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Zorn: "It is bleak"

(By John McDonnell - TWP)

That was kind of unfortunate. Leading and shutting out Dallas in the Cowboys' ridiculous home stadium for most of the game, then losing by one at very end after two missed field goals feels more nauseating than losing to Detroit, I think.

"There's no loss tougher than this," Doc Walker said at the end of ESPN 980's radio broadcast. "This makes you sick to your stomach, to be here in this cesspool and lose."

A few quick reactions.


"I really believe this is a special team of players who will not just chuck things in," Jim Zorn said. "Being 3-7, it is bleak. You know, being 3-7 is bleak. And yet we're gonna come back, we've got another big name next week, we're gonna look at our roster, and patch it up and go again."

All that being said, I'm going to focus on "it is bleak," not just because I'm a negative person. Well, largely because of that, but also this weekend, the Caps lost twice, the Wizards lost twice, Terps football lost, and this happened. For a lot of local sports fan, it was a bleak weekend during a bleak year.

(As always, apologies to the Caps; you're not bleak, and even this weekend wasn't so bad, but still.)

Defense did enough

It's pretty common for reporter types to say that "the defense did enough" or some such, when you go on the road against a previously explosive offense and keep them to seven points. It's less common for defensive personnel to say that. London Fletcher hinted at that to Comcast SportsNet's Kelli Johnson, and defensive spokesman Jerry Gray came right out and said it.

"If you hold any team in the NFL to seven, you should win the game," he said, which is a pretty open shot at the offense. "We probably could have intercepted the ball early in the game and ran it in ourselves for a touchdown. It probably would have been over. It would have probably been over. London missed one [intercpetion], Rocky missed one, DeAngelo came back and picked up a fumble in the high red zone, London intercepted the ball around the 50-yard line. We got two turnovers and we held the team to seven points, so you should have a chance to win."

He sort of moderated his language later in the interview, praising the offense's performance against the Broncos a week ago.

"You really really want those guys to do well," he said. "And when you only have two field goals, I think that's the stuff that kind of hurts you in the long run."

Timeout fritteration

I spend my Sundays with the Redskins, so I haven't been watching enough other NFL games to judge this, but does every team fritter away its timeouts to this degree? Feels like every single week, there's a timeout pulled out of someone's pocket, doused with gasoline and just incinerated at some random third quarter moment, for no reason whatsoever. It's brutal.

There were two wasted timeouts this time, leaving the Skins unable to stop the clock more than once when Dallas got it back with around two minutes left. Here was Jim Zorn's explanation, which is not going to make you feel better.

"Well, shoot," he said. "Yeah. We got caught on a clock, and I really don't know how it happened, because I felt like we got the play in, I felt like we were out of the huddle, and we were down to :01 [on the clock] before we knew it. Absolutely have no idea how that happened. Because we were moving in and out of the huddle pretty well then.

"And then on the second timeout, that use of timeout, that was just so frustrating to me. We hurt Jason on that play. I hurt him, because I didn't have the needed call, and we got caught on time again, where we had a shift and a motion and I had to call timeout because it wasn't gonna be [snapped in time]. It was just totally mine, totally on me. I screwed us out of that timeout. I did everything I could just to maintain my composure, and then it absolutely had an issue at the end of this football game, so it's just on me."

First of all, what does "the needed call" have to do with you; you no longer call plays, right? Second of all, what exactly are your in-game responsibilities? Rallying the troops, handling challenges and taking care of timeouts, I'd think. And I'm not sure you're performing any of these tasks particularly well. Maybe the first one, I guess.

"Convoluted? Would that be a good word to describe the play calling of the Washington Redskins?" Joe Buck asked on the Fox broadcast.

"Bizarre," Troy Aikman said. "Bizarre."

If Zorn really has some final oversight, then I agree, completely. Unless Zorn was taking a bullet there.

Air-cast game

Forget bodybag games, this was an aircast game? As you're gonna hear a lot this week, we've now seen five guys play right guard (including two different guys named Williams), three guys play right tackle, three guys play left tackle, and three guys as the top tailback.

"It's just been one of those seasons where it doesn't seem like anything's gone right for us," Mike Sellers told CSN.

"At the particular time that things were happening, you were just kind of going awwwh, argggh," Zorn said. "You were just getting stabbed every time something happened. Even with our injures, it was like, not again."

Tell me about it. Tell Wizards fans about it, too. Enough already.

