Thursday, September 28, 2006

Week 4 - Major Issues (Vol 9)

A win's a win, right? Not so fast. Although the Skins 30-16 trouncing of the Texans looked great on paper, you must really be prudent before drawing any optimistic conclusions. Let's go with the bad stuff first:


1) Brunell - 22 for 22 is good no matter how you dissect it, but please understand that Brunell didn't make more than 2 passes that travelled over 20 yards in the air. The old man was able to get the "dink and dunk" down, but it remains to be seen if he can get the ball down field on anyone, let alone the worthless Texans.


2) Pressure - The Texans offensive line is pathetic. David Carr has hit the deck more than any other NFL QB over the past two years, yet the Skins only managed to get a half a sack on him from their front four. I can't imagine how affective the front four will be against a better Jaguars protection unit. The only good news is the Joe Salavae will return from a calf injury this Sunday, although I am starting to think rookie Kedrick Golston might be a better option then Samoa Joe.


3) The Secondary - Although the secondary settled down in the second half, the Skins were burned for another big play to start the game. They got caught in a weak zone coverage in which, you guessed it, Adam Archuletta was in the wrong spot. Identical to the Terry Glenn TD of two weeks ago, Sean Taylor had to come all the way over from the weak side to cover, but it was already too late, and this time it was Andre Johnson who scored 6 on a 50-yd TD. Kenny Wright did look good on his interception to end the game, but the Skins, who will be without Shaun Springs again this week, will have a very hard time coping with Jacksonville's three receiver sets featuring Matt Jones, Ernest Wilford and Reggie Williams - all of whom are capable of making the big play. Another concern is how diminutive the Skins secondary is with Mike Rumph, Carlos Rogers and Wright all being under 6'2", while the Jags trio all being above 6'4". This could create some serious issues for the secondary, who will be particularly vulnerable in the red zone.


Ok...the good news:


1) Dolla Bill is Back!!! - Here's a crazy thought to start us off: I think Portis is improving with every game. Did you realize that he only started playing Running Back his freshman year at Miami? In HS he was a defensive back, which means he has only being playing the position for 7 years (he left Miami after three years). Portis, who did not even where his protective sling on Sunday, looked very sharp, making some amazing cut-backs and hitting holes better than I have ever seen him do it. Portis also showed great patience, as he waited behind blockers until holes were formed - something he had trouble doing his first year and a half in DC. Portis also was great catching out of the backfield. He changed the game's momentum when he broke free for his 70 yard shovel pass. If he would have been in better playing shape, that is definitely a touchdown. CP's presence on the field will force defense to commit more to the run; hopefully we will see that manifest in big passing plays very soon. Despite how good CP was last week, the Jags are monsters against the run, limiting opposing RBs to 3.2 YPC. Portis is going to have to be a workhorse this week, earning every yard afforded to him.


2) Wideouts - The Redskins actually used them against the Texans! Brunell distributed the ball widely last week, something else opposing defenses will have to consider when gameplanning for the Skins. Brunell got eight different receivers involved last week, including Brandon Lloyd, who had been MIA the past two weeks. The hope is that all the dink and dunk will draw opposing secondaries closer to the line of scrimmage - that's when Saunders and Gibbs will finally be able to take their shots downfield. The Jaguars secondary is loaded though, so don't be surprised if Brunell plays it very safe. Mathis and Cousin pose as big threats to pick Brunell, so we are going to have to wait a another week before we see tons of balls to Moss and Lloyd. Look for Randle El and Portis to get the bulk of the receiving work - they'll be asked to turn 5 yard flat plays into first downs.


Injuries (This is the Issues Part)


1) Brunell - Crazy as it might seem, Todd Collins could end up getting the start this week. The Redskins have been downplaying the gash on Brunell's elbow, an injury he suffered late in the game on Sunday, but the starting QB didn't practice yesterday and of what I have heard, only did light drills today. Brunell received three stitches for the gash and had his elbow totally wrapped up to the point of immobility yesterday. Today Brunell had a much lighter wrap and was able to do some things in practice. What's interesting to note is that Brunell suffered the same injury with Jacksonville, an injury that ended up giving Byron Leftwich the starting job. Now remember how Gibbs said Campbell would start if Brunell didn't practice the week leading up to the game? Well apparently he trusts Campbell as much as he did Ramsey, because Collins, not Campbell, took the snaps with the starters yesterday. Gibbs excuse for the confusion was that Brunell is still slated to start so it wouldn't be a circumstance for Campbell to practice with the first team. Sounds fishy. Brunell said he's "day to day," which isn't a real good sign considering the game is in 2.5 days. I guess it's pick your poison - not sure I want any of the three going out there.


