Ben over at the Curly R, another Redskins blog, played 5 questions with BTB. I asked him five questions about the Redskins and his responses are below. My answers to his 5 questions can be found here on Ben's blog. I actually snuck two or three questions into each of my "overall" questions, so Ben had to work extra hard to answer. But it's good stuff, so take note.
BTB: What is the health of CB Shawn Springs and is there any chance he will play Sunday? If not, talk about his replacement and how the Washington secondary played last week in his absence.
Ben: Poor. No. Rumph and Wright. Terrible. To wit:
Shawn is still recovering from surgery to re-attach his stomach muscles to his pubic bone. Talk about painful. He's listed as 'doubtful,' but I think there's no way he can go yet. Shawn just has the injury bug. Never anything chronic, but he's always dinged. I've heard others theorize that he's always compensating for some pain, which is how you injure other parts of your body.
His replacements are Mike Rumph and Kenny Wright, with Ade Jimoh lending support in the nickel. Rumph was traded from San Francisco for Taylor Jacobs, who had the Spurrier Seal of Approval(TM), but no game. Rumph has played 5 games in the last two seasons due to foot injuries, and it showed Monday night. He was beaten large by Troy Williamson on the play that led to the Vikings first score.
Kenny Wright is a Vikings, Texans and Jaguars retread, and played terribly in the preseason (he was beat badly on the Bengals flea flicker in game one), but on Monday, was not bad. Big Brad wound up throwing at Carlos Rogers moreso than Wright.
Overall, the secondary gets bad marks last week. Rogers got beat twice badly, Rumph got turned around on stutter moves several times, Archuleta seemed absent from passing coverage and Sean Taylor, while he did lay wood on Jermaine Wiggins and make several solid tackles, lost his control, again, and gave the game away on penalties. He's a few bad games from being Mark Carrier.
BTB: Will Clinton Portis start this week? How did he feel after the game, did he have any problems with the shoulder? Do you think he is back to 100% and can be the kind of back he's been in the past for this game?
Ben: I don't think he'll start, but we'll see him. My personal thoughts on the injury are that he's basically healed up, and that all this is hubbub is 40% precaution and 60% game theory. Keeping the opposing team guessing about the runner affords some advantage I guess. I don't think this will be a breakout game for Portis. When Gibbs came back to town, one of the things he said was that this team would be built to beat divisional opponents first. It worked out that way last season, with the Redskins going 5-1 in the division, and 5-5 against the rest of the league (including 0-4 against the NFC West). So the Cowboys are well scouted by the Redskins coaches, and I don't think there will be a sense of urgency to bring Portis in.
BTB: Are you guys confident in Mark Brunell as the starting QB? How was his performance in week one? Is Jason Campbell a threat to start anytime this season?
Ben: I am cautiously optimistic about Brunell. After getting benched 9 games into 2004, then going into the first game of 2005 as the backup, before Patrick Ramsey got The Shuler Treatment one quarter into game 1, he threw the most TDs of any season of his career. However, by the end of last season, he was out of gas. Maybe it was the doubleteams on Santana (there was no legitimate second WR option for the Redskins last season), or maybe the opposing defense, but Brunell's passes didn't have enough juice to pull a greased string through a rat's ass. But he's cagey and got it done into the second round last season.
Last week, he was weak, 17 of 28 for 163 yards, but that's better than he looked. If I see a single WR screen Sunday, I'm going to yell. If you take out the long pass of the game, 37 yards to Santana, his average per completion was under 8 yards.
Jason Campbell is not a threat to start any time soon, unless Brunell gets hurt. At that point, though the season is over as far as expectations. Gibbs has walked a line this season, seeking to quell any quarterback controversy by demonstrating he has no confidence in either QB.
BTB: What is the key to the game for the Redskins? Is it the Skins defensive line against the Cowboys offensive line? Can the Skins secondary cover the Dallas receivers? In what area do the Skins have the biggest advantage over Dallas?
Ben: You hit them both. The Cowboys are supposedly thin at O-line, and the Redskins are allegedly a mix-it-up pass rushing threat, though we did not see much of that. The real challenge for the Redskins, though, is in the defensive secondary, covering Terry, TO and Crayton. Against the Vikings, Carlos Rogers had a tough night, Rumph got burned, Sean Taylor let his teammates down with penalties and Adam Archuleta was a no-show. Add to that top reserve safety Pierson Prioleau blowing out his ACL on a non-contact play, and the Redskins should oughta think about trying to play less conservative offense to try and keep scores high.
The Redskins have the biggest advantage over the Cowboys in four areas: offense, defense, special teams and coaching. Ha ha ha, little joke. I think the Redskins have their best chance to control the game at the D-line and linebacker positions. If they can keep pressure on Bledsoe, knock him around and force him into some bad decisions, that will keep the Cowboys offense off the field and disguise the Redskins' weakness in the defensive secondary.
BTB: How is the relationship between Joe Gibbs and Al Saunders working out? Do you anticipate the Skins offense to be improved this year with Saunders doing the play-calling?
Ben: Well, so far so good. Joe has been known as obsessive and micromanaging about the offense, giving Richie Petitbon wide latitude on the defense back in the day. I think his style and Saunders' style, both descended from the Air Coryell system, morphed into a ground-control game, are similar and Joe trusts him. Or at least, he says he does.
I hope the offense is a little more open this year, a little more score-y, but who does not want that from their team? Clinton ran for a club record, Santana caught for yards a club record, Cooley caught balls for a club record and Brunell had a career year. I just hope things don't get worse!
BTB: Bonus Question: If they made a movie about Danny Snyder, would Mini-Me or the guy who played the elf in "Bad Santa" be the lead?
Ben: Neither. If Dan Snyder produced the movie, it'd be Tom Cruise (you don't think two megalomaniacal shrimps getting together was coincidence, did you?). If it were me making the movie, I'd cast Paulie Shore as young Snyder channeling James Spader from True Colors, with William Shatner channeling James Cromwell from RKO 281 playing him ay the end, broke and alienated as it all fell apart.
Why. Dammit? I. Just. Wanted. To. Win.