Redskins Insider: Previewing the Dallas game

Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 20, 2009; 11:00 AM

Jason Reid, Washington Post staff writer and Redskins Insider blogger, discusses the Redskins and how they match up with the Cowboys.

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SE, DC: So, is it the play calling or sitting of Portis?

Nothing mean intended but people have noticed a change. Granted the 6 good Qtrs of play tend to run along with the injury to Portis, I notice improvement in the run game and passing games with less stretch running plays and more between the tackles. Or is it all a matter of teams not knowing "the 2 Sherm's" tendecies and they aren't up to speed yet?

Jason Reid: From what I've been told, the biggest difference is the running game. I never really bought into that whole thing about play-calling to begin with. I'm not saying Zorn is the greatest play-caller in the world, but it's not his fault if guys drop passes and fail to execute. Read Mike Sellers's quotes on the blog about the running game. I think he makes a lot of sense.


Alexandria, Va.: Do you think Rock Cartwright will get his share of carries this week too? He was a good complementary back to Betts last week.

Jason Reid: I think he will get some chances. The coaches like what he did last week. He doesnt have great speed or anything, but the guy works hard and hits the right holes.


Washington DC: How many plays this year has Haynesworth been injured and how many plays has he just "taken off." After half of a season, we find out that St. Louis center Jason Brown was completely right, no?

Unfortunately, when you do this all season long, no one believes you when you have a real ankle injury. Is the ankle injury for real?

Jason Reid: I can't say Brown was completely right. I mean, I had heard that stuff about Haynesworth as well, but I can't say that about the man without knowing for sure. I guess it doesn't look good the way he comes off the field a lot and everything. I'll give you that.


DC: Levi Jones is muuuuuch better than Stephon Heyer. How sad is this?

Jason Reid: Well, Heyer does the best he can. It's not his fault he was put in the position he's in. I'm not sure Levi is all the way back, either. Let's give it a few more games. But he definitely contributed against the Broncos.


Annandale, Va.: The NFL GM job has got to be one of the most pressure-filled, time-consuming jobs in sports. From talking with 'Skins insiders, do you get the sense that both Snyder and Cerrato treat what they are doing as work? I hear that Vinny's show was originally going to run 5 days a week. What kind of a legitimate GM gives up 10 hrs of his time per week for non-GM-related matters? Is it really as it appears, that Snyderatto lets the scouting teams from other teams do all the work, finding players and coaches, then these two swoop in to buy these coaches and players through free agency? Or do you get any sense at all, that both have enough respect for GM work that they actually treat it like work, putting in the long hours and all the effort that's required to do it well?

Jason Reid: Wow. There's a lot there. I don't talk to Snyder and Cerrato often. The whole radio show thing, well, it is what it is. The Redskins have hard-working scouts. There are a lot of people out here who try to do things the right way. Ultimately, though, Snyder and Cerrato make the decisions.


McLean, VA: As the late, great Ken Beatrice used to say, "More games are lost than won." What would it take for the Cowboys to lose this game?

Jason Reid: The Redskins definitely could win this game. The NFC East doesn't appear to be very strong at this point. If the Redskins apply consistent pressure on Romo and Betts continues to run as he has since Portis has been sidelined, I like their chances. Really.


Orlando, Fl: Jason,

Thanks for feeding our need for all things Redskins.

I am amused by the "offensive explosion" label from the last game. The offense moved the ball (as they have at times under Zorn,) but the offense scored exactly THREE more points! And why no comment on the drive in the fourth quarter, I believe, when we are pounding the ball on the ground, get inside the twenty and first down is five wide recievers. Of course, incompletion and the drive stalled for a field goal. Still a lot of questionable decisions.

Now to my question. Why has no one noticed that short yardage/ goal line situations fair much better with Sellers in the backfield instead of flanked at tight end? If they split him out one more time, I might lose it.


