The NFL playoffs are one game away from being concluded. They occurred, of course, without the participation of the Redskins, an all too frequent occurrence in the past decade and a half. With the coaches being involved in season-ending meetings and the players scattering to their homes and various vacation destinations it’s doubtful that they paid much attention to the proceedings in the 10 postseason games played so far.
Sometimes the best deals are the ones that you don’t make. One in that category certainly would be any trade that removes Clinton Portis from the Redskins roster. It’s good to know that Ladell Betts can tote the rock, but he isn’t the home run threat that Portis is and you’d like your prime back to put the ball on the ground less often than he does. During the playoff run last year Portis was the heart, soul, and guts of an offense playing with one wide receiver and a gimpy, limp-armed quarterback. Washington goes nowhere without him. Even if you were inclined to trade him you couldn’t get anywhere near full value for him coming off of two injuries. Look around the league, you’ll find plenty of very productive RB tandems like Jones and Barber in Dallas, Jones and Benson in Chicago, Bush and McAllister in New Orleans, and Addia and Rhodes in Indy.
The autopsies on the Redskins season, which suffered a premature death, are rolling in from many different sources. The Post did a three-part series covering the personnel acquisition system (or lack thereof), the failure of Joe Gibbs and Al Saunders mesh their offensive philosophies, and the collapse of Gregg Williams’ defense. Thom Loverro at the Times came up with his six-point plan for turning it around and here at WarpathInsiders.com we’ve had John Keim and Rick Snider pipe in with their suggestions. In short, it’s been a week-long Redskins bashing festival. Even some Redskins themselves have taken their shots as Chris Cooley and Clinton Portis have given radio interviews that were not the usual “I’m just the player, the coaches make the decisions” player interview fare. The steady diet of negativity has pushed many members of Redskins nation into the depths of despair, wondering how the team is ever going to become competitive again.
This just in—the Redskins defense stunk in 2006. In almost any way you look at it the performance of the unit was among the worst in the NFL. They were #27 in rushing yards, #23 in passing yards and #31 in total yards. Washington had only 19 sacks; the second-worst team in this regard, the Tampa Bay Bucs, got 25 sacks, or about 30% more than the Redskins. The six interceptions they made is a historically low total.
What made the performance of the defense shocking is that the unit has been the team’s consistent strength ever since Gregg Williams arrived along with Joe Gibbs in 2004. But through a combination of a scheme that the other teams have figured out, some key injuries, and some misguided personnel decisions the unit has deteriorated into the team’s Achilles heel.