Interview with Will Allensworth from Hogs Haven
Transcribed 6/5 by Cecil Lammey, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
LAMMEY: Welcome back everyone it's The Audible the Footballguys.com Podcast. I am your host Cecil Lammey, joined with my co-host, the great Mr. Sigmund Bloom. You know we talk football nonstop on this show. Let's talk some Washington Redskins football today, and to do that, we go to the VIP line, bringing in Will Allensworth from HogsHaven.com. Will, what's up man?
WILL ALLENSWORTH: What's going on guys?
LAMMEY: Not a lot. You know there is no offseason, only a non-playing season and we are in it. So let's start talking about the Redskins' latest acquisition on the defensive line - its Erasmus James coming over from the Vikings. His knees aren't the same. When he came out of Wisconsin a couple, three years ago he was an explosive pass-rusher. Now it seems he has been robbed of a lot of that explosiveness because of the knee injuries. So what can we really expect from James in Washington.
WILL ALLENSWORTH: Well I hope he's going to do better here than he
did in Minnesota. He's returning with a former coach from Wisconsin in John
Palermo, now coaching the defensive line. So I am hoping being back with the
former coaching staff that did him so well in Wisconsin will be good for his
career. It's a low cost pickup at a need position for us, so he'll get a chance
immediately to gets some snaps if he'll stick with the team throughout. If he
can make the team when the regular season begins, he'll get an opportunity to
get in the game. When he was at Wisconsin, I noticed that four defensive linemen
got drafted out of Wisconsin that year, it was the 2005 Draft I believe. James
was the first one, 18th overall by the Vikings. And he's the only one still
really in the NFL, having any sort of impact. So I worry that perhaps they were
coached up, or it was the right place at the right time. But that said, I think
he's a huge upside for us, we didn't have to give up anything. It's a seventh
round conditional pick. It's a condition on him either making the team or -
which I think is just him completing his physical. But I think he could have
a big impact. We definitely need pass rushers on the team. That's been a weakness
for the past couple of years. We're an aging defensive line. So I think he could
be a real threat to be, not only contributing, but starting on the team the
next couple of years.
BLOOM: Will, it's another season, another offensive system, another offensive coordinator for Jason Campbell. And certainly at the end of year, last year, when Todd Collins came in - now he has been with Al Saunders for most of his career - but their offense seemed to run more smoothly with Collins than it did with Campbell. Now Campbell will have to learn Jim Zorn's system. Does the team feel like Campbell maybe has another step to make and that's why they are holding of on extending him? How's the transition going and how does the team view him as their long-term quarterback right now?
WILL ALLENSWORTH: Well in the immediate sense, he's definitely the starting quarterback going in. But I think you're absolutely right. Their either failure or refusal to extend his contract definitely reflects, kind of questions surrounding him. I think it's - he's had kind of a rough go with it. As you said he's been in a number of different offensive systems, that can't be easy for a quarterback. But that said, even if he's had this difficulty, you can't throw a lot of money at a guy who really hasn't - as of today - done anything. I think he is the quarterback of the future for the Washington Redskins. I think he's got the necessary talents. I think he's good enough to be that guy. But at the same time, the team, they're perfectly reasonable in saying maybe he's not. The point, it is kind of a question mark. I think it's similar to, even after Tony Romo really had done something I think the Cowboys waited a little bit to get him into a new contract because there were questions. Now Jason Campbell, this is kind of a big year for him because Todd Collins is there. Matt Mosely over at Hashmarks just said that if Campbell can't get it together early on, his margin of error is going to be pretty slim, because as you said, Todd Collins performed so well at the end of last year. Right now I think Jason Campbell's the guy, I think he's going to come out and play great. I think he's going to do just fine in the offensive system, so I think ultimately he ends up being the quarterback of the future for the Redskins.
LAMMEY: There is no quarterback in this draft class that probably took a bigger fall - maybe Andre Woodson - but Colt Brennan would be a guy who went from possibly a first-round grade, falling to where he did in the 2008 NFL Draft. Now you look at him, and you say 'OK, Jim Zorn knows how to make a quarterback'. So is the future going to be a little bit brighter for Brennan or will we see more of the same as what we saw at the end of his career at Hawaii in that game against Georgia, his less than stellar performance at the Senior Bowl? What's your take on Brennan's future?
WILL ALLENSWORTH: Oh, I'm very excited for Brennan, and no one could be happier that he fell. And I feel bad for the guy, but no one could have been happier than I was that he fell to the sixth round, which I thought was an amazing value pick. I think the situation is ideal. He gets to join - the head coach of our team is a former quarterbacks coach, former quarterback. If you had to learn the position from anyone, it might as well be Jim Zorn. He's not going to have any pressure to start. He's got two guys in front of him who are pretty well seeded there. Todd Collins is a guy who has been in the league a long, long time. I almost treat him like a second positional coach. He'll get a chance to watch Jason Campbell either fail or succeed. So I think all those things - the position that Colt Brennan is in is really ideal because he is coming off an injury right now. And he is coming off questions about his career. He'll have an opportunity - a low stress opportunity to learn the professional game and learn from a great coach. So I think he's got a very bright future. I don't know if it's ultimately as the franchise quarterback of the Redskins, but I think this is going to be very good. I think he could have done a lot worse in terms of where ended up.
