2 of 3 against the NFC East at home and dont collapses against the likes of Cincy or san Fran, then they are going in and maybe as a division winner.

If they go 1 of 3 and lose in a potentialyl sloppy and tough environment like Seattle, then I think they are watching the playoffs on TV.

If they sweep the NFC East at home and even slip up against a lesser team, then they will be watching the widlcard on TV with a bye.

And if they lose to Dallas all of a sudden things start getting really tight.

That's just how competitive this league is and how crazy this division is. I think the NFC South will send 2 teams and the NFC East sends 2 also - not sure 3 from one division will pull it off.

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New Orleans: Is Moss's injury the main reason they don't want him returning punts more often?

Jason La Canfora: Yes sir, and especialyl as that game got out of reach the onus went to more on resting Moss and starting his bye a little early.

Losing him for even a few weeks might cause this offense to implode and the Skins can't afford that right now for sure.

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Kabul: With Springs coming back and Rodgers having a great season (outside of when the ball hits him in the chest) how do you see the matchup against the Dallas WRs? Do you put Springs on TO and Rodgers on Williams or has Rodgers come to the point that you can interchange them?

Jason La Canfora: I think you can definitely miss and match, especialyl against a teamk with two WRs of this similar mold - bigger, stronger guys who are by no means burners. It really is an interchangfebale deal but I wou;d be very surprised if you dont at least start with No. 24 on TO. He has a way of getting in his head and being very phsycial with him to the point where TO quits on routes and pouts.

And I think Carlos is a little better on Williams right now. But this is a team they matchup well with (guys smaller, real quikc-twitch types like Nate Washington, DeSean Jackson, even a David Patten-type are tougher for this secondary and scheme to handle).

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Charlottesville, Va.: Any update on Malcolm Kelly? Why are they waiting until after the bye to bring somebody in to replace him? If there is a veteran receiver on the street they are thinking about couldn't they sign him to the practice squad now and promote him if they have to IR Kelly?

Jason La Canfora: They want to see how he does in a practice setting before making a final call (unless of course his knee swells up again this week, in which case they would go it then).

From what I have heard there are no plans to bring in WRs this week to workout. Spoke to Malcolm for a while yesterday and he said he will run and push himself more this week and he knows this is a big week for him. He has basically stayed off his feet the last two weeks to get as healed and rested as possible.

I hae a feeling they promote from the practice squad and maybe sign a Mix-type, too, but we shall see.

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Baltimore: Did the Skins lose the page in the playbook that says if a team is bringing all out heat and leaving the safeties over the top, you run a screen pass or two in to that empy void to try and slow down the rush?

Jason La Canfora: Sadly ythey didnt even have time to get that off. I thought more safety valves and more Cooley were in order ... But more than anything else, sticking with the run is the best way to protect and gash the blitz and that was the biggest failing in the offensive play calling Monday night, I thought. Skisn arent good enough in the passing game yet to beat a team like that by spreading the field and not enough talent at WR to really hurt them by doing it anyway.

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Charlottesville, Va.: Not to belabor Jaws's comments from MNF, but what's the deal with Cooley's lack of looks? Is the TE position deemphasized in Zorn's offense, or is there something else going on? Seems like Capt. Chaos could have contributed with some underneath routes on Monday (and certainly at the goal line when JC threw to Montgomery.)

Jason La Canfora: Cooley was the other guy in the route when JC threw to Lorenzo. Cooley was the primary but he wasnt open.

The engage, block and release stuff Cooley has done a ton of - leading to his better numbers in recent weeks - isn't as effective against truly elite pass rush teams. There isn't enough time to do all of that, becasue the QB is already off the spot and running for his life.

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Scattown, Zimbabwe: So Jason the boys looked like pretenders the other day. What is your take, is this team legit? Is the offense figured out already? When it comes to stewed prunes is 3 too many or 2 not enough?

Jason La Canfora: Hello again from Africa. Love the global chats.

That stewed prunes line is over my head, but I think the Skins are a good, solid football team. They are not yet great and may not get there this season, and even if they don't there is no shame in that.

I don't think the offense is figured out, it's just simply not fully evolved and int he meantime Id stick with more of the Midwest part than the Coast part. That's just me.

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Romo stinks: Is it me or do the Skins play Marion Barber better than any other team? What have they done to figure him out that other teams haven't?

Jason La Canfora: They do indeed.

They feel like he can be intimidated a bit and tiptoe a little more if you get very nasty with him early.

