You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
They say that if you have two #1 quarterbacks that you
really don’t have a number one quarterback.
How about if you have two #2’s?
Joe Gibbs provided an answer to one of the summer’s few
non-injury related questions yesterday when he announced his relief plan should
Mark Brunell go down with an injury at some point during the season. If Brunell
gets hurt during a game, Todd Collins will come in to finish up the game. If
Brunell will miss the next game and there is a full week of practice to prepare
the backup, Jason Campbell will be the man.
The headline at the
team’s official site reads, “Backup QB situation settled”. Not so fast. The
bow on this one isn’t tied as neatly as it might appear at first glance.
As veteran Gibbs watchers know, the term “veteran” meaning
going back a year ago, Gibbs’ pronouncements on his quarterbacks are subject to
change. Gibbs himself said that the plan was subject to change if, say, Collins
played very well in relief. In other words, he has sufficient wiggle room to
change his mind.
This Solomon-like compromise to divide the #2 QB baby in
half would appear to be a deal struck between Gibbs and offensive guru Al
Saunders, who certainly has a stake in who is running the offense. By all
indications it appears that Gibbs is more enamored with Campbell than Saunders
is. Saunders, of course, is Collins’ champion, having brought him over from
Kansas City. Gibbs traded away some high draft picks to get the first-round
choice that the team used to draft Campbell, so he has invested a great deal in
the second-year player out of Auburn. Since both men fervently hope that their
plan never has to be used as they would both like to see Brunell have a solid,
injury-free season, the decision on who would take over for Brunell was
essentially put off until such a decision had to be made.
So, what we know is this—Todd Collins will be the second,
active quarterback on game days and Jason Campbell will be the inactive #3 man.
If Brunell goes out during a game, Collins will come in. Other than that, we
don’t know anything. It’s anyone’s guess unless Collins throws three
interceptions and the Redskins lose an 11-point lead. In that case it’s a
pretty safe bet—not certain, but pretty safe—that Campbell would start the next
game. If Collins comes in in the middle of the third quarter and goes 7 for 15
for 101 yards but he hands the ball off to Clinton Portis well and the Redskins
rally from a seven-point deficit and win, does he start the next week if
Brunell still can’t play? Is the bottom line the win or does a so-so passing
performance warrant another chance?
Not even Gibbs or Saunders knows the answers to these
questions right now. Such answers depend on dozens, perhaps hundreds of
variables and the most basic of these are the coaches’ gut feelings. The twist
in this particular situation is that there are two guts to consider here, Saunders’
and Gibbs’. Again, the best-case scenario is that Brunell takes every snap and
the question never has to be put on the table. If not, however, it will be
interesting to see how the gut check between Saunders and Gibbs will turn out.
Rich Tandler is the
author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book
has an account of every game the Redskins played from when the moved to
Washington for the 1937 season through 2001. For details and ordering
information go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com
Portis: No News is Good News (posted 09.04.06)
Some sloppy reporting over the weekend has led many to
conclude that the chances are slim that Portis will take the field on Monday. A
report on KFFL.com, which is a
popular website that compiles sports reports from around the Internet and posts
them in capsule form, said that Portis was “doubtful” for the opener. Here is
Redskins | Portis doubtful for
Sat, 2 Sep 2006 09:16:01 -0700
The Associated Press reports Washington Redskins RB Clinton Portis' (shoulder)
availability for the season opener is in serious doubt, according to head coach
This led to a rash of message board posts and talk-show calls from panicked
Redskins fans saying that, see, the injury really is more serious than the
Redskins are letting on. The problem is that Joe Gibbs never said any such
thing. The last time he spoke to the media, which was on Friday, here is what
he had to say about the injury situation:
With the exception of Clinton and Shawn, I think we know
what we've got with everyone else (in terms of injuries). I think Clinton has
done extremely well. We'll have a discussion with him and see what he thinks.
How they get “serious doubt” out of this statement, I have
no idea. The folks at KFFL should know that the word “doubtful” has a very
precise meaning in terms of NFL injuries. On the official injury report it
means that there is a 75% chance that the player won’t play. You simply can’t
draw that conclusion from what Gibbs said. It was quite sloppy and
irresponsible of KFFL to have stated the situation in that way.
The view here is that it would be surprising, although not
shocking, for Portis to sit out on Monday. This feeling is based on the simple
fact that if the shoulder was considerably worse than the Redskins have been
indicating that word of that would have leaked out by now. This story is
national news. It is being pounded on all angles. The health of Portis’
shoulder is a critical story in the fantasy football world. Ever since the
injury happened on August 13 thousands of phone calls have been made in an
effort to get a solid nugget of information indicating that the injury would
either cost Portis some games or would seriously hamper his performance in
2006. Not one remotely credible report has come out indicating that either one
of those is likely to happen.
In this case, the old saying rings very true—no news is good
This doesn’t mean that there is no cause for concern.
Although Portis is right handed and he prefers to carry the ball in that hand
and the injury is to the left shoulder, consider the picture below.
He’s using his left arm to push off a defender and gain a
few additional yards. If the arm you use for your stiff arm is stiff all season
long, that could well to hamper your effectiveness, especially if defenders are
coaches to grab that arm and yank on it. Yeah, that wouldn’t really seem to be
sporting, but don’t think that Gregg Williams would hesitate to do the same
thing if he was an opposing defensive coordinator and he knew that a well-timed
yank might put the other team’s best offensive player on the bench.
Regardless, it’s been amusing to see many Redskins-bashing
members of the media do such an abrupt about-face when it comes to the value of
Clinton Portis. When the Redskins traded for Portis in 2004 these folks were
incredulous that they would give up Champ Bailey and a #2 draft pick for a
system back. When they signed Portis to a big contract extension a few months
later, it was ridiculous to pay so much for a mere running back, a commodity
that could be had for much, much less cap space.
Now that Portis may, just may, be affected by this shoulder
injury the same journalists have dropped the Redskins from being a possible Super
Bowl contender to a team that will be fortunate to finish around .500. His value is growing immeasurably in his absence. A little
consistency would be nice, but why should these guys start now?