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Breaking Down Jim Zorn's Failed Timeout

Chatting at 11:30. Submit questions here. Make 'em cheerful, please.

So Monday, I posted Jim Zorn's explanation for his weird fourth-quarter run-in on the sidelines with Danny Smith, in which the special teams coach tried to grab Zorn's arm to keep him from calling a timeout.

Haha, good little quote, end of story. Then I watched the replay. In slow motion. A lot of times. And Zorn's explanation just doesn't fit the scene in any universe I've been a part of. The head coach said there was a pile-up and four or five players were blocking his view of the play clock, which doesn't much matter, because he started calling for a timeout at least 26 seconds before the playclock would have expired. But don't believe me; let's go to the television photography.

In the above shot, which starts the sequence. Zorn and Danny Smith seem to be conferring. Note that this is immediately before the timeout madness begins. And we're off.

1. I'm not sure how synced up the TV clock is with the real clock, but on the TV, the whistle blew the previous play dead with around 4:29 left in the game. Eleven seconds later, after Zorn's above conversation with Smith, he starts calling for a timeout. This is not a subtle signal. He definitely wants to stop this clock, right now.

2. Within one second of him making this motion, Danny Smith flies into the screen and attempts to forcibly un-make the timeout signal. If the hands aren't touching, the signal doesn't count, you see. Danny Smith is not being shy.

3. Danny Smith's getting kind of agitated, actually. I'm a little worried about him here. Trent Shelton, in the background, is laughing. Some fans in the crowd are booing. Not sure what exactly was the cause. Oh, and see that little blip on the left hand side? That's trouble, with an ETA of about one second from now.

4. Trouble is named Clinton Portis, in this case. I have no idea what he's saying here to Zorn. Maybe he's urging him to go for it on fourth down. Maybe he's asking for the ball. Maybe he's wishing him a happy Jewish New Year. But something about this episode smells like sour apples and rancid honey to me. Also, Antwaan Randle El is still asking for a timeout. Dude, that was so three seconds ago.

5. Danny Smith still seems uneasy. But the immediate danger has passed. Jim Zorn's hands aren't touching each other. Time to breathe easy.

6. All the same, Smith wants to make it clear that no timeout has been called. At least, that's how I'm interpreting this. I'm no lip reader, but he's definitely saying "NOOOOOOO" here. Also, the referee has somehow gotten himself pregnant. Or possibly he's just hiding a bowling ball in his shirt.

7. You know who else doesn't want a timeout? Clinton Portis. You can see him all the way on the right, gesturing with his hand from side to side, in the universal signal for "no we really don't want that timeout our coach just asked for." His bright gloves emphasize the point. Randle El is also now on board with this new plan.

8. Again, you can only tell so much from these voiceless pictures, but in this one, I'm imagining Danny Smith telling the players on the field to stay on the field. Either that, or he's doing an double-high-five with his imaginary friend Wilbur, celebrating their successful undoing of sure timeout catastrophe.

9. Oh joyous day, here comes Clinton Portis, to ask about Jim Zorn's plans for Columbus Day weekend.

10. Now, we can't see Portis's lips, except to tell that they're moving. And catch his left arm? He's kind of throwing it out in a gesture of seeming dissatisfaction. Maybe they're not talking federal holidays after all. Portis doesn't seem all too happy, if I'm being honest. Though this is definitely reading a lot into a picture I took of my television screen.

11. Well, never mind all that. There's a new plan about to be executed, like so many dead European monarchs. Jim Zorn is now telling the referee that he'd like to call a timeout with one second left on the playclock, please.

12. And.......success! Nice of the kid behind the ref to bust out his cell phone camera so he can record this historic moment. The clock eventually stops at 3:47, so depending on how out of sync the game action is with the clock, Zorn began calling for the timeout somewhere between 26 and 31 seconds too early. That's not chump change.

Now, let's go back to his official explanation, given to the media nearly 24 hours later.

