It is impossible to make the claim that Ladell Betts is a better running back than Clinton Portis. Not only has Portis delivered the goods in Washington , but over his tenure in the NFL, he’s one of the best of all time.
So no, the calls for Portis to lose his job are unfounded based on the stats. But can you make personnel decisions based on stats alone? Is there something in team chemistry and familiarity with schemes the can be a deciding factor beyond production?
If there is something to those things, then Ladell Betts should be the starting running back for the Washington Redskins.
I acknowledge that he isn’t a better player than Portis, but I won’t concede that Betts doesn’t give the team a better chance of winning than Portis at this stage of their careers . Portis has been run down , badmouthed and pinpointed for a lot of the Redskins woes over the last few seasons. From being all too anxious to share his opinion, to injuries, to this year’s apparent breakdown in physical ability, he’s been the target.
Betts, on the strength of his status as a career backup, hasn’t had the extensive injury history, and or the spotlight that inhibits trust and rapport with teammates. That’s not to say that Betts wouldn’t make many of the same assessments that Portis has over the years, but it is to say that he doesn’t have the frequent platform to regularly deliver an opinion.
So we don’t hear it. And when we do hear him, it’s usually the sound of a great teammate with a positive outlook.
Betts has proven beyond serviceable as a starter for the Redskins, and may be more versatile in clutch situations given his experience as a third down back. Maybe the running game against the Broncos worked for a multitude of reasons, and maybe the least of those was Betts’ ability.
But Betts is the back who wound up with a hundred plus yards on the day, and were it that easy to put together a game like that, Portis, an all-time great, would’ve found a way to do it against the far-inferior competition of weeks past.
And if you do think it was Betts talent, it’s not as if yesterday’s performance was a flash-in-the-pan fluke. Portis and Betts have long been interchangeable , even with the coach who brought Portis to Washington.
Teammates, coaches and pundits may have their minds made up on Portis given his contract and his career stats, and Portis has earned both well.
But is the question of the Redskins starting running back more on justifying the wealth and history of the injured starter, or with recognizing the back-up who provides the better chance to win?