Mike Shanahan’s New BFF: Clinton Portis

Shanahan congratulates Portis

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“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
      ~~ Old cliche’

“Portis said he’s spoken with coach Mike Shanahan and expects to be a part of the Redskins’ backfield. ‘…it’s like all of a sudden seeing how much you miss something.’”
      ~~ Clinton Portis as quoted in The Washington Post (Feb 3, 2010)

Portis did not feel that way in 2003 when he was demanding a raise after his 14 TD, 1591 yard year with Shanahan’s Denver Broncos.

For his part, Shanahan thought Portis a product of his offensive scheme. Running backs come a dime a dozen and are easily replaced. By that reasoning, he didn’t need Portis that much, especially when he could get CB Champ Bailey and snooker Danny Snyder out of a second round draft pick to boot.

On the surface, Shanahan seemed proven right over the next two seasons with journeymen backs Reuben Droughns and Mike Anderson.

Both Shanahan and Portis were wrong. They needed each other.

Droughns and Anderson combined for 2254 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2004 and ’05, but could not power Denver back to the Super Bowl as Terrell Davis did and as Portis might have. Denver went 23-9 in their regular season games.

Portis needed the 2004 season to adapt to Joe Gibbs’ power rushing game behind downhill blockers. In 2005, Portis had 1732 yards from scrimmage and 11 TDs. The Redskins made the playoffs when Gibbs put the ball in Portis hands for the last five games of the season. Washington would go 1-1 in the playoffs, but they didn’t make the Super Bowl either.

For all of Portis’ heroics, the Skins went 16-16 in those two seasons. He could have used Shanahan’s schemes and Denver’s zone blocking.

“…it’s like all of a sudden seeing how much you miss something.”

Well I’m glad CP has reconciled himself to coach Shanahan. I’m not sure Shanahan feels the same about Portis. If Shanny reads the stat sheet, he’ll see that Portis gained 7882 yards total offense and scored 47 touchdowns in his six seasons with Washington. When he studies tape of last season’s running game, he may puke.

Consider these two factoids:

Portis gained a mere 494 rushing yards in seven and a-half games last season for 4.0 yards per carry.

Clinton Portis was the leading rusher on the team. Only the lightly used Marcus Mason matched his 4.0 yards per carry.

And here’s one other tidbit: at 5’11″ Portis and Ladell Betts are the tallest and heaviest running backs on the roster.

You can bet that Portis and Shanahan have a new appreciation for each other. For all the noise about Jason Campbell and the offensive line, Washington’s performance in 2009 had much to do with Clinton Portis. That will be true in 2010 too.

It’s not Portis, but those other backs who should be worried. 

Point After- Portis has three touchdowns on three pass completions with Washington. Maybe Shanahan will be clever enough to use Portis and Wildcat in the same sentence.

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Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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