The obvious

If you're 3-6, you don't play for a 50-yard field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter. If you're 3-6, you might consider letting the Cowboys score with two minutes left, keeping it a one-possession game and getting the ball back. And if you're 3-6, and there's 15 seconds left in the first half and it's only third down, take a bloody shot, no?

"I didn't want to complete the pass in bounds," Zorn said, leading to this suggestion from me: so don't. "And I could have taken another shot to the end zone, but they were coming after us, too, and they were blitzing, so I didn't want to get pushed out of the field-goal range we got. And then when we got our five yards back [on the weird replay thing], it made it even better, so I don't think that hurt Shaun. He just got across the ball."

In praise of Rock

"Hey, our backups are pretty good, aren't they?" Sam Huff asked in the first half, and yeah, they seemed to be okay.

"The thing about Rock is when he gets his chances he takes full advantage of them," Sellers said. "And there's always been these running backs being brought in here and being brought in here. Rock felt like he kept being overlooked, and I think he made his point: get me on the field and I can show you what I can do."

Missing Haynesworth

Obviously you could see the absence; the Cowboys ran up the middle, Romo had plenty of time, and the line seemed gassed late in the game. Still, as mentioned above, the Cowboys scored seven. That should be good enough. So maybe that money could have been better spent elsewhere, perhaps, sort of, maybe. And no, I don't want to get into an argument about Haynesworth's performance, because I freely admit he's awesome. As is his backwards visor.

Signs of hope

To each his own on this matter, but LaVar Arrington, anyhow, sees hope. Turning his Twitter feed into a real paragraph:

"Redskins lost today but I must admit I was proud of them. They fought their butts off they seem like they are on the right track. Sure, they had missed opportunities, but they should have won that game. First time in a long while I was proud to be a former Skins player. They balled. The defense looked like a living animal. They were having fun."

By Dan Steinberg  |  November 22, 2009; 5:25 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Next: Cerrato discusses an aging offensive line


This is a subpar group of NFL talent that is poorly coached and still almost beat the cowboys. What does that tell you about the cowboys??? But this is a cesspool of a franchise that stinks from the top. The redskins are the six flags of the nfl.

Posted by: Phillip258 | November 22, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

"I spend my Sundays with the Redskins, so I haven't been watching enough other NFL games to judge this, but does every team fritter away its timeouts to this degree?"

**With all the tools of a major newspaper at your fingertips, you think maybe someone could research this for you? I mean, if I wasn't on my 10th scotch, I could do it with a few clicks.

Posted by: brad40 | November 22, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Seem to remember 2 years ago the Cowboys dominating the Redskins in Dallas 13-0 most of the game and losing 14-13 on some rather fluky touchdowns. Seems to me to be sweet payback, and I'm not a Dallas fan (Jets actually, and they are not having a good day).

Posted by: ggreenbaum | November 22, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

@brad40, fair enough, but the tools of a major newspaper = my home internet connection and laptop, and if you could really figure out the total NFL timeouts wasted through 12 weeks with a few clicks, more power to ya.

Posted by: DanSteinberg1 | November 22, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Steinz don't worry about what d-bags like brad say.
Nice post. Eff the cowboys

Posted by: jonthefisherman | November 22, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Brad's on his 10 th scotch and still made more sense than Sam huff today...

Stein, I think if you looked up all the teams who employ a rube-Goldberg method of play calling, you would find that they waste fewer to's than zorn...well gosh.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | November 22, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Hey jonthefisherman,

Up yours--it's not like the question about timeouts has to do with just today; it's been all season. And if a journalist whose job is to cover this stuff has to ask us, then, well, why am I checking the paper for answers?

No biggie, Dan, and thanks for responding. But just saying, you're the guy who works for the information service, not me.

Maybe you could check on that.

Posted by: brad40 | November 22, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

as always, Dan, your blogs are good. I live in Indy and watch a lot of Colts games....heck these days I spend equal time with the Colts and Skins (NFL sunday ticket is great). I watch a lot of games with my big screen and laptop and desktop (yes I can watch 3 games that way simultaneously). I'll tell you that clock management is a bad problem for the Skins. Lots of wasted time outs....don't know if that really impacts us because of our impotent offense.