They love to pound him low as well. Under Williams they called it "hunting his legs" and it still applies. They want the safety to sting him low early as much as possible and they beleive he can be frustrated. A kid like Chris Horton fits exactly what they look for ina run-fit safety who can play against the bigger backs in the division like Barber and Jacobs.

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New York: For some reason I keep thinking back year to the 5-2 Detroit Lions who visited the Skins walking the walk and getting blown out and the season was downhill from there.

I know this year's Skins are better than that Detroit team, but w/Dallas coming to town hungry and Romo coming back to health, and the Eagles back in the swing...could be a tougher 2nd half then many think, no?

Jason La Canfora: Every game is gonna be tough - some games for a half, some for three-quarters and many right til the ver end.

Even the Ciny and San Fran game, I guarantee you one of them is an ugly fight til the final series or two.I think the Skins will one both, but I'm not predicting cake walks there.

But I dont think you can compare it to Detroit in any way. That team is like 1-15 since starting 5-1 last year. It's not even close. And the Skins play in a much more difficult division and have several very legit strengths - running the ball, pass coverage, run defense.

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Washington, D.C.: One last question on the attendance on Monday. Do you think Snyder cares one bit?

Jason La Canfora: I doubt he's losing oodles of sleep over it, but I'd have to imagine it was fair embarassing to be sitting next to the Commish on national TV with the entire league watching while his stadium - the biggest in the NFL - was taken over by out-of-town fans, particualrly in the lower bowl, which is what he cameras see the mose.

It was pretty pathetic, and going to a silent snap count and having opposing defnders raise the crowd to its feet while your offense is operating on third down ... It had to turn his stomach as a competitor, though probably not his wallet.

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Brunswick, Md.: Jason,

Thanks for these chats.

It appeared to me that with 8 minutes to go, and down 3 scores, the Redskins just didn't seem to have the sense of urgency needed to really pull out a last second victory. We saw the same thing against the Giants - do you think there is a problem there?

Also, if you need 2 TDs and a field goal and are facing a 4th down in field goal range, wouldn't it make more sense to take the field goal and then try to get a defensive stop, instead of missing on 4th down(which they did). It just seems like they could have made some decisions that would have given themselves more of a chance.

Jason La Canfora: I'm with you in that he needs to go no-huddle more frequently, but I agree with Zorn in that when you are that closew to the goal line and need multiple scores, well, there's not any closer you can get and you migyt not get down to the goal line again, so you've got to go for 7 there. I just didn't like the play call and would have like to have seen Jason roll out, but maybe spread them there and have more than 2 guys in the pattern, if you feel liek you have to throw and cant pound it in (and short yardage running has not been a strength).

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Cap Hill: My sports page was black and white today. Is this part of the cost-cutting or will future sports pages "Rock the Red" and other colors?

Jason La Canfora: I'm guessing we may have cut back on the color in other sections given how many photos and color we wanted to give to the historical events of last night. It often works that way and with the election taking place that would be my hunch.

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Zebra, Serengeti: Thanks as always Jasno for doing these chats.

As I suspected, the Pitt LB's were destroying our running game. It looked like a lot of times their D Line chopped down at our o lines feet, making them fall down and left gaping holes for the LB's to clean up where a blocker should have been.

Noting the other strong defenses we face, is there any sense that we got exposed and there may be a different approach versus these teams in the run game? Or can we chalk it up to the best front 7 in football and our normal running plays should work as planned? Because we abused Dallas and Philly with that same style of running the first time we played them.

Jason La Canfora: I think against the best run defenses, and especialyl some of these 3-4 teams, its more important than ever to stick with it. if ypou throw 10 runs at them and that's it, the odds are in their favor, they are fresher, they are seeing that you are pretty rpedictible in running on run downs and throwing on throw downs and you end up facving a lot of secdn and third and longs.

You have to be willing to run the ball 25 times, comfident that on carries 20-30 or whatever you will make your gains. The defense played well enough to keep the Skins in that game for the most part and I think if you are willing to trade off a lot of 2-4 yard carries for facing a worn out defense in the final 20 minutes good things can happen.

And Portis was getting like 4 yards a carry. It wasnt like one of these 7 carry, 2 total yards days. It was still decent positive yardage, just not enough attempts to me.

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Durham, N.C.: Jasno, is there a sense that the return of Ladell Betts after the bye might help reinvigorate the offense?

