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Portis vs Zorn a lose-lose situation

Portis vs Zorn a lose-lose situation

Clinton Portis needs to shut up.

Jim Zorn needed to speak up.

In choosing to blast Zorn on the John Thompson show (boy, Snyder owning that station really has stifled criticism of the team, hasn't it?), Portis created a distraction at exactly the time that the team did not need it. After sitting out most of the second half of last Sunday's game against the Ravens, Portis had two full days to figure out what he was going to say about it on his weekly radio appearance on ESPN980 with the former Georgetown basketball coach.

He chose to be still angry about the fact that he sat out the last 30 minutes of the team's 24-10 loss and to express that anger in a mix of sarcastic comments and resignation.

In other words, he chose to show his spoiled, selfish, high-maintenance diva side.

Appearing on the same radio station later in the day, Zorn reiterated what he said on Sunday and Monday, that Portis sat out the half because he hadn't been able to practice all week. The Ravens were bringing a lot of different looks and blitzes ("exotic" blitzes as John Madden said about 1,000 times). Zorn felt it was important to have a back who actually had executed the protection schemes on the practice field in the game. That was Ladell Betts.

The problem is that Zorn had a few opportunities to talk to Portis about his line of reasoning, to explain his logic and to soothe the player's rather substantial ego. He thought that it was important enough to talk to the press about on Sunday night and Monday afternoon, but he didn't find the time to sit down with Portis and set things straight.

In other words, he chose to display his inexperience as a head coach.

Portis protested that he knew the schemes, that he had been at the meetings and had paid attention at practice. This seems to be the heart of his complaint.

"If I can run through the week, I'd practice. If I can't, then I ain't. And I'm not gonna force myself to go onto a field and do something crazy and then all of the sudden I'm out. What I need to be around for is Sundays, and that's what I try to be around for. So I mean, if you've got a problem with me not practicing and can't do it that way, maybe you feel like you need to sever ties, split ties with me? Split ties with me. But don't sit here and throw me out like I don't pay attention, like I don't know what's going on, like I'm making mistakes, I'm the problem.

If Zorn had explained to Portis that he understood why he couldn't practice during the week and that he simply had to do what he thought was best for the team, this whole issue could have been avoided. Portis could have spoken his mind behind closed doors and, while it's unlikely that he would have been happy about it, he would have had the chance to get it off his chest. Since he wasn't given the chance to do so, he decided to go nuclear and speak his mind to the world.

That doesn't mean that Portis had to do it. The part where he talks about severing ties is particularly galling. He just got a bunch of guaranteed money in the offseason and in doing so he made it virtually impossible for the Redskins to sever ties. Portis has had plenty of opportunity to shine under Zorn this year but when the road gets a little bumpy he starts to talk about bailing out.

It remains to be seen how much effect Portis' comments will have on the locker room. He's not exactly a leader on the team. His comments earlier in the year about his offensive line and about how the team didn't seem to be focused going into the game against the Rams have created a "Clinton is Clinton" mentality among his teammates. Some may grate privately at what he says but to a man they admire his attitude and production between the lines.

In other words, the ripple effects are likely to be minimal.

This time.

If Zorn continues to speak to his players though the press rather than taking his issues up with them in private, things could begin to get sticky.

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Enemy Intel: Yes, Redskins fans, you need to root for the Cowboys again

Enemy Intel: Yes, Redskins fans, you need to root for the Cowboys again

Here is my weekly Redskins-centric spin around the NFL:

Before we get going, let’s line up the NFL wild card contenders by current seed and their remaining four games.

Giants (8-4): Cowboys, Lions, @Eagles, @Redskins
Bucs (7-5): Saints, @Cowboys, @Saints, Panthers
Redskins (6-5-1): @Eagles, Panthers, @Bears, Giants
Vikings (6-6): @Jaguars, Colts, @Packers, Bears
Packers (6-6): Seahawks, @Bears, Vikings, @Lions
Cardinals (5-6-1): @Dolphins, Saints, @Seahawks, @Rams
Saints (5-7): @Bucs, @Cardinals, Bucs, @Falcons
Eagles (5-7): Redskins, @Ravens, Giants, Cowboys

—The Redskins can knock the Eagles out of any practical chance of making the playoffs with a win on Sunday. An Eagles loss would mean they could finish no better than 8-8 and that is highly unlikely to get it done this year.

