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Marko Mitchell and the Numbers Game

It seems as if a day doesn't pass without someone stopping me at the grocery store, at a restaurant or after church (when I get a chance to attend service these days) to ask about the playing status of rookie wide receiver Marko Mitchell. Many Redskins fans are frustrated Mitchell has not been utilized more despite his impressive performance in the preseason and the unimpressive results of the offense to this point.

Even Doc Walker, who graciously shares his football knowledge in the green room at Comcast SportsNet, doesn't understand why Coach Jim Zorn hasn't utilized Mitchell more in an offense that ranks 27th in the NFL with an average of 14.6 points. Of course, Walker went to UCLA and it takes Bruins a while to figure out a lot of things, but I'll always defer to the former Redskins tight end and current media star when it comes to insight into this game.

I had planned to ask Zorn about the whole Mitchell thing for some time now, but a few other events in Ashburn recently have demanded our full attention. I asked Zorn about Mitchell after practice on Friday at Redskins Park, and he seemed really pleased to answer a question that had nothing to do with his job status.

"If I could activate the next guy, I'd try to activate Marko, 'cause he could help. Yet, I can't," Zorn said. "It's not that it's a luxury, it's just in other areas we have needs. It's the only reason. I like how he's improving. He works hard during the week. He's a footballer. And when he gets out there he competes. He's trying to get our defense to play better just by his play on the scout team. But I just can't activate him right now."

Perhaps Zorn could activate Mitchell, who Doc tells me runs the best fade routes by far on the team, if the Redskins didn't have four running backs active at times this season. The Redskins are searching for a spark in the running game, so Marcus Mason or Anthony Alridge have been in addition to Clinton Portis, Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright. Wide receivers Santana Moss, Malcolm Kelly, Antwaan Randle El and Devin Thomas have been active each week.

"It's a numbers game," said Mitchell, a seventh-round pick in the 2009 draft. "I do feel I can help the team out a lot. There's a lot of struggling going on, and just being on the sideline on game days ... it's frustrating. But I just can't sit around and try to take it personally. I just got to continue to come out and help the team get better during the week, so when they do go out there Sunday they'll be well-prepared."


Danny Rouhier has a new video; suffice it to say he's hurting.

By Jason Reid  |  October 17, 2009; 1:00 PM ET
Categories:  Jason Reid  
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Next: With Smith Still Out, Pakulak Will Punt Again


Simple. If one of the WR-TE-WR loser-gang don't start producing, de-activate one and activate Marko.

Posted by: mikeysuperdons | October 17, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: kickass10101 | October 17, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Simple - it's called use AA or MM (RB) more often than once during a game or deactivate one (both) of them and start MM (WR).

Posted by: JesusFreakKaren | October 17, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

What a bunch of crap. If the guy means on more touchdown because he can catch the fade in the end zone then ACTIVATE HIM!

Idiots! What is so hard about this?

...and first?

Posted by: edvar | October 17, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Zorn's excuse is crap.

Posted by: Kenbeatrizz | October 17, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

What is DT doing to deserve being active instead of MM? What about Mason and Aldridge, who do not ever play?

I bet if they did activate MM, they wouldn't use in the game anyway. He'd sit next to Mason and Aldridge and watch.

Incredible. Bad decision making.

Posted by: edvar | October 17, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Good stuff this week AM2DStix. David Terrell was my biggest gripe too. Just awful.


Posted by: Gweez | October 17, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

The reason he is not active is the same reason that Malcolm Kelly is still our # 2 WR. Its called Incompetence ladies and gentlemen and its one of the more consistent themes going on at Redskins Park. Like everyone is saying above it really wouldn't be, as hard as, JZ is making it. Just pick someone that is not producing and put him on the bench. How hard is that? Take your pick JZ I see multiple people not producing. Why do people make football seem like rocket science? Put the people on the field that give you the best chance to win...... You don't have that much longer to make these decisions take advantage of it now... Yours Truly, AARF. (Another Apathetic Redskins Fan)

Posted by: EsMyDee | October 17, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Hate to see a good player languishing with a team like this.

