Q and A with FantasyTailgate.com
By: Mark Solway 
Posted: 2005-08-30
Category: Washington Redskins News
The following is a question and answer we did with Dan Labert of FantasyTailgate.com as their featured fan site this past weekend. As you might guess from their web address, they highlight fantasy football and tailgating, so we talked about a little bit of both. Our thanks to Dan for thinking of THN, and we look forward to doing it again.

DAN: 1-Mark, welcome to the Tailgate 7 on 7. Before we jump into the latest news and notes on the Redskins, please tell us about The Hogs.net. How did it all start? Tell us about the birth of this fantastic interactive site.

MARK: TheHogs.net. (THN) started in 2002 when some people were looking to post some photos from that year's training camp on a Redskin mailing list that I was on (Webskins). We set up a couple of pages and the site just grew from there. Living in Canada, I was starved for Redskin information, and so we started writing our own content for the website as I grabbed volunteers. Today after less than 3 years on the web, we have published over 500 exclusive articles. We now post exclusive content every day during the regular season and most days in the off-season with our coverage of the draft. It's our constant effort to developing our own content that has developed a website that Redskin fans want to visit every day.

Add to our daily content, our exclusive news portal that grabs all of the Redskins' headlines from around the internet, our exclusive weekly cartoons spoofing that week's opponents, and our ever-growing message boards that have quickly grown to 2000-plus members, there are more and more reasons for Redskin fans to make THN their online home for everything burgundy and gold.

DAN: 2-Time for the meat and potatoes of this Tailgate interview, does Patrick Ramsey have what it takes to lead this team? Can fantasy footballers expect more than 10 TDs from him? Look into your crystal ball, what do you predict for this year's squad?

MARK: Obviously whether or not Patrick can lead this team to the playoffs is the most popular question in D.C right now. He has struggled with interceptions in the pre-season and had one again against Pittsburgh on Friday. But he bounced back and put together a good half of football and likely gained some much-needed confidence.

From a fantasy standpoint, a Joe Gibbs quarterback is rarely going to be a top-flight fantasy prospect. An ideal season for a Gibbs quarterback is 3500 yards and 18-25 touchdown passes. Whether it's Ramsey, Mark Brunell, or both, Redskin quarterbacks WILL put up those types of numbers in 2005. Personally I think Ramsey will benefit greatly from improved offensive line play and grow stronger in confidence and consequently in performance as the season progresses. I expect about 15 touchdowns and about 3000 yards from Ramsey. A good fantasy game plan may be to have Patrick as a backup initially and play him situationally with an eye to starting him more later on in the season.

DAN: 3- Clinton Portis is a much better topic than Ramsey. However, many fantasy GMs felt they got shafted by his limited amount of TDs in 2004. Just an off year maybe? Lack of productive offensive line? New system? All three? What does 2005 hold for Mr. Portis?

MARK: Clinton Portis was definitely a fantasy disappointment in 2004, but was Portis fully to blame? The loss of Jon Jansen before the season even started, impacted the Redskins' potential for success more than many anticipated. The offensive line struggled mightily to start the season, and Portis was on the receiving end of the results more times than not. Add to that the new system and learning to wait for the linemen to pull as opposed to running in zone blocking schemes and you have the makings of a sub-par season for Portis.

In 2005, Portis has seen limited action in the pre-season until Friday when he finally got some reps against the NFL's number one ranked defense from 2004. Portis ran all over the Steelers and cruised to a quick 48 yards on 8 carries. The offensive line is really coming together with Jansen's return from his Achilles' injury, and the off-season acquisition of Casey Rabach. The offensive line dominated the Steelers in the trenches and continued to do so throughout the game when the starters had left. They have better depth, better starters, and a year under the tutelage of Joe Bugel, and the o-line will pave the way for Portis to rebound in 2005 and post good fantasy numbers.

Expecting Portis to reach the end zone and post 100 yards per game is a very reasonable expectation. That would put his fantasy numbers at 16 TD's and 1600 yards, but let's put on the rose-colored specs and call it 1800 yards.

It does bear mentioning as a fantasy note that Ladell Betts has had a strong training camp and pre-season. He is a much more prototypical Joe Gibbs type running back and will see a lot of action in 2005 to keep Portis a little fresher. He's also a little bigger and may get some goal line opportunities. Watch for his progress early on to see if he is worth picking up in a waiver draft. Gibbs has often used another running back to bang the ball in when someone else was chalking up the bulk of the yardage a la Gerald Riggs and Earnest Byner respectively.

DAN: 4- This year's wide receiver corps is small and speedy. Can Moss and Patten give Skins fans anything to cheer about? Given their size, should we expect to see them as probably or questionable throughout the season?

MARK: Obviously with small receivers, injuries are always going to be a concern. Moss has struggled to stay healthy in his career but he has also shown a propensity to post great yards after the catch, something Joe Gibbs and the Redskins felt that they needed. Against Pittsburgh Moss had receptions of 28 yards and 40 yards, and stretched the field like the Redskins were hoping he could. Moss and Ramsey are still trying to get comfortable with each other, but once they're on the same page, expect Moss to have some long touchdown receptions. The 'long ball' has been worked on a great deal so far.