You know what the Skins are? A really good D that could be GREAT if they had something similar to an offense to play with. It's not just the second stringers on the O-line. It's unimaginative play calling (how many times do you run a screen that fails over and over? Why do you have JC in shotgun with no rb? The opposing D knows what's coming everytime......they respect our running game enuf that play action has to be used for JC to have any chance,...)

thanks, Skinnies.....good night

Posted by: joshisandeep2 | November 22, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

In three clicks I found our author's column from a couple/three years ago researching this very question:

"I looked at every game this year for the Redskins and the four bestish teams in the league: New England, Indianapolis, Dallas and Green Bay. This was my definition of a wasted timeout: a failed replay challenge, or a timeout taken outside of three minutes in either half (unless an earlier timeout was obviously being used to stop the clock). The rankings:

Wasted timeouts
New England 18
Green Bay 12
Washington 12
Dallas 8
Indianapolis 5

Games with multiple wasted timeouts
New England 7
Green Bay 5
Washington 4
Dallas 2
Indianapolis 1"

Must've had a better laptop back then.

Not trying to be difficult. Just sayin...

12th scotch.

Posted by: brad40 | November 22, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

speaking of tv, anyone else think the fox broadcast was way off today. i usually like troy and buck, but today they sucked. granted, the game was a bummer and they had to fill alot of time around injuries and referee shenanigans. but seriously.

romo goes down the same time as hall. hall looks more seriously injured but all they do is talk about romo's back. they finally get to hall when he's on the training table.

devin thomas just blew up capenter on a kick return and they dont even mention it until after the timeout. then not even a replay. when a skinny wideout knocks a starting MLB silly, we need to see that over and over again.

then there were times when they said the skins declined a penalty, that was on them, etc. even though haynesworth didnt play, i was wondering if this is the first time he and geroude have been on the same field since albert used him as a human boot scrape. that would have been nice to know.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | November 22, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Trust me Brad, I remember doing that. It took for bloody ever, and that was just doing five teams. I'll ask Elias tomorrow if they track this stuff; me going through every box score of every team is not very time efficient.

Posted by: DanSteinberg1 | November 22, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

brad, two more scotchs and you can be the new nats beat reporter.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | November 22, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Zorn single handedly lost this game for the Redskins. I believe it was done as an FU to ownership. The only good thing that came from this game is it showed how bad the Cowgirls are. They had a opposition coach doing everything he could to give them the win and they almost lost. It will be fun watching them either fall short of the playoffs or lose their first game!Danny wake up, you have our permission to end the Zorn experiment early. It won't translate to many more wins,but hopefully will reduce the embarresment of watching him manage a game!!

Posted by: Skinsfaninvikingland | November 22, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Zorn single handedly lost this game for the Redskins. I believe it was done as an FU to ownership. The only good thing that came from this game is it showed how bad the Cowgirls are. They had a opposition coach doing everything he could to give them the win and they almost lost. It will be fun watching them either fall short of the playoffs or lose their first game!Danny wake up, you have our permission to end the Zorn experiment early. It won't translate to many more wins,but hopefully will reduce the embarresment of watching him manage a game!!

Posted by: Skinsfaninvikingland | November 22, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse


Consider it done--woo hoo! It's all in fun, thanks for indulging the drunk guy. All disappointment aside, if any team had a reason mail it in this year (since KC game), it's this one. I can't stand Snyderatto and all its inherent evil, but I love this team, and was proud to see them gut it out for better or worse.

Thanks, Dan--just keeping ya honest, ha ha.

Posted by: brad40 | November 22, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: geg5100 | November 22, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

And what other team or teams who won there first game of the season against the skins?
You can say Dallas is this and Dallas is that, but the final score was 7-6 and the Cowboys WON not the skins. The cowboys are in first place in the division and the skins in last. Forget whether Dallas is good or not but we know what kind of team the skins are, don't we.

Posted by: geg5100 | November 22, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Sure: Skins lost to Dallas, Caps lost twice, Wiz lost 2, Terps lost (but it actually counts as a W because it means one day closer Fridge being sh**-canned...)

But Dan, this weekend was actually a big WIN for DC sports fans (it's just that most of 'em don't know it yet, because they're not aware that there's a professional baseball team in town!) -- Strasburg's knee owie is just a little case of patellar subluxation - just rest, no surgery, he's going to be okay!

Posted by: TheNationalsEnquirer | November 22, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Well, we definitely should have won this one. We outplayed Dallas throughout the game. Were it not for the missed FGs, we would've won with our third string players even. So Dallas has nothing to be proud of here. All you Dallas fans, you got the "W" but just barely.

Posted by: booboo117 | November 22, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Born in Md, in Vegas for past 15 years. DIEHARD fan. Where is "SuperSherm" ? Who's calling plays; managing clock? Just the most frustrating bunch in very long time. Back in the 70's when we sucked, we still were good. The past 10 yrs have been a nightmare.........