Jason Reid: I don't know. He has pretty good blocking as a tight end at other times. I think he's had a pretty decent season overall to this point, regardless of what one person thinks. But I hear what you're saying.


Who needs it more?: Jason, since the Cowboys actually have a shot at the playoffs and are coming off a bad game, it would seem they "need this one more" than the Skins. I actually believe this has a role in the way teams play. Have you ever talked to players about this, and if needing it more affects their play?

Jason Reid: Obviously, the Cowboys are in a better position than the Redskins. But they are coming off that ugly loss to the Green Bay Packers, so they definitely want to get back on the right track with the Giants and Eagles still very much in the mix. I've covered many teams in several sports, and I've never had a guy tell me they played harder if they needed the game more than another team. You know what I mean?


Fairfax, Va.: Why do the Skins think Orakpo is too small to play DE? He is built the same as Dwight Freeney and Freeney doesn't seem to have a problem?

Jason Reid: Yeah. It's that notion about the supposedly big, bad NFC East. You know, that this is the tough-guy conference where they run the ball when it gets cold and all that. Jason Taylor struggled with his hand down last year, though Taylor just wasn't suited for Blache's defense. As for Orakpo, the really needed him to play the SAM backer position because the people who make the decisions around here somehow didn't notice Marcus Washington was breaking down over two seasons.


SC PA: What's missing from the 'why they won Denver' discussion to me is that it seems that the O-Line just worked harder for Betts than they did for Portis. In other words, they just plain don't like Clinton.

Any truth to that?

Jason Reid: Nah. I don't but that. Those dudes are professionals. And the line has changed a lot this season because of injuries. Betts just has a better burst than Portis, several players told me.


South Hill, Va.: While I agree Heyer isn't a very good tackle and should be replaced, I still think he has exceeded expectations. To be an undrafted free agent and starting is quite impressive. He could provide some good depth at tackle, but he really shouldn't be starting at this point.

Jason Reid: He really shouldn't have been starting period. It comes down to scouting and decision-making.


DC: Let's be honest, Jason would have overthrown Sellers on the trick play, right?

Jason Reid: That's just mean. Funny, though, but still mean.


Virginia Beach: Are you legally obligated to always mention that Malcolm Kelly had knee concerns before the draft and the Redskins drafted him despite knowing about it each time you mention his name?

Jason Reid: Nah. But I think it's relevant when you pick a guy in the second round whom other teams have assigned a medical reject grade, he fails to help in his rookie season because of the knee injury you knew about before you drafted him and he has microfracture surgery after the season. They made the move for three big receivers when their offensive line was falling apart in front of them. Having written all that, I really think Malcolm has a chance to do something in this league.


Baltimore: Hey Jason - I was just wondering if the team is getting extra hyped because it's Dallas Week. With all the turmoil that has happened this season it seems like the fans aren't as rabid as usual. How about the players? Thanks!

Jason Reid: Nah. Guys don't look at it like that. It's an NFC East game, so it's big for that reason. Would they like to beat Dallas? Sure. But no more than they want to beat the Eagles or the Giants.


re: Heyer: It is his fault that he's terrible at football. The guy doesn't even get out of his stance before the DE is sacking Jason.

Jason Reid: I've seeen that, too. But it's not his fault he is starting. Other people are responsible for that.


Ashburn, Va.: Jason:

Love the Insider. A question: Would you get a drink with someone from a rival newspaper? What's the relationship with those guys?

Thanks for all the hard work.

Jason Reid: I'd definitely have a drink with guys from other newspapers. I've done it often. Thanks, Rick.


South Hill, Va.: If the Redskins were to sign John Runyon, could he have the same impact on the right side of the O-Line that Levi Jones has had on the left??

Jason Reid: I don't know. How much does he have left at this point? Why is he still out there if he can play? Of course, you could have said the same thing about Jones.


the ATL Burgundy Revolution HQ: So we got our signs back, and now we want our football team back. Do you feel the pressure to insitute major, fundamental changes to the Skins organization has lessened in this past week?

