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Zorn on Portis, Protection and Campbell

For much of the second half of the Redskins' game Sunday night in Baltimore, the NFL's third-leading rusher was stuck on the sidelines, obviously miffed. Coach Jim Zorn said today that he didn't have any heart-to-heart talks with Portis and understands why many players would be naturally frustrated after getting physically abused by the Ravens on national TV.

"Everybody was mad," Zorn said.

With Portis missing so much practice time with a bevy of injuries that left him "whole body sore," he said last week and not being involved in the preparation for the heavy pass protection and route running responsibilities that running backs would carry against Baltimore's aggressive blitz, Zorn felt it made more sense to have fullback Mike Sellers help on protection. He wanted to get Ladell Betts -- who has better hands and runs tighter routes -- more involved.

And once the Redskins fell behind 14-0 and had to chase the game through the air in the second half, Zorn said it made even more sense to stick with Betts, given how important he is in the screen game. After Betts got a few series in the third quarter, the coaches "felt like he was doing just fine," Zorn said. Recently, Portis's injuries have affected the passing game, Zorn also, and he was "trying to do too much" to help in pass protection even at times against just a four-man rush. That meant he was failing to get into position to get the ball.

"He wasn't getting out in the passing game," Zorn said.

Zorn said Portis, who isn't available to the media until later in the week, is still "the bell cow" and he expects him to be healthier and very active Sunday at Cincinnati. (On his last trip to Bengals-land for a preseason game in 2006, Portis partially dislocated his shoulder, an injury that marred his season.)

(It seems to me that Portis's lack of second-gear explosion remains an issue, too. He has had just one carry over 30 yards all season, and if your game plan calls for running like a jackhammer and grinding it out, then getting Betts more involved makes sense. It's especially important given Portis's condition after running more than any in the NFL at the halfway point of the season).

Zorn cut to the quick about the horrendous pass protection that has doomed his offense. He admitted that against the last four quality opponents -- Pittsburgh, Dallas, the New York Giants and Baltimore -- his offensive line was overwhelmed, He was particularly bothered by a play Sunday night on which his club surrendered a sack against a "two-man rush," with just the ends blitzing. Tight end Chris Cooley was open in the end zone, but Jason Campbell didn't have enough time to execute a decent five-step drop. Zorn said it made him cringe just to recall it.

"We have to shore up our problems on the offensive line," Zorn said, in the understatement of the day.

Zorn said he sees no signs that his team is quitting or "packing it in," adding that it was physically overmatched at times but gave a full effort. As for what he has to say to the team, Zorn pointed to pictures: "The video tells a great story," he said, in terms of where players must improve.

As for Campbell, Zorn said he thought that overall the QB "did pretty good." Zorn told Campbell to brace for a physical beating, and said he was "very proud of how he took the punishment."

By Jason La Canfora  |  December 8, 2008; 2:43 PM ET
 
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Next: Jansen, Horton Could Play Sunday

Comments

rationale is relative.

I more or less use the blog to vent. I become rationale after posting. Sometimes I am rationale when posting, most times I am not......

And those who claim to be rationale 24/7, you have a problem. Look deep inside and bring out that irrationale side out sometimes. It's theurpeutic....

Posted by: 4thFloor | December 8, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Curzon417 | December 8, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I mostly agree with that, the oline could have been good one more year, but wouldn't it be nice to have Heyer, Rinehart, and another 2 or 3 rounder behind this line, and over there on the Dline to have 1 or 2 young guys draft in the 2 and 4th. I don't argue with the thomas pick it was a glaring need, but the Kelly, Davis, and Tryon picks were wastes. Now the issue is both lines are falling apart, which is surprising how fast that has happened but without the old big name big money signings we have nobody in the wings to help us next year. so once again, we'll build at the core with free agents.

Posted by: zjfr2 | December 8, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

And Gweez, "intensity" is great but sometimes you're just not good enough.

