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With 7 games left, hope has sprouted

Coach Jim Zorn and Washington's offensive assistants could have ostracized new play-caller Sherman Lewis when he was hired by owner Daniel Snyder and Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations.

It would have been understandable if they were upset about management bringing in an outsider during the season - especially someone who had been retired for more than four years - to take over the key role of directing the offense on game days. Given the roster deficiencies and the ongoing transition to a version of the West Coast offense, I thought Zorn had too much on his plate at times and the team might have benefited from having someone else call plays. But the situation, to say the least, could have been handled much better.

Regardless, Zorn and his assistants are making it work under trying circumstances. Although Zorn still installs the game plan each week and many of the assistants are actively involved in the play-calling process, Zorn and has staff have risen above the situation and handled things professionally - much more so than other people might have under similar working conditions.

"I think we have great leadership at the top of this group," Zorn said of his coaching staff. "In [defensive coordinator] Greg Blache on defense, I think he keeps a tight-knit group, and it permeates through our defensive team. [Special teams coordinator] Danny Smith does a wonderful job on special teams, and those teams respond well to him everyday.

"On offense, I think [offensive coordinator] Sherman Smith does a good job of administrating and keeping that group moving. On offense, it's harder because it's a bunch of ideas coming together and then deciding on one thing. I think we do a really good job, and I'm not in that room every minute of the day, but Sherman does a great job of making sure we keep moving and we decide on something. That permeates what we're trying to do on offense."

And with Ladell Betts as the primary running back the last seven quarters, I've seen signs of life from this team that were not there earlier in the season. Betts's hard running has helped quarterback Jason Campbell relax a little and provided more options for Zorn, Lewis and Smith, who have the most input in play-calling.

With the way the staff has come together, Betts has run the ball and Andre Carter and Brian Orakpo are getting after the quarterback, I'm re-evaluating what this team could be capable of down the stretch. A week ago, I thought the Redskins wouldn't win another game this season because of everything that has occurred in the organization and on the field.

But in watching Zorn and his staff work, I'm reminded that there are some high-character individuals at Redskins Park. And Betts has reinforced my belief about what needed to change on offense.

I still believe the Redskins have a lot of work to do in the offseason and beyond if they are to achieve the success the franchise used to enjoy, but they did end a losing streak at four games while stirring a bit of optimism about the final seven games. And it's nice to see something good happen for good people.

Final score: Redskins 27, Cowboys 20.

Let's talk about that hatred thing ...

Over at the Bog, Dan Steinberg, a dude who's really all about love, peace and cheese, revisits the Redskins-Cowboys absence of affection.

The view from Dallas

Jean-Jacques Taylor of the Dallas Morning News writes of Jason Garrett's struggles running the Cowboys' offense. ... Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes of the Cowboys' offensive-line problems. ... The DMN has an interactive tour of the Cowboys' new palace. ... The Cowboys say they're prepared for the Redskins' trickery.

By Jason Reid  |  November 22, 2009; 7:53 AM ET
Categories:  Jason Reid  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Alexander on special teams
Next: Who's gonna win?

Comments

kick the cowgirlz butts!

Posted by: last1 | November 22, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

One problem with all this sunny optimism: the Redskins aren't any damn good.

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | November 22, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

eff dallas
Go Skins!

Posted by: jonthefisherman | November 22, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

"One problem with all this sunny optimism: the Redskins aren't any damn good."


Yes: the redskins aren't any damn good.

But true fans ignore the obvious desiring that one lucky time when the stars align, the dice come up "7", the pretty girl gives up the phone number, and the improbable win replaces the usual loss.

Today, all we want is a good game where the redskin offense plays well--win or lose.

And if we win, we say:

F Dallas

And if we lose, we say:

F Dallas

Only louder.

Posted by: MistaMoe | November 22, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, the Redskins may not be any good...after all, you are what your record says you are, BUT I was optimistic that I saw something DIFFERENT last week...

Different personnel, Different plays...and most importantly...DIFFERENT RESULTS

Posted by: rickyroge | November 22, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Could it be that we have a TEAM?

Posted by: Keyskonnection | November 22, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

F Dallas. Funny how JReid takes a stand saying Skins won't win another game, then has them favored over the Cowboys a week later. Way to show conviction there Mayor. If they lose, we'll have to suffer through a dozen "I told you they suck" posts on his HWH/HWIT schtick.

Posted by: Kenbeatrizz | November 22, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, JR suddenly saying that the Skins will win over the Cowpokes AND saying they'll score 27 points, too!

I hope he's right but the score will probably more like 16-14.