Jason Reid: They won one game. The problems are still the problems. I don't see a lot having chnaged.


Westminster, MD: Does Laron Landry need to be switched to strong safety? It seems space is his enemy.

Jason Reid: There could be something to that. The Redskins get very defensive about that subject. Let's see what happens over the final seven games.


New Orleans: Do Zorn and the other coaches really think Portis is a better back than Betts at this point in the season or is it simply the notion that 'he who gets paid more, plays more'?

Jason Reid: Portis is owed a lot of money and he has a unique relationship with the owner, from what I've been told. And in fairness to him, he has been a very productive player over the years despite his poor practice habits.


Anonymous: Can we look to the future for a minuteas the Skins need to rebuild? Understanding who will be free agents, who on the Redskins roster has any trade value that would garner even a 2nd or 3rd round pick? What would the Skins get for Sanatana Moss? They can't trade Cooley, but he's the only other guy I see having value. (Orakpo and Landry are untouchables.)

Jason Reid: There's no way to do this right now. We don't know who the coach will be, and there could be a new top football offical as well. There is just too much to be sorted at this point.


Anonymous: What are the odds of the Redskins making it into the playoffs? Does the Dallas game really matter, except for pride and/or spite? What about the chances of the other NFL team that plays in Maryland, the Ravens?

Jason Reid: I'm not an odds guy. Obviously, it doesn't look good for them to make the playoffs at this point. I don't know about the Ravens, either.


Washington, DC: Does Portis have a second act in him, whether it's in Washington or somewhere else? Or if he just at the point where he transitions into a back-up role, and shortly thereafter is out of football entirely?

Jason Reid: That's a great question. I really wonder. He has a lot of wear and tear on him. He's at that stage of his career when running backs usually don't get better. I predicted he would not run for at least 1,000 yards this season. I'm sticking with that, and I'd be surprised if he ever rushed for that many in aother season.


Chesterfield, Va: Jason,

Why is Devin Thomas starting at wide receiver? He seems very unproductive for a starter facing single coverage, with defenses focusing on Moss. I know El is not the ideal #2 receiver, but he seems like he would be a far more productive option then Thomas.

Jason Reid: Devin had a couple of nice catches last week, inluding that 27-yarder late in the game to setup Betts's go-ahead touchdown run. I've been hard on the kid at times because of his maturity issues, but I saw something positive last weke.


DC: Isn't Landry's biggest problem right now his chronic Superman syndrome? He tries to blow everyone up, rather than wrapping up and making the tackle. He just keeps flying by people.

Jason Reid: He's not blowing up guys now. Thirty just needs to get it together. I think he can.


SE, DC: What are folks saying about Moss?

I attended the game. I've been curious about the WRs and JC, and watched them with interest. Randle El works and run his routes strong. Moss seemed to loaf on his routes to me and he had another drop. When JC overthrew him last week, it was like Moss did not turn on his burners until he saw he was getting the ball and it was too late. But it looked like JC simply overthrew yet again.

Jason Reid: He's still their top receiver. He and JC haven't really clicked this year.


re: Kelly & Thomas: How often have highly drafted WRs done so little to start their careers and then actually turned into productive players? My guess is 'rarely.' Obviously injuries, QB play, coaching, etc. play a role, but these guys are not going to be stars.

Jason Reid: I think it's way too early to say these guys are not going to be stars. Let's give it more time.


Washington, DC: Could the Redskins rebuild the O-Line as quickly as they seem to have rebuilt the D-line?

Wasn't it just over a year ago that you, Jason LaCanfora and others noted that one of the Redskins real problems was their D-line. It was often pointed out how the Redskins had neglected it for years.

They signed Haynesworth, drafted Orakpo and Jarmon and now people point to the D-line as having depth.

Can the O-line be fixed as quickly, and as effectively?

Jason Reid: It's possible. It just depends if they make the right moves.

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