BLOOM: Will, we haven't seen the Redskins sitting with a lot of draft picks early like we did this year for a long time, and the results were certainly interesting. They ended up taking three pass catchers - three big pass catchers. Does this signal a change in the philosophy of the passing game, maybe even a changing of the guard in the wide receiver corps and a move away from Clinton Portis and Santana Moss or is this basically throwing a bunch of guys against the wall and see what sticks?
WILL ALLENSWORTH: It may be a little of both I'd say. Jim Zorn hasn't changed the running attack, so I don't know that it will have too much of an impact on Portis. I think he's still going to get his carries. Obviously, Santana Moss has struggled the past two years, so there's been a real concern whether or not he's going to be the No. 1 receiver. And we've also lacked a tall receiving threat, so it never hurts to go after two guys. If one of them doesn't pan out - if Devin Thomas doesn't pan out or if Malcolm Kelly doesn't pan out, you've got that fall back option on the other one. This is absolutely a philosophical shift in drafting philosophy from what we had previous. Joe Gibbs and Greg Williams typically they'd always take a defensive player in the first round, whether it was Sean Taylor, LaRon Landry, their early pick was Rocky McIntosh, a second rounder a couple of years ago. So it's been very atypical in that regard. And then for them to take three offensive players in the second round. But I think for Jim Zorn, I think he kind of thought the defense worked. Don't mess with something that's not broke. And he wanted to come in and make sure that he could install an offensive system, and that required a lot of pass-catchers so he went out and got the guys he thought would work. I do believe they were value picks. I don't think the team necessarily felt like when they started they needed a tight end or they needed two wide receivers, but I think once they got to those picks in the draft, the players available - Malcolm Kelly late, Fred Davis and Devin Thomas were too good to pass up on.
LAMMEY: Now those that listen to the show, well, will know that I happen to bust open some packs of football cards every now and again. I have a weakness for it, if you will. I just got an autographed Fred Davis rookie card. Am I going to be able to send my kids to college on that card or is Davis' career - which got off to a rough start by the way - going to be average? So talk about that rough start and what you expect from Davis, not only this year, but in the future.
WILL ALLENSWORTH: Well, I'm looking forward to seeing Davis in the offense. It was unfortunate that he missed the camp, but he came out and explained himself. He said it wasn't him partying late night, he just said it was he wanted to have his own room. I think that kind of shows a lack of maturity, but it's nothing unforgivable. I think he can remedy that. I think this is perfectly normal learning curve. The only thing that really concerns me about it was that there were some rumors that maybe he had a maturity or work ethic issues at USC, and I hope this isn't a continuing trend of that. That said, he's a phenomenal talent; he's going to come in and learn from one of the best tight ends in the NFC, perhaps one of the best tight ends in the NFL in Chris Cooley. I really think that working next to and under Chris Cooley and even with some of the veteran tight end - we've got Todd Yoder who has been in the league for a minute - I think that will help him. But he's got to overcome the 'not staying with your roommate thing' - that's - I don't want to call it childish, but it's just kind of silly. And that certainly shouldn't be a reason to miss camp at all. Or practice at all. And I think you should be able to bank. No one's hoping more than I am. One day, not only will you be able to send your kid to college, but you'll be able to buy yourself nice things with that rookie card. I really have high expectations for him.
BLOOM: Well, since you mentioned Fred Davis, let's talk a little bit more about his mentor, Chris Cooley. There's been some talk that with the new wide receivers the team may go to more three- and four-wide sets, and then you'll see more two-tight end sets with both of those guys going out into patterns. It seemed like, for the second half of the year at least, Cooley was basically the primary target on the offense. Will we see that start to become a more balanced attack or can we expect Cooley to really be the centerpiece of the passing offense this year?
WILL ALLENSWORTH: Well, I think a very well-run offense - for example I thought that the Redskins offense was better in 2005 than it has been since - you really do want a pass-catcher. You want a wide receiver as kind of your primary target. But I don't mean think that necessarily means Cooley's receptions go down. I think he's still a humongous part of the offense. But certainly, you don't want too much of the offense to center on one guy, or else it makes it very easy for defenses - makes you very predictable offensively. I would love to see a Malcolm Kelly or a Devin Thomas come in and have a big year, and I would also love to see them also bring up a Santana Moss or an Antwaan Randle El so that those guys could be more productive - especially in the red zone. I love seeing Cooley catch passes. I think he's great after the catch, but an offense is best when it' has more than just one guy. And I think that's why they brought in Fred Davis. Todd Yoder was unusually productive last year, but I don't think when he stepped on the field defenses ever said 'Oh wow! Todd Yoder's on the field, we need to keep an eye on him.' But I like to think that when Fred Davis is lined up with Chris Cooley, perhaps at split end you've got Santana Moss or Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly, you have a lot of people that the defense actually has to focus on. And you can do a lot of things from that. You can run because you've got two tight ends that can block well. You can send them out. You create mismatches with guys like Fred Davis and Chris Cooley defensively. I like the idea of actually of taking some of the offensive load off of Chris Cooley and spreading it around.
