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WP: Shapiro chat (11-18-05)


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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2005/11/16/DI2005111601226.html

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Anonymous: After losing two games that would have put them at the top of the NFC East (against the Giants and the Bucs), do the players on this team still believe they can make a playoff run?

Len Shapiro:

Before I answer the question, let me say this will be my last redskins chat. I'm moving off covering the Redskins, a beat I took on when another writer left at the start of the season, and I know you'll enjoy reading the work of Howard Bryant, a fine reporter who's been with the Boston Herald in recent years and now joins the Post staff. He'll work with the enormously talented Jason LaCanfora in double teaming the Redskins, and I'll move back to NFL and golf coverage starting on Monday. I've had a blast the last two months covering the football team, allowing me to claim that I've been involved in the coverage of the team in every decade since the 1970s, for whatever that's worth. Now, back to business.

By no means have the Redskins given up hope for the playoffs, despite that tough loss in Tampa. They're still only a game behind the giants and cowboys, play both those teams, along with philly, in the final three weeks and can still very much control their postseason fate themselves. The next two home games are critical, both against afc west teams AND BOTH FAIRLY FORMIDABLE FOES.

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Moscow, Idaho: Can Brunell continue to play at this high level, or are we living a dream that will soon be crushed by reality? He was horrible last year after all.

Len Shapiro: As long as Brunell stays healthy, I think he'll continue on this same track. He obviously was far more inured a year ago than he or the team publicly let on, and he's also now in a complicated offensive system for the second year, also adding to his improved play. Santana Moss has been a huge help, and the emergence of colley and sellers has also given him several more key weapons.

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New York, N.Y.: Just wanted to know whether this false sense of satisfaction with the current offense will subside during the offseason so that we can go and pick up the stud Offensive Lineman that we still need. Also, is Vinny Cerrato safe? -Skin's fan in hostile waters.

Len Shapiro:

There is no satisfaction with the current offense. They know they need more help at wide receiver, even more so now with patten out for a few wqeeks with a knee injury. Portis is still not contributing on a consistent basis, but I disagree with you. I think the O-line is pretty good and doesn't need a major infusion. As for Cerrato, I assume he's safe. He's been a survivor here, a Snyder favorite, as well, but hardly the traditional GM in any sense of the job description.

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Herndon, Va.: Mr. S: The assumptions fans make drive me around the bend. Last week - "if we don't go offsides on the extra point we tie and win in regulation/overtime; if we stop the double extra point, we win." Really? It's not beyond possibility that Tampa Bay could have won in regulation, or do a succesful onsides kick if behind by one, and get a field goal to win. The Skins didn't play quite well enough - end of story.

Len Shapiro:

It's the old ifs and buts were candy and nuts we'd all have a merry christmas approach. Either team could have won that game, and one did. The Redskins got a huge break when Betts' kickoff was allowed to stand. They got a bad break when alstott's conversion run was ruled a TD. They shoulda put it away on third and two before the Bucs made their winning drive. Any game does not come down to one or two plays. It's the body of work. Three turnovers also didn't help. Were the Bucs a better team. That day, yes.

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Bowie, Md.: Now that Lavar is back in a groove, what the heck happened to Warrick Holdman? How did he get into the dog house?

Len Shapiro: Holdman had a couple of bad games before Arrington started playing well and regained his starting spot three weeks ago. I now believe Arrington probably was not totally healthy earlier in the year, the major reason his coaches couldn't see him flying around the practice field. When he did start to forget about his wounded knee and just play, he started looking like LaVar of old.

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Herndon, Va.: Len,

Is Sean Taylor as much of a field captain as it appears now? It seemed the secondary was lost without him.

Len Shapiro:

I don't know about a field captain, but he is a definite presence in the secondary, as hard-hitting as any safety in the league. With him in the line-up last week, no way Chris Simms has that much success. But injuries are a huge part of this game, and no redskin will tell you he's the reason they lost in Tampa.

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Rockville, Md.: The media was just waiting for that clip of Arrington doing something slightly suspet. That 'whiff' of his when he missed Alstott going over the top on the two point conversion, they love it! First of all it was going to take something special to stop him on a one yard run, second the media can't expect Arrington to consistently be a big-play guy without a couple risks going the other way. Plus i dont think its something williams would have dissaproved of.