Posted by: zjfr2 | December 8, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

first

Posted by: cb50 | December 8, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I mostly agree with that, the oline could have been good one more year, but wouldn't it be nice to have Heyer, Rinehart, and another 2 or 3 rounder behind this line, and over there on the Dline to have 1 or 2 young guys draft in the 2 and 4th. I don't argue with the thomas pick it was a glaring need, but the Kelly, Davis, and Tryon picks were wastes. Now the issue is both lines are falling apart, which is surprising how fast that has happened but without the old big name big money signings we have nobody in the wings to help us next year. so once again, we'll build at the core with free agents.

Posted by: zjfr2 | December 8, 2008 2:47 PM

That's the problem with hindsight. If we drafted more OL and this OL played like they did at the end of last year, the clamoring would have been we should have drafted this way...

To me, this years play is on the coaches. As Skinz and others have pointed out, there is no intensity especially in the offensive side. The O looks totally unprepared for the defenses we are seeing.

But JZ is a rookie and needs to be given time. Just my opinion...

Posted by: Curzon417 | December 8, 2008 2:53 PM

Posted by: Curzon417 | December 8, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Re: Portis benching...

Zorn was singing a whole different tune when he wasn't PRACTCING the past month and JZ was riding him nto the ground just like that horse that 2nd in the Kentucky derby and was immediately killed on the spot for 'Humane' reasons, and you know where I'm going with this.......

Posted by: 4thFloor | December 8, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect Gweez, I don't think you guys are in a playoff hunt right now. I think the way the schedule lined up may have made it feel like that,

Posted by: Redcoat | December 8, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

RC,

I think we were in the playoff hunt 2 games ago certainly not now. We played at Uggles and Dallas and beat them there with Physical play. Our D was number 3 and we were abusing teams at the LoS early on. That intensity left us. Is this team some stellar unit with Top 5 league talent? No. Could it have been a playoff team? Certainly.

Posted by: Gweez | December 8, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

wow I didn't catch the two man rush resulting in a sack


I cannot even post my response to that out of respect for the PG-13 rating.

Posted by: TheTruth11 | December 8, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

That's the problem with hindsight. If we drafted more OL and this OL played like they did at the end of last year, the clamoring would have been we should have drafted this way...

To me, this years play is on the coaches. As Skinz and others have pointed out, there is no intensity especially in the offensive side. The O looks totally unprepared for the defenses we are seeing.

But JZ is a rookie and needs to be given time. Just my opinion...

Curz, couldn't agree more, well said....

Posted by: BeantownGreg | December 8, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Since we don't get a good idea on what the day to day is at the park for the team its hard to say what it is that the offense is not doing.

Posted by: alex35332 | December 8, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

So, he was mad that CP was help blocking on a 4 man rush but he is upset that Bmore gotr a sack on a 2 man rush?

And you wonder why he didn't go into the pass pattern?

Posted by: 4thFloor | December 8, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

1st round : Alex Mack, C California
3rd round : Phil Loadholt, OT Oklahoma
5th round : Bradon Swain, DE\LB West Texas A&M
6th round : Quincy Wofford, KR\CB Northern Colorado

Bring in one good defensive player at either DE, DT, or LB through free agency.

Offensive line :

Alex Mack, C
Phil Loadholt, OT
Stephen Heyer, OT
Chad Rhinehart, G
Randy Thomas, G


WE NEED A YOUTH MOVEMENT

and GET RID OF PLACKEMEIER HE SUCKS AND HE LOLLYGAGS IN THE BACKFIELD TOO MUCH

Posted by: TheTruth11 | December 8, 2008 1:40 PM


Truth, I'm with you partially-- but no to dropping Samuels now. We'll spend a first rounder on an LT in a couple years, but not yet.

I like Phil Loadholt in the 3rd round

Look at Max Unger, C/G in the 5th round.

1st round I'm going LB (best available) or Duke Robinson for LG (keep grooming Rinehart for RG).

Then, get Suggs in FA and another DT.

Thoughts?

Posted by: TDawg1 | December 8, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

4th, to quote Inigo Montoya, I do not think that word means what you think it means.