Posted by: rfjh1 | October 17, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Zorn is a dope

Posted by: jonthefisherman | October 17, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Marko Mitchell would just be another guy JC wouldn't throw to because he locks in on Moss or Cooley 95 percent of the time.

It's been the same thing no matter the coach or scheme.

Kelly Washington has 20 catches in Baltimore. He was outclassed by both Kelly and Thomas when he came to DC for a looksee. Difference is, in Baltimore he has a QB that doesn't lock in on his reads.

We won't know how good or bad Kelly is until we have someone else under center.

Offensive line, bad receivers, blah, blah, blah... We heard the exact same excuses in 2007. Then scrub Todd Collins came in and suddenly those same receivers who never did anything before were suddenly catching balls left and right.

I'm not seeing Collins is the answer.

I'm saying JC clearly isn't.

12.3 points a game over the past 13.

Any other coach would have made a change by now.

Posted by: MylesMonroe | October 17, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Yours Truly, AARF. (Another Apathetic Redskins Fan)

Posted by: EsMyDee | October 17, 2009 1:26 PM

That gave me an idea - to those going to the game. Start barking AARF! AARF!

It stands for Another Annoyed Redskins Fan! Plus don't forget to bring Dark Sunglasses to show them that you don't like what's going on.

Posted by: charley42 | October 17, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

We won't know how good or bad Kelly is until we have someone else under center.

Offensive line, bad receivers, blah, blah, blah... We heard the exact same excuses in 2007. Then scrub Todd Collins came in and suddenly those same receivers who never did anything before were suddenly catching balls left and right.

I'm not seeing Collins is the answer.

I'm saying JC clearly isn't.

posted by MylesMonroe

I could agree more with this post. JC won't throw to anyone else.

Posted by: rickyroge | October 17, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Not to repeat other comments....BUT....I'm not a NFL head coach but I'm smart enough to figure out if someone isn't producing to make them inactive and put Marko on the active roster!!! Malcom or Devin could either one sit out a game, maybe they would work harder if that happened. Or deactivate Ladell Betts who has done NOTHING!!!!! This just shows even more that Zorn is an idiot!!! He has to go, Vinny has to go, Blache has to go, Bugel has to go, Stump has to go.....blow this thing up and start over!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: jcrabbe1 | October 17, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

If you bench Campbell, you could activate Marko.

Posted by: Vic1 | October 17, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Thomas is active, because Mitchell is still learning special teams and Devin starts on all them them.

I agree that one of the RBs should be inactive and Mitchell should be active. He was their best overall WR in the pre-season and not just against the scrubs. Marko caught passes for TDs, ran correct routes, and even blocked down field...

The Skins should have cut Rock if they wanted to keep Aldridge.

Posted by: siris | October 17, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

This is one thing about Zorn that I don't like. The WR's, other than Moss, and to some extent ARE, that you are using now aren't getting it done. Deactivate MK or DT and activate M.Mitchell. Is that so hard to do? Why not? What have you got to lose? He outperformed DT and MK in the preseason and appeared to run the fade successfully and be a bonafide redzone threat that we don't have.

Also why not play Aldridge? Use him on screens, swing passes , to get him in space and utilize his speed. Play the guy for chrissakes. I don't understand this team. They keep using the same people and getting the same crap results. It just boggles the mind. What a stupid a ss team this has become. I still hope they can pull it off somehow tommorow.

Posted by: 72Redskins | October 17, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Yes this is also one of the areas I won't be sad to see fired in.

Look at how other GOOD teams use their talent - look at Desean Jackson on the Eagles last year, look at Maclin this year etc ...

Marko is the best receiver on the roster next to Moss by any measure other than draft position and years of mediocre NFL experience.


Posted by: mac2j | October 17, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: MylesMonroe

Wow, I could not agree any more. Well said. ;)

"Then scrub Todd Collins came in and suddenly those same receivers who never did anything before were suddenly catching balls left and right." Example is Reche Caldwell in 2007.

