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Three for the play-calling seesaw

For the second consecutive game, offensive consultant Sherman Lewis will call the passing plays today for the Redskins.

With the approval of owner Daniel Snyder, Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations, promoted Lewis to play-caller and stripped Coach Jim Zorn of those duties. No one in the organization said Lewis would only handle a portion of the play-calling, but that's what happened during his first game in the role -- a 27-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles -- as offensive coordinator Sherman Smith ran the running game and Zorn directed the two-minute drill.

On Friday, Zorn said he envisioned the process continuing with the three men all involved in play-calling against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome and for the remainder of the season.

Hired on Oct. 6, Lewis has not been in the organization long enough to become well-versed in Zorn's offensive terminology or familiar with the personnel. There was no way he was going to come out of retirement after more than four years and call plays effectively without a lot of help from Zorn and his staff.

Against the Eagles, television cameras showed offensive assistant Chris Meidt, the de facto quarterbacks coach, appearing to provide a big-time assist to Lewis in the coaches' box, hurriedly pointing to other coaches' play sheets and making suggestions as the play clock wound down.

Zorn and Smith have discussed the play-calling process; they are available throughout the week to discuss the offense and their areas of involvement, but Lewis is not. He has addressed the media only once (on the day after he was hired) and not all since his role was expanded.

With three people calling plays for the Redskins, and Lewis essentially serving as a co-offensive coordinator, many media outlets, including the one for which I work, have made multiple requests to speak with the newest member of the coaching staff. All the requests have been rejected.

Lewis seems like a genial guy. He smiles and says, "hello," after practice and when you see him around the main building at Redskins Park. But he's a big part of the coaching staff and he hasn't taken questions since revealing that he, among other things, was calling bingo games at a senior center during his retirement. That revelation prompted many media outlets -- again, including this one -- to report on Lewis's experiences as a bingo caller.

The whole bingo thing, rightly or wrongly, contributed to the national perception that chaos reigns in Ashburn. Zack Bolno, the team's hard-working PR guy, and his staff have faced one demanding situation after another -- and we're only in Week 9. I understand why Bolno would not want to make anyone in this organization available to the media for the remainder of the season. If I were in his place, I'm sure I'd consider -- cliche alert! -- circling the wagons, hunkering down and trying to ride out the storm.

But forget about what the media wants. Do the Redskins have a responsibility to their fans, many of whom have remained loyal to them during yet another disappointing season? I've received a lot of email from readers who say they want to hear from Lewis, and it's time for the man to speak publicly again.

But first, there's a game today. I'm not expecting a Redskins Renaissance any time soon: Falcons 38, Redskins 16. What's your prediction?

The Sunday lineup

Live from Atlanta, the Post's crew will consist of Jason Reid (@JReidPost), Rick Maese (@RickMaese), Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga), Mike Wise (@MikeWiseguy), and two irregulars guest stars: Sally Jenkins (@sallyjenx) and Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog). Also on Twitter, @RedskinsInsider (with Cindy Boren) and @HyperSkins (with Paul Tenorio).

Immediately after the game, Tenorio will be chatting.

As always, if you're not glued to the TV today, you can sign up for Redskins mobile alerts (text "Redskins" to 98999). That is all. We'll be back shortly.

By Jason Reid  |  November 8, 2009; 7:56 AM ET
Categories:  Jason Reid  
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Next: The Campbell era: past, present, future


That is all, Hamsters. Return to your cages


F Dallas

Posted by: JohnDinHouston | November 8, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I think that Periculum poster is right on the money as to where the Redskin's problems lie. I like the fact that his posts are in bold - it makes it easy to pick them out from the noise.

Posted by: FloridaCapsFan | November 8, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

If I am Lewis, I would not want to talk to the wolves that call themselves the media.

And agree 100% JohnD - F dallas!

Posted by: Curzon417 | November 8, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Can I get in on this playcalling thing? Does it pay well? Can I call the snap count? Love Hamsters....F Dallas.

Posted by: Smiley2 | November 8, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I feel sorry for the Redskins PR guy, too. Outside of the press secretary for Barack Obama, who has to make such outlandish strokes of utter stupidity appear to be works of Norman Einstein (reference to previous genius Redskin quarterback duly noted)?

Posted by: RedSkinHead | November 8, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

BTW, the Latin word Periculum means danger/risk/destruction in English. Somewhat appropriate given the current state of affairs.

Posted by: FloridaCapsFan | November 8, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

danger/risk/destruction = Priest Holmes

Posted by: daggar | November 8, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

beeple van beeplebrock

Posted by: daggar | November 8, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Prediction score: Falcons 31 - Redskins 13. Now moving on here, Snyder should fire Cerrato first. Move on and tell the fans that the next season or two will be true rebuilding years. They need to first start drafting linemen and a new QB, RB, & WR's, over the next 2 to 3 years. As the men on offense become more comfortable with the system the Skins decide to stick with, they can build chemistry and become a functional offense like the Colts, Eagles or pretty much any normal team in the NFL. The defense has always been pretty consistent so on that side of the ball, I think some small touch ups in the draft can add some depth for aging positions. Snyder needs to grasp this simple formula if he wants to earn more respect from fans, even if having a losing season for a year or two is the sacrifice. A perfect example of this is the Tennessee Volunteers, those fans know, and have confidence in a rebuilding process that takes time, but in the end, a good product will unfold.

Posted by: AldoFaCaldo | November 8, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

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