2)Springs - I think this is the most devastating injury to a team in all of football this season and things aren't looking better. Springs went back to the surgeon in Philly who did his procedure (never a good sign) but was told that there weren't any further complications. Springs was told that he just needs to get over the strained groin he got last week. The Post's Redskins Insider says its going to be at least another two weeks (which means week 6 v. the Titans), but it could be longer if he doesn't heal properly. The Skins need Springs for the Gregg Williams scheme to work - they could end up getting torched through the air in three of the next four games (Jags, Giants, Colts) if he doesn't return. It is really time to get anxious over this one.


The Game

This is by far the biggest game the Skins have this year; a loss puts them way behind with a tough upcoming schedule, but a win puts them in the middle of the pack in the NFC. I hate to say it, but if Brunell doesn't play then the Jags will blitz whoever is behind center and you can pretty much stick a fork in us, and start your pre-fast dinner an hour earlier then you planned. If Brunell does play, things could be a little more exciting.


The Jaguars offense has been shaky, but it did show signs of life last week in Indy with rookie Maurice Jone-Drew going for 244 all-purpose yards. Jones could wreak havoc for the Skins defense, as they have been susceptible to runners who hit the outsides quickly likes Jones-Drew does. The Skins defense would much rather face a north-south attack led by Fred Taylor, but Jones-Drew will probably see enough action to give the front 7 fits. Besides the reinvigortated running attack, the Skins are also going to have to figure out how to stop the Jags three receiver sets as discussed above. On a positive note, Leftwich isn't a mobile QB, so the Skins don't have to be worried about getting burned too bad outside the pocket.


On offense, points will be at a minimum. Remember last year when the Skins put up 52 on the Niners and then laid an egg the next week at the Meadowlands? I think we might see something very similar to that. Gibbs and Saunders are going to play this one super conservative because they know it will be a tight game, so expect a heavy dose of Portis and not much else. When they aren't running CP, the Skins, who will be desperate to get any points on the board against the stingy Jags D, will finally use ARL this week in a trick play as the offense if going to go deep into the bag of tricks to get 7 on the board (but that will probably be it).


This game is going to be ugly and stressful. Tons of three and outs on both sides and not much else. John Hall is the x-factor, if he makes some long kicks then the Skins have a chance, and if he misses the big ones then we are looking at 1-3 going to NY.


Stuff and Things

-Chris Cooley got sick of his hair so his girlfriend cut it off. Maybe he'll start making plays now.


-Brandon Lloyd broadcasts Monday night's on Redskins Radio live from the Skins store in Tysons. If anyone wants to go with me in the next few weeks, I think it's worth the field trip.


- No more Dolla Bill, for now. Apparently the dude who encouraged CP to dress up every week is no longer with the Skins, so Portis doesn't have the motivation or inspiration to get into character. This is probably the worst news out of Redskins Park all week.


Please do everything you can to make sure the Skins win this week. If they do, we can actually start having a little fun again (or at least until they get crunched by the Giants next week).




Friday, September 22, 2006

Week 3 - Victory (Vol. 7)

Not much to write this week. Just want to wish you all a Happy New Year.

If you are like Joe Gibbs and think that G-d listens to football prayers, then go crazy in shul this weekend. If you are like people who rip on Gibbs for bringing football into religion, then please don't let the burgundy and gold cross your mind this weekend. Between the two camps, hopefully something good will come out of being in shul so much this weekend (besides all the regular stuff you pray for).


In terms of the game, it should be a celebration of Redskins football (finally). Here are some things to take note of:


1) Ron Dayne will get the start for the Texans at RB - the is music to the front-fours ears, as they finally get a week off and can focus on attacking the QB and not having to stop the run - which, with Dayne, will stop on its own.


2) Shaun Springs is hurt again - in his first practice after coming back from his surgery, the CB pulled his groin muscle (a totally separate injury) and is probably not going to play.


3) CP will make it easy - regardless of how successful CP is this week, his 25 carries should force the Texans to stuff the box and not focus as much on the Skins passing game.