"12.3 points a game over the past 13." This is just embarrassing, no wonder we've been soooo boring to watch lately, 12 points per game?! What a joke!!!

Posted by: rachel216 | October 17, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Fire Bugel!!

Posted by: TampaBayareaRedskinsfan

For what? Not making Chicken Salad from the Chicken Shiite given him as ingredients?

Come back when you understand football and lose your ageism.

Posted by: TheCork | October 17, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Is Zorn insane? By definition, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Zorn is using the same ineffective players (reciever/RB's) and are getting the same lackluster result. He stubbornly refuses to play MM or AA. I guess he's waiting until the record is 2-12 and then realize that these player would have helped the team if he had played them. "InZornity"

Posted by: pennstate1 | October 17, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I had faith in Zorn at the beginning of the season. WE ARE DOOMED! Zorn said the most idiotic statement I've heard in a long tirm. FIRE HIM! YOU DON"T DE-ACTIVATE A PLAYMAER! This team is in big trouble with Zorn and Vinny! HELP!!!!

Posted by: KurtShanaman | October 17, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Spanglerg | October 17, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Zorn let Colt sit de-activated all seaon last year even after we had lost it all! He could have gotten him in there to win a few games. Now he is repeating himself with Marko!

Posted by: KurtShanaman | October 17, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

All comments that begin with or contain the phrase, "I wonder why Zorn doesn't..."

Just stop there.

The answer is: Zorn doesn't know WTF he's doing. So wondering why he doesn't make this move, or that move, is an exercise in futility.

Posted by: MrRedskin21 | October 17, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

It is hard to believe that Devin Thomas 's presence on this roster is important enough to stop from at least trying Marko Mitchell...if it doesn't work, how much have you really lost? DT brings vrtually nothng to the table and there is no reason to believe that will change n the forseeable future. The season is lost, this is a dead team - let's at least see what potential parts we have for the future!

Posted by: marksmen | October 17, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

It's not like our Receivers are Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Randle-El is our second best WR for crying out loud. Zorn is stupid.

Posted by: saqster | October 17, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Here's an idea.

Deactivate Rock Cartwright - who currently runs at the speed of blight - let Devin Thomas returns kicks, and activate Marko Mitchell.

Why Betts and Cartwright are even ON this team is a mystery to me. They are now both as slow as molasses in a league that is all about speed.

Posted by: MrRedskin21 | October 17, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Please can we never mention colt again on this blog. Todd did what vs seattle and is 2 years older. There are laws against abusing the elderly and putting him out there = abuse.

JC throws to EL, the running backs and DT last game. MK almost got him benched vs. Tampa. He throws to Moss and CC because they are open and can catch.

Vinny is a worthless muppet.

Who would hire Vinny as a GM after Snyder is forced to fire him.

Posted by: mul123 | October 17, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I think Collins - Mitchell could become the dynamic duo we need to turn the season around.

Posted by: daggar | October 17, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I think Collins - Mitchell could become the dynamic duo we need to turn the season around.

Posted by: daggar | October 17, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

You complete me.

Posted by: mul123 | October 17, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

beep beep.

grumble. All my good stuff is getting beeped.

Posted by: daggar | October 17, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

mul123- JC threw three horrible picks, JC almost got himself benched. The second pick was not on Malcolm Kelly. That was a horrible throw. Even the commentators said that.

Posted by: rachel216 | October 17, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Marko would have caught that ball DT dropped against the Panthers. Might have meant the difference in the game.

Posted by: saqster | October 17, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I think Collins - Mitchell could become the dynamic duo we need to turn the season around.

Posted by: daggar | October 17, 2009 3:18 PM

Bring in Manning and Fitzgerald and you still couldn't turn our season around, unless they require the opponents to delay their rush for three seconds. One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi....

Posted by: talent_evaluator | October 17, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

If I had to start this offense from scratch I keep Cooley and Marko Mitchell and cut everyone else.

Posted by: royhperkins | October 17, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Funny...Other teams have no issues or problems activating a young player who is balling. Gosh even the Eagles see that they have some young guns who play. 2 to be exact. and Both have been playing great...but ya know....we draft a TE that we didn't need over WR jackson!