Posted by: charley42 | November 22, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I am interested to see how JC plays this game. Campbell did not play well with GOOD protection last week...and don't post his stats! He managed the game and didn't lose it.

Posted by: rickyroge | November 22, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: MistaMoe
"One problem with all this sunny optimism: the Redskins aren't any damn good."


Yes: the redskins aren't any damn good.

But true fans ignore the obvious desiring that one lucky time when the stars align, the dice come up "7", the pretty girl gives up the phone number, and the improbable win replaces the usual loss.

Most fans root for a team with a decent owner who doesn't screw the fan base. Let's not lose our focus. It's not the team, it's the owner.

BOYCOTT $NYDER-FIRE CERRATO-DUMP DONOVAN!!!

Posted by: hessone | November 22, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

It has to be said again - -

F DALLAS

Kick some cowgurl butts, Skins

Posted by: mussdd | November 22, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Ooops. The Skins like to score 17 points this year, so make that 17-14 or 20-17!

Posted by: charley42 | November 22, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: MistaMoe
"One problem with all this sunny optimism: the Redskins aren't any damn good."

Yes: the redskins aren't any damn good.

But true fans ignore the obvious desiring that one lucky time when the stars align, the dice come up "7", the pretty girl gives up the phone number, and the improbable win replaces the usual loss.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Most fans root for a team with a decent owner who doesn't screw the fan base. Let's not lose our focus. It's not the team, it's the owner.

BOYCOTT $NYDER-FIRE CERRATO-DUMP DONOVAN!!!

Posted by: hessone | November 22, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

I am hopeful and optimistic that even if we somehow don't manage to win, the Redskins will be very competitive today.

F*ck Dallas!!

A true fan always has hope for his team. The running of Betts and getting everyone involved on offense, the emergence of the pass rush, and the play calling of Sherm Lewis are enough to give this fan a LOT of hope today. If Dallas is still favored by 11pts. that's enough to motivate the Skins, no way Dallas covers that spread!!

REDSKINS BUST THE COWB ITCHES IN THE MOUTH!!

Posted by: 72Redskins | November 22, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

JZ is seriously passive-aggressive.

Whether it's notably not giving any props to Sherm Lewis even as he praises the other assistants, or finding ways to remind everyone that he still "sticks his nose" into the playcalling.

It's like dealing with my wife when she's miffed at me but doesn't want to totally piss me off by calling me a big jerk.

...just speak your mind sweetheart.

Posted by: p1funk | November 22, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I thought Zorn had too much on his plate at times and the team might have benefited from having someone else call plays.
by JReid


BullSh!t...you never said this before...you only jumped on Synder and Vinny for under minding Zorn and his staff. I know you call yourself the Mayor and therefore you flip flop like a politician but some of us have that crossed eye on you. Anyone who self nickname themselves is full of Sh!t and if you are the mayor of DC you must be cracked out...stop this BS..enough already

Posted by: jcnjcnj | November 22, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

>>> "JZ is seriously passive-aggressive."

Uh, he's from Seattle. Passive aggression is our local pastime. We've elevated it to an art form.

Posted by: PDiddy | November 22, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

F DALLAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyone else notice that when it is someone other than CP carrying the ball there is running room? I'm sorry but when Rock Cartwright is tearing off 8 yard runs and Betts is pounding out yard after yard the line just doesn't look the same as when CP gets his yard and falls down. Portis has been one of my favorite Skins till this season. It's obvious he's done here, a lot of comments made by guys on the team were politically correct, but the writing is on the wall. He tried to have Sellers benched for his blocking but I say the problem is him. Even on his "career long" 78 yard run against the Chiefs he was wore out half way through it, one cut and that was a touchdown but he was outta gas. Love ya CP but its time to go. I say Draft Dexter McCluster.

Posted by: skinztattoo89 | November 22, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

J Reid: "With the way the staff has come together, Betts has run the ball and Andre Carter and Brian Orakpo are getting after the quarterback, I'm re-evaluating what this team could be capable of down the stretch. A week ago, I thought the Redskins wouldn't win another game this season because of everything that has occurred in the organization and on the field."

If Ort hadn't injured his ank and been replaced by Simms in the sec half the Skinz prob would have lost to Den. An incornvenient fact that babble boy seems to have cornveniently ingnored. A couple of lucky breaks and suddenly all the probs with Z, Camp, the OL, the WRs, etc., have vanished like morning mist.

PS. Reid - seriously, dude, you didn't actually think Oak could beat the Skinz did you? When you look at their FO, their HC, their QB, their high draft pick WR, etc., the Skinz look pretty decent compared to them.

Posted by: TheAnimalFarm | November 22, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

But true fans ignore the obvious desiring that one lucky time when the stars align, ...