4) 350 Yards - this is how many yards in the air the Texans are giving up a game. Granted one of those games was against P. Manning, but I still think the Skins will have a much easier time airing it out.


5) Weather will not be a factor - Reliant stadium has a 50/80 rule. They close shop for anything below and above those temps (or if it is raining).


That's all you need to know.


Jacksonville next week is the real test. If they can squeeze out a home miracle then there's hope.


Don't bet on it though.


Enjoy the next 48 TV-less know I will.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Week 2 - Breaking News (Vol. 6)

CP will not play Sunday night (at least according to Joe Gibbs).


Read it and weep (literally).





ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs ruled Clinton Portis out for Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys, an announcement that surprised Portis and created yet another twist in the running back's injury saga.


"He didn't practice today. ... If a guy doesn't practice, he's not going to play," Gibbs said.


Gibbs said Ladell Betts, T.J. Duckett and Rock Cartwright will be the running backs against the Cowboys. Portis was downgraded from questionable to doubtful on the injury report, with Gibbs citing the pounding Portis took in the Monday night season opener against Minnesota.


"It's really just because of soreness," Gibbs said. "Actually, it's in a different spot in his shoulder. He's got some soreness there that lingered and kept him from practicing this week."


When told what Gibbs had said, Portis didn't know the decision already had been made.


"I thought it was a game-time decision," he said. "As of now, my bag's packed and ready to go to Dallas, unless they come and tap me on the shoulder in the near future and tell me I ain't going."


Last week, it was just the opposite. Portis spent several days downplaying his chances to make the season opener, saying he was not in football shape and had yet to recover from a partially dislocated left shoulder that caused him to miss nearly all of preseason. But after the final practice, Gibbs sprung a surprise, saying Portis had tested the shoulder sufficiently and would play as a backup to Betts.


"He didn't practice today. ... If a guy doesn't practice, he's not going to play."

-- Joe Gibbs


Portis carried 10 times for 39 yards in the 19-16 loss to the Vikings, but he has complained of soreness all week.


"As of now, my bag's packed and ready to go to Dallas, unless they come and tap me on the shoulder in the near future and tell me I ain't going."

--Clinton Portis


"I can't do nothing but tell you to wait until Sunday. This bag is going to Dallas," said Portis, pointing at the equipment bag in front of his locker. "We have seen some miracle days happen. This ain't no situation for me not to be playing in."


As usual, Portis wavered from serious to playful, making it difficult to discern whether he really feels he can play. At one point, he said: "I eat gunpowder twice a day now. As long as I'm on this gunpowder, I think I'm going to be all right."


He took a more serious tone when he expressed frustration over the week-to-week drama his injury has become.


"I'm be happy when I'm healthy," Portis said. "Hopefully we can get this over with real soon and I can join my teammates and be on the field and it's not an issue," Portis said. "I don't like this being an issue going into the weekend. Am I up or down? Playing or not? Whatever's best for the team."


Portis wore pads and said he "ran a few routes" during Friday's practice, but apparently that wasn't enough.


"He'll probably tell me he can play on game day, but he didn't practice so we'll move him down accordingly," Gibbs said. "Hopefully he's going to be back next week, that would be my hope."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Week 2 - Recovering (Vol. 5)

It has taken me nearly 72 hours to return to a proper state of mind after Monday's horrific loss.

Week 1 was painful for all of us, especially for the four SkinsServers who were there in person.

I didn't want to write anything until all remnants of Debbie Downer were out of me, and now I think she's all gone. I am ready to move forward only thinking positive thoughts (at least I am 93.9% ready). I hope you guys are ready also.


I am going to break this email down into two sections: the good and the bad. Please note that "the bad" section will only refer to things that we can improve upon (remember -we are going to try and keep things positive around here).



1) Portis - CP not only played Monday night, but he looked good. I think he appeared a bit hesitant to push himself in the first quarter, but by the second half appeared to be hitting holes quickly and unafraid to take hits. It was great to see CP in the end zone, and the Redskins add a another level of quickness when he is in the game. Ladell Betts was competent, but there was a stark contrast in the Skins running game once CP entered the building.


2) Randle El - Gibbs and the entire front office got bashed for making this signing, but Randle El proved the critics wrong by having a stellar start at both the WR and PR positions. Randle El was the fastest man on the field by far and had a very easy time getting open on pass routes and finding running lanes on his punt returns. Additionally, when a towering punt is in the air, you need not worry about a muff from the former Indiana point guard (poo poo poo).