Posted by: leevi98 | October 17, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

mul123- JC threw three horrible picks, JC almost got himself benched. The second pick was not on Malcolm Kelly. That was a horrible throw. Even the commentators said that.

Posted by: rachel216 | October 17, 2009 3:23 PM

rachel, not sure what you're watching but if you watched that 2nd pick closely, you'd see that talib stuck his elbow into kelly's chest on the route...clearly should've been a p.i. call. by the same token, kelly @ 6'4" 225lbs vs talib @ 5'11" 185lbs, kelly should've been more assertive and kicked it up a gear. the refs aren't going to flag him for running into the corner while he's running his route. only if he pushed talib would there have been a penalty. that pick was clearly on kelly for letting a smaller db outmuscle him. as much as i dislike t.o., i'm sure he would've steamrolled any corner on the same play to catch the ball. kelly need has the same physical attributes as t.o. yet plays like he's smaller.

Posted by: charronegro1971 | October 17, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Not only did Kelly mistime his jump AND get outmuscled but he let Talib run the pick back an extra 20/25 yards.

So Malcolm really hit the trifecta of ineptitude on that 2nd pick:

Bad jump
Bad fight
Bad hustle


Posted by: elfreako | October 17, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I had to get up early today, so my being tired has made me cranky and perhaps renders this next bit a touch over the top....

So lets interpret these comments.... to paraphrase Zorn, "I can't start Mitchell because everyone else is active". Yet we have no explanation for why they are all active, because if it seems obvious to Zorn, its certainly lost on me and apparently on some of you as well.

A big part of me seriously believes that they are active because Cerrato said they should be active, not because they should be.

The rest of me is sick.

Posted by: AppleScience | October 17, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Oh please. Mitchell will not get a sniff of playing time since Snyeratto took MK and DT so high in the draft. Zorn's hands are tied. He was just repeating the excuse Snyderatto told him to give if the MM question came up.

Posted by: richie_sheppard | October 17, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

I agree with richie_sheppard. Zorn can't play Mitchell until Kelly and Thomas prove that Cerrato is a genius... don't hold your breath.

At the same time, Zorn is gone, anyway. If you ask me, he should have grown a pair by now and put in Marko. He should have, by now, tried to do something "different" on Offense, whether it be a Wildcat-like formation or whatever.

I keep going back to that Baltimore game last year where they lined up two large, relatively crappy backs and ran it down our throats for the entire 4th quarter.

Zorn doesn't have this type of creative mind. He's handcuffing himself with the status quo, trying like mad to turn our offense into the mediocre Seahawks.

Even if he WERE successful, which he isn't at all, Redskins fans expect more than being the Seahawks. Zorn spent too many years around a "medium" team. We expect Excellence, Domination: two words never related to the Seahawks.

Posted by: Thinker_ | October 17, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

JREID where are you??
interesting that the Wash Post is not covering the biggest Skins story today.. that being Riggins saying Zorn was nothing more than a high school lever coach..

Posted by: SkinsneedaGM | October 17, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

I don't even want to hear about Mitchell. Thought he played great in the preseason. But when Mason and Aldridge on the lineup I'm wanting to trade Rock, and I think Rock might be our MVP over the last few years. I think Rock as a back is likely to grind out a higher per carry avg. but all three seem to be blocking the possible blockers. Where are the lineman? What is with Rhino starting one week and not on the game day roster the next? I hear he's injured and a game day decision. If he's out there are only two guys to back up the entire O-line. Cooley is third string FG center. Is he Rabach's backup?

Posted by: chavez66 | October 17, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

What Zorn is really tring to say is- He will not activate Marko untill he is desperate for a win to save his job, Oh wait that would be NOW ! Dumb AZZ a brick ~

Posted by: ThrowItToMyTeam | October 17, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

How about Deactivate Rock or Randle El. In the case of Rock, let Devin Thomas handle the return duties. In the case of Randle-El let Moss return Punts.