"[Danny Smith] saw the 25-second clock and I didn't," Zorn said. "Because there was a pile. Where I was, my vantage point, you can only go down so far. And so my vantage point, there were about four or five guys in front of the 25-second clock. He had looked at the other clock. And so we had time that we could take off the clock. He doesn't have a headset on, I do, I couldn't hear him. And you know how he gets going, 'Yeee-heeee,' you know, he just kind of got fired up about it, wanted to make sure. He saw me calling timeout, I didn't hear him, and so he came and got right in front of me. Because I was looking out onto the field."

Sorry, Coach. I love you, but that doesn't make any sense.

By Dan Steinberg  |  September 22, 2009; 8:24 AM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Why Danny Smith Was Yelling At Jim Zorn
Next: Lou Holtz Praises Vinny Cerrato


Isn't this why they are called assistants? So they can ASSIST the head coach?

Now the real story here is Zorn's belt buckle. Look at that shiny sucker...why didn't we get pictures and a story on this? That's why I come to the Bog

And I can just imagine the converstaion in the picture #7. I bet ARE is saying to that ref "If I promise to fall down as soon as I catch the punt, can you make sure nobody hits me?"

Posted by: fushezzi | September 22, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Dan, there is not a 25 second clock but a 40 second clock isnt that right?

I will post this in yo chat if you want to answer.

Posted by: alex35332 | September 22, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

The closest analysis of a video since Zapruder...

Posted by: mab9 | September 22, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

this post absolutely made my morning! way to break down this crazy sequence, and the screen shots are perfect. i was at the game on the other side of the field so i completely missed this whole exchange.

danny smith saves the day again! i guess this is why lurch has dreams about the guy.

Posted by: goose33 | September 22, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Good job! This is the kind of hard hitting analysis I've come to expect from the Washington Post.

Can you now analyze a video of Zorn pumping gas?

Posted by: mcoghlan | September 22, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Steinz- now that you've written this post, you can buy yourself a flat screen TV and write if off as a business expense.

I dig the retro feel of the curvy pictures, though.

Posted by: Fozzie1 | September 22, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Good job! This is the kind of hard hitting analysis I've come to expect from the Washington Post.

Can you now analyze a video of Zorn pumping gas?

Posted by: mcoghlan | September 22, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Missed the point, didn't you? Last time I looked, this isn't necessarily the place you come to for in-depth hard news style reporting. (Maybe it was for that week Woodward and Bernstein took over for Dan while he was on vacation, though.)

Anyway, great stuff, Dan. I was hoping you'd have some stills of this madness.

Posted by: CDon | September 22, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

There's a simple explanation for all of this. Zorn sucks.

Posted by: mack1 | September 22, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Mack is right, dude is in over his head. The good news; Danny Smith just took over leader in the clubhouse to replace Zorn after they lose to Detroit on Sunday.

Sorry Buges. Blache, you never had a shot.

Posted by: jpfterps | September 22, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

How long is synder(who no one wants to play for..just take the money and run) going to put up with this imcompedence.. As all can see by looking in the upper deck and club seats..A lot of people are just saying no!!!

Wait till the deadskins lose to detriot this weekend..

As Cramer says SELL SELL SELL Just not on stub hub which synder owns.

SELL SELL SELL SELL SELL That is the only way we fans can force change


Posted by: carolina1 | September 22, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

wow--carolina never fails to disappoint with spelling & grammar

Posted by: jpfterps | September 22, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Carolina1, how long is RI going to put up with "incompedence"?

Posted by: trolly_time | September 22, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I don't know about the belt buckle, by my god those pleated pants are such a faux pas. Where's Robin Givhan when you need her?

Posted by: fedssocr | September 22, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Missed the point, didn't you? Last time I looked, this isn't necessarily the place you come to for in-depth hard news style reporting. (Maybe it was for that week Woodward and Bernstein took over for Dan while he was on vacation, though.)

Anyway, great stuff, Dan. I was hoping you'd have some stills of this madness.