3) Brunell - You all might not agree with me on this one, but I had no complaints about our QB. He didn't do anything great, but he didn't do anything bad either. Brunell seemed to have zip on his passes, and he even was able to allude the pass rush on a couple of occasions. Lets hope the coaching staff puts a little more trust in him this week and lets him throw the ball down field (we'll get to that soon).


4) Frost - After a weak kick-off and a weak punt in the first quarter, DFrost seemed to break the jitters and play a nice game. After the first, all of Frost's kickoffs landed inside the 5 and his punts travelled a much greater distance. Late in the fourth, Frost put a punt inside the 5 - a good sign from a guy who is a shank-artist in the clutch.


Ok. I pushing it now. Can't think of anything else.


The Bad (where do I start?)

1) The Secondary - Carlos Rogers and Kenny Wright were a joke on man-to-man coverage, Peirson Prielou went down on with a fluke injury during the opening kickoff and Mike Rumph looks like the defensive equivalent of Taylor Jacobs (fair trade, eh?). In terms of improvement, the good news is I don't think they can get any worse. Adam Archuletta, who was a ghost Monday night, will have three more days to get a hang of Williams system (which he is still not 40% on) and the Redskins will play a lot more zone against TO and Glenn to prevent too much exposure in man coverage. Let's pray it works. The Redskins also re-signed safety Curry Burns to replace PP on the roster - Burns, who was in camp this summer, might be thrown right into the action Sunday night b/c of the Skins depth issues. It also doesn't appear that Shawn Springs will be suited up again this week as he is still nursing his abdomen injury. Springs did some light jogging yesterday - but hasn't participated in practice. I wouldn't expect a big change in the secondary's performance this week, but I do think they will give much more respect to the Cowgirls passing offense then they did to the Vikings. I also think we'll see a monster game for Sean Taylor -- this guy lives for hurting prima-donna wideouts and he's going to want to spoil TO's Texas Stadium debut.


2) The Play-Calling - It is possible you guys saw something different on TV, but all I saw was the 2004 Redskins. I don't know if it a trust issue with Brunell, or if Brunell isn't familiar with the offense yet, or if Al Saunders isn't dipping into his well of plays, but the bottom line is that the Skins offense was futile in the second half. On critical possessions and critical downs the Redskins refused to look up field for answers, but instead opted for dump-downs, screen-passes and quick hitches and slants. The conservative play calling was extremely disconcerting because the Redskins have so much speed at receiver and don't have a problem getting open. The Redskins Offense doesn't have an identity either, as Saunders didn't commit to running the football or throwing it down field - Monday's play calling was just a hobglob (is that a word?) of nothing. It seems to me that the Skins need to establish something early to set something up late - whether it be pass first or run first. Saunders and the Redskins offense didn't establish anything. If I had to blame Monday's loss on anything, it would be this. It might take another Santana Claus miracle before Saunders realizes that ole' man #8 can heave the ball. One last point - Brunell threw at Brandon Lloyd twice the entire game. Maybe he was never open, but I doubt that. This pattern will need to change very quickly or else safeties will start drifting toward 89 the way they did at the end of last year.


2a) 16-9 - That is the difference in game one scoring output from last year to this year. As the Redskins showed on about three drives, they are well ahead of their early offensive performance from 2005. The Skins were able to utilize a lot of motion and find openings in the defense to move the ball up field on occasion, but even in those circumstances they eventually stalled in the red zone. There is no question the offense is a work in progress - as both the players and coaches are going to take time to learn each other. I think it is a shame that the Skins didn't ride the momentum of last year's last 5 regular season games, but the reality is that Al Saunders does produce powerful offenses, and it will take time for this thing to gel. How long it will take to gel is an extremely scary question to answer.


3) The Pass Rush - The Skins front 4 didn't look much different than it has over the past couple of years. Here's the hope: the Vikings will probably end up having one of the best o-lines in the league. The Redskins should have a much easier time getting at the QBs when they face Dallas, NY and Philly. Also - Gregg Williams couldn't blitz Monday night because he needed to keep the safeties back to help out the weak corners - another reason why Johnson had so much time in the pocket. Until the Skins can show they can cover the outside, don't expect much pressure on the QB. This means, of course, that after many seconds in the pocket the Drew Bledsoe's of the world will eventually find an open man. It is a viscous cycle. Let's hope Springs comes back fast. One more thing - Rynaldo Wynn will play Sunday night - but he is more of a run-stopper than pass-rushing specialist.


