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TIMEOUT

“Men, this is a football”, coaching legend Vince Lombardi chortled at the beginning of one of many memorable training camps. Such a painful jab might be thrown at the Washington Redskins who are in need of a remedial approach to football. With a bye week and a little time to rest it’s time to reflect and revamp. The best news following Monday Night’s debacle is that tight end Chris Cooley may be back next month in time to finish the season. Cooley’s a young strong guy and I have no doubt that he will heal up fine. I am most worried that the emotional bruising suffered by his teammates will not right itself in a similar fashion without counseling.

Clinton Portis, your athleticism and skills are plain to see. You are a gridiron warrior who plays with emotion and heart making it is difficult to watch you to suffer through such a lackluster team effort. To you I will simply throw out a name for you to meditate upon, Walter Payton. Many of you know Walter Payton as the NFL icon and rushing leader who played on the great Bears teams of the 1980’s under Mike Ditka. A few of us who grew up watching the NFL in the 1970s remember a spectacular younger Walter Payton who shouldered the load and team pride for subpar Chicago Bears teams.

The collisions Payton endured weekly were something akin to 1 on 11 gauntlets. NFL fans were dazzled by Payton’s prowess and power running, but dismayed by the punishment he suffered. Few thought his career would go beyond 1980. Absorbing jarring hits and Bears losses “Sweetness” continued to get better. Finally the powers that be finally surrounded their gem of a player with real football talent. That is when Walter Payton enjoyed division-conference wins and then a Super Bowl victory. Offensive line guru coach Joe Bugel had a cameo appearance last Monday night. It has to hurt Bugel that the offensive schemes are not helping Clinton Portis to Pro Bowl seasons. What’s wrong with building the offense around a willing warrior at running back? Even in 2009 a strong running game can still better facilitate a good passing game and good is as much as we can hope for at the quarterback position right now.

Jason Campbell, my words for you are “courage under fire.” From what I have seen you have a good arm but are lacking in composure. Stay in the pocket wait for your receivers to get open and then fire at the target. Redskin’s legend Doug Williams in his heyday launched rocket passes surrounded by a quartet of linebackers. Every quarterback in the 21st century NFL has to cope with speedier more athletic defensive personnel but more rules exist today protecting the quarterback. If you don’t have an open receiver then those guys need to run better routes and work harder to get open. And when you find yourself becoming a game day turf logo the line needs to do a better job of blocking. Lastly, whether it’s Campbell or Collins, be a leader. If you are doing your job everyone else has to fall in line because the offense begins at your position.

Defense, aside from allowing the big play at inopportune times, learn from your mistakes and keep ramping up the intensity. Defensive backs let’s have more communication in the secondary so that you’re not allowing easy touchdown’s. D line, “contain, contain, contain” and set the tone for the offense. Washington’s defense has played tough smash mouth football especially in the red zone. I think a few forced turnovers or interceptions could keep the Skins in a few close games down the road. First, get back to basics and then back into the win column.


Jdon Howard

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