David Patten is a warrior. Training camp provided me with my first glimpse at him up close and I came away with a ton of respect. It's easy to look at his diminutive size and think otherwise, but it's going to take a lot to keep Patten off the field. He has played in all 16 games five seasons out of his eight and I think he'll post his sixth season in nine in 2005. Size does not appear to be a detriment to Patten and he has been by far the best performer at wide receiver for the Redskins through camp and pre-season. Personally, I start the season expecting Patten to catch as many or more balls than Moss in 2005.

DAN: 5-The battle for number 3 wide receiver is entertaining. Jacobs seems to have the curse of Florida receivers. McCants has not stepped up in two years. Thrash and Dyson are all that is left! Rod Gardner sure is looking pretty good right now! Your thoughts?

MARK: Rod Gardner look good? Not to this Redskin fan. Gardner looks good if you only look at numbers, but he earned the nickname 50/50 for a reason. It's just difficult to watch a guy continually make mental errors when he has all of the physical tools. And when you tell Joe Gibbs that you do not want to be a part of the Redskins future, you're not going to be.

Jacobs can't win the job when he's sitting on the sidelines with an injury. He had really caught the eyes of the coaching staff in mini-camp and to start training camp, so much so that the staff were mentioning him daily. But it's impossible to ignore his fragility and at the time of press, Washington certainly can't count on him to fill that number three role.

James Thrash has seen the most time in the slot and is both a fan favorite and a team favorite. Would I put any fantasy value in him? Absolutely not. The uncertainty of the number three slot and the propensity of a Gibbs offense to run, run, run make Moss and Patten the only two Redskin receivers worth putting on your team. At this point it is unknown whether McCants or Dyson will even make the roster but it would seem prudent that the Redskins keep at least one big-bodied receiver.

Antonio Brown will definitely make the roster and will not only return kicks and punts but will get some spot duty at receiver as well. His speed has really caught the attention of the coaching staff and they have been giving him considerable playing time in the pre-season. Expect him to be used much the same way as Tim Dwight was used in San Diego.

DAN: 6-Chris Cooley. We like this guy. Of Ramsey's 10 TDs in 2004, Cooley had four of them. Can you explain how he is used as an H-back and what he brings to the table.

MARK: There isn't much to not like about Chris Cooley, he's young, he's tough and he's under-rated. Obviously all the hoopla in 2004 surrounded Kellen Winslow Jr. but Cooley quietly posted a very impressive rookie campaign. Redskin scouts did a good job of prospecting Cooley as an H-Back in Gibbs' offense. The H-Back is essentially a hybrid fullback / tight end. Gibbs and Dan Henning (the 'H' in H-Back) were using the I-formation and came up with the premise of using a tight end in the backfield instead of a fullback or a halfback. They were better pass catchers than the fullbacks were and better blockers than the halfbacks were. The position has evolved greatly since then, but that is the premise.

Cooley fits in so well because he's quick, he's got great hands and because at 265 pounds, he's big enough to block almost any defender. He fits the prototypical H-Back mold beautifully. His ability to shed a block and get open underneath make him a frequent short yardage target, hence his red zone success. He was a favorite target for Ramsey and Brunell in 2004 and will be again in 2005.

DAN: 7- Moving over to the defensive side of the ball. What do you think? Can this unit repeat last season's domination? Will Lavar be ready to go?

MARK: Lavar played on Friday and while he only saw duty in the second half, it was fairly obvious that other than conditioning, he will be ready to go. This unit leaves no reason to expect anything other than a repeat of last year's performance. Most people that Gregg Williams had just three of the eleven starters playing by the end of the season and somehow, Williams managed to keep fielding a dominant unit. While it may be cliche, this defense and it's scheme are truly a product of it's parts and not of any one individual.

The addition of Carlos Rogers should nicely balance out the loss of Fred Smoot on the field and the emergence of Marcus Washington's leadership has gone a long way to lessen the impact of losing Smoot off the field. Lemar Marshall will get every opportunity to take over for Antonio Pierce at MIC and has the athleticism to make a name for himself in 2005 like Pierce did for himself in 2004. Warrick Holdman has been starting in place of Lavar but will also get an opportunity to play in the middle and Robert McCune has turned some heads so far in training camp in pre-season.

The return of Arrington, Phillip Daniels, and Matt Bowen has Redskin fans hoping that the defense not only equals their number three status in 2004, but surpassing it. Add to that the continuing improvement and potential of Sean Taylor and another year in Gregg Williams' system and Redskin fans are extremely excited about the 2005 defense.

DAN: Thanks so much Mark. We really appreciate your time. What can our Tailgaters look forward to this season at The Hogs.net?

MARK: My pleasure, thank you for thinking of us.

We're really excited about the tailgate this year. We are officially tailgating with some of the best fans in football -- the Hogettes. You will find us at every game in the green lot at Fed Ex field in section A75. We're also excited about a new sponsorship with FreedomGrill.com who have graciously provided us with one of the coolest tailgate bbq's that you will ever find. Gone are the days of messing around with getting the bbq set up because the Freedom Grill is on a swing arm attached to a trailer hitch!! You just swing the arm out from the vehicle, hit the igniter and wham, you're cooking. Pre-season taught us that this was going to make start-up and clean up exponentially easier.

We're also working on a sponsorship with Isaac's restaurant. We haven't finalized the details just yet but we're hoping that Isaac's will be helping us out with food for the tailgates as well as providing someone to cook it up. You can't have a good tailgate without good food and good people, and we hope that you'll find both at our tailgate. Come on by any time and hang out with the Hogettes and THN.

You can check the Q and A out in it's entirety at their website by clicking here.
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