When Clinton Portis Talks Redskins, We Really Should Listen

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When Clinton Portis Talks Redskins, We Really Should Listen
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I've been thinking much about Clinton Portis lately.

Washington's quirky running back is on everyone's boot list, as in boot him off the team.

Don't look for that to happen, but Portis managed to offend fans and teammates alike last season for his perceived special treatment by the hated owner and by calling out fellow players when he failed to bust 500 yards for the season.

I'm grateful for Portis. Somebody had to call the team out. How else would paying fans have known what was really going on with the 2009 Redskins? Not from the coaches.

Jim Zorn would not in public. Neither did Joe Gibbs, old mister "all of us together fighting our guts out to get a win" himself.

It falls to players to clue us in.

A mysterious player, believed to be Adam Archuleta, blew the cover on coaching dysfunction in the disaster of 2006.

Albert Haynesworth went public with his frustration with Greg Blache's defense schemes that Big Albert believed held him back.

Well yeah, coaches do that. Gregg Williams was famous for it. His schemes demanded consistent precision from players who were seen as interchangeable parts. Remember the bit about "everyone's a starter?" There were no stars for Williams.

Blache was even more rigid than that.

When the Redskins traded for elite defensive end Jason Taylor, Blache would make no better use of him than to replace Phillip Daniels, rather than adapt his scheme for the best active sack-master in the NFL.

The Taylor episode should have clued the front office in about how Blache would use, or misuse, Albert Haynesworth. They did not need to sign the leading pass-rushing defensive lineman for all that money only to use him the way the Skins use Anthony Montgomery.

Yes, Haynesworth's rant was self-centered, but it put a spotlight where it was needed. Maybe Jim Haslett will make better use of Big Albert.

Which brings us to Portis.

Was he wrong to poke at an offensive line in need of criticism? At the end of the 2008 season, Joe Bugel fessed up that the O-line was the major contributor to the late-season breakdowns of that year.

Was he wrong to go to the coaches to demand that Todd Yoder replace Mike Sellers in a game where Sellers wasn't blocking well? Why didn't Zorn or Bugel make that call? That's what I want to know.

Portis didn't go public with his complaint about Sellers. The matter came to light a week later when news of their locker room dispute got out. The public sided with Sellers. But we saw Portis' point as the season progressed.

Portis had issues with Zorn's offensive schemes. So did the front office after the Detroit game. Vinny Cerrato's fix was more disruptive than anything said by Portis. 

Portis questioned that quarterback Jason Campbell has the personality to lead the team. Ouch. That hurts on a personal basis. I sense from Campbell's demeanor that he and I have similar personalities.

I've heard the same criticism about me over my business career. Nice guys finish last, but quiet guys don't have to—if they learn to assert themselves. That's the lesson of a career lifetime from one quiet man to another (and to all you other strong silent types out there).

What's the knock on Campbell? That he plays but doesn't lead. He's not clutch.

Doc Walker and others have said that Campbell asserts a quiet leadership on the sideline. That's well and good. But on the next fourth quarter, game-winning drive when Campbell has been knocked on his butt or forced to rush a pass because somebody failed to block, I want to see more animation by Campbell directed at the perpetrator.

I bet Campbell was raised to believe that sort of thing is rude and impolite. If he's like me, he may even find it painful to do. Without going too far in the other direction, Jason has to find the balance. Then Clinton Portis won't have to call players out. He can concentrate on running.

It's better when quarterbacks do it. Until Campbell does, I'm happy to hear what Portis says.

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