Len Shapiro: What media are you talking about. LaVar knew Allstott had gone over the top on his previous two TDs, and he took a calculated risk at the goal line. He went airborne, and I suspect if Alstott had done the same, he'd have been stopped two yards short. I didn't blame Arrington for anything, and by the way, neither did his coaches, publicly or privagtely. Maybe you need to avoid talk radio and start reading the paper.

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Berryville, Va.: Lenny,

Last weeks loss to Tampa Bay was a killer and I think will haunt us all season. Still a close friend reminded me - unless you are the Colt's, then the NFL is a week to week deal.

Last year we could not score - now it seems with the Skins no lead is safe. What is it going to take for them to get thier act together for a serious playoff run and do they have the goods to get by the G-Men and Starboy's

Frustated in B-Town

Len Shapiro:

They've got to pressure opposing quarterbacks and lot them tsit back there with impunity. They've got to eliminate opposition big plays, easier said than done, especially if there's no pass rush. They've also got to get a little lucky in the turnover department, start recovering opposing fumbles and perhaps take a few more chances on going for picks. But the NFC is so close this year, it really is week to week, and I believe this team will be in the playoff hunt, at least until the final two weeks.

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Reston, Va.: I am a die hard Skins fan.. Hate to be negative, but I think the game against Tampa is going to be the one we look back on in week 16 and say, that one cost us the playoffs.. What do you think and how can we expect to be taken seriously when we get beat by Phil Simms' son?? Gobbs must be having nightmares beyond belief..

Len Shapiro:

They've got four games, so how can the Tampa Bay be on they'll look back on ahead of the others. They also had great chances to win in Denver and KC. One thing you learn about pro football players--they don't agonize over past disasters, becauser they know there's nothing they can do to reverse them. Every coach has nightmares after losses, and they have bad dreams before important games with more nightmare scenarios about to show up again.

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Roswell: Is Clinton Portis really that immature? A freakin' pimp? Way to bring back credibility to the Redskins organization, Dan Snyder and C Port should share their own special spot in the afterlife...

Len Shapiro:

LOook, Portis is still a kid. He like to play dress up on Thursday, and the local and national TV outlets love it for tape at 6 and 11. I'm a little tired of the act myself at the moment and wish he'd spend as much time preparing for the next opponent as he does in picking his next wardrobe. But I'm Old School, and I will say this about Portis on game day--he hits anything that moves when he';s not carrying the ball, inclouding 300-pound linemen. He's a tough kid, plays hurt and plays hard. Once again though, the emphasis is on kid.

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Arlington, Va.: Is the O-line really that good? Samuels is not good, he looks lost out there way too much. Jansen is solid...Dockery should be solid and Ray Brown? Give me a break. They aren't the worst offensive line, but they could still be better. Too much inconsistency in blocking patterns. Maybe just putting someone fresh in there will shake things up.

Len Shapiro:

I think most coaches will tell you this is a good o-line, not Hogs by any means but still fairly formidable. The tackles have good fine years, even though both have been playing hurt. The guards, dockery and Thomas, are pro's pros, and the center, Rabach, has been a major impropvement from a year ago. As for Ray Brown, he really doesn't play that much, but it's nice to have a guy like that around weho can literally step in and play every position and know what he's doing, even if he is 42.

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Washington DC: Len,

The Redskins are in big trouble if they continue to give opposing QBs the time they game Chris Simms. Unless they use one of Gregg Williams' gimmick blitzes, this team cannot get pressure on the quarterback. There isn't too much the team can do now, but acquiring a pass rush specialist is a MUST DO this off-season, don't you agree?

Len Shapiro:

I do agree. Finding that kind of guy again is easier said than done, becauser there aren't that many players who can consistently rish the passer. The Redskins also could use griffin back in the lineup. He spends a lot of time putting pressure on qbs, drawing double teams which allows blizting corners and safeties more seams to slip in and get the qb. That hasn't happened since he hurt his hip and has missed the last three games.

