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The LaVar Arrington issue has heated up after of his DNP in Denver and the salvo of words being batted back and forth between Joe Gibbs and Arrington through the media. On the John Thompson show on WTEM radio in Washington Arrington, who makes regular appearances on Thompson's show, said the following about his paucity of playing time:
I've put myself in the doghouse somehow. . .Like Coach Williams says, I've got to show them in practice. Well in practice, give me some reps [repetitions] so you can see what I can do. If you're not going to play me, then don't play me. Just don't make things up about why I'm not playing. I'm healthy. I'm of sound mind and body. Don't try to slander me. It's being insinuated that I'm not smart enough to play this defense. That's absurd.
If you have a guy that you say he needs to prove he knows the schemes, if he doesn't do much of anything, how do you get the opportunity to see if he's improved. That's where I'm at.
Gibbs responded after Wednesday's practice, sort of:
I'll probably address this for the last time. The only comment I heard today is something about LaVar said that nobody has talked to him. I've talked to LaVar more than any player I've ever coached in 30 years, probably three times more. I've had great conversations with him and told him exactly what he needs to do.
A lot of heat, to be sure, but not much light. All we're left with, really, is speculation. Here's mine. First of all, Gibbs totally delegates the defense to Gregg Williams. Gibbs is the spokesman, the face of the team and while I'm sure that he and Williams confer about matters concerning the defense, including Arrington, who plays and who doesn't is Williams call, period. So whatever is being done regarding Arrington, it's Williams doing it.
Without being overly dramatic here, what Williams is trying to do is break Arrington down so that he can build him up. The analogies between football and the military are often overdone, but Williams is essentially putting Arrington through boot camp. It's a very difficult process to tear down teenagers so that you can remake them the way that best suits the Army; it's even more traumatic and difficult when you're dealing with a 27-year-old multimillionaire who is used to the adulation from the crowd and trips to Hawaii at the end of the season. In fact, we're seeing that it's a very ugly process. Whether or not it's successful remains to be seen. We have 12 games left this season to see how it looks going into the offseason.
One other note: This has absolutely nothing to do with Dan Snyder or anyone else being upset with Arrington over his contract dispute. Gibbs and Williams don't play that way, period. If Snyder tried to tell either one of them to bench or play any player because of some perceived embarrassment over a contract, there would be two letters of resignation on Snyder's desk the next morning. Williams may be taking the right approach and he may be taking the wrong one, but his is about what Gregg Williams sees as being the long-term good of the on-field performance of the Redskins. Nothing more, nothing less.
For those of you who are new here, whenever I make an incorrect prediction on a Redskins game, I come back to take my lumps and take a look at why.
Plummer is at his most effective getting outside of the pocket and making plays on the move. If you force him to make decisions quickly and get rid of the ball, he can be rattled. And a rattled Jake Plummer means turnovers.
Plummer was kept in the pocket for the most part and he was very inaccurate from there, but not inaccurate enough for him to have any picked off. The 55-yard TD run by Tatum Bell ended a string of five straight three and outs by Denver and took the pressure to have to make any plays off of Plummer
If the Redskins can coerce one of those multi-INT efforts out of Plummer on Sunday, they will win and they could win easily. If not, it will be yet another game that goes into the final minutes, or extra minutes, until it's decided. If that happens, it's anyone's game.
This was a good call here--no Denver turnovers and a down to the wire game. It didn't turn out as I expected, though:
Redskins 17, Broncos 13
The Redskins have never won in Kansas City. In fact, they've been pounded the only two times they've played in Arrowhead Stadium, losing by a combined score of 59-19 in 1992 and 1995. The only close game they've played in KC came in old Municipal Stadium when Hank Stram's Chiefs knocked off George Allen's 5-0 Redskins 27-20 on a late touchdown pass from Len Dawson to Otis Taylor.
The Chiefs still have a strong offense, led by quarterback Trent Green, running back Priest Holmes, and tight end Tony Gonzalez. The big difference between these Chiefs and Stram's bunch is that the team that beat Allen's Skins played some pretty good defense, led by end Buck Buchannon and Hall of Fame linebacker Willie Lanier. Today's Chiefs, well, not so much. They are 27th in total defense, a performance that can be expected to continue given that they finished 31st last year.
Every year, the Chiefs say that they have the cure for the defense, be it a new coordinator, a slew or draft picks or a key free agent. And every year they wind up near the bottom of the league statistically.
Of course, a defense isn't all about the stats. You need to look at other things, such as how that defense reacts when its team holds a 24-6 lead at home as halftime approaches. A great defense will crush the opposition at that point and not allow them another inch. A good defense will hang on to the lead one way or another. In their last game, the Kansas City defense coughed the lead up and they lost to the Eagles. Philly ran off 31 unanswered points. The Chiefs have had their bye week to, depending on your point of view, either stew on the collapse or work to correct the issues that led to it. They could either fret over it or they could step up with their best performance of the year on Sunday with their professional pride on the line.
The relevant question, of course, is can this Redskins team exploit this defense to put up the 20+ points that they likely will need to win this game? They will if Clinton Portis has anything approaching the success he's had against KC in the past. While with the Broncos, Portis averaged a shade under a buck fifty a game and scored 11 touchdowns, including five the last time he played them in December of 2003. While Arrowhead is a House of Horrors for most of the league, it's been a Field of Dreams for Portis.
Portis could finally have his breakout game this week, with 200 or so yards and a couple of TD's. Even if he doesn't, he should have a solid game with about a hundred and a quarter and maybe even his first touchdown of the year.
Overall, this is the worst defense the Redskins have faced this year. Mark Brunell should have plenty of time to find David Patten, who started to get untracked last week with seven catches, and Santana Moss. It seems that 30+ points is a possibility, but that would be a quantum leap. Let's say that they can put up 21, maybe 24.
Will that be enough to win? Yes, with a big if. The Redskins defense is beginning to show something of a penchant for giving up the big play. A perfect example was last Sunday after they forced five straight three and outs. The next offensive series for Denver lasted just three plays, too, but the third was Bell's 55-yard touchdown run, his second long scoring run of the game. There was the 70-yard pass on the flea flicker against Dallas, Shaun Alexander's 37-yard run to set up a touchdown after he's been held in check all day. As noted above, the Chiefs have the weapons to pull off one or two such plays both on offense and on special teams, where Dante Hall lurks as a dangerous returner on every kick.
They'll need to, because they won't make a living grinding it out against the Redskins. Nobody has.
One long strike by the Chiefs, the Redskins win. Two or more and KC is victorious. The call is one big play for the Chiefs and one huge win for the Redskins:
Washington 24, Kansas City 17