Posted by: aginsburg | November 22, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Yawn.. what else is new? This is the story of this franchise post-Snyder and will be until post-Cerrato!

Posted by: iubiquity | November 22, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Zorn is a moronic doushbag. There is no other way to say it. He is a chronic game mismanager and time out waster, and has crept his way back into play calling more and more since he was supposedly relieved of those duties. His weak kneed pansie azzed "Well Gee whiz golly Wally" Beaver Cleaver routine is just... not what this storied franchise and her fanbase need or want. You're 3-6 on the damn road in your most bitter rival's gaudy palace: Throw the damn ball in the endzone or the 3rd row. At worst, you de-ice the kicker who has been standing in the middle of the field for 6 minutes while the equally inept officials unscrew the debacle they were attempting to perpetrate.

Fire his butt, make Danny Smith the interim, and start finding a new GM/President of Football ops tomorrow.

Posted by: SkinsfaninKaneohe | November 22, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

bleak 1 (blk) adj. bleakĀ·er, bleakĀ·est

1.a. Gloomy and somber:
b. Providing no encouragement;depressing: a bleak prospect.

2. Cold and cutting; raw: bleak winds of the North Atlantic.

3. Exposed to the elements;unsheltered and barren: the bleak, treeless regions of the high Andes.

YES, Z-Man it is truly is BLEAK !!!! in Redskin nation these days

I will not fault the Redskin players EFFORT against the Cowboys

And I wont put ALL the blame on Suisham's shoulders either - the first missed FG was FAR worse than the 50 yarder with the game on the line. Hey 50 yards aint a gimmee in anyones book

Or do you blame the offense for not converting territory & time of possession into points - rather than scapegoating Suisham ?

Do you BLAME Orakpo for missing the sack on Romo's final drive or just give props to Romo for putting a great drive together when it mattered most ?

Do you BLAME the coaches for poor clock management by squandering two (not one BUT 2) precious time outs

Or do you blame management for creating chaos in the play calling - so that time outs would not be squandered in the first place ?

Do you BLAME the Skin's horrific injury toll - or do you BLAME overspending on free agency and therefore exposing the TEAM by having insufficient depth on the roster ?

Do you really just blame Zorn ? ....maybe not today you don't

Do you really just blame Campbell ? ....maybe not today you don't

Do you blame Cerrato & Snyder for creating this god aweful mess ?

The truth is - you probably blame ALL these things & more

Yes, it is BLEAK !!!

Posted by: tele1 | November 23, 2009 1:26 AM | Report abuse

Watching this keystone offense Barney Fife its way to two measly field goals is like doing shots of Nyquil with qualude chasers. There was actually a moment in the game when the Redskins 'offense' and I use that term loosely was 'driving' that I started to meditate on the virtues of black holes collapsing, sucking all matter into their dark vacuum, removing all traces of the universe as we know it, including this truly sucky offense.

Will someone please tell Zorn that Andy Griffith says it's time for him to use the bullet he keeps in his pocket. This team is really bad.

I must go now and yank out both of my eyeballs then set them on fire.

Posted by: dcfan1 | November 23, 2009 3:54 AM | Report abuse

Hey, I know this organization is dysfunctional, but I agree with LaVar--I was proud to be a 'Skins fan today. With all the drama going on, I don't know how these players get out of bed in the morning, let alone show up at 3-6 and play Dallas tight in Dallas. Jason Campbell may not be the franchise QB we want him to be, but he is playing behind a patchwork line with his best receiver (Cooley) hurt and with the top offensive player (Portis) who phoned it this season before he got hurt. The guy can't utilize his strong arm or go deep because he can barely take a three step drop, let alone a five stepper before getting pressure. Remember that commercial with David Carr taking a snap from two offensive lineman?--that is JC. Thankfully, Buges is still around to motivate the junior varsity team. And I see signs of life in some of the young talent--Devin Thomas, Fred Davis (Malcolm Kelley,not so much). It is unfortunate that management set up Zorn to fail--he was promoted to head coach before he was ready--but I have to give him props for dealing with poor team management, a cricitcal media (that's you, Steinberg), and subpar/injured talent in a professional manner. I hope he does well wherever he ends up next year.

Posted by: jnbergquist | November 23, 2009 4:27 AM | Report abuse

Its been BLEAK for many many years...I'm glad I missed it.

Posted by: LongTimeSkinsFan | November 23, 2009 4:53 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: WheresRickySanders | November 23, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

I was fuming as Zorn made the call to kick a field goal on third and two with 15 seconds left. What else did he have to lose? This is why they keep losing: Zorn is afraid to lose!!! He is more worried about losing the little that he's got than GAINING a win. It's bleak, frustrating and maddening seeing this guy mis-manage the game.

