Thanks to Anthony Brown, the lead writer at Redskins Hog Heaven here on Bloguin, for joining us in this week’s question and answer exchange.
Thanks also to our readers for the questions you’ve submitted.
Total Titans: What’s your take on Donovan McNabb’s new contract extension? Good or bad decision?
Redskins Hog Heaven:The Redskins had no choice. Peyton Manning and Michael Vick are in the last year of their contracts, but I don’t see (especially after Monday night) either of them leaving their current team. If they were available through trade, the Redskins don’t have the draft picks to offer–because they traded them away for Donovan McNabb. There are no other prospective veteran QBs who could do for Washington what McNabb can do. The die was cast for McNabb.
I’m less certain why McNabb would sign the deal as we now understand it. All of the options are with the Redskins. For a guaranteed 2010 bonus of $3.5 million, McNabb surrendered all his leverage to walk away. Perhaps Donovan or his agent senses that the market for his services is falling. Or he likes the Washington area and is laying plans beyond football. He is involved in the community and he always does his post-game interviews in a suit and tie as if he is the CEO of DC-based McNabb enterprises, inc.
If there is a work-stoppage next season, McNabb’s options as a 36 year old free agent go way down. So he could be hedging his bet with the certainty of a 2010 bonus.
TT: After all the Shanahanigans in Washington (from the Fat Albert controversy to the Donovan McNabb benching) and the beating the Redskins took from the Eagles do you think that Daniel Synder is having second thoughts about the Shanahan hiring?
RHH: Are you kidding? The Washington Redskins and Daniel Snyder are one. Snyder may be deep undercover and Mike Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen say the right things, but actions speak louder than words. Everything the ‘Skins have done to rebuild the team this season has been classic Snyder, from signing a big name coach Super Bowl, to trading for a big name quarterback, to signing big name running backs Willie Parker and Larry Johnson, to the whisper campaign against Albert Haynesworth last summer. It’s all familiar.
However, Shanahan is safe for now. Fans may question his judgment and egotism, but nobody wants Snyder to pick somebody like Jim Zorn to coach. No head coach, other than Joe Gibbs, lasted more than two years with the Snyderskins. I am holding my breath for Shanahan on that.
Gibbs had Gregg Williams teed-up as next head coach in 2008. Williams and Snyder did not get along, so Shanahan would be here by now in any event.
TT: Briefly compare and contrast: Clinton Portis, Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams. How will the Redskins’ attack differ with each of them? Assuming all of them become healthy, how would you like to see them used?
RHH: Greg Trippiedi, my Hog Heaven writing partner charts every play of every game. He concluded that Torain is a tough inside runner, but runs too laterally too often. Keiland Williams may not be the runner Torain is, but he is better on third downs and is a receiving threat out of the backfield. Lost in the noise of the Monday Night Massacre is that Williams gained 139 yards of total offense and scored three touchdowns.
Clinton Portis is the superior rusher and by far the superior pass blocker. The interior of the Redskins’ offensive line has been getting pushed around big time in the last two games. Portis is needed for his blocking skills maybe more than for rushing. If all three were perfectly healthy, I would go with CP all game long, with Keiland Williams as the change-up back. Shanahan brought Torain to Washington and seems to have a preference for him.
TT: Which do you think the Redskins defense will do most often? Load up the box to stop Chris Johnson or put double coverage on Randy Moss?
RHH: The book on Randy Moss is that he does not like double coverage and that he takes plays off. (Hmm, sounds like Albert.) My guess is that the Redskins will take their chances with Moss and try to stop CJ, but will try to do it with the front seven (not load the box) and that SS LaRon Landry will play a prominent role.
I no longer play fantasy football, but consider Chris Johnson to be a marvelous back. I look forward to seeing him play, up to the one-yard line, that is.
TT: The Redskins had a lot of problems on the offensive line last year. What’s your take on Jammal Brown and Trent Williams? How much have they improved the line?
RHH: Shanahan and Allen at least addressed the line at the tackle position and Washington is better for it. We have high hopes for Williams who got off to a good start early in the season. He’s having some rookie issues, but I am encouraged about the next few seasons with him.
The jury is out on Jammal Brown. He hasn’t been healthy enough to get the leverage he needs for a legal block and the Redskins have rotated T Stephon Heyer in his place more than they would like. Heyer was an undrafted free agent discovery of Vinny Cerrato. His career has been up and down, but he has emerged as a NFL-caliber back-up and the Redskins’ most consistent lineman. That’s not really a compliment to Heyer or to the line.
It’s hard to fix the line when the team only has four or five draft picks per year.
TT: It looks like the Redskins are having some problems on defense. Are they just growing pains or was switching to a 3-4 a mistake?
RHH: I blame MADDEN and Gregg Williams for the fact that this is even an issue. One can switch alignments and schemes in video games and not pay any transition cost. Real people have learning curves. It’s a transition cost that cannot be avoided. The Redskins are paying that cost and it is paying off.
Washington is more disruptive with the 3-4. They have 19 sacks, nine inceptions and 10 fumble recoveries. LaRon Landry switched to strong safety in this alignment and is having a Pro Bowl year. Former back-up DL Lorenzo Alexander is a revelation at outside linebacker.
This system just needs time to really jell. Washington played in the 4-3 alignment since the 1960s and reached its most recent high performance under Williams. Of course that’s going to look better in the short term. The 3-4 is the better defense again 21st century passing offenses.
The real growing pain, in every sense of the word, is that Albert Haynesworth won’t play in the 3-4. He says he’s not good enough. Washington uses him in the 4-3 set. That keeps him off the field for most of the defensive snaps.
TT: How do you see the game playing out? Who wins and why? Also, feel free to predict a final score if you’d like.
RHH: By now, Chuck Cecil and Jeff Fisher have studied the video of Washington’s games against Detroit and Philadelphia and can see the interior of the ‘Skins O-line is a highway to McNabb and the backfield. The Titans’ front seven match up well against that line. McNabb will pull off two big plays that either score or leads to a score and Washington will execute a long drive that leads to a field goal.
The defense will concede a big play to Randy Moss for a score, but won’t stop Chris Johnson for his other two touchdowns, the last of which will come with six seconds left in the game to give the Titans the 21-17 lead.
But on the ensuing kick-off, the game officials are distracted by a Dolly Parton wardrobe malfunction and miss the four holds the Redskins perpetrate on the Titans to spring a Brandon Banks 101 yard kick-off return that wins the game 24-21. I know this will happen because my Magic 8 Ball says “without a doubt.”
Thanks again to Anthony for joining us this week. For a look at his questions and my answers to them, here’s the link.