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Anonymous: Tough, tough loss on Sunday. Will most likely come back to haunt them. I must say, I'm a little excited about the David Patten injury, which is a terrible thing to say. It's just that I see talent in Taylor Jacobs and this perhaps could add another dimension to the Redskins offense. This could be his opportunity to show he has the goods. I can see Jacobs next to Moss for the next couple of years. I forsee the Skins releasing Patten in the offseason. Your thoughts?

Len Shapiro: I never cheer when anyone gets hurt, so shame on you. A lot of us are curious to see if Jacobs can play at this level and justify a second round pick spurrier used to get him from, where else, florida. Patten has not been the answer so far and has been frustrated by not getting the ball thrown his way more often. Jacobs has a big chance toi shine Sunday, and we'll see how he does.

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Tarboro, NC: Hey Len..Tks for taking questions. The NFC East....After Phuilly blew Monday night's game to Dallas, would you go so far as to classify the division as a two hourse race, I.E., Boys and Giants? IMO, the Skins will have to play like a pack of hungry junkyard dogs these next four games, win them all and ambush the Boys and Giants at FEDEX. What's your opinion. Do you see playoffs on the horizon or, are we Skins' fans being too optimistic here. Tks and have a happy turkey day.

Len Shapiro:

I revised my forecast a couple of weeks ago and said 9-7 might be possible. I'm still not sure that will earn a wild card spot, but the Redskins are still in the hunt, and will be going into those last three agfainst division opponents. The Cowboys and Giants also are both flawed football teams, like so many in the NFC, so it should be a wild, wide open race to the finish, with the Redskins definitely in the pack.

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Anonymous: It seems like Greg really held back on the QB pressure against the Bucs allowing Simms to operate with ease. With Arrington and his cougar-like reflexes back on the field, should we start bringing it?

Len Shapiro: Sometimes teams also max-protect, meaning that even if williams sent the whole kitchen sink, they might get blocked anyway. Not having Taylor last week also hurt in not getting to simms.

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Brookings, Ore.: It seems that every time I see someone getting beat for a touchdown or missing a tackle, it's Walt Harris. Am I just looking for a scapegoat?

Len Shapiro:

If a quarterback gets toime to stand tall in the pocket, he's going to gfenerally be able to hit his receivers. Harris has been burned a little too often for my tatse, but Rogers, the rookie, has given up a few himself and has not been healthy the last month. He's not a scapegoat, he just gets beat.

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The chicken or the egg: I've enjoyed your times covering the skins. we'll miss you.

Is Patten not getting enough balls thrown his way or is he

not getting open?

Something's not working out there.

Len Shapiro: Thanks for the kind words. It's a little of both, I suspect, though he would tell you its not getting thrown to. I never thought he was an 80-catch guy to begin with, and he's been on pace for 50 until he hurt his knee.

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Raleigh, N.C.: There's a rumor that Ron Wolf wants to get back into football. Do you think the Redskins will try to make room for him in the front office? Would it be a good fit with this organization?

Len Shapiro:

Ron Wolf is actually a semi-washingtonian, who lives in nearby annapolis. But I speak to him on a fairly regular basis and I don't believe he wants back in here or anywhere else. He's comfortably retired, enjoys his life and at the moment, has no plans to return to the league. If he did go anywhere, I would suspect Green Bay would be the logical spot, perhaps more as a consultant than the guy in charge.

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Re: Clinton Portis: Len, lighten up. I seriously doubt that Portis is losing any prep time by making up costumes and characters. Athletes have a huge amount of down time. If he wants to do this kind of stuff with his time why should you care, or would you rather he play chess with Lavar during his FREE TIME?

Len Shapiro:

I can take a joke with anyone. Once it was funny, twice it was not as funny, now the fifth time it's a bad joke. The latest effort, as Dollar Bill, is offensive to me because he doesn't even know who the real Dollar Bill is, as in Bill Bradley, the former Knick/senator. Time for a new act, that's all I'm saying.

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Ashburn, Va.: Len,

Betts' heels were not out of bounds. That was clear from the replay. Not sure I would call that a huge break for the Skins.

Len Shapiro:

Wait a minute. Nothing was clear from the replay, and that's why it wasn't over-turned. There was not indisputable evidence, the criteria used by the ref under the hood to overturn, and that was the break the redskins got. Even ladell isn't sure whether he was in or out, by the way, but he sure wasn't complaining when it stood up.

