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Zorn vs. Portis Explained, Again

Portis reacts to his benching. (By Preston Keres - TWP)

Since I wrote both a blog item and an actual newspaper story about Zorn vs. Portis, based on day-of explanations from both men as I understood them, and since Jim Zorn's explanation yesterday indicated that my accounts were slightly off, I figured I'd better revisit.

As I originally wrote, Shaun Alexander was in for the final play of the first quarter, based on Clinton Portis's equipment problem, which involved his helmet. Portis said he didn't enter the field immediately after it was fixed, because "I didn't want to run on late." But the subbing-without-permission occurred right after that play, as the second quarter began, and not several plays later, as I originally thought. Here's Zorn's take yesterday:

"Stump [Mitchell] had asked [Portis] if he was ready to go, and he said yes. All of the sudden I called a play for him, but he wasn't in there down at the other end. And so I was kind of surprised, and Shaun ran the ball and he ran it hard, ok, so he got all he could. And then when the quarter was over, [Portis] was already on the field on about the 5-yard line waiting for the team to come over there, and I was thinking, 'Now wait a minute, now this isn't right.'

"So I was confused, so I brought him off the field. And I just said, 'Don't go on the field. I don't even know, I don't know what's going on here, so get off the field.' Well, he was mad, rightly so, because he was ready to go, and I was confused, because I didn't know what was going on, so I didn't want a player just to go on or off when he felt like it. And those were the things that I tried to communicate to him, and he had said that he had had a helmet problem and that's why he was off, so we just got it straightened up very quickly, and he went back in and did his thing."

Obviously, the old Gibbsian policy of Portis going in or out at his discretion no longer applies. I asked Portis whether he now needs to convey every substitution to the head coach; "I don't know bro, you've got to go and talk to him about that," he said.

But Zorn said players weren't fazed by the discussion: "Gasp! Oh no! He's talking harsh to Clinton! Oh my gosh, what are we all going to do?" was how he described the reaction they didn't have. Neither man was trying to "big-time" the other, was how Zorn put it. Just a nice, animated conversation. And when asked whether he has always been a fiery sort of fellow, here's what Zorn said.

"Well, you know, the game is intense. And in fact when I reacted yesterday, even in the press conference yesterday, you know, I'm trying to come down from the intensity of the game. You know, we're at war, that's kind of the way I look at this thing. We're trying to squeeze everything out of the ballgame we can. And then to come in, you've got to debrief, you know, you're just trying to calm down. I am too, because I'm playing the game. In my mind, I'm playing the game, so the intensity level out there is high.

"I think we all need to act medium, but sometimes those situations need an immediate response. I can calm back down. I mean, I enjoyed the game, I enjoyed the heck out of the game, I thought it was great. A great competition, fighting all the way. But the intensity of the situations, they become more intensified when we make little errors here and there. It's the little things that rile me up, and I just want to make sure as we go along here that the team can function in the team concept and not in the individual concept that will hurt us as we go down the road. We just can't have it. So I'm trying to pay attention to all those things as we move down the road."

And I'm trying to guess who will be Zorn's next adversary. My Top Three candidates, based on the surprise factor: Justin Geisinger, Mike Timlin, and Mike Wise.

By Dan Steinberg  |  October 28, 2008; 11:31 AM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Next: Zorn's Decision to Go For Two


We're at war, okay, so we all need to act medium.

Posted by: NateinthePDX | October 28, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Zorn is a bleeping solider!

Posted by: TheTruth11 | October 28, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing the Wise Guy in entering the firing line for the next edition of Hurricane Zorn ... a category medium hurricane.

Posted by: dcsween | October 28, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Are you okay?

Posted by: StetSportsBlog | October 28, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

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