NP: Black Sabbath - Neon Knights (the Dio era is slept on)

Jason La Canfora: I have a big soft spot for Ronnie James (but I'm more of a Rianbow and solo stuff guy).

I think Betts on third downs will be big. Hes a guy who can do more in the pass game on those downs and I think they trust him more to be a 10 carry type guy than the backups on the roster right now.

The Dallas game might end up being a little amibitious for getting Ladell back, but after that I think he's back and ready to go. He is a significant piece of the offense, for sure.

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Washington D.C.: Is it just me or is Philly really under the radar right now? I have a feeling that Philly game will decide the fate of the lone NFC East Wild Card spot.

Jason La Canfora: I would not disagree at all.

They went through their swoon when Westbroook and Smith were out, the O Line was beat up and McNabb could barely move with the sternum injury ... And now they are all getting up to speed and Curtis is getting healthy, too.

Several scouts told me coming out of the preseason that Philly was the best team in this division, and we shall see if that holds up. Of course, McNabb gets hurt a lot and the team has not really sustained much the past two years, but I agree that Philly game could end up being the ultimate tiebreaker.

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Area 51: What's the general sentiment at Redskins Park and the players about Taylor going into the ring of fame? Think the player will be out to watch the ceremony?

Jason La Canfora: Well, everyone except for the injured guys are gone because of the bye week but I think its not a surprise at all and something everyone figured would take place around Thanksgiving and the anniversary of Sean's death.

Everyone will be on the field and watching intently and seeing Pedro Taylor and Sean's daughter (I'm assuming here, just assuming, they will be here) will no doubt bring out sweeping emotions in his teammates.

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Paris, Va.: jasno,

How do you think our linebackers have been playing? Besides London, who is getting it done...every game.

Jason La Canfora: You said it - London playing at the highest level of his career, Marcus not showing me much save for an occasionla play here or there (that pass rushing experiment with him should probably be put down now; give Chris Wilson more of a shot) and Rocky is still not there in coverage. He flashes major playmaker ability but remember, he's missed a lot of time and consistency comes from consistent reps.

If they do not draft a LB high in April I'll be surprised (assuming of course they dont trade or sign one before then).

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Brooklyn, Ohio: Re: the Barber comment. They play him well, but Brandon Jacobs seems to dominate the 'Skins. What can't they stop him more often?

Jason La Canfora: Because he tends to simply run them over more. Dalls line is big, but not very quick and guys like Horton, Landry, Fletcher tend to get to Barber before he gets going.

Giants will strtetch you more, run more zone, and Jacobs hiuts tyhose cutbacks with a head of steam and ends up running through people. Skins seem to get mutliple bodies on Barber with greater frequency.

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Jessica Simpson: So does Romo make a difference or are the Cowboys' problems much deeper?

Jason La Canfora: You're the problem, Jess.

Dont cha know?

And, of course, they are better team with your man at the helm. Significantly better.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey Jasno,

Great work on the blog.

My question is speculative in nature, but I still would like to know your take on it. If Gibbs hadn't retired, I feel like this team would be in similar shape right now. True, JC has been helped by Zorn immensely, but on the other hand the offense wouldn't have had to learn a new system. This team still feels like a Gibbs team, only a year more mature -- with the running game, inability to finish drives or blow anyone out, etc.

Your thoughts?

Jason La Canfora: It does, except I think Zorn deserves a ton of credit for weeding out the volume (the opposite of Al Saunders0 focusing on the 3-4 things they do best, working with Jason to empower him and make him feel more in charge of the offense and also groom him fundamentally.

JC is thriving from having just one person in his ear instead of 2-3 people under the Gibbs regime. But is he winning with Gibbs's players and lot of Gibbs's philosophies - absolutely. He's also been much more decisive on game day though, and run a much smoother operation for the most part.

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Manassas, Va.: JLC, Who is going to be "that other" offensive weapon for the Skins stretch run? Is he on the roster today?

Jason La Canfora: If he is, he's doing a heck of a job of hiding.

This is on the personnel guy. You go mad focusing on one position and come away with no one who has given you anything at all in the short term in what your owner says is a season when he expects a division title.

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Jason La Canfora: Alright guys, my time is up. Thanks so much for putting up with me and for all of the great questions. Sorry for those I did not get to, and as always you can email me - lacanforaj@washpost.com - or find me on the blog - Redskins Insider - or both.

Thanks again and have a great week.

Cheers.

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