Q: Are the Redskins imploding?
A: Yes and no. They're highly frustrated; no doubt about that. And there's more grumbling in the locker room than in the past during rough spells. Is Jim Zorn capable of leading them down the stretch? They're not sure; he has no record to fall back on. They've privately questioned some of his decisions, which we'll get to in a minute. But there's a lot of strong leadership in the locker room and those who are grumbling – Clinton Portis, Fred Smoot – approach the game one way. If they fail to make the playoffs, it's more about an aging roster that's banged-up and a rookie head coach that would be the culprit – not because they've necessarily imploded.
Q: What was the consensus on the Portis situation?
A: Guys were rather mixed about it. They weren't all that upset about what he said, it was more so when he said it that troubled them. As one player told myself and Ryan O'Halloran, "Why not just wait three more weeks?" In other words, wait until the season ended before voicing the frustration. There's also a Clinton Being Clinton resignation among players. This is who he is and what he does. It's part of the package. Were they upset at him? Not really. Annoyed? Yes. Remember, he mouthed off on the line earlier this year. But know this: that same player said Portis said what a lot of players were thinking.
Q: How has Zorn handled the situation?
A: Actually, not bad in terms of not losing his cool. Players look for stuff like that. But the real problem is that Zorn did not address it Monday morning. Portis had spoken out after the game; Zorn knew that. So why not call him into the office and address the matter. Instead, Zorn waited for the player to come to him. Well, that's not how every player does things so you've got to have the pulse of the team. Joe Gibbs had that. Does Zorn? But Zorn doesn't take things personal. During practice he chatted and laughed with Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El. And when Portis would make a good hard run, he would look back at Zorn, who would smile as if to say, ‘That's it; that's what I want.'
Q: How will Portis respond?
A: He seemed rather loose today. He smiled and sort of giggled when he saw all the media follow him into the locker room today. And he was rather loose during his media gathering, which lasted 4 minutes and 30 seconds. He smiled and laughed and seemed to get a kick out of things. And if his past is any indication, we're guessing he runs for more than 100 yards Sunday. It's always good to say things before playing a team that's 1-11-1.
Q: What are some other players upset about?
A: The way the tackles were left exposed vs. Baltimore. First, Justin Geisinger's mismatch vs. Terrell Suggs. And late in the game both tackles were left one on one. They felt Jason Campbell could have been crushed and maybe even hurt. A silly risk. They would have preferred seeing some sort of bootlegs and waggles; safer plays that could gain some good yards.
Q: Are they finished?
A: No. Not with the Bengals and Niners still on the schedule. Yes, the Niners are playing better. But they'll beat the Bengals, which makes the Eagles game the biggest of the year. They're capable of winning these games. It will be hard given the injury situation at tackle. But they still have some life in them. And by next week they could be at full strength defensively with Marcus Washington back at linebacker.
John Keim covers the Redskins for the Washington Examiner and is a contributing editor for Warpathinsiders.com. He has covered the team since 1994. Some of his other stories can be found at dcexaminer.com
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