4) Gregg Williams - I know the 2-million dollar man didn't have much to work with, but when Brad Johnson is throwing the ball with ease throughout the first half, you'd hope your D-Coordinator would make halftime adjustments - He didn't. But again, we cannot doubt Williams. The Skins defense, even with an array of injuries over the past three years, have continually been in the NFL's top-10. This group will improve as the season goes on.


5) The Cowboys - I had this one marked down as a loss before the season, and from what I saw Monday night, I am not going to revise my prediction. The Boys home opener after a loss, TOs grand entrance, the revenge factor - things don't add up for us. The Skins need a couple of things to happen if they want to have a chance. 1) They get to Bledoe and create turnovers - the Skins didn't come up with one turnover Monday night and if they can take a couple away early, the whole complexion of the game changes. 2) Trickery  - there is a reason they signed Randle El. Points will be at a premium, so why not do something funky and get quick points on the board. 3) Portis - We still haven't seen what can happen when the Skins establish the run early - maybe if they do, they'll be able to open more down field opportunities. 4) Carlos - this boy needs to find himself in a hurry or else it will be a 1994-like spanking.


Note: The Skins signed TE Todd Yoder and cut Nemo Broughton.


Alright, a little too much negative for my liking. I'm gonna take a three-day deep breath and check in on Sunday. My parting shot is this: my sadness this week didn't stem from the fact that the Skins lost to the Vikings on Monday, my sadness was due to the fact that I didn't see a Super Bowl team out on the field. My grand dreams of a 45-0 Detroit Lions-type slaughtering didn't come into fruition, and the Redskins were brought down by the same things that have hampered them since Gibbs' arrival. The good news is that we are only in week 2, and the Skins still have the chance to become the offensive machine of our dreams. If they blossom by Week 5 - we could still march down 95 to Miami, if they blossom in week 10 - it will be much too late.





Monday, September 11, 2006

Week 1 - Gameday (Vol 4)

It's is finally here. The day we've all been waiting for. 8 months of anticipation and we finally get to see what kind of product the Skins will give us this year. I couldn't fall asleep until three last night in anticipation over this one and now I got a big case of the butterflies. I hope you all are in a lot better mental place than I am right now. Joe Gibbs has said that tonight's game is one of the biggest football games he's ever been a part of, and this is only Week 1 - expect the Skins to come out and play with some urgency tonight.




What you need to know:


- The weather should be very autumn-like. It is actually raining in DC right now, but it should clear up and give way to partly cloudy skies by kick off. DC is getting a bit of a cold front, so temps will dip into the mid 60s by 7pm.


- ESPN will be airing their first regular season edition of Monday Night Football - Mike Tirico, Tony Kornheiser and Joe Theisman will be on the call. ESPN will be broadcasting Monday Night Countdown live from FedEx starting at 5pm. ESPN will follow up the Skins with the Chargers at the Raiders.


- CP will start the game on the bench, but last reports indicated that he was 96.1% after his shower following Saturday's practice. I am starting to think Portis will get at least 10 carries in this game.


- The Skins will be a little thin on D-Line as backup Rynaldo Wynn, one of their run-stopping specialists, will be out tonight.


- The Skins will also be without Shawn Springs. Kenny Wright will get the start alongside Carlos Rogers in his place. Look for Rogers to match up with second-year wide-out Troy Williamson and Wright to be matched up against Travis Taylor.


- Warrick Holdman has won the battle over Rocky McIntosh for weak-side linebacker and he will get the start alongside Lemar Marshall and Marcus Washington. Expect McIntosh to be in the starting lineup by week 4 against Jacksonville. Keep your eye on Washington tonight, as he will be used in many more blitz packages than he was last year.


- Punter Derrick Frost will be handling kickoff duties this year to prevent any John Hall injuries.


- Joe Gibbs is 8-0 against the Vikings in his career, including a 17-10 victory in the 1987 NFC Championship Game. The Skins last played the Vikes in the season-closer in 2004, as the Skins won and nearly played playoff-spoiler for the Vikes, winning 21-18. Ladell Betts ran for 118 yards and a TD in that game.


