Redskins Blog: Monster Portis and Predictions

In case you haven't noticed, Clinton Portis is in the process of having a huge season.

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Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs' Washington Redskins. Get details and order at http://GutCheckBook.com

November 9, 2004

Portis

I mentioned this in passing yesterday, but it's worth a closer look; Clinton Portis is in the midst of a monster season for the Redskins.

Again, yesterday he was responsible for just over three quarters of the Redskins offense. He's not quite that big a part of the team's output on the season, but his contribution has been quite substantial. Portis has 976 yards of offense (810 rushing, 151 receiving, 15 passing). The team has 2,181 yards and my handy desktop calculator tells me that Portis represents about 45% of his team's offense.

Since it's the halfway point of the season you don't need an Excel spreadsheet to do the math and project that Portis will finish with 1.620 yards in rushing. That would break Stephen Davis' team record for a season, set in 2001, by nearly 200 yards.

What's truly amazing about all of this is that he's achieved it on an offense that has one of the worst passing games in recent memory. Should things start to click through the air the possibilities are limitless.

Bold Predictions Analysis

Every week in this space I take a look back at my predictions for the game and see how much water they held. I rate the prognostications with buckets of water. A five-bucket prediction held a Lake Michigan full of water while a one-bucket rating wouldn't drown a flea from a lion's mane.

Prediction:
For Washington, Clinton Portis has to have a great day and Mark Brunell must have a decent day. There is much confidence in the former, not much in the latter.
Rating: Five Buckets

I couldn't have been any more on the money here if I'd been given a game tape on Saturday night.

Prediction:
(Kevin) Jones won't find much running room against the patched-up Washington defense and Gregg Williams will scheme to harass (Joey) Harrington into some sacks and an interception or two. Kicker Jason Hanson's leg won't be deterred at all, so let's say that the Lions get a TD and three Hanson field goals for a total of 16 points.
Rating: Three Buckets

Jones garnered just 20 yards on 12 carries and the Lions as a team rushed for just 64. Harrington was sacked twice and intercepted once. A pretty good call there, but I thought that the Lions would be able to move the ball a little better, enough to get into position for a couple more field goal attempts for Hanson. I subtracted one bucket for each missing field goal attempt.

Prediction:
Getting to 17 is the key for the Redskins. I think they're capable of doing it, but they haven't demonstrated the ability to do so in a winning effort thus far this year. That makes it difficult for me to predict that they will.

In the late going it will be Detroit 16, Washington 14. Ola Kimrin will have a field goal attempt to win it. It will smack off of the upright and 16-14 is the final.
Rating: Two Buckets

I've got to give myself some credit for zeroing in on 17 as the total the Redskins would need to win and that's exactly what they scored. Of course, both my endgame scenario and the winner of the game were wrong, so it's just a two-bucket call.

Blocked Punt for TD History

Yesterday, I told you that the Redskins' blocked punt for a touchdown would send the team's beat writers scrambling through the pages of my books to find out when the last time the Redskins scored a TD off of a blocked punt was. Indeed it did and they dug out the September 19, 1982 game against the Tampa Bay Bucs. As promised, here is the complete account of that game from the pages of Gut Check:

Tampa Stadium—In a Florida downpour, the Redskins pulled out their secret weapon—the Riggo Drill.

In fact, the term was coined to describe a segment of practice where John Riggins would run the ball five straight times. But on this day where the rain made the passing game difficult and the kicking game an adventure, Riggins carried the ball a team record tying 34 times for 136 yards. Joe Gibbs mentioned the Riggo Drill in his postgame comments and it became as much a part of the language of Redskins fans as Hogs, Smurfs, and the Fun Bunch.

Riggins' running, along with some Tampa miscues, set up three Mark Moseley field goals, a touchdown pass from Joe Theismann to Charlie Brown and kept Doug Williams and the Tampa Bay offense off of the field. That, and a blocked punt recovered by Curtis Jordan in the end zone for a touchdown, was enough to beat the Bucs.

After taking a 9-0 lead in the first quarter, the Redskins watched Williams strike back quickly. On the first play of the second quarter, the Bucs quarterback unloaded a 62-yard touchdown bomb to Kevin House and suddenly Tampa Bay was back in it, although they missed the extra point to make it 9-6.

After another Moseley field goal, it was Jordan's turn. He slogged through the line, blocked the Bucs' punt, and splashed down in the end zone with the ball for six. Although the extra point was again missed, the Redskins had a little breathing room at 18-6.

The score remained there until James Wilder ran in for a Buccaneer touchdown from seven yards out early in the fourth quarter. The Skins responded with a nine and a half minute drive to another Moseley field goal and appeared to be in control with 4:16 left to play.

It looked as though they had lost that control two plays later. Williams connected with House on another bomb for 71 yards and an apparent TD. But the officials ruled that House had gone out of bounds and then back in to catch the ball, a violation of the rules. Tampa Bay had to punt, and Washington ran out the last 3:37 of the clock with Riggins carrying the ball on the last seven plays.

After the game, Riggins had plenty of time to rest up and the rest of the players had plenty of time to dry out. The player's strike halted play for the next nine weeks. There would be no more Riggo Drills until late November.

November 8, 2004

A few quick hits about Sunday's game:
  • Coming into this game, just a shade over half of the Redskins' possessions this season have been three and outs or worse (48 of 96). Today, they improved that ratio to just 33% with four three and outs in 12 offensive possessions. Better, but half of the three and outs came on the Redskins' last two possessions when they needed to grind out the clock.
  • We now know Ola Kimbre's range. After he hit the crossbar on that 51-yard field goal attempt in the dome, it's safe to say that it's about 49 ½ yards.
  • James Thrash was clearly the player of the game. In fact, I'm so darned impressed with what he did today that I'm going to award him with the Redskins Blog's first official game MVP award. Maybe I'll come up with a clever title for it, maybe I won't (your suggestions are welcome). His nifty punt return set up Washington's first score and the three plays to down punts inside the five were the epitome of the cliché "those are the critical things that don't show up on the stat sheet." Chris Berman appreciated those plays on "NFL Prime Time" and put it best:
    "Once is an accident, two is a trend, three is evidence."
  • Of course, by granting game MVP status to Thrash, that means that, half a season into his Redskins career, Clinton Portis is already being taken for granted. Almost a buck and a half on the ground; add in his 15-yard TD pass and 11-yard reception and he accounts for over 75% of the Redskins offensive output. That's very impressive for CP but a terrible statement about the state of the Washington offense.
  • It's not all on Brunell. There are drops, there is substandard pass blocking and there are some uninspired play calls. Bottom line, though is that the Redskins won't be able to win many more of the games that are upcoming on their schedule with the putrid passing game they've exhibited for the entire season. Of course, if I were to tell Joe Gibbs this, he'd roll his eyes and say "Duh!" or something like that. I'm sure he and his staff are working the problem as we speak.
  • It's been quite a while since the Redskins have blocked a punt for a touchdown. In fact, I'm certain that the assembled Redskins beat writers and the team's PR staff are scanning their copies of my book The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games to find out when that last happened. I'll let them report that particular bit of information. What you'll find here tomorrow is the complete account of the game that the play happened in.
  • How did the Redskins ever lose to the Cowboys?
Tomorrow, Bold Predictions analysis (delighted that my pick was wrong) and whatever else comes up.

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