Zorn: Offense's Image Not an Issue
Jim Zorn spent a lot of time talking about the running game during his weekly press conference with guard Pete Kendall teasing that he might lose his West Coast Offense membership card if he keeps pounding the ball on the ground.
Zorn knows his offensive linemen are loving it, it's working, and the Skins have rushed the ball more times than anyone in the NFL (234, Baltimore is second with 215) with Clinton Portis the league's top rusher. Zorn said he is comfortable going with it, while still maintaining balance in the overall play-calling (the Redskins have attempted 202 passes).
"I'm not trying to create any particular image," he said.
The ground game carried the day Sunday and Zorn thought Jason Campbell's accuracy was a bit off, with the groin problems a likely factor. Zorn joked that if he were to walk into a meeting with the linemen and say, "We're going to change. The West Coast is a passing game. I forgot," he would get a mutiny.
Zorn praised center Casey Rabach, who lined up against a 3-4 front with gargantuan tackle Shaun Rogers on top of him for most every snap, and more than held his own despite giving up considerable height and weight to the 350-pounder.
"I tip my hat to what Casey did," Zorn said. "Casey had to block him mano-a-mano, and it was hard."
Zorn also showed some love to two rookies - tight end Fred Davis and wide receiver Devin Thomas. Thomas hasn't worked his way into the regular offense yet, but ran down return specialist Joshua Cribbs in the coverage unit on special teams. "He decided that this was his niche," Zorn said of Thomas's willingness to relish an unglamorous role.
Davis was on the field more Sunday than he had been all season, with Zorn making a point of trying to get him active and involved (even calling an ill-fated reverse for him). Davis did not make a catch, but ran the correct route and was ready to make the play a few times, with some of Campbell's inaccuracy coming at his expense, including one play when Zorn saw a sure touchdown had the ball arrived.
"He probably would have scored on it, but Jason threw the ball out of bounds," Zorn said. When Zorn graded the film he called the pass "a must completion,' and said Campbell regrets it. On the reverse, Zorn thought it could gash the Browns, but they ended up blitzing to the side where the reverse was designed to go.
Zorn took some heat for not using all of his timeouts at the end of the first half - the Redskins missed a field-goal attempt there - but defended his strategy, saying that above all else he does not want to leave an opponent with too much time to make a drive of its own.
He felt confident that his offense could continue to pick up positive yardage and with 90 seconds left and three timeouts, he felt no pressing urge to use them. "I know the risks and everything, but if we throw the ball and stop the clock and leave that team with 50 seconds left, and they've got one timeout, then they can go the distance. And I don't want it to be that way."
Zorn loved the intensity that the Redskins defense brought on Sunday. Linebacker London Fletcher was all over tailback Jamal Lewis, and that physicality becomes very disruptive to an offense, Zorn said.
"We kind of arrive [at the ball] with an attitude," Zorn said.
One final note on the injuries, Zorn said he is looking into whether orthotics or arch supports or other mechanisms might be able to curb the prevalence of calf injuries that have struck the team (the hamstring is so 2007; the calf is all the rage now).
"I can't figure it out," Zorn said. "I'm trying to look into it. One year it's everybody's hamstring, then the next year it's quads, and this year we've had some calf muscles."
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