—For a second straight week, Redskins fans need to root for Cowboys to win. Or for their opponent to lose. Some wanted to make that distinction last week when Cowboys played the Vikings and the optimal outcome for the Redskins was a Dallas win. However you want to look at it, a Giants loss to Dallas could move the Redskins to within a half game of the No. 5 seed.

MORE REDSKINS: Assessing the four remainig opponents

—There should be no hesitation about pulling for the Saints to beat the Bucs. A Washington win and a Tampa Bay loss puts the Redskins back into playoff position with the No. 6 seed. The Bucs are 2.5-point favorites at home. They are the hot team, coming in with four straight wins while New Orleans has lost three of four. The Saints are on the fringe of contention but Redskins fans need to pull for the teams ahead of Washington in the standings.

—The Redskins can’t look for much help when it comes to the team immediately behind them in the standings. The Vikings visit the Jaguars, who are locked in to yet another season of double-digit losses. You might be tempted to look for the home underdog to put up a fight and they might. But Blake Bortles has thrown three pick sixes this year and the Vikings have returned two interceptions for TDs this year. Look for such a play to be decisive and for the Vikings to remain tight with Washington in the standings.

—The other team a half game behind the Redskins is the Packers. They host the Seahawks in what could be very snowy conditions in Green Bay. Seattle is a three-point favorite but if the weather gets crazy anything could happen. Redskins fans need to root for the Seahawks, for obvious reasons.

RELATED: Three Redskins out on Sunday, Reed questionable

—The Cardinals creeped back into contention with their win over the Redskins. That win and the fact that they have a tie on their ledger means that the Redskins do not want to finish with the same record as Arizona. This is one of the few situations where a tiebreaker would matter. It’s an easy call to pull for them to fall to the AFC Dolphins.

—I went 2-1 last week, winning with the Patriots over the Rams and the Seahawks over the Panthers. I have four NFL picks this week, all of them road favorites: the Redskins -1 on the road over the Eagles, the Cowboys -3 at the Giants, the Falcons -6 over the Rams in L.A., and the Seahawks giving three to the Packers.

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Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' four remaining opponents

Need to Know: Assessing the Redskins' four remaining opponents

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 10, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: No media availability

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 9; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 14; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 22

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Around Redskins Park

The Redskins have four games remaining on their schedule. Three wins would give them a record of 9-6-1 and a very good shot at the playoffs. Four will almost certainly get them a ticket to keep playing; two wins or fewer will have them needing a whole lot of help to make the postseason

Let’s take a look at the Redskins’ remaining four opponents and revisit the confidence level on the Redskins’ chances of beating each one of them. (I first did this exercise a few weeks ago).

@Eagles, 5-7, weighted DVOA via Football Outsiders, 15.3% (ranked 5th)
The Eagles looked like playoff contenders for about half of the season but they have taken a tumble back to earth, losing five of their last six. Right now the Redskins are the better team, although their long injury list is an area for concern. The Eagles appear to be in some degree of disarray after their coach accused some unnamed players of giving less than full effort. Confidence that the Redskins will win: High

Panthers, 4-8, DVOA -7.5% (25th)
They won’t be able to defend their NFC championship much longer. By the time this game comes around they could be either eliminated or on the verge of being mathematically out of the playoffs. Their problems are numerous including big issues at cornerback (too bad they didn’t have a guy who could have helped franchise tagged) and an offensive line that has been injury-wracked all year. Still, Cam Newton is a scary quarterback and he still has tight end Greg Olsen and receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Ted Ginn Jr. If the Redskins get into a shootout they could be in trouble. Confidence: Moderately high

@Bears, 3-9, DVOA -3.0%, (24th)
Matt Barkley is the Bears’ third starting QB this season and in most statistical categories he’s the worst of the three. The Bears have been hit by injuries as hard as any NFL team with multiple starters on injured reserve. They probably would have struggled even with those players healthy; without them they are one of the five worst teams in the NFL. The one thing to beware of is the late December weather in Chicago, which could randomize the outcome to an extent. Confidence: Very high

Giants, 8-4, DVOA 5.0%, (12th)
The new players on the Giants’ defense were just starting to gel when end Jason Pierre-Paul’s season ended after sports hernia surgery. Their defense, with the No. 7 DVOA (-9.6%), won’t collapse but it won’t be as strong. Eli Manning’s stats are down a tick from last year but as long as he has Odell Beckham to throw to the Giants won’t be totally stymied on offense. This one is hard to get a good feel for this far out, not knowing what might be at stake for either team. Confidence: Moderate

For comparison purposes, the 6-5-1 Redskins have a DVOA of 9.8% (10th)

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