Posted by: CDon | September 22, 2009 10:43 AM

Me? No the point is Cheeseboy has to break down this non-issue "Then I watched the replay. In slow motion. A lot of times." Two words - LOO ZER.

"Anyway, great stuff, Dan." HA! No, you're missing the point.

Posted by: mcoghlan | September 22, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Anyone remember the first Giants game/debacle *last* year? At some point near the end, Jim Zorn was standing on the sidelines with a look of utter bafflement on his face. Clinton Portis comes up next to him and looks to be coaching *him* on what the team should be doing.

I seem to remember that even Michaels/Madden were commenting on the fact that CP seemed more in control and knowledgeable than the Head Coach.

I assumed these sorts of situations would go away after Zorn got some games under his belt. Not looking like it so far...

Posted by: JohnnyRyde | September 22, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Zorn looked completely clueless in that sequence--god we need a new coach.

Posted by: jkahn001 | September 22, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Zorn is a bad joke

Posted by: jonthefisherman | September 22, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

back... and to the left
back... and to the left
back... and to the left

Posted by: fjc33 | September 22, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I almost messed myself three different times while reading through this and the moment-by-moment illustrations are priceless. Dan, I want to shake your hand, sir. Keep up the solid work.

Posted by: pgugino | September 22, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

You're a funny guy, Steinberg.

Posted by: freakzilla | September 22, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Zorn couldn't see???
why didn't he...
A. move
B. ask someone before making a decision
C. look toward teh other endzone where the same clock shows the same giant a$$ numbers.

Posted by: carsonspence | September 22, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

In #3 I think Smith is being stabbed in the back by one of his special players.

Posted by: richs91 | September 22, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

This post is funnier if you aren't a Skins fan and stuck with the washed up Zorn star.

Posted by: pstew652 | September 22, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

This is better than the Zapruder Film

Posted by: nativedc | September 22, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

When does the video of Zorn pumping gas come out? I want the first copy......


Posted by: punchdaclock | September 22, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Portis thinks he is MANGO.

Posted by: tttyler | September 22, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

And the demise of this once proud franchise continues. Zorn is pretty clueless. Sure will be fun next week after we lose to the Lions. Nice post Steinberg.

Posted by: capsfansince74 | September 22, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Zorn is over his head...His play-calling is offensive and he looks lost....Nice guy, just not head coaching material and another Synder mistake...

Posted by: tdl62 | September 22, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Sure, Zorn's playcalling has been ridiculous.

Sure, the only thing wore inept than his playcalling has been his excuses.

Sure, we're likely to lose to the Detroit Lions.

Sure, the fans have had enough - enough to boo a home opening victory.

Sure, the O Line unexpectedly disintegrated. (sarcasm)
Sure, our draft picks have combined for 1 catch for 6 yards in 2 years.


Let's go, Zorn! You can DO it! Just call it like it is: No halfback passes, no trickery, just run on run downs and pass on pass downs.

Here's to 2-1 to start 2009!

Hip Hip Hooray!

Posted by: Thinker_ | September 22, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Genius, pure simple, genius!

This post is the last bit of proof that Zorn is going get is head handed to him in Detroit.

I could not see the clock ther was a pile. JZ

JZ blame it on the Al-Al-Al-Al cahol. Take off the shades in key parts of the game. Wait! That means we could see the CONFUSION in your eyes!
Thank God for Danny Smith!
PORTIS = MANGO priceless!

Posted by: zariah | September 22, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Isn't any rebroadcast or other use of this telecast without the express consent of the NFL strictly prohibited?

Posted by: Kenbeatrizz | September 22, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Is it too much to ask for somebody to photoshop a cigarette in Danny Smith's hand in that first photo?

Posted by: diesel4 | September 23, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Best Bog post ever. Eye watering funny. And actually includes interesting game analysis.

I hear there'll be a MNF chair open next season when Chucky leaves. I think it's time to try a naked mole rat^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H blogger.

Posted by: WorstSeat | September 23, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

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