"Rational." Not "rationale." "Rationale" is a noun.

Posted by: freakzilla | December 8, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Curzon417 | December 8, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Almost right, but Curz when your entire oline is over the age of 30 and your dline has had a legitimate pass rush in a decade, whether they played well this year or not I wouldn't be sitting here saying having good talent there as backups is a waste. Because the fact is and was well known last April, whether its this year or next, everyone knew that at the very least Kendall, Daniels, Washington, and Griffin were gone. And that Thomas, Fletcher (just a fact the guy is awesome but old, we prolly get two more years max) and Jansen aren't far behind, in the next year to 3 years half of your line and LB corps will be gone and you had 5 first day picks and draft one guy to help that. That is just bad management and forces you to once again go sign expensive vets that we'll be saying the same things about in two or three years after their contracts get ridiculously large.

Posted by: zjfr2 | December 8, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

That would make our O-Line:

LT Chris Samuels
LG Duke Robinson
C Rabach (Unger and Geisenger in the wings)
RG Randy Thomas (Rinehart in the wings)
RT Stephon Heyer (Loadholt pushing him for time, maybe taking over LT if he shines)

Posted by: TDawg1 | December 8, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

The problem Greg, is that other Rookie HC (3 of them) are doing much better than us with rookie QBs (2) playing.

This may be JZ's last hurrah to save his job (this year).....

Posted by: 4thFloor | December 8, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Suggs is a rush LB in a 3-4... Skin's run a 4-3 DEFENSE. What would suggs play in DC ?... another undersized DE that would get KILLED in the run game.

Posted by: cwprice2 | December 8, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Then, get Suggs in FA and another DT.

Thoughts?

Posted by: TDawg1 | December 8, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

HAHA see bean, we already want Suggs, this way we'll corner the market on undersized d-ends that can't hold up in our division.

Posted by: zjfr2 | December 8, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

or:

LT Chris Samuels
LG Chad Rinehart (Unger in the wings)
C Rabach (Unger and Geisenger in the wings)
RG Randy Thomas (Unger in the wings)
RT Stephon Heyer (Loadholt pushing him for time, maybe taking over LT if he shines)

(if we didn't go LG in the 1st round and addressed the defense)

Posted by: TDawg1 | December 8, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Also, silver lining, not making playoffs (where we'd lose anyway) = higher spot in the draft order.

Posted by: freakzilla | December 8, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Suggs is a rush LB in a 3-4... Skin's run a 4-3 DEFENSE. What would suggs play in DC ?... another undersized DE that would get KILLED in the run game.

Posted by: cwprice2 | December 8, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I think groom him to take over M. Washington's spot

Posted by: TDawg1 | December 8, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Thanks freak, but you guys get the picture.

I'm rational now....

Posted by: 4thFloor | December 8, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

4th, disagree about Zorn possibly losing his job. No way that he does, thats just such a huge step in the wrong direction.

Posted by: BeantownGreg | December 8, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Our offensive line reminds me of Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, you know all the names and why the movie should be good but somehow, you're mad you paid to see it.

Also, the positions that everyone is advocating we draft should have been done this past year so that they would be ready for next season. Trusting V Cerrato.org to fill the needs is like trusting 4th floor to not eat the last wing when you leave the room for 20 minutes.

Thank God Pittsburgh won.

Posted by: ArtMonkToTheSticks | December 8, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Here's a question for someone with the time and desire to research it:

How do the Ravens have the luxury of having one kicker for kickoffs and another one for FGs/PATs? Which other position do they short in order to do that?

Posted by: freakzilla | December 8, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Fire Vinny C

Posted by: alex35332 | December 8, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I can dig it TDawg.

Something needs to be done, and there are very solid linemen about three rounds deep. That second rounder we're missing will hurt.

Also, the C Caldwell from Bama should be available in the third, so he's a possibility.

I do like Duke Robinson and Phil Loadholt a lot, and I hope we draft at least one of them. But I do think Loadholt's draft stock will rise and he'll go in the second at worst.

