run portis run

(photo by Brian Murphy)

Life for running back Clinton Portis and the Washington Redskins is pretty darn groovy at the midpoint of the 2008 season. For starters, he leads the league in rushing with 944 yards, which is 260 yards more than anyone else in the league. That also puts Portis on pace to finish with 1,888 rushing yards, or roughly 300 more than his previous best season. But even with Clinton putting up monster numbers on a weekly basis, he still doesn’t sound overly concerned with personal accomplishments.

“All the personal stats and personal ideas [about putting up big numbers], wanting to do this and wanting to do that is out for me,” Portis said last week. “I want to win. It does not matter if I have 175 yards or if I have 75 yards, if we come out with a win, I come out with a smile on my face.

“I think we are playing great team ball right now, and that’s what is going to take us down the stretch,” Portis said.

And while that’s great for Portis to say – especially when so many people out there paint him as a “me-first” kind of guy – the truth is the Redskins have needed him to do the heavy lifting through the first half of the season and he’s delivered, which is why the ‘Skins stand 6-2 at the halfway point of the season.

We decided to break down the first half of each of Portis’ five seasons with the Redskins and see what the number crunching showed. Here’s what we found out:

In 2008, Portis has 187 carries for 944 yards (5.0 per carry) and seven touchdowns. Most importantly, the Redskins are 6-2.

In 2007, Portis had 151 carries for 629 yards (4.2 per carry) and six touchdowns. The ‘Skins went 5-3.

In 2006, Portis had 127 carries for 523 yards (4.1 per carry) and seven touchdowns. The ‘Skins went 2-6.

In 2005, Portis had 148 carries for 620 yards (4.2 per carry) and four touchdowns. The ‘Skins went 5-3.

In 2004, Portis had 204 carries for 810 yards (4.0 per carry) and two touchdowns. The ‘Skins went 3-5.

Most importantly, the Redskins are 10-2 when Portis rushes for at least 100 yards during this timeframe. Now that we’ve laid the case for Clinton, please allow us to play devil’s advocate.

Hey Casey Rabach, here’s your chance to tell us Portis is just rushing for all these yards because his offensive line is so awesome. What say you?

“I can’t say that,” he told us last week. “As a whole the offensive line is playing pretty well, but definitely credit goes to Clinton. He’s running hard, he’s making yards after contact and breaking tackles. He’s definitely a huge part of this offense.”

So much for that line of thinking. What do you think of the steam Portis is gaining as a possible NFL most valuable player candidate?

“That would be awesome if he could pull that out,” Rabach said. “That’s what an offensive lineman dreams for – to see a guy you’re playing with excel and earn that honor.”

If he does win the award, what should the offensive line get as a thank-you gift?

“You know, it doesn’t matter,” he said with a laugh. “It’d definitely be appreciated, but …

Have you guys talked with him about it yet?

“Oh, Randy [Thomas] definitely has talks with him here and there,” Rabach said. “He’ll definitely take care of us, that’s for sure.”

Next up, we wanted to ask some of the defensive players what it means to have someone like Portis, capable of sustaining time-consuming drives, on the same team. How great it is to sit on the sidelines all fresh and relaxed while he’s running wild on opposing teams?

“He’s looking good, man,” said rookie safety Chris “The Predator” Horton. “And that offensive line is doing a great job of giving him holes and letting him run. He’s a great back and if that offensive line continues to give him big holes … I could run through them.”

Wait a minute. Did you just say you could put up the numbers that Portis has this year behind that offensive line? Pete Kendall had a carry and we saw how that turned out.

(Laughs). “Not at all,” Horton said. “I’m going to continue to do what I do and try to get better at what I do on the defensive side of the ball. Maybe some day [Horton can worry about offense], but not right now.”

Even though Horton realized he’d put his foot in his mouth and began back pedaling as quickly as possible, it didn’t stop us from having a little fun at his expense.

Hey Marcus Washington, Chris Horton said the offensive line is playing so well that even he could run through those holes. What do you say to that?

(Laughing. A lot). “I don’t think he could run through those holes,” Washington said while still laughing at the thought of Horton playing on offense. “We won’t mess with him right now. He’s playing well too, so we won’t mess with his confidence too much.”

So aside from Horton, pretty much everyone in town sees just how impressive Clinton Portis’ play has been thus far this season. Needless to say, if he continues at this level of play for the remainder of the season, then the Redskins will most likely be involved in some meaningful games come January. That’s news any Redskins fan can be proud of.


  1. AZfromPA
    October 28, 2008 at 11:49 am


  2. Sasparilla Gretsch
    October 28, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    “So aside from Horton, pretty much everyone in town sees just how impressive Clinton Portis’ play has been thus far this season.”

    Everyone, that is, except John Riggins, who believes that any RB on our team could put up the numbers Portis has running behind our offensive line. I’m not so sure about that, but it’s an interesting thought.

  3. John Laird
    October 29, 2008 at 3:44 am

    Hey, I have always thought Clinton was the best in the league, but no matter how good a back you are, you can’t get anywhere without your offensive line.

    Go Clinton! Go O’Line! Go Skins!

  4. HapHaszard
    October 29, 2008 at 6:33 am

    One of your better articles Murf. Keep it up.

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