Did the Redskins make the right call with LJ?

Now that former Chiefs and Bengals RB Larry Johnson is in Washington under Mike Shanahan, is there a plan for the Redskins backfield?

This past week, I questioned the idea of bringing a player like L.J. over to Washington mainly due to his running style and the offensive system he is coming into. Johnson is a straight up and down runner, and when you have a player like that who is older, and on the downside of his career, it almost becomes target practice for safeties coming down as an eighth defender or a linebacker running through the hole.

And, in Shanahan’s system, will Johnson be able to generate enough quickness with his first step and get his shoulder pads squared to the line of scrimmage in the inside and outside zone running scheme?

I thought it would be easier for the Skins to look to the draft to find a runner that is an ideal fit for Shanahan, instead of finding a former feature back who is just looking for a job.

Portis—when healthy—is that type of player who can take a handoff, plant and even cut back with enough quickness and burst to be productive. We saw it from C.P. when he was a Bronco with Shanahan out in Denver. But, even that can be brought into question right now. Portis missed a lot of time last season, and now he is being virtually challenged by his head coach to act like a leader and be a big part of the team’s off-season workouts.

Those are “voluntary,” but as coaches will say behind meeting room doors, if you “volunteer not to show up,” then you are telling the team something by your actions.

Can C.P. be that leader, the player who led this franchise to the playoff back in 2005? The same back who could control the flow of an offensive game plan? Remember, this is a player that was brought into question multiple times last season under Jim Zorn.

On paper, this is a backfield that is now loaded with two big names, but names don’t win on Sundays. The hope in D.C. is that the scheme will lend itself to the production of both Portis and Johnson. However, the offensive line is still a major question mark, and an entirely new system is hard to teach with two weeks of OTA’s, mini-camps, and training camp.

It is going to be a process to start winning again in Washington and I am not so sure that the combination of Portis and Johnson is the right way to start.

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