Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Compare and Contrast

Zorn is a good guy, but he was a horrible coach. He was not ready for the job, but that is not his fault. It is Synder's fault. Snyder thought he could run an NFL franchise as GM, but when no one wanted the head coaching position last year because Snyder made the ridiculous decision to hire the assistant coaches before he hired a head coach, and the ridiculous decision to abandon the continuity plan that Gibbs handed to him, Zorn's fate was sealed.

There is only one good thing that came out of the last two years: It puts an end to the Synder era (error). Snyder finally woke up and realized he does not know a thing about running a professional sports franchise.

Sure, it took a significant decline in concession and Redskins-media advertising sales this year and probably not a significant decline in ego, but the reason is not important. Snyder will have to let Bruce Allen run the show or risk losing fans permanently (by the way, what history! I first became a fan when his dad was head coach).

Allen will hire a top-notch coach and talent evaluator and together they will quickly rebuild this team. They have the quarterback (MMW: With real blockers, watch Campbell blossom into one of the best in the NFL). They have several outstanding young players. They only need to add some depth and youth to both lines, and they can do that relatively quickly. They can compete for the playoffs next year.

About Last Night
There is only one explanation for last night's result: The coach quit on the organization and the players quit on their coach. During the week, Allen was named GM and then all of the talk turned to who would be the next head coach. There is no doubt that Zorn is gone, and little doubt that most of the position coaches are gone, so why risk injury? The Redskins did not even practice on Saturday, a typical pratice day in preparation for a Monday night game for teams that have a sense of urgency.

As they said on the Comcast Postgame show, The U-Hauls backed into the practice facility parking lot this week. The analysts on that show have been brutally critical of the Redskins and the organization for quite a while, and rightfully so. But, I think they also got this right: Player-for-player, the Redskins defense is better than the Giants offense. They faced far better offenses this year and shut them down. The only explanation for last night is that they quit.

Summary of the Zorn Years
What I wrote elsewhere after the Saints loss:

...three times in the last two years the Redskins were down by between 8 and 11 points with less than five minutes to play, were in easy field goal range, and faced fourth down. The first time Zorn faced this decision was his very first game against the Giants. You ALWAYS kick a field goal in that situation. But, Zorn has NEVER trotted out the field goal team and has not only failed to win each of those games, but his offense has ALWAYS failed to convert. Game over every time. I thought it was a rookie coach mistake and gave him a pass after that first failure, but he has done it two more times since then. You must play the odds and kick a field goal. Over two seasons of football it may get an extra win or two.

How many times has he kept the challenge flag in his pocket on key plays in close games? How many times has he walked into the losing locker room with all of his challenges intact? Yet, occasionally he will challenge the most inconsequential calls like the challenge of the spot of the ball at mid-field against the Ravens last year. It wasn't a question of whether the Ravens got a first down; even if Zorn's challenge stood up, the player easily had the first down. No, Zorn was arguing for two yards at mid-field in a close game. The reason why this one was especially asinine was that it was his last challenge of the game and there was still enough game left to win. Against the Saints, he did not challenge a thing, yet there was a key play on a Saints scoring drive in which a receiver clearly let the ball hit the ground.

Finally, I still do not believe he understands that when the other team controls the ball in a close game in which they are winning, you need to use your time outs before the two-minute warning or else the other team is going to run the clock down. He rarely uses his time outs in that spot and he has been faced with that situation at least a dozen times.

He makes the same mistakes over and over again. He does not know what he is doing out there.

Now, the mistake in the Saints game that I think has been emblematic of his tenure, but which few have talked about, is the play call on third down just before Suisham missed the field goal. Third and goal from the five and you do not take a shot at the end zone? Are you serious? I get it that in many similar situations you want to run the ball to make the other team burn a timeout, or you want to run another 40 seconds off the clock. But the Saints were out of time outs (because they correctly used their time outs BEFORE the two minute warning while the Redskins controlled the ball with a lead) and there were six seconds to go before the two minute warning. A pass would have burned up as much time as a run in that spot.

There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that a pass had a much higher likelihood of success than a run. Campbell was completing 70+% of his passes that day, like many days, and had averaged much more than five yards per attempt. I also get that you want to protect the ball, which is why if the play was not there Campbell could have thrown the ball into the 300s from that spot.

Zorn must go. These past two years were the biggest disappointment in my 38-years as a Redskins fan because Gibbs handed Snyder and Cerrato a playoff team that had gotten much healthier in 2008, but Snyder and Cerrato blew any chance of success when they dismantled the program that Gibbs built and could not get a simple thing right like the order of selecting coaches.....First head coach THEN assistants. Forcing a head coach to take the assistants that the owner (or athletic director) picked wouldn't even fly in high school football. Amateurs.


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