- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 6, 2006

The preseason was a competitive disaster — 0-4. The injury situation is muddled five days before the season opener — Clinton Portis, Shawn Springs, Cornelius Griffin, Phillip Daniels and Renaldo Wynn all missed significant time in August. The team made more trades (two) than first-team offensive touchdowns (zero), acquiring running back T.J. Duckett and cornerback Mike Rumph. And the No.2 quarterback situation could develop into a fiasco should Mark Brunell get injured.

Other than that, not much has happened in Washington Redskins land over the past six weeks.

But the readers have spoken and want some questions answered. Starting today and every Wednesday this season, I’ll be trying to provide answers.

Q: What do you think of Joe Gibbs’ decision with the backup quarterbacks? Why do you think he’s going with Collins on the spur of the moment, but Campbell he has to prepare? Do you think the decision was made by Gibbs or Al Saunders? — Chris Bridges, Occoquan

A: It’s an unorthodox decision that involves a lot of hypothetical situations and the potential for controversy throughout the season. Todd Collins is the in-game replacement because he has a better grasp of the offense. Jason Campbell would be the next-game guy because the Redskins have to see what he can do at some point. And I think this was a Joe Gibbs decision all the way because the team invested a lot in Campbell last year.

Q: For the last two years, it was always assumed the Redskins were grooming Gregg Williams to succeed Joe Gibbs as head coach. But now that Al Saunders has been brought in, is there a chance he could be in line to take over once Joe retires? — R. McKigney

A: The issue of whether Williams and Saunders are competing to be Gibbs’ successor has been a regular topic among reporters who cover the team. Both have head coaching experience that ended with them getting fired. Both have extensive and successful coordinator experience. Williams wants to be a head coach again, but I’m not sure about Saunders. He could have been Oakland’s coach this year but opted for the Redskins and $6million. If Gibbs retires after this season, I have to think Williams would want the head job and Saunders might have an interest, too.

Q: For some reason, the Cowboys are getting graded a lot better than the Redskins even though I think the Redskins have a lot more talent on offense and haven’t really lost anybody on defense. With all the receivers, are they really going to be able to spread the ball around enough to keep everybody happy? — Ronnie Lutz, Tulsa, Okla.

A: Saunders certainly has a lot of options — Portis, Duckett, Ladell Betts and Mike Sellers in the run game; Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, Brandon Lloyd, Antwaan Randle El and David Patten in the passing game. If the Redskins win, everybody will be happy. If the season starts badly, the passing game sputters and certain guys don’t think they’re getting a certain amount of chances, then chaos could result.

Q: What do you think about the NFL being able to change a late-season Sunday game to a night game. I find this to be a take-it-or-leave-it extortion to be a slap in the face of the fans who will be planning their travel around an afternoon game. — M. Jones, Cambridge, N.Y.

A: It was just a matter of time, and it’s surprising it took the networks this long to muscle the NFL into getting this instituted. The flexible scheduling is for Weeks 10-17, except for Week 16 (Dec. 24-25), where all game times are locked in. If they’re in playoff contention, the Redskins could see games at Philadelphia and Tampa Bay and home games against Carolina or Atlanta changed from 1 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. But it isn’t likely to happen more than once.

Q: Even though he’s probably gone in a month, if Alfonso Soriano stays with the Nationals next year, is he the most popular pro athlete in town over Clinton Portis, Gilbert Arenas and Alex Ovechkin? — B. Mumphrey

A: The best player and the most valuable player in the area is the Capitals’ Ovechkin, a sensational talent who is among the five best performers in his sport (too bad he doesn’t have a lot of help). The most popular athlete in the D.C. area is a close race, but I’d give Portis the nod over Arenas since the Redskins are still the most discussed team in the area. All four players have charisma to go along with big-time talent, though.

Q: I was excited about the Redskins’ season before training camp started. Now I’m not sure what to think. How do you think they’re going to do this year? — Robert Cobb

A: I’m giving Saunders the benefit of the doubt — his approach to the preseason (not running a lot of the playbook) worked in Kansas City. The Portis situation obviously bears watching, as do the injury problems on defense. That said, I’ll give them a 10-6 record. Home wins over Minnesota, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia and the Giants and road wins against Houston, New Orleans and St. Louis.

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