Jason La Canfora is the beat writer at the Washington Post for the Redskins. He also runs one of the best Redskins blogs in all of internetdom -- Redskins Insider. He has graciously agreed to a short interview:
Hogs Haven: First and foremost thanks again for this. Let's get some biographical information out of the way; how did you become the beat writer for the Washington Post?
Jason La Canfora: It was by birthright, a preordained experience bestowed upon me by the god's of the ink-stained wretches. No, seriously, I covered a bunch of stuff in the past, got hired by the Post in 1999, covered the Caps for five years, applied for the Skins gig in 2004, and was lucky enough to get it.
Hogs Haven: These interviews are more epic if you have an inspiring Sports Writer story to tell us (Feel free to make one up [my readers won't notice].). How did you get into sports writing? Did you always want to write about sports?
Jason La Canfora: I may have kind of covered this in the first reponse. It was my calling. My great, great, great, great grandfather covered the Boston teaparty ... I just always loved sports growing up, loved to write and figured it would make sense to combine the two if at all possible.
Hogs Haven: The Washington Post has been progressive in utilizing blogs as a news medium. In fact, I get most of my injury/cut updates not from the pages of the Post, but from your Redskins Insider blog (which is excellent by the way). What direction do you see the relationship between newspapers and blogs -- and by proxy bloggers -- heading?
Jason La Canfora: Great point, bro and thanks for the plug. I think you've nailed it. We need to stay progressive and try to engage readers in different ways with new media ventures. People think about and seek out their information in ways unlike even 5-7 years ago, and I feel like being accesible, interacting with readers and have a forum where you can go back and forth and have a sort of conversation about what matters to them within your coverage is huge for both parties. I have a lot of fun with and try to make it seem like a community area where people can hang out, have fun and also dissect hardcore X's and O's, too. (Check out my girl Megskin's like 2,000 word opus on the merits of the 46 Defense on the blog if you don't believe me).
Hogs Haven: We interviewed your colleague Dan Steinberg some time ago. He suggested that you would use your blog for "evil" purposes. Care to comment?
Jason La Canfora: If by evil, you mean my blog generating like 20 times as many hits as his ... Naw, I have no idea. Maybe sometimes I am a bit evil. It's in my DNA.
Hogs Haven: Let's talk Redskins. We're now 4-8 and even the most hopelessly optimistic fans, such as myself, need to finally take a good long look in the mirror and admit that we aren't good enough, smart enough, and gosh darnit the postseason is a pipe dream. What is the sense of the players right now?
Jason La Canfora: I think they realize this is part of a long-term plan now, or at least it should be. No one is talking playoffs. They know they've blown it. Amazing though - every team they needed to lose lost yesterday and they still blew it. They could be entering Sunday's game with a chance to get in a wildcard spot. Man, the NFC stinks.
Hogs Haven: This team had (perhaps too) high hopes heading into the season. We actually went to and won a game in the playoffs, largely because of our running game and defense. From there we went 4-8 and now we're all scratching our heads wondering what the hell happened. What the hell happened?
Jason La Canfora: They had something good going, we're in the third year in what seemed like a 3 year plan, then messed with the chemistry. Too much change. Too many new "stars" - note the use of the quote marks - to the mix. Another new offense. More new terminology. Another 10 weeks to figure out a power running game is the way to go. And on defense, they grossly overestimated the talent level and ability of their scheme to function without the horses for the job.
Hogs Haven: Which position is the biggest weakness on this football team? Which position do we need to address in the draft?
Jason La Canfora: Wow. Where to start. I think they need to start with the D Line above all else. But realistically, they are going to need LBs, CBs, K, too.
Hogs Haven: Now to the coaches. We've clearly taken a step back defensively, though I'm not sure if that is the result of some truly embarrassing personnel decisions or whether the scheme has been figured out. Either way, the coaching staff is accountable. Does anyone need to be shown the door? If so, who?
Jason La Canfora: Gregg's scheme has worked for a long time. His adjustments have suffered and his/the team's personnel moves have been horrid in some cases. I could see them doing something with Steve Jackson, and maybe another coach moves in should upper management/ownership decide that. I know if it was up to Gregg he would keep all of his guys and rehash some things in the offseason and try to upgrade the talent and depth - because they're role players over there are just not NFL quality in many areas - but it's likely not to be his call alone.
Hogs Haven: I'm a huge fan of Jason Campbell (and his killer mustache). Still, he did take a step backwards against the Atlanta Falcons who have one of the worst secondaries in the NFL. Has he shown you enough this year where you feel confident with him as the starter going into 2007?
Jason La Canfora: You have to start 2007 with him. How can you not? Who are they trying to be? It's his third start. Did you see Cutler last night? JC was nowhere near that bad. If they don't give the kid a chance through a full season, then they should be relegated to like the CFL or something. This quick fix stuff is a joke. It's time to give the fans what they reserve and start acting like a big-league franchise with a real plan beyond throwing gobs of money around in March.
[editor's note, by Skin Patrol] The above point is one this website strongly endorses. The Redskins organization has run itself into the ground with the "win now" attitude which essentially translates into "win never". I want to be accountable and I think all fans should be as well; our expectations on a yearly basis need to coincide more with reality. I strongly encourage all readers to email the Redskins and tell them that you're ready to build a franchise. I'm not clapping and cheering for the annual bells and whistles anymore.
Hogs Haven: You spend a lot of time at the park around the players. Who is your favorite player to interview/shoot the breeze with and why?
Jason La Canfora: Hmm. That's a tough one. I have different things in common with different guys and enjoy chatting with them for different reasons. Some have great insights or are natural story tellers. Some are funny as hell. Overall, it's a great group. Some of my favorite people out here are Renaldo, Springs, Buges, Byner, Randy Thomas, Bubba, JC, Rock, Thrash.
Thanks for all of the great questions, guys. Cheers.
Thank you Jason. HTTR.