Posted by: mustang_johnny1 | November 23, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

The timeout situations are atrocious. Has any of these people every coached or played football before? Toward the end of the 1st half, the Skins are driving, we complete a pass in their territory with 25 seconds to go, and Campbell calls the LAST TIMEOUT, when he should have spiked the ball. It left them no choice than to kick the FG with 15 second left, although I think at least 1 more shot to the end zone was warranted. Stupid.

Posted by: cmterpsnskins | November 23, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

These are losers mired in the sticky gooey crud of dysfunction. And this stinky mess flows straight down from the very top of the Washington Redskins organization. BOYCOTT!!!

Posted by: Pepper5 | November 23, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

"If you're 3-6, you might consider letting the Cowboys score with two minutes left, keeping it a one-possession game and getting the ball back."

Because Dallas would not have scored. They would have ran to the first down and stopped, just like Jones-Drew did last week. Then there is no contact on the tackle. 3 running plays with heavy contact and a punt at least give you the chance or a fumble or a block. Letting them run to a first down lets them take a knee.

Posted by: 6-2StackMonster | November 23, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

As for the cowgirls, that fatass #99 should have been flagged for falling on players after they were down; blatant cheating with no flags.

As for the Skins:

This is typical of 'Figurehead Football'

Zorn is so lost, he needs OnStar

And I no longer believe that it is just Carlos 'Butter' Rogers alone but Defensive coaching why these guys cannot catch interceptions thrown RIGHT TO THEM.

I didn't know Marko was a magician; seems he 'disappears' on Gameday. Could it be to hide the fact that he can outplay Vinny's chosen one Kelly? You ain't fooling anyone keep this kid on lock instead of swallowing your pride.

Amazing how Betts and Rock can run behind this makeshift line without falling down or running up their lineman's backs.

Heyer is Flozell lite; had high hopes for this kid but he's UFL material.

Tackling is still a part of football, right? And it isn't illegal for DB's to tackle right? I mean, there hasn't been any rule changes prohibiting it, right? Just wondering...

Posted by: kahlua87 | November 23, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Love the "Barney Fife its way to two field goals" phrase.

Posted by: bethesdaguy | November 23, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

These players don't care about winning for Snyder or this front office. Look, this company is managed by a lawyer: COO David Donovan, esquire! They sue everybody, they screw the fans at every turn - and sue them, they screw the NFL with their ticket practices, and they even screw the players. (Need I remind you of the Lavar Arrington contract they fraudulently changed in the minutes before signing!)These guys only care about the money, and obviously don't understand the value of their asset is falling through the floor. If they really did, they would change how they approach the game and the customer...but they have not and will not.

They hired the only coach willing to come to town, then didn't give him any tools to win with. He's doing the best he can with no experience, and no say about the talent they bring in.

Does anybody really think a serious top tier coach will come to DC with these guys running the show? Never! They have no credibility. ZERO! We are stuck with this management, and will never have a good team until it is sold.

Find another team to be proud of cheering for like I did. You will sleep better. Screw this franchise.

Posted by: FormerSkinsFan2 | November 23, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Flicking back and forth between games yesterday and saw Coach Z... no clipboard, no headset, no nothing. I'm wondering how anything can be pinned on him. Someone earlier posted about the Rube Goldberg playcalling idea. Holy cow!

And... just why is Coach Zorn not turning in his chit? Is he just waiting to be fired? (serious question).

Posted by: myersj1 | November 23, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Please somebody watch a slow motion replay of the field goal right before halftime. It looks like it was a good kick. Hard to tell because it was high above the uprights, and maybe the tv angle skewed our view. Would love somebody else's take after viewing it.

Posted by: ger72867 | November 23, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Well the season is over had high hopes for yesterdays game,a game we should of of won our kicker was flawless through the season but missed two in a game that would of kept our season alive,but since we picked him up from the cowgirls maybe he was on there payroll.Zorn is at best a pee-wee coach that is a disgrace to this team,he is truly lost I HAVE A PITBULL THAT MAKES BETTER DESCIONS THAN HIM.We have a fair team believe it or not but poorly coached you never see who the true stars are on this team until someone get's hurt poor use of the talent we have in place,looking foward to next year with a new coach-portis waste of a roster spot believe it or not who can we bring in through draft or free agency who is better than 17 not talking about in a few years but the next food for thought.

Posted by: fboyd454 | November 23, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

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