LAMMEY: You're listening to The Audible, on the VIP line from HogsHaven.com, its Will Allensworth. Now Will, my final question for you today has to do with the engine of the offense. Of course, it's the great Clinton Portis. CP has gotten a lot of carries throughout his career, and he's responded, putting up some spectacular numbers. But do you think, perhaps, will Ladell Betts get worked in a little bit more? People were kind of shocked last year that Betts 1) didn't look as good as he did two years ago and 2) wasn't more involved in that offense, like people had expected. So do you think that Betts will be more involved and also, if Portis were to go down with an injury, are the Redskins possibly looking at a free agent running back? Or will they see who the camp cuts are in August and maybe pick up a guy because behind Betts the cupboards are a little bit bare.
WILL ALLENSWORTH: Yes - to your first question, I would be surprised if we used Betts less. I was likewise shocked with how little the team used Betts in 2007, especially with how well he ran in 2006 - he put up some pretty good numbers at the end of the year. And I think it's very reasonable and very logical to spread out the carries a lot. Clinton Portis is by no means a rookie in the league anymore. He's been around a minute, he's run the ball a lot and he's going to end up running the ball more next year. I would like the think they spread him out more. I think what happened with Saunders was that they kind of let Clinton Portis take himself out whenever, and at some point Clinton Portis just stopped taking himself out. And the team focused on using Ladell Betts more as a receiving threat out of the backfield rather than rushing him as they did so well in 2006. I think he'll get some carries. I don't know how many, but I think it will have to be more than he got last year. To the second question, I don't see the team going out and getting a free agent. The re-signed Betts, and they re-signed Rock Cartwright, although probably primarily as a kick returner. So they've got those two guys. I think them together, if Portis goes down, they can carry the rushing attack. Betts did it so well in 2006; I don't know if that's a concern for the team, but then again, it's a whole new coaching staff. Behind them are a couple guys I don't know that well - I think Marcus Mason out of Youngstown State. I think when the season starts, the running backs will be Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright, and I think that's going to be pretty set. I think that's going to be where they will be and pretty comfortable if Clinton Portis goes down, because they will have someone on the roster who can come in in a pinch as the third running back or what have you. And they also have Mike Sellers at fullback, so I wouldn't be surprised if he got carries as well.
BLOOM: Will, my last question for you is about just the general outlook for this Redskins team in, quite possibly, the toughest division in the NFL. We know how good the Giants and Cowboys are. The Eagles bring in Chris Clemons and Asante Samuel on defense, and Donovan McNabb is now a year removed from coming back from his injury. The Redskins really didn't make that much noise in the offseason, as far as acquisitions. They certainly will miss Sean Taylor and there are questions in the secondary. So what's the general feeling around Redskins-land, looking forward to 2008. Being in this tough division, having a tough schedule, and basically going in with the same guys who took them to the playoffs in 2007.
WILL ALLENSWORTH: Well, I think any time the direction of your team is from a pretty mediocre season to step up to playoff season, you're going to be optimistic. Fans are pretty optimistic about the direction of the team right now. Many feel like this is a 9- or even 10-win team and a postseason team. That said, with a new coaching staff, some of that raises questions about the continuity. Who knows how Jim Zorn is going to carry the team? He doesn't have a lot of head coaching experience, so a lot of fans still have questions about whether or not he can follow Coach Gibbs. Vegas just came out with their lines - I think the over/under is 7.5. I think that's pretty reasonable. That's where I would put the team, as you said it's an incredibly tough division. I think the Eagles are going to be tough. We know that, as you said, the Giants are a much stronger team than I thought they were last year - obviously with the Super Bowl victory. And I think the Cowboys are going to be good for 12 wins next year. So, I kind of aim - as a more pessimistic fan - I aim for a third place spot in the NFC East. Eight or nine wins would be thrilling to me. I think that would be good enough to get us into the post season. I think the NFC East could very well produce two wild cards again in the coming season. So I think it really is a function of staying out of the bottom of the East.
LAMMEY: You want to keep up with the Washington Redskins, of course you check out HogsHaven.com and our good friend Will Allensworth. Will, thanks for joining the show man.
WILL ALLENSWORTH: Thank y'all for having me on.