Posted by: MistaMoe | November 22, 2009 8:35 AM |

Bad analogy. The Cows are the ones with stars on their helmets.

Posted by: TheAnimalFarm | November 22, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Just heard on NBC that Jerry Gray is interviewing for the head coaching job at Memphis. Could start next month.

Posted by: alex35332 | November 22, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Here's a real crazy, but possibly good idea. Hire Mike Holgrem as GM and give him the power to retain Zorn (Zorn is a class act) and build the staff and roster. Just a crazy idea, as I would prefer to hire a GM and retool with an NFC East mentality, not a West Coast one.

Posted by: gman24 | November 22, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

If Ort hadn't injured his ank and been replaced by Simms in the sec half the Skinz prob would have lost to Den.
Posted by: TheAnimalFarm

AnimalFarm...I hear you on the JReid come back..the dude sucks and I usually got my foot up his a$$ on the regular..But the if's and woulda's are BS also. Orton did get hurt and that's that. We've had injuries also and we could say that if Randy T. if Big Chris. if Clinton..if..if... if someone cared thing woulda been different. but no one in the NFL cares about your team injuries..So today I want Romo hurt I want barber hurt. I want Austin hurt..you see the pattern...no one cares...just win

Posted by: jcnjcnj | November 22, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Here's a real crazy, but possibly good idea. Hire Mike Holgrem as GM and give him the power to retain Zorn (Zorn is a class act) and build the staff and roster. Just a crazy idea, as I would prefer to hire a GM and retool with an NFC East mentality, not a West Coast one.
Posted by: gman24

gamn24..you should be institutionalize..its absolutely crazy to think that a bunch of west coast guys know anything about an east coast mentality...they are laid back out there..we are ruff and tuff over here. That the problem we have now Zorn's a good guy and all but he's not east coast tuff..he may could learned to be but Holgrem couldn't teach him..

Posted by: jcnjcnj | November 22, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

"He managed the game and didn't lose it."

Is this a bad thing?

Think about it.

Famous 'game managing' quarterbacks:

Bob Greise
Roger Staubach
Bernie Kosar
Joe Theisman
Ken Stabler
Trent Dilfer
Trent Green
Johnny Unitas
Jim Hart
Vince Ferragamo
John Brodie
Joe Montana
Steve Young
Fran Tarkington

There are more than a couple of ring winners in this group, ya' know.

Strong defense plus sound running game plus timely throws beat the efforts of any gunslinger on any day.

Just ask Dan Fouts and Jim Kelly if this is true.

Posted by: MistaMoe | November 22, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Just ask Dan Fouts and Jim Kelly if this is true.

Posted by: MistaMoe

and Dan Marino

Posted by: jcnjcnj | November 22, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

From 1998-2008, the Cowboys drafted 17 offensive linemen, including seven in rounds two and three. Four of the seven, including Peterman and former Cardinals center Al Johnson, developed into dependable starters in the NFL.

"That just accentuates that it sometimes takes years for an offensive lineman to develop," Jones said. "… You just don’t know. The tombstones are all over the NFL."

From Charean Williams story, linked above, and worth reading.

Posted by: RedskinWillie | November 22, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Dan Fouts never had a D.

Posted by: edvar | November 22, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Still "da Mayor" won't admit that Sherm Lewis is doing a better job calling the plays than Zorn. F U Mayor.

And a bigger F U to DALLAS!

Posted by: dcwun | November 22, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I'm generally a skeptic when it comes to the Betts over Portis debate. Overall in head to head comparisons Portis seems to be the better runner though Portis does get the carries and there is the rhythm issue. But injuries and style of play equalize varied talent levels, not to mention individual drive. One thing I noticed about Portis is that a strength in the past was lacking this season. He had a tendency to run well while falling down. Almost a cheat, leaving me wondering if he really had to go down, but 5 yards of falling forward can be effective. Debatable as to the question of him using a defensive players avoidance of a late hit penalty for a cheap gain. Still he kept his feet churning. But a couple of goal-to-go TD chances he seemed to fall down short, possibly untouched. Without the leg drive we've come to rely on. Relative to his normal play it looked almost like a tank job. Snyder's own Black Sock. Bett heavy in Vegas and buy Papa John's stock.

Dang it, I was about to laud Betts hard running but he gets injured. Then McIntosh drops the easiest interception EVER. And the Cowboys aren't stupid. They are running and running. Then running some more. Their passes seem 50/50 chance to be intercepted. If the Skins can hold on to a pick, stop the run and avoid Dallas from being able to gear up for obvious passing situations they might win what looks to be a low scoring game.

Posted by: chavez66 | November 22, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

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