Posted by: TheTruth11 | December 8, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Here's a question for someone with the time and desire to research it:

How do the Ravens have the luxury of having one kicker for kickoffs and another one for FGs/PATs? Which other position do they short in order to do that?

Posted by: freakzilla | December 8, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Don't know but Panthers do the same thing..Kasey for FG's and LLoyd for kickoffs

Posted by: zjfr2 | December 8, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

guys, herman johnson from LSU, might be a guy to look at.

Posted by: BeantownGreg | December 8, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

The Skins draft by position since 2003, 34 in all. Guys from each group that have made some positive impact are in ()

DB - 7 (Taylor, Rogers, Horton, Moore, Doughty, Landry)
LB - 6 (Rocky, Blades)
DL - 3 (Golston, Montgomery)

WR - 3 (Thomas?)
TE - 4 (Cooley)
OL - 4 (Dockery)
QB - 4 (Campbell)
RB - 2
P - 1


Same thing with draft, going back to 2002 (44 players total).

DB - 9 (Taylor, Rogers, Horton, Moore, Doughty, Landry, Lott)
LB - 6 (Rocky, Blades)
DL - 4 (Golston, Montgomery)

WR - 4 (Thomas?)
TE - 5 (Cooley, Royal)
OL - 6 (Dockery)
QB - 5 (Campbell, Ramsey)
RB - 4 (Cartwright, Betts)
P - 1

Of note, despite drafting 9 DBs, by far the most of any area (20%), the Skins still signed several other, high profile guys including Shawn Springs, DeAngelo Hall and Arch.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | December 8, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I just that the Bears are in the process of signing Devin Aromashodadadadupedu.

What is with our practice squad this year. Is it normal to lose this many players in a season?

Posted by: Predator48 | December 8, 2008 1:34 PM

The practice squad is for "quality depth." Scrub players (i.e., guys drafted) go to the active roster.

Posted by: dcsween | December 8, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Whereas most of what's said in this blog regarding rebuilding the Redskins makes sense, none of it will happen with Vinny Cerrato in charge. At some point, Tom Cruise's little friend must step up the plate and remember the Skins have a proud fanbase that deserves better. Last's night game was sickening after a weekend of watching the well-played, hard-fought games like Steelers/Cowboys,Eagles/Giants, and christ, Gators/Crimson Tide.

A serious general manager must be put in place.

A younger, faster team should be on the field.

The offense needs a guy who can 'flip the field'

When Campbell is ineffective (like last night), Collins must play (or Colt B. given a chance to stink up the joint, too).

Zorn needs an offensive coordintor and he needs to be a head coach of the whole team.

But without a new philosophy, nothing will change.

Posted by: MistaMoe | December 8, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

beep beep

Posted by: BeantownGreg | December 8, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

No way that he does, thats just such a huge step in the wrong direction.

Posted by: BeantownGreg | December 8, 2008 3:06 PM

Greg, that was just a 'thinking from Snyder's POV'.

He may see this as a failure (bringing in the WCO) that his Rookie HC is the worst of them all. Especially if all of them get in the playoffs.

He may think it is better to fire now, then wait and do it later.

Just thinking from his POV. None of this is of my opinion. But, I wouldn't put it past Snyder. He has a track record.

(If this disastorous scenario would happen, I would root for Buges to come in and continue to right the ship the 'Redskin' way. Everything in these parenthesis are of my opinion, not Snyder's)

Posted by: 4thFloor | December 8, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Zorn, needs to put his attention to the overall team, let Coach Sherman Smith does
his magic. at this point, Skins have
nothing to lose. If Zorn thinks no one
is throwing in the towel, he is playing
in "fantasy land".

