Q: What do you make of all the recent layoffs?
A: I'm not surprised. Saddened, but not surprised. Some good people were let go as well as some people who will, like many right now, be in for a hard time. However, the signs were all over the place at Redskins Park for the past year. Before free agency last year, one NFL source said he didn't think the Redskins would be big-time players because they couldn't afford it – and he wasn't just talking about the cap situation. And one reason he felt the Redskins kept the assistant coaches was because Snyder did not want to pay for anyone who wasn't working for him. They also whacked part of the security force in the spring and we heard reports of cost-cutting going on in other operations at Redskins Park (with the radio operation; not watering the grounds that much, if at all. That sort of stuff.) This is just the next step.
Q: How about Clinton Portis' comments? Do they hold weight?
A: Raise your hand if you're tired of Portis. Now, I like when a player says things. Being in the media, it makes it more fun to have someone pop off now and then. Sterile is boring. Portis is not boring. But I have one good reason why the running game struggled down the stretch: Pittsburgh, New York, Dallas, and Baltimore. That and age combined with injuries did them in. When you're winning, you run more. W hen you're losing, you don't. That said, I heard grumbling from players about this so it's not as if Portis is way off the mark. Players felt like Jim Zorn got a bit worn with all his duties by the end and lacked imagination as a playcaller.
Q: What questions do you have about Portis?
A: What kind of distraction will he be next year? He knows that Jim Zorn will be gone if he has a tough year. If the Redskins struggle at the start of the season, listen to how Portis ramps up the criticism. Boy, imagine if the Redskins had gotten Chad Johnson. The headaches for Zorn ... But another question is this: how good is he? We know he's good, but ask yourself this: if you had one game to play and could choose one NFC East back for the game, who would you pick? Brandon Jacobs, Brian Westbrook or Portis? My other question for Portis is where is the burst? In the last five games of the season he had exactly zero runs for longer than 14 yards. Zero. Injuries played a factor, so did the line and the inability to pass. But Portis is not an explosive runner and has not been for a long, long time.
Q: Do you think Snyder's money issues will hurt free agency?
A: It's hard to say right now. That's the question we'll be asking because it's legitimate. You will hear grumbling if the Redskins do sign a big-time player from those who say they could have saved that for other employees. I'll say this: employees there think these firings were more a case of Snyder not making enough money rather than losing it. It's also a matter of his other businesses maybe not doing well. But I also know this: the more you win in this league the more money you make. The players he signs are investments. Of course, if you make heavy investments and lose then Snyder will take it out again on … the little people. It's not just him. I have a sister-in-law who used to work for the Browns in the early 1990s. When the Browns did not make the playoffs, the employees would not get raises. Players and coaches still would. It's the way of the world in this league.
Q: Will the Redskins really make wholesale changes?
A: They should; they really need to make a lot. But here's the thing: Vinny Cerrato and Zorn both are on life support. Both know what's out there and both know what could happen after next season if they lose. Knowing that, do you really think they want to overhaul their offensive line with a lot of young talent, knowing that might result in more wins later but fewer wins now? I wouldn't be surprised, though, if they mortgaged some from future drafts to build up this one and add a few more picks, like in the second round.
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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