Zorn: "For me, practice helps a guy"
The Portis Practice debate briefly traveled from the Internet to the radio Tuesday afternoon, when
Kevin Sheehan Thom Loverro asked Jim Zorn about the whole Portis diva thing on ESPN 980's "Jim Zorn Show." The great part about an NFL season is the unstoppable creation of 17 different soap opera debates, and this week's obviously revolves around Portis, his health, his practice habits, his diva-ness and his future. I don't have Sheehan's Loverro's exact question to Zorn, but the gist was like this: "There's a perception that Portis has unusual power and privilege, is that whole deal frustrating?"
"Well, I've been here a year and a half, and the things that I've been frustrated with is just that Clinton's been injured a bunch and hasn't been able to practice," Zorn said. "And for me, practice helps a guy, and Clinton's been held back because of the lack of being able to practice. So that's the only thing I see right now that is frustrating for all of us. And yet last week, [before] the game that he got his concussion, he did practice all week. But it was one of the first weeks he had done that...
"It does make a difference, to me, and I think athletes feel like they can just get put in a closet and I'll come out on Sunday and I'll play," Zorn continued. "And I don't know that Clinton feels that way. He has played pretty well at times when he hasn't practiced very much. He has. But I don't know how many athletes can really do that. It doesn't work for cohesiveness in a unit, in my mind. We just have to continue along and see how we progress with Clinton....
"We have some division games coming up, not just this ONE. This is not the last game of the season, so I want to make sure that we do right by him, and for our football team. That would be why I would doubt that I put him out there right now."
So fine, that's a punt. And not a fake punt fake field goal, either. Sometime, this decision is gonna have to be made, for real.
Up next: Playcalling. Is the Sherm Lewis experiment working?
"Well, I mean, we're moving the ball," Zorn said. "We've got our game plan in. The way we're doing it is working, and so we'll continue to do that."
And is Zorn increasingly comfortable with the arrangement? Listen, the man can't lie. He just can't.
"I think [Lewis] feels more comfortable in the preparation, he feels more comfortable because he knows the terminology, the way we're doing things," Zorn said, completely avoiding the question. "Sherman Smith is also calling the run game, but yet Sherm Lewis is making the decision when to run, and so it's working. Chris Meidt's up there helping with coverages and suggestions and things like that. I've chimed in in these critical situations, where I say, 'Hey, wait a minute, here's what I want, no I don't want that, I want this.' For however it's been going, it's worked.
"The comfort level," he said with a laugh, "I think I can call plays. And yet when I say that, I cringe, because Sherm, he's helping it go, he's making it go. And we are doing a good job, we are moving the ball, we are making first downs. It's what it is."
Finally, Zorn was asked about the rivalry with the Cowboys, a topic that was debated on the Redskins Insider Podcast this week. I still say it's one of the three best in the NFL, because some Redskins fans think the season can be redeemed merely by beating Dallas. I don't know how many other rivalries can combine the historical importance with that current passion. Zorn--who, amazingly, called the rivalry "hard-fought"--was asked when he learned about the rivalry.
"The day I became the head football coach here," he said. "I know it, I believe it, I believe in it. Nobody had to tell me. I had watched this rivalry for a lot of years....Even before I got here, I've been following this thing for a long time, and I know what it is to be in rivalries. As a player, being involved with Seahawks-Raiders, just a lot of dislike."
Kevin Sheehan suggested that Seahawks-Raiders just wasn't of the caliber of Redskins-Cowboys.
"Well it's longer, it's older, there's more involved," Zorn conceded. "But I will tell you what, after we were done playing the Raiders every single time, it didn't matter whether you won or lost, nobody was smiling."
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