- The current line makes the Skins 4-point home favorites tonight.


- A Redskins victory would point them 1 game ahead of both the Giants and Cowgirls who both lost yesterday. That is so freaking sweet.


- The Skins have now lost 5 in a row (including pre-season) wearing white on white after winning six in a row last year in the same uniforms. I am thinking they do something different tonight. burgundy on burgundy maybe?




OK. I think that's it. I opened up the listserv today in case you guys wanted to "reply to all" and wish each other good luck. Tonight is going to be amazing!!!




Saturday, September 9, 2006

Week 1 - CP Playing, Amazing Video (Vol 3)

I am sure you all have heard by now that Dolla Bill will be in pads for the opener Monday night.

CP said he has gone from 75% to 93.9% and he thinks he will be 100% by Monday night.

Joe Gibbs said that CP will be playing a back-up roll  - Ladell Betts will still get the start.

I think Portis will sit the entire game, and his only chance of seeing any action is if Betts is ineffective (which he won't be).

I think having CP suited up will just give the Skins another mental edge going into the game.

Here's the link to the Post article:


The real reason why I write to you on a Saturday night (besides the fact that i'm a total loser) is because I found this amazing video on that you all need to see before opening kickoff. The Video is a montage dedicated to the return of Joe Gibbs with Coldplay's "Fix You" in the background.

This video will both get you teary-eyed and totally pumped for the upcoming season. I have watched it three times already.

Watch the video, lock it up for a few hours and watch it again. Repeat this for the next 36 hours.


Also - for those of you who haven't seen this video, it will also get your juices flowing for the opener. Thanks, Yair. Thanks, Sean. (If you want to download the background music to this video, it is Nelly's "Heart of a Champion."



HTTR and Shavua Tov,


Thursday, September 7, 2006

Week 1 - Portis Speaks (Vol 2)

This is straight from Washington Post Redskins Beat Writer Jason LaCanfora's Blog, posted 10 minutes ago after the Skins ended today's practice:

Portis Speaks


Portis said he's about 75 percent, would not be ready to play if he had to today and sounds very skeptical about being ready for Monday. he kept talking about the long-term and not doing anything to hurt himself for the long haul by rushing back.


He said he's 75 percent right now, and does not want to come back until he's 100 percent.


When he comes back he wants to be himself, a 25-carry back, and with so much time off and so few hits under his belt, that's not him right now. Said it would probably take at least two tough practices for him to be ready to play, and, unless he was doing some serious bluffing, I'd say don't start him on your fantasy teams and prepare to see a lot fo Ladell Betts Monday night.


Gibbs says Portis is still day-to-day and it will be the player's decision to play or not. Barring a complete turnaround in the next 48 hours, I wouldn't plan on him for the opener.


By Jason La Canfora |  September 7, 2006; 4:40 PM ET



Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Week 1 - Portis Update, et al. (Vol. 1)

Please note that the first three paragraphs are a rant and are not informational, for the latest on the Redskins skip down to paragraph four. As many of you probably have noticed, it has been a while since my last message. I apologize for being so aloof, and I promise to never abandon ship like that during the regular season. The truth is that I haven't felt like writing over the past few weeks because, I confess, optimism hit a low point in my camp. I simply didn't feel like spreading any of my negative karma on to you all. Somehow, the Redskins burst their own bubble well before the opening kickoff to the season. The six game winning streak, the playoff appearance, the win in Tampa Bay: all for naught. In the eyes of many NFL insiders the Skins are back to square one, facing the same criticism of yesteryear (bad signings, lack of chemistry, old players) and are facing similar forecasts as this time last year (7-9, 8-8, at best).


But fret not my Potomac Warriors, after a three week trip to Turks and Cacos, my unbridled optimism for this season is back. Instead of pitying ourselves for losing the respect of the national media and slipping down the consensus power rankings, we must relish our position as the NFC's underdog. The magic may have momentarily slipped out of our hands when Portis's shoulder popped, but now that we are in week 1, with a 95% healthy roster, we have every reason to believe that the drive to victory in Miami begins Monday night at FedEx Field. Mark this psycho's words: the Skins will go 13-3, have home field through the playoffs, beat Carolina in the NFC Championship game and beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl 42-10.