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Hyattsville, Md.: Why are the Post writers so down on Gibbs for his legit complaints about the officials?

I salute Gibbs. He has been sending a message with his strategy of calling them out, then backing off. It's quite clever, but drives home the message that the Redskins organization is not going to sit back and take the awfully bad calls that the NFL has been giving them for 5-6 years.

Len Shapiro: Wait a minute. Who says we're up or down on Gibbs. Jayson LaCanfora was merely writing what Gibbs said. First he complained, and then he said he regretted complaining. Our role here is to report on what's going on, and his comments monday and wednesday both merited coverage. I don't think Jason took a position one way or the other on whether he agreed or didn't agree. He just wrote about the story of the day. Was Gibbs being duplicitous? Perhaps. Game officials may well be hesitant to make similar calls or pay closer attention to his challenges, but I doubt it.

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Re: Sports Radio: So, we shouldn't be listening to 980AM, how much does the Washington Post cost? Can I get a discount if I subscribe for a whole year?

Len Shapiro: Oh come on now. My pal Tony K has a wonderful show on WTEM, and it's even free, so why shouldn't you listen. By the way, you can get a discount if you subscribe to The Post for a year. I think you'd have to say itrs well worth 35 cents a day, cheaper if you subscribe.

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Washington, D.C.: Was the Carlos Rogers draft pick a mistake? He looks like he's going to be a decent player, but I dont see the speed or skill thats going to make him worth a top ten pick.

Len Shapiro:

I suspect before the season is over, Rogers will start ahead of Harris. It was a damned good pick. But he's a rookie playing one ofn the toughest positions on then field. He's going to be a fine player, and for a lot of years.

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Rockville, Md.: How long will Gibbs be here in your opinion? I just think every close game drives him further into retirement a second time...and they are all close these days!

Len Shapiro: The fact that the team is in the hunt this year means that he'll definitely be back next year, because he knows there's lots of upside potential. Every coach lives and dies with losses, and he's hardly the exception. But he seems to thrive in this environment, and he's definitely back on his own game at thyat point after a year of dealing with the rust of 12 years out of football.

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Baltimore, Md.: Mike, I always ask this question and am DYING for an answer. Will Lavar be wearing Burgundy and Gold next year????

Len Shapiro: If he is, he'll be taking a pay cut, I believe.

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Germantown, Md.: Hey Len,

Do you forsee the skins ever getting a pass rush from their 4 down linemen at any point this year or will they always have to blitz to get pressure?

Len Shapiro: If Griffin comes back somewhat healthy, I think the pass rush will improve, but this team lived by the blitz a year ago, and is now dying without out because teams have figured out where its coming from and have learned how to defend it. Williams is a terrific coach and he'll figure something out.

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Durango, Colo: We, the Redskins, play on the same field with the same refs as our opponents. We get calls; they get calls. The object is to win football games. I fear that we are falling into the same habit we had last year of losing close games to good teams. We're better than that, and the coaches need to communicate that to our players. Winning the close games is the difference between leading divisions and being second best.

Len Shapiro:

I think the vRedskins know that. If yoju recall, to the man they all said the game never should have come down to that one or two calls at the end. They are losing close games to good teams, but they're also getting closer to winning those games than they did last year, and believe it or not, that's a sdign of progress. I don't think you'll see blowouts the rest of the year, win or lose, but lots of games coming down to the wire. That's true not only here, but all around the NFL. It's the nature of the gfame, it's the nature of the parity that's been around for the last 15 years and it's not going to change. On that note, I'm going to sign off and thank all of you for participating today. It's been fun.

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Wait a minute. Nothing was clear from the replay, and that's why it wasn't over-turned. There was not indisputable evidence, the criteria used by the ref under the hood to overturn, and that was the break the redskins got. Even ladell isn't sure whether he was in or out, by the way, but he sure wasn't complaining when it stood up.

wait, hows it a break, Betts ddn't step out, and the replay did back it up, unike the 2pt conversion.....

how can a runner see his feet when he's running? And why would he complain about a TD?

you're trying too hard Len

:rolleyes:

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