Posted by: madalao | December 8, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Campbell is not the guy for this offense. I like him as a person, but Skins need to go another direction

Posted by: ATLyoyo | December 8, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

If I cut the draft another way, guys who have been good players, by round, we'll see another trend. I consider backups as guys who are on the field a good bit (ie, not Malcom Kelly)

Round 1: 5 picks, 4 starters, 1 backup (Ramsey)
Round 2: 6 picks, 1 starter (Rocky), 2 backups
Round 3: 5 picks, 2 starters
Round 4: 2 picks, nothing
Round 5: 5 picks, 1 starter, 1 backup
Round 6: 9 picks, 1 starter, 3 backups
Round 7: 10 picks: 1 starter, 1 backup

Odds that a pick becomes a starter/player
Round
1 -- 80%/100%
2 -- 16%/50%
3 -- 40%/40%
4 -- 0%
5 -- 20%/40%
6 -- 11%/33%
7 -- 10%/20%

4/5 first round picks became starters (80%)(Taylor, Landry, Rogers and Campbell)

From round 2-7, 6/39 players became starters (15%) (Rocky, Dockery, Cooley, Royal, Golston, Horton). I didn't include Rock Cartwright, (7th round pick) as a starter, but he does play a lot on teams and could be considered a starter by some.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | December 8, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Let's face it. This isn't a Playoff quality team, and there are plenty of problems to go around. Injuries to key players (most notably Portis), of course, but also serious deficiencies in the lines (particularly on the offensive side) and secondaries. The jury is still out on Campbell - he may not be the Franchise QB we've been told he would be, but until he's got some help out there, who knows?

The big problem is at the top, with an owner and pseudo-GM who have made personnel blunder after personnel blunder. How many more botched drafts, and signings like Jason Taylor and Shaun Alexander does it take before even Danny and Vinnie have to admit that they don't know what they're doing. Forget the glamor names and high profile positions. Draft/find/sign some down and dirty guys like the Hogs who can give Campbell protection. Then we'll find out if he's the Real Deal or not. But that's going to require a real GM, and I fear it's going to be a long, long time before the Skins hire one.

Posted by: BethesdaDad | December 8, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

The amazing thing is NOT that the Skins lost both tackles in week 14. It's that it didn't happen sooner. They started the year with five starters that all had major surgery in the offseason -- and all were over 30.

They started visibly wearing out in midseason. Now they're just plain out of gas. You want to blame the OL? You're a fool. Blame Vinny and Danny for not addressing the problem in the offseason (or the one before... or the one before...).

Now the Skins are stuck. They have major glaring needs on the DL but they'll have to panic-draft for the OL and hope the league will let guys like Thomas play in a wheelchair for another year.

And next year will be a disaster -- breaking in an offensive line with likely three new starters. On the plus side, that should spell the end of the Jason Campbell era in Washington. He's going to take so many hits next year he's going to make Vinny Cerrato sound smart.

Posted by: diesel_skins_ | December 8, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

You all want Todd Collins to play? Really? You want to put in a 37 year old guy who cannot move behind this offensive line? Really? or a 6th round rookie who was demolished behind a bad o-line in last year's Sugar Bowl? That's your answer to the problems? It has nothing to go with the fact that Portis cannot last more than 12 games a season, and neither can Moss? Or that Randle El is a terrible number 2 receiver who cannot get open? Or that the rookies cannot remember what route to run? Or that they are learning a system that at a minimum takes 3 years to learn, and yet have still managed a winning record? This is all Campbells fault, right? You know, I used to be proud that I was a member of an intelligent fan base, but I guess I was wrong about that. I actually think Zorn should put Collins in for a quarter, as if to say "you want him-you got him". Did any of you watch the playoff game last year? He was dreadfull. He does not have the arm strength to complete a 5 yard hitch route to the outside hash. And that was after being in the same system for 12 years. Unbelievable. Campbell gives them the best chance to win by far. How about laying some blame on Portis, who continues to play despite being a shell of what he was in the beginning of the year. How does that help anything?

Posted by: Kohlrums | December 9, 2008 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone watch the Panther's game last night and see how explosive their backs are? Has anyone seen that in Washington out of Portis for the last 3 years? The answer would be no.

Posted by: Kohlrums | December 9, 2008 7:28 AM | Report abuse

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