Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Clinton Portis doesn't appreciate Brian Mitchell's criticisms

Today on The John Thompson Show Redskins running back Clinton Portis clearly expressed his disapproval of some of the things Brian Mitchell has been saying about him on the air. (If the link there doesn't work, try this one.)

I don't listen to the show that much, but Portis seemed to be upset over two specific critiques by Mitchell.

The first, apparently, is that Portis comes off the field too much and according to Mitchell, frequently seems winded or tired. Now, I'm not going to say whether Portis is really tired whenever he comes out of the game because I don't know. He looks like he's certainly in shape to me just by watching how hard he plays during the game -- both in running the ball and by being the best pass-blocking running back in the NFL.

But in the last few years, many teams have started to use two running back systems, and it's pretty common to see two running backs share carries during a game.

As of right now, Portis is tied for fourth in the NFL in carries with 44 attempts. In 2007, he ranked first in carries with 325, but in 2006, Portis had only 127 carries because of a broken right hand that ended his season after only eight games. In his first two seasons with the Redskins, Portis had 343 carries (fifth) in 2004 and 352 carries (fourth) in 2005. Since coming to the Redskins, Portis has unquestionably been one of the most highly utilized running backs. He may be losing some carries to Ladell Betts, but that can be attributed to a changing league and also how good Betts has been.

The second problem seems to be with some of the comments that Portis made in this story by The Washington Post's Barry Svrluga. In the story, Portis says stuff like:

"I wish I could go to a team for one week with the best offensive line, or the team with the best scheme, and switch places with their back and see how others would do in this system. I get a lot of touches with nowhere to run. I could see if I got all those touches and had some lanes, but there's nine or 10 men in the box. You know, I'm dodging all the people in the backfield, fighting just to get back to the line of scrimmage, and people [are] looking around like, 'Oh, he just missed it.' I'm dodging people getting the handoff, because nobody's really respecting us as a passing team."

Portis's comments probably don't come at the most ideal point since the season just started a couple of weeks ago, but he basically just seems frustrated with the offense's inability to score points and move the ball consistently. I don't think that Portis called any of his teammates out, and he was just being very honest, which is something that many athletes don't really do these days.

If Portis was someone who didn't play hard or give everything he had for the Redskins, I'd probably have a problem with it. I don't, but Brian Mitchell does -- and he's entitled to his opinion.

But that doesn't mean that Portis had to agree with Mitchell, which he certainly did not. At least Thompson was there to shift gears and mediate the argument a bit.

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