Si.com’s recent list of best backfields in the NFL ranked the Redskins 26th overall. At first I thought having Washington placed at the 26th slot was some sort of way of paying homage to the team’s second all time leading rusher, Clinton Portis.
But in the same fashion as the article, I was way off. They have the ‘Skins erroneously placed one spot behind the NY Jets, one spot above the Oakland Raiders, and two places ahead of the Detroit Lions. Seriously? The Redskins star running back was 5 yards shy of 1,000 at the end of week 9 last year. He finished fourth in total rushing yards with 1,487 in 2008.
Over at realredskins.com Rich Tandler asks, “Was Clinton Portis’ slump at the end of last year an indication that his career has hit the wall?” CP will be 28 years old at game time of week 1 for the upcoming season.
The consensus age for a running back to start the twilight of his career is age 30. My math may not be the best but I believe by the consensus standard Portis still has another 2 years worth of 1,395 yard seasons (1,395 is CP’s average yardage for his four FULL years in Washington) before we can even begin to mention any sort of plummet in performance.
Even when Portis’ body was ripping apart at the seams he still wanted to carry the football as well as the team. Hopefully the coaches give him the rock early and often through out the 2009 season. Forget 20-25 times a game and trying to keep him well oiled.
Let’s use him Earl Campbell style and feed CP 40-45+ carries a game. With three years left on his contract, Redskins coaches might as well use him up until he is running on fumes. With the exception of a handful of games Portis hasn’t been prone to fumbling, running for losses, or shying away from contact. Coach Gibbs saw the energy (kinetic and potential) in him and rode him into playoff berths twice.
On the other side of the spectrum great running backs start the decline in play heading into their 8th year in the NFL. Edgerrin James, Fred Taylor, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Shaun Alexander are all examples. There are sign’s pointing in every direction as far as how Portis’ season will play out. But what it all boils down to is what he actually does from week 1- week 16.