Strength: Experience, depth.
Clinton Portis was on an MVP-pace in the first half of last season, continuing to show an ability to pound out yards. Fullback Mike Sellers earned his first Pro Bowl berth as he improved his consistency as a blocker (he tended to whiff when given choices of whom to block in the past). Ladell Betts is a decent backup.
Weakness: Gamebreaking talent.
Portis' longest run last year was 31 yards, which follows about what he's done since coming to Washington. He does not produce many long runs nor does anyone else. There is no changeup the offense can offer.
Key question: What does Portis have left?
Considering the amount of carries he's had in Washington, he's likely an old 28. Running backs start to slow down around this time, especially when they've had more than 2,000 carries. But the special ones continue on for a couple more years. Will that be Portis? You can't blame his second-half slide all on him. The Redskins faced better defenses and had an aging line and unproductive passing game. Naturally, a sluggish running game would follow.
The verdict: Portis has another good, if not big, season left in him.
But he needs everything else to go right for him to be effective. He also needs to do a better job of getting past the safeties on the long runs, something else other elite backs routinely do. Part of the problem is learning how to set them up better – not making his move, say, 10 yards in front of them. We like Betts when he plays a lot; that's when he's at his best. He's not comfortable with only five or six carries a game and does not offer the major change of pace the Redskins need. Sellers is a quality fullback, but we don't share the love affair with him. There's more to playing football than pounding a guy, something he did learn last year it seems. The Redskins could use a Dominique Dorsey or Anthony Alridge, both speedy guys, to earn a spot just to provide a different look offensively. Both guys would be special teamers however and would have to unseat the reliable Rock Cartwright.
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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