It seems so far off that Clinton Portis was a serious contender for the NFL MVP award just a season ago. Through half of a season, Portis had rushed for 995 yards, seven touchdowns, and the affection of rabid Washington football faithful.
By the time the season had concluded, Portis rushed for 100 yards in a game just once more, added only two more touchdowns, and had become critical of play calling that seemed to render all aspects of the offense predictable and ineffective.
If there is a reason to worry in Washington, it is not that the team lacks playmakers or talent to win games. It’s that the talent doesn’t believe they are put in positions to excel, a sentiment that starts and ends with Clinton Portis.
If the best player on the team doesn’t feel there is more he can give, if he doesn’t feel that more opportunities will reverse a course destined for .500 or worse in the standings, there’s no reason to assume that quarterback Jason Campbell will exude the confidence needed to keep his job.
There’s no reason that Jim Zorn will be confident enough to call high-risk, high-reward plays that will keep defenses honest.
And there’s no reason to think that Daniel Snyder will be confident enough in the team to refrain from blowing it up with Bill Cowher dynamite.
So, basically, this all starts with Clinton Portis. If he doesn’t believe that he can be productive, it all goes downhill. But if Washington gets him going—with eight straight carries if necessary—for him to feel that it’s his offense, then that is surely what this team needs to do.
Not just against the St. Louis Rams, but to set the tone for one of the most important seasons in team history.