Different playcaller, same lousy result for Redskins

After their loss to the winless Kansas City Chiefs last week, the Washington Redskins stripped head coach Jim Zorn of his playcalling duties and handed them over to Sherman Lewis, who hadn’t even been with the team for a month.

The move was made in hopes to spark the Redskins’ dismal offense, but as their 27-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles tonight can attest to, Lewis isn’t going to change Washington’s misfortune over night.

The Redskins’ loss to the Eagles actually had very little to do with Lewis’ playcalling and more to do with Washington’s lack of execution. In the first half, quarterback Jason Campbell had a ball batted into the air by a defensive lineman and intercepted by linebacker Will Witherspoon, who returned it for a touchdown. Later in the half, Campbell escaped the pocket but didn’t get the ball out of his hands in time and was stripped from behind. The Eagles recovered and turned the gift into three points to take a 17-0 second quarter lead.

Campbell finished the night 29 of 43 passing for 284 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. For all intents and purposes, his final numbers weren’t bad (he had a QB rating of 91.6), but he often settled for check downs or underneath routes and both of his touchdown passes came around the goal line. He still struggled with hanging onto the ball too long and missing open receivers.

That said, his pass protection wasn’t that great and his receivers dropped a few passes. He also didn’t have Chris Cooley, who left the game early in the first half due to an ankle injury and never returned. All in all, it was a complete team effort by a Redskins squad that somehow generated 17 points from a brutal showing. Lewis wasn’t the problem tonight – lack of execution by the players was.

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Bang! Cartoons: Flawed Execution

The Washington Redskins have had some issues reaching the end zone this season. In their latest ‘toon, Bang! Cartoons displays the frustrations owner Daniel Snyder currently has with head coach Jim Zorn and quarterback Jason Campbell.

Zorn to coach the rest of the season

According to a report by Redskins.com, Washington general manager Vinny Cerrato said that Jim Zorn would remain the head coach throughout the rest of the season.

“Let me start by making a few things very perfectly clear,” he said. “Jim Zorn is the head coach of the Washington Redskins and will for the rest of this season, and hopefully into the future.”

Zorn isn’t going to be the Redskins’ head coach in 2010. There’s just no way. It’s difficult to replace a head coach in the middle of the season, so it makes sense that the team would endorse Zorn for the rest of the year. If he has a lucky charm up his ass and magically turns the Skins around, then Cerrato and Daniel Snyder can re-asses the situation at the end of the season. But the more likely scenario is that Snyder already has a list of coaches that he wants in 2010 and is planning on speaking to them after the season.

You can’t lose to three previously winless teams and hang onto your job at the end of the year. (Especially when one of those previously winless teams was the 0-19 Detroit Lions.)

Report: Shanahan turned down Redskins job

According to a report by NFL Fanhouse, former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan turned down the opportunity to replace Jim Zorn as head coach of the Redskins.

“Shanahan told the franchise there was little he could do in the middle of the season for them and that changing coaches during the season in the NFL rarely works,” a Redskins management source told FanHouse. “Several people that Dan Snyder trusts have suggested, if he makes a move, he should turn it over to secondary coach Jerry Gray. That could still happen.

“We are trying to give Jim every chance to turn it around. The move to [bring in offensive consultant Sherm] Lewis is to take more off Jim’s plate, especially the play-calling, because it is not working, and that is where Jim is spending much of his time. Now he can coach the entire team. Let’s see where that gets us.”

This is just another example of Daniel Snyder’s ineptitude as an owner. He makes rash decisions without fully thinking them through and looks for quick fixes instead of building from the ground up.

What would be the point of hiring Shanahan now? He would immediately be at a disadvantage with the players who liked Zorn and he would have no time to implement the changes he wants. It would have been a stupid move and quite frankly, Snyder is lucky Shanahan turned him down.

This reminds me of when Snyder flirted with signing Byron Leftwich in the offseason. Leftwich would have been a horrendous fit for the West Coast Offense, yet since he was the best quarterback on the free agent market, Snyder had to have him. In the end, Leftwich wasn’t signed but the ordeal hurt Jason Campbell’s confidence and left him questioning his future in Washington.

If Snyder really wants to help his team, he should work with his coaching staff on building a new offensive line, which is arguably a bigger issue than Zorn’s inabilities as a playcaller. Even if Snyder hires Shanahan in the offseason, the Redskins have a long way to go to get back to respectability.

Phase One of Operation Fire Jim Zorn initiated

The Washington Post reports that offensive consultant Sherman Lewis will take over playcalling duties from Redskins head coach Jim Zorn following the team’s 14-6 loss to the Chiefs on Sunday.

Lewis has been out of the league since 2004, but has over 30 years of NFL experience and has worked extensively with the West Coast Offense. The Redskins might not see a complete reversal of fortunate with this change, but H.R. Pufnstuf would be a better playcaller than Zorn.

This change is just one of many indications that Zorn’s time in Washington is quickly coming to an end. The players aren’t stupid – they know when their head coach has been stripped of power and it’s only a matter of time before owner Daniel Snyder makes a wholesale change.

Although defensive coordinator Greg Blache reportedly has no interest in the position, there are one or two candidates on staff to replace Zorn if he is fired midseason. Secondary coach Jerry Gray is probably the most logical choice if Blache doesn’t change his mind.

One advantage of firing Zorn in season is that Snyder could get a jump on talking to Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan and all the other head-coaching candidates that are currently available for 2010.

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