Washington Redskins

Formula For a Successful Redskins Season: Part 3 Of 4

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 19: Running back Clinton Portis #26 of the Washington Redskins runs with the ball during the game against the Cleveland Browns on October 19, 2008 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. The Redskins won 14-11. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Ed SheahinCorrespondent IMay 15, 2009

In his first two seasons as an NFL RB with the Denver Broncos, Clinton Portis averaged 5.5 YPA (yards per attempt) and 280 attempts per campaign, statistics that allowed him to be discussed in the same breath as Barry Sanders and Eric Dickerson.

Since his arrival in Washington, Portis has averaged (in a full season) 340 attempts and 4.1 YPA.  Many in the Redskins organization would argue that a difference in philosophy (than the Broncos) explains the dramatic decline in his average rush yards per attempt. 

In other words, they are saying this is why we’re unable to achieve the same success with Portis that the Broncos accomplished.

Portis’ violent running style has limitations.  His carries must be limited to 18-22 attempts per game in order to reap the benefits of this unique back.  All head coach Jim Zorn has to do is review the game film of Portis as a Bronco to see how his talent was used to its greatest potential.

Additionally, Portis is a better runner when he can instinctively select his running lane.  The three yards and a cloud-of-dust method Gibbs (and, last season, Zorn) tried to force upon Portis does not work.  The square peg does not fit in the round hole. 

This is just another example of a team forcing the player to adjust his game, rather than the coach adjusting the game plan to fit the unique talents of his players.

Does that mean a change in offensive philosophy when it comes to running the ball? Sure it does!  If Zorn does not possess the foresight to make the necessary changes to best utilize Portis, Mike Shanahan will gladly do so in 2010. 

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