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Shanahan: "We'll Tender An Offer For Jason"

Posted by Matt Terl on February 26, 2010 – 12:28 pm

Well, Mike Shanahan broke his long media silence. And broke it, and broke it. He spoke for fifteen minutes from the podium (pictured above, courtesy of the AP), then another twenty-odd minutes to a group of reporters, and then in some semi-one-on-one situations. It is safe to say that the Unofficial Mike Shanahan Media Embargo has come to a definitive end.

And yet, somewhat oddly, for all of the words, not much of note was said. (“Oddly” here refers only to the number of words expended in saying little; as always, I don’t expect Shanahan to reveal his thinking to the assembled media. There’s really no percentage in that.)

Still, here are what I thought were a few of the notable points:

  • The team expects to tender Jason Campbell next week, and Shanahan does “expect him to be here” at minicamp.
  • He noted during his post-presser comments that the team will be using a “Washington Redskins Defense” which will incorporate elements of a 3-4 alignment and elements of a 4-3.
  • He has not yet evaluated Colt Brennan. (Sorry, Colt-a-maniacs.)
  • He parried a question about what Clinton Portis needed to do this offseason to make the team. “Let’s not talk about Clinton. Let’s talk about everybody on the Washington Redskins. Let’s not focus on one guy. I want everybody to be as good a football player as they can be.”
  • There was, in fact, dialogue with Buffalo about their vacancy last year, but it didn’t come together at least partially because of the Buffalo winters.
  • He reiterated what he had told Larry Michael about the importance of offseason workouts. (Summary: they’re very important.)

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s my transcript of the official press conference, as complete as I could make it in the face of some spotty audio on my end. Read more »

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How Valuable Is The Combine?

Posted by Matt Terl on February 26, 2010 – 9:49 am

As I mentioned yesterday, Indianapolis currently feels like it’s been completely turned over to the NFL. Every table at every restaurant seems to be populated by NFL coaches, scouts, broadcasters, beat writers, prospects, trainers, owners, and even a few players. Whatever else is going on here, there’s definitely ample opportunity for networking, bonding, and getting to know your colleagues and competitors.

But that’s not the ostensible point of the Combine. Theoretically, all of these people are braving the frigid temperatures of Indianapolis (NOTE: Dramatic license; it’s chilly, but not really in a noteworthy way) to get a better look at the prospects in April’s NFL Draft. Yesterday and today, they’re conducting interviews and checking heights, weights, and health; this weekend they’ll get to see some drills and some skill demonstrations.

The logic is that getting all these prospects into one place and bringing the teams to them is more convenient and efficient than 350-plus guys having to travel to 32 different teams, or the teams having to make countless trips just to see players in person. But there are a few flaws in the theoryHow useful all that really is, though … well, that’s a matter of some debate.

Redskins general manager Bruce Allen sees the value of the ancillary stuff — “Our coaches will spend time with other coaches and they’ll discuss different strategies, there’s some bonding,” he told me, “that’s part of the football family getting together around the league,” — but says that ultimately the Combine is “all about the players.”
Read more »

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Friday, February 26: Mike Shanahan Wants Competition On The Roster

Posted by Matt Terl on February 26, 2010 – 7:58 am

This is the second part of Larry Michael’s interview with Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan (you can see the first part here), and — for my money — this is the meatier half. Shanahan discusses the value of the combine (which I’ll be writing more on in a little bit) and what he looks for in the prospects, among other things. But there are two comments I found particularly notable.


First, he discusses how important he thinks it is for players to participate in the offseason program at Redskins Park, and his thoughts can largely be summed up in one word: very. Here’s the non-summed up version:

“The organizations I’ve been around,” he says, “everybody has participated. We haven’t had people go off into different places. It’s a team sport and if you want to get good as a team, you’d better practice as a team. And you’ve gotta make sure that the players understand that they’ve got a chance to get better, not only individually but collectively as a team. It’s a commitment to each other.”

So just because you’re working out in, say, one of the training facilities in Arizona or Miami, that doesn’t necessarily satisfy what Shanahan is looking to accomplish. And — as always, when you’re thinking about offseason work and team-building — it’s probably important to keep this in mind as far as Clinton Portis goes.

The second — and even more revealing — comment of note came in response to a question from Michael about when the coach might know who his starting quarterback would be. Here’s what he said: Read more »

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Mike Shanahan Talks About The Combine

Posted by Matt Terl on February 25, 2010 – 10:17 pm

As I try to curate Technical Difficulties Theater over here in Indianapolis, here’s the first part of an interview Larry Michael conducted with Mike Shanahan earlier today. Shanahan has spoken very little (if at all) since his introductory press conference, so these represent his first public comments on the Washington Redskins in more than a month.

Enjoy, and I expect to be back with more regular content soon.

http://p.castfire.com/1Ll7r/video/256845/100225_shanahanfinalfinal_2010-02-26-115508.1671.flv Read more »

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Thursday, February 25: In Indianapolis For The Combine

Posted by Matt Terl on February 25, 2010 – 1:17 pm

I’m in Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine today. It’s a much more sprawling event than I’d imagined — I haven’t even gotten to Lucas Oil Field yet, and every hotel, mall, skyway, and sidewalk seems to filled with NFL personalities. Bruce Allen in the lobby of the hotel, Marvin Lewis walking down the street, Pete Kendall in a suit and tie on an escalator, John Madden and Charlie Weis both wandering into the same men’s room.

It’s frankly bizarre; please follow along with me on Twitter (or via the Twackle module after the jump) for updates throughout the day. Read more »

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Clinton Portis On Having Fun, Death, And Hang Gliding

Posted by Matt Terl on February 24, 2010 – 2:01 pm

Well, part two of Lindsay Czarniak’s interview with Clinton Portis aired last night (here’s my take on part one), and … well, it was a bit thinner on the ground than the earlier segment. It was more personal and less Redskins-oriented, which was clearly a deliberate editorial decision, but left me a bit less interested as a result.