Deactivate Betts. It is pure madness that this kid who showed some serious polish as a WR cannot get on the field.

Posted by: keino83 | October 17, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Deactivate Mason/Aldridge. Make better use of Ladell Betts. Done.

Posted by: drischord | October 17, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse


To deactivate Thomas, Kelly or Davis would acknowledge your mistake in drafting them. Bite the upper lip and finally admit that this is one of your many mistakes.


If you are a Redskins fan, then do what you have to and quit relying on Vinnie. I know he's a dear friend of yours, but if you need help in selecting a free agent during the year, just call Mel Kiper, because it's obvious that that's where Vinnie gets his advice.

Posted by: getitritegov | October 17, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Thinker_ | October 17, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Thinker_ | October 17, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

I can understand Zorn not wanting to make roster changes as well as things are going.Who in their right mind would want to screw up the machine like precision which this touchdown machine has developed. Who needs some guy to come in and actually get some separation from an opposing defensive back. Heck, Malcolm (AKA Jerry Rice Jr) Kelly has at least as many catches as he has games played, who knows, he might catch a touchdown before the season is over if a DB falls down or has a heart attack on the field. Good work Zorny baby, if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Posted by: blurghy | October 17, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

It's almost as if Zorn doesn't realize he's 4 quarters away from being fired. Mitchell can score, let him score. Do something to give yourself a chance to salvage this thing.!

As Jack Bauer would say: "You're Out of time!"

Posted by: Jason10 | October 17, 2009 11:21 PM | Report abuse

The throw to MK that was intercepted was MK fault not JC. Denver beat Dallas that same week with a throw identical to that matter of fact it was a far worse throw then the one JC threw. Difference was the Receiver went up and got the ball not allowing the DB to make a play on the ball. Good receivers know how to use their size to catch. Now the other two interception was Jc fault but every QB has days like that. Brett Farve through 6 interception in a game before and he still didn't get bench.

Posted by: RealOne1 | October 18, 2009 12:56 AM | Report abuse

Zorn is so clueless about coaching that if he had Jerry Rice in his prime, Rice would be riding the pine. Zorn is a sorry excuse for a HC and will never coach again.

Posted by: pbmingie | October 18, 2009 1:43 AM | Report abuse

Actually, people, I'm really proud of the way, I mean, I see how hard Zorn is working and trying to get better. We've got an impressive effort on his part - He's fully onboard with this thing.

And, maybe YOU all don't see it, but he's really making progress. I mean, it's a real grind and, sure, is it easy? No. Is it fun? Not so much.

But, I'm real proud of the grinding way he grinds the team to a grinding halt in order to grind out a 2 - 14 season.

Basically, I'm satisfied with that, because, you know, he's out there everyday and we're making progress. So, to answer your question, "Yes." "Yes," I'm happy with where we are. And where we're going. We'll get there. I promise. We will. Seriously. So, yeah.

Posted by: Thinker_ | October 18, 2009 6:04 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Thinker_ | October 18, 2009 6:05 AM | Report abuse

Marko Mitchell? Activate him? Why?

If it aint broke...

Oh, yeah.

Well, maybe he's still trying to get up to speed. You know: learn the terminology.

It really takes about 3 to 5 years to get fully up to speed in this high flying type of offense.

Posted by: Thinker_ | October 18, 2009 6:18 AM | Report abuse

What you are doing is not working.

As Albert Einstein put it, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

Posted by: gatorz | October 18, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Watching this team the last two years gave me a new appreciation for just how great a coach Joe Gibbs was. I was so hyper critical during Gibbs 2.0 which is why I am a fan not a coach.........I don't really know what the heck I am talking about. As I see it, Zorn has slightly better talent than Gibbs did and clearly he is below average on the coaching side. Gibbs was able to get his team to the playoffs twice in 4 years. Man Joe was a great coach!

Posted by: crazyhorse19682003 | October 18, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

If Todd Collins isn't under center at the start of the 3rd I'm going to take a dump on the bar of glory days and start throwing it at the cops across the bar.

Posted by: murphyz | October 18, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

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