With the regular season opener against the Redskins just days away, Will of Hogs Haven, SB Nation's Redskins site, was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to discuss his Redskins and this week's upcoming game. We each exchanged 5 questions. To see my responses to his questions, head on over to Hogs Haven.
I'd be crazy saying that I wasn't at all concerned with CP's health in the coming season. I think we need him in the lineup to perform offensively, especially in the red zone. Moreso than Ladell Betts, and probably anyone on the team, Portis has a keen olfactory sense for the end zone. We left 4 points on the field a number of times last year in the red zone when he wasn't out there and in some meaningful way that explains a 5 win season. That said, I'm not entirely convinced that the injury is as bad as probably advertised, or as bad as many fantasy owners are probably treating it. Knee injuries are serious on running backs, but there's also reason to believe that he's sitting on it more cautiously than some other players are. CP is assurred a spot on this football team. As recently as last preseason, his presence on the field in a game I know he doesn't think was important resulted in a very serious injury that kept him off the field a lot last year. It would not surprise me to find out that CP was healthy enough to play but either chose not to or convinced someone he didn't need to. We'll find out against you guys, though.
Barring injury, CP will be the premier back. Someone wiser than me instilled a 70/30 idea in my head that makes a lot of sense. The last time these two guys played a full season together, they had 441 carries of which CP had 352. That's about 80%. The two had 40 receptions between them, 30 (75%) belonging to Portis. Since that time Betts has distinguished himself as a reliable runner and an outstanding receiving target coming out of the backfield. If I had to guess on receptions, I think Betts has more than Portis. And I think the amount of carries he has is some amount above the ~20% he had in 2005. Thus, overall, we're looking at around 70/30. CP will get an increased share on touchdowns for all you fantasy owners.
How has Jason Campbell been progressing and how successful do you see him being against this Dolphin defense?
Word in the offseason was that he's the next coming of Jesus, that he lived to work on football and was constantly around the Park, that Al Saunders had proposed to him, that Joe Gibbs wanted to adopt him, etc. Perhaps a bit hyperbolic. His preseason play has been called uneven although he finished on an incredibly high note against the Jaguars, despite our losing that game. Regarding the game, the reality is that Campbell is still a young quarterback facing what was as recently as last year a very strong defense. I suspect that the coaching staff is still a ways away from throwing him to the wolves and making him shoulder the load, especially this early. You'll see a good amount of runs early on to keep the Dolphins honest defensively. At the risk of stating the obvious, whether or not JC has a successful day is going to depend largely on just 2 or 3 plays. This kid is not at all afraid of putting some air under the ball and going deep. He also has a receiver in Santana Moss who really facilitates that with his speed (and his ability to adjust to the ball while it is in the air, a talent he is unmatched by anyone in the league). If we don't complete many of those passes, we're going to be struggling slowly down the field all day and that will lead to a few stalled drives. If he completes many or all of them, that could very well be the difference between 120 yards or 0 yards, as well as some points. So, to answer your question, two or three plays could determine whether the Dolphins or Campbell emerge successfully from this game.
What I don't think you'll see are many interceptions out of JC. He's proven very reliable at protecting the ball even though he was so green last year. Don't prove me wrong, Jason.
I came across a stat that said the Redskins forced a turnover just once every 17.2 possessions in 2006. Does this at all worry you when you look towards 2007?
Of course not, there is no spoon, ignore the man behind the curtain, drinking kills brain cells.
That stat can't be right because I don't remember us getting a single turnover last year. Or at least that's what it felt like. I believe part of this is fixed just by Carlos Rogers catching more than a fraction of the passes that bounce off his chest. He did a great job of getting to the ball last year (or, more accurately, the ball did a great job of getting to him...) but could not catch a cold to save his life. Additionally to solve this problem I anticipate the team blitzing a whole lot more which will place added pressure on opposing quarterbacks and, hopefully, lead to some turnovers.
How do you see the Redskins' defense playing Miami's offense? Will they blitz to get pressure on Trent Green or sit back and try to apply pressure on Green with just 4 pass rushers?
We will blitz. The big Faustian bargain of last year was sacrificing the blitz because our personnel were so suspect, especially in the secondary. The solution there is to just put more people in coverage, but with our dismal 4 person pass rush this allowed the opposing quarterback decades to pass the ball, which they did to great effect. So, to protect the secondary we made it impossible for them to do their job. As flustered with our defense as I was last year, I don't think Gregg Williams is an idiot. He didn't go from being a brilliant defensive mind to being a boring one in one season and deserves an opportunity to redeem himself. So much crap went wrong last year that I'm hesitant to lay it all at his feet, and he's since made some pretty dramatic personnel changes (in cuts) and philosophical ones. As an example, he's decided that the other 31 teams are on to something when they designate "free" and "strong" safeties. Whether or not this newfangled contraption will lead to improved defensive performance is anyone's guess, but the preseason was encouraging. We gave up one touchdown in 3 preseason games (and Jacksonville's 31 point effort was largely against backups). To contrast, we gave up 5 touchdowns in the third week of the preseason last year to the Patriots.
When all is said and done, how do you see this game playing out?
Redskins win! Redskins win!
It's hard to predict because our defense was so uncharacteristically bad last year. I predict much of the same out of our offense which was efficient and didn't make a whole lot of mistakes but also didn't inspire any future blockbuster movies. If we're more like the 2005 or 2004 defense I loved so much, we should have a great season generally and a great game specifically against the Dolphins. The great thing about the first week of real football is that I can claim virtually anything and it still be possible. We're going to win this game.
Don't take my word for it. Las Vegas has us favored by 3 right now.
So there you have it. A view from the other side. Again, a big thanks goes out to Will. And remember, to see my responses to his questions, head on over to the best Redskins blog on the internet, Hogs Haven.