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Maybe better players would improve Zorn's play-calling

Nick Wass / Associated Press
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has stripped the play-calling duties from Jim Zorn. But is play-calling the problem?


When I first heard that the Redskins had decided to take away the play-calling duties from Jim Zorn, it reminded me of an "I Love Lucy" episode from years ago. Yes, I know football and Lucy should have nothing in common, but the 'Skins have been pure comedy this year -- on and off the field.

Nick Wass / Associated Press
Jason Campbell was benched on Sunday, but maybe playing poorly against an 0-5 team should have been predictable for the Redskins, who had already lost to the 0-2 Lions and 0-3 Panthers.
Redskins defeats vs. 0-5 teams or worse
Year Opponent W-L Lost by
2009 Chiefs 0-5 8
2006 Titans 0-5 3
1998 Eagles 0-5 5
1989 Cowboys 0-8 10
1976 Giants 0-9 3

Removing Zorn of ostensibly the main reason he was hired in the first place -- his offensive acumen -- reminds me of the time Lucy loses her wedding ring and frantically searches for it. When Ricky comes home, he finds Lucy on the floor of the living room. He asks her what she is looking for, and she informs him that she is looking for her wedding ring and that she lost it in the bedroom. Confused, Ricky asks Lucy why she isn't looking for it where she lost it.

"Because the light is much better in the living room," she replies.

Removing Zorn of his play-calling duties is much like Lucy looking for the ring in the living room. It is not going to solve any problems because the problem is not the plays being called; it is the players. Now, I am not endorsing Zorn as the head coach; he has more than his share of problems. In large part, he was hired before he was ready to be a head coach, but Washington's main problems don't rest at Zorn's feet.

Owner Daniel Snyder and GM Vinny Cerrato are not realistic about the talent on their team. The most critical aspect of procuring players is having the ability to evaluate your own talent first. How can you successfully evaluate other teams' players if you can't do it well with your own?

Going into the season, the Redskins had an aging offensive line that was destined to become ravaged with injuries, a running back that may have seen his better days, no real offensive skill players that could scare a defense, and a quarterback that was never meant for the West Coast offense.

The results of that are showing up on Sundays. Despite playing six straight winless teams to start the season, their margin of victory in their two wins has been a combined five points and their margin of loss has been 22. In reality, the Skins are a bad team with high expectations.

The only people who might have thought this could work are Snyder and Cerrato, and maybe Lucy, since she is good at looking for answers in the wrong places.

Sunday best

» Week 6 saw the return of the old Tom Brady. Throwing just five incompletions all day, Brady led an aerial assault in the earliest snow game ever in Patriots history. Six touchdown passes, five in the second quarter, should make the trip this week to London for the International Series game much more comfortable for Brady, who had come under some fire just a week earlier.

» Nine teams yesterday had more than 400 yards of offense, and only two of those nine lost. The Patriots (619), Steelers (543), Saints (493), Jaguars (492), Texans (472), Packers (435), and Vikings (426) won as they marched the ball up and down the field. The Jets (414) and the Ravens (448) both moved the ball, but failed to post a win.

» After Sunday, Joshua Cribbs is my new favorite player. He does everything for the Browns, from returning and covering kicks to running the Wildcat to lining up wide as a receiver or in the backfield as a runner. He might be the modern-day Jim Thorpe. With Cribbs, the Browns have very little chance. Without him, they have no chance.

» Ben Roethlisberger has started to shatter some impressive records in his brief career. Already with two Super Bowl trophies on his mantle, he now has tied Terry Bradshaw's Steelers record for most games with a 100 rating or better. And he's on pace to shatter the franchise mark for passing yards in a season after his 417-yard performance against the Browns. There are no records safe in Pittsburgh as long as Big Ben plays the way he did on Sunday.

» The Saints proved on Sunday they are for real in all three phases of the game. The Saints are a complete team, and a physical team now. They are about executing their offense and making plays. I'm sure they will lose a game this season, but watch out come January.

Sunday funnies

» Eagles coach Andy Reid is a great coach, but he might want to think about outsourcing his game-management decisions. Against Oakland on Sunday, he called his final timeout with 2:02 left in the game -- yes, before the two-minute warning! -- and the Raiders facing a 3rd-and-8. It allowed Oakland to call a pass play. Had Reid saved the timeout and those 2 seconds, the Raiders would have been forced to run the ball, thus allowing the defense to make a play. This is not the first time Reid has left me wondering with his game-management decisions, but this one might rank on top.

» It is not funny in Nashville, but the Titans are suffering from the Super Bowl-loser syndrome without ever having gone to the Super Bowl last season. They look like a team that was not ready for the obstacles that each team faces. I am sure they are looking for a do-over in Tennessee.

» The Seahawks have invested millions upon millions of dollars in free-agent wide receivers, along with many draft picks, to help their offense, yet in a critical NFC West game against Arizona on Sunday, they failed to convert a single third-down play and gained just 128 total yards.

» Cleveland wide receivers might want to put in some extra time this week and work on catching the football. By my count they dropped at least six passes in Pittsburgh and nine a week earlier in the Browns' win against Buffalo.

» To have any success at the Meadowlands, Mark Sanchez might want to stroll over to the stadium one of these days and practice throwing into the wind, which is always -- or should be -- a concern for quarterbacks there. In the first three weeks of the season, Sanchez looked nothing like a rookie; the last three weeks, he has not looked like a first-round pick.

On NFL Replay
NFL Replay will re-air the Minnesota Vikings' 33-31 win over the Baltimore  Ravens on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 9:30 p.m. ET.

» NFL Network schedule

On the lookout

» Sidney Rice is now becoming a household name and a new favorite target of Brett Favre. His six-catch, 176-yard performance against Baltimore has made the rest of the NFL think twice about single-covering him.

» The Texans might have found the formula to playing run defense. They held Cedric Benson and the Bengals to 46 yards rushing. The last three weeks, no team has broken 50 yards against them on the ground. Oakland had 45 rushing yards against Houston in Week 4 and Arizona had 44 in Week 5.

» Defensive players from the 2009 draft made a statement yesterday. Cornerback Jairus Byrd, Buffalo's second-round pick, had two interceptions. Five other rookies had one interception: Darius Butler