If you are still feeling the wrath of cynical Susan spewing evil in your loins, please hear me out. The Skins went vanilla in the pre-season: they were literally a bunch of sandbaggin SOBs. Gibbs and Saunders didn't want to give away a single thing (they used 2% of a 700 page playbook - that means they have 686 pages left to go). So no need to worry about the offense - if they are a little rusty in the first quarter on Monday it is natural, but after that you will never know they didn't score a point in the preseason. If you are worried about the defense, please don't be. Everyone, with the exception of Springs, will be fully healthy in Week 1. And remember, the Skins had a much harder time dealing without Griffin last year than they did when Springs got knocked out. Hopefully Springs will be ready for week two and TO and the Redskins will be all-systems-go for their first real test. This is the year, people. This is the year!!!


Ok. Now to the real issues at hand.


1) There are mixed reports coming out of Ashburn over the Portis situation, and the only official word we have is from Gibbs' presser yesterday. Gibbs said ""He is still day to day...He had a real good day in the weight room and rehab also. He is doing a real good job with it and will continue to expand what he is doing. It's still day to day, though. He feels like he is making good progress."  That is classic Gibbs fluff, giving us no real indicator of what the truth is. Tomorrow will be very telling - the Skins have their first of three straight practice days leading up to the Vikings. If Portis is in pads, then he'll play, if not, it's more likely we'll see him in Dallas.


Despite my theory, there are speculators out there who are convinced CP will be playing. According to ESPN's Football Injuries Insider (coolest job ever) Will Carroll, Portis is 100% playing. Pretty shocking stuff - here's the quote: "Who else drafted Clinton Portis early? Good, I like to see smart people get rewarded. Portis will get the bulk of carries in Week 1." Another source, although not as respected, said the same thing. According to ProFootballTalk.Com, a league source with knowledge of the situation predicts that Portis will be suited up and ready to play against the Vikings on Monday night.


Here's the crucial point on Portis: there is no need to rush him back for the Vikes. The only thing it will do is give his teammates a mental edge and send out a strong message to the rest of the league.. The Skins can definitely get away with a Betts/Duckett combo for week 1 and have Portis ready for Dallas. I would love to see my boy Dolla Bill out there, but it wouldn't be terrible to see him in street clothes either.


If the Skins don't go with Portis, Gibbs has said he will start with Betts in the backfield. Look for TJ Duckett to get the brunt of the work inside of the ten's regardless of who is playing in front of him.


2) As I mentioned earlier, and even more important than Portis returning, is the health of the Skins front four. For the first time in three weeks, Andre Carter, Cornelius Griffin, Joe Salevea and Philip Daniels all practiced yesterday. The front four's health, and specifically Griffin's, will be critical in the defense pressuring Brad Johnson and creating turnovers, making it much easier for the offense by shortening their field. Look for Williams to still blitz the corners out of zone sets on Monday because of Minnesota's weak receiving corps, and to alleviate some of the pressure on back-up corner Kenny Wright, who has looked awful in man coverage in the preseason.


3) The Skins made a very good signing this week that went unnoticed in the media. They brought in veteran tackle Todd Wade. Wade, who was cut by the Texans in July after coming off of a season-ending knee injury last year, had started in 23 games over two years with the Texans before getting hurt. Wade also started 63 games over 4 years with the Dolphins. Wade will finally provide some needed depth at O-line, and the Skins can afford to let him continue to rest his injury while he waits for an opportunity.


4) Gibbs came up with a interesting plan for backup QB that he unveiled this week. Jason Campbell will back up Mark Brunell in the event that he has a week to prepare for his role as starter. Todd Collins will be Brunell's in-game back-up. The move is more for Campbell's mental peace than anything else. Gibbs has realized that if Campbell left camp without some kind of promotion, it would have been very demoralizing for the young QB. With the weid solution, Campbell feels like he is one step closer to actually playing for the Skins. I think both QBs were mediocre in the pre-season, and don't be surprised to see Gibbs go back on his word if Brunell misses a week or two - Campbell won't see a snap this year.


OK. That just about covers it. I will try to get one more update in before kick-off Monday.


In case you didn't catch the spirit of this email, I promise that this week will be a celebration of Redskins football. The coaching staff has been preparing this game plan for months, and the players have a lot to prove after an atrocious pre-season.  Also, the Skins always beat up on the Vikes. Enjoy every moment of it on Monday, because week 2 is going to be a lot more stressful.