Still, let’s look at a few things we can learn from this interview.

  • Given Portis’s enthusiasm for Burger King, it’s probably a good thing for him that those rumors of Bill Romanowski as special teams coach proved false, as Romo has railed against fast food breakfasts in the past.
  • Portis has an unheralded talent for using other people’s hypothetical quotes when he talks — things that he suspects other people are saying or would say. Here’s an example from this video; the rhetorical device I’m referring to is italicized: “I think people feel like I’ve got a nonchalant attitude, or I don’t care, or I’m the way I am.” When you hear him do it, you can always tell when he’s introducing a new hypothetical speaker. It’s a gift.
  • It’s endearing to see him with his kids. “I think they give you something to look forward to,” he says at one point. “It’s like, you’re not judged in kids’ eyes. You know, you don’t have to worry about — your child, when they wake up in the morning, the first thing they’re gonna do it this –” he extends his arms for a hug (or, possibly, to be picked up — I can’t tell). “You know, it’s gonna be open arms, they’re gonna say something funny, or look at you and lift your eyelid up.”

Read more »

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Wednesday, February 24: Bruce Allen Talks About The Combine

Posted by Matt Terl on February 24, 2010 – 11:24 am

I was not at last year’s NFL Scouting Combine, when Marko Mitchell had his vertical leap measured (pictured to the right) and eventually established himself as worthy of the Redskins seventh-round draft pick. In fact, I have never been the Combine, so when I found out that I would be heading to Indianpolis this year, I realized that — beyond what I’ve seen on the NFL Network — I had no real idea what to expect.

New Redskins general manager Bruce Allen, on the other hand, has been to a bunch of these events, and he and his staff have been preparing for this one since he got here two months ago. So I figured he might have some insight to offer me as I made my plans, some of hidden tricks of the Combine trade that would make my first trip go just a little more smoothly.

And I was right.

“Bring a jacket,” he said firmly. And then, just in case I had misunderstood, he added, “Not a sport coat.”

As it’s currently 22 degrees and flurrying in Indianapolis, this is sound advice — and not something I necessarily would’ve remembered — but it also wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.

So Allen tried again, although the Combine seemed to resist easy characterization. “There’s no place like this,” he said, “where you have every assistant coach in the NFL, every scout in the NFL, every team physician, entire training staff, every general manager, every head coach, all in one location, all trying to supposedly keep a secret of who they’re watching, who they like. And it’s interesting. Don’t get into a poker game with anyone, because there’s a lot of bluffing going on during this time.”

(I followed up by asking him if they notice that sort of thing, if they watch who other teams are watching, and he responded by silently demonstrating his own poker face. It was impassive, unreadable, and therefore presumably effective.)

But if I’m still working out how I can best handle the Combine experience, Allen has no such concerns. Read more »

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Clinton Portis Has A Chip On His Shoulder (The Good Kind)

Posted by Matt Terl on February 23, 2010 – 1:32 pm

It sometimes feels like every time Clinton Portis appears on the air, he says something that leaves me shaking my head — and, often, leaves one of his teammates with bus-tracks across his back. So my hopes for this — part one of his conversation with NBC-4’s Lindsay Czarniak, which aired last night — were not high.

But, as he so often does, Portis surprised me. The only guy Portis threw under the bus this time, as near as I could tell, was the 2009 Clinton Portis. Offseason Portis seemed genuinely remorseful for not attending more practices, and seemed very, very aware of how his actions through last season had been perceived.


“Now with the practice situation,” he tells Czarniak bluntly, “that’s something that should’ve been handled differently — on MY behalf. It should’ve been handled differently. But for everybody to know, even without the practice, I never stepped on the field on Sunday [when] I wasn’t prepared.”

Later, he adds, “Could I have participated in more? Yeah, I probably should have. Could I have fought through some? Yeah, I probably should have. But then it got to a point where when I was fighting through it, when I really wanted to fight through it and I was trying to fight through it, all of a sudden me fighting through it and being in pain comes out as the wrong thing to do.” Read more »

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Tuesday, February 23: Meet The Coaches – Keenan McCardell, Wide Receivers

Posted by Matt Terl on February 23, 2010 – 9:13 am

Thinking of former Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan McCardell as “Keenan McCardell, wide receivers coach” is still unusual, to say the least — even for McCardell himself. “Sounds strange,” he says, as Larry Michael introduces their interview on Inside The Redskins, “usually Keenan McCardell, wide receiver, huh?”

But to a certain extent, that’s one of McCardell’s greatest assets as he starts his first season as a position coach: he knows the players, and he understands what he’s asking of them. That’s what Antwaan Randle El — former McCardell teammate, now McCardell protege — told me, and that’s what McCardell himself believes.

“I have relationships with guys,” McCardell says to Michael. “I understand the guys. And they believe in me. They know what type of player I was, what type of person I am. And I think that’s gonna push me so far ahead of guys that would’ve came in here that didn’t know these guys.”

Here’s the video of the interview; the full transcript is after the jump.

http://p.castfire.com/1Ll7r/video/247433/redskins_2010-02-12-114404.895.m4v Read more »

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On One Of The Other Draft Suggestions

Posted by Matt Terl on February 22, 2010 – 1:53 pm

Over the course of this season, LaRon Landry was more-or-less constantly criticized for one thing: trying for the highlight knockout hit rather than wrapping up and form tackling.

For example, from John Keim’s season review for the Washington Examiner: “Landry was back deep to prevent big plays, yet he gave them up by being too aggressive or falling for double moves.”

Read more »

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