Q&A With: Doc Walker

The ex-Redskins tight end and current sports talk show host on WTEM-AM 980 is known for his brutally honest opinions. He'll rip the Redskins after a loss, when it's deserved, and he'll praise them when it's right. Here's what he has to say about the season.

Q: Let's start with an easy one--what did you think of the Redskins this season?
A: It was a season of missed opportunities. Even with their personnel mix they blew an opportunity to be a playoff team. The offensive line recovered, but I thought even with the changes in quarterbacks, Steve was missing by a game or so with rotating guys to help him win. Wuerffle's injury led to a good game by Ramsey, then he ran into New Orleans and Wilbert Brown played guard. He had a bad game in his first game and that hurt Ramsey. They were in position to beat New York and they gave the ball up too many times. Then at Dallas in the first half, it was great football then they lost it with turnovers and lost a game they were in command of. They had a lot of self-inflicted wounds. They were only physically beaten twice--Philly at home and against New Orleans. Jacksonville showed more of a will to win. That game surprised me--the Jaguards fed off Spurrier's homecoming and they got out of what was successful in Seattle. The offensive line showed me at the end that they were rolling. But they had too many mistakes by different people and the special teams killed them. The defense was put in awful positions and on third down the defense needed to be better. They were very good at times and needed to be better to make up for the development of the offense. It was always one thing that kept them from being where the Giants were. The Giants recovered and that slot could have been Washington's.

Q: What's your offseason wish for the Redskins?
A: Continuity. If they lose Marvin then they have to have a quick swoop  to minimize the changes for that defense. Everyone will put a new twist to the defense, but the nomenclature has to remain the same. Guys can't break the huddle thinking again. They have to be reactive. They had some aggressive guys who never got into a flow where their athleticism could take over. Everything was too new.

Q: What about in terms of personnel?
A: They need playmakers, like every team. Their Pro Bowlers have to be difference makers. It's tough for Bailey because few teams threw at him. They have to force more turnovers and make more plays in the secondary and they have to win the takeaway battle. If you're young and building, you have to be among the least penalized or at least force turnovers and they had no luck with that. When they'd have a good thing going, the punter would failed them. That had to be the most frustrating thing for Spurrier--he actually still had people on their heels and called some great things, but he could never build on it because one good play was always followed by a mishap.

Q: What did you think of Spurrier?
A: Like players who come from college, he thought the game would be different than it actually was. He had to make an adjustment. When you dominate as long as he did, there's an adjustment. He hadn't been an underdog in so long. It was remarkable what he did at Duke--his first year was one of the best year's ever. But up here everyone else is so good on defense that he was used to calling games with a lead. His nature is to put points on the board and be aggressive. But when you're trailing, you can't control the QB like you want to. And they didn't have enough playmakers. You're dealing with lower scores and they had too many breakdowns to get into a good flow with the playcalling.

Q: Do you like Patrick Ramsey?
A: You can build on Ramsey. But he has to have a tremendous offseason and he'll be better because it's not all new anymore. His finest moment came in Philly. I judge him against the best. You put him in against the best and he made some plays. He has to be more instinctive and run more and be more athletic. You can get out there and make things happen. He can grow into that. Thank goodness they have two tackles. The tight end started early then got shut out and that's an instrument Steve has to use a lot more of in this league. He'll be able to do that. If he sticks with the two young backs. . . they showed against a good Houston defense that they're capable of being good runners. Now they have to be better pass protectors. You don't get a lot of extra help in their scheme so they have to know what's going on with blitz pickups.

Q: Can Betts and Watson win in the NFC East?
A: In the end they showed they could run the ball. Steve has to win either way. He has to win ugly and with the running game. You can't force a system down the NFL's throat. The players on defense are too good.

Q: What does the offense need in terms of personnel?
A: They need a receiver. They need veterans and they have to get one young guy who can run. They have to hope Cliff Russell can come back, but he'll still be a rookie. They have to get someone who, by NFL standards, will take two people away. A guy who can beat you on one play. Steve has to get the long ball in this offense and they need more speed to do it. You have to get a short throw and a long run. I don't know how many of those they had and that hurts you. That's difficult to deal with. You can't rely on throwing long all the time. Defensively they need more of a pass rush. With their corners if they get a consistent pass rush, they'll be tough to throw on. They're blessed with good corners and that's the main thing. They've put themselves in position to be a formidable defense against good teams. That's how they can beat Indianapolis, because they have cover guys.

Q: What's the worst thing you saw out of them this year?
A: The team has to get mentally tougher. When you get a bad play, then you have to go in and stop it. You have to go in in adverse situations and make plays. The battle of field position, they could never win consistently in that department. The Buckeyes are a good example. They're in the national championship because of that. If you have a great punter and a great field goal kicker and a good defense, then you have a chance to be 8-8. Then if you get some help on offense you have a chance to be really special. But you have to shore up the kicking game. You have to get returns and kick the ball off and punt it well. If you do that with the athletic guys they have on coverage teams, then you have a chance. But you can't be wishy-washy with that. Mental toughness is an attitude, guys believing in the system, having cohesiveness. This was still a close team.

Q: Do you like where this team is going?
A: (Long pause). I don't know where it's going. We have to wait and see where it's going. They won't add a GM and Steve has to get more involved. I thought he was involved last year, too, in the offseason. You take the turnovers away and now how involved do you have to be because now you've won. The offense and special teams kept putting the defense in terrible situations. If you take care of that, you've got a chance  be good. They're not a lousy team, but they had lousy execution at pivotal points. A lot of that is mental, from the coaches and players to everyone. Spurrier can't play, but he can put the offensive line in the right position. They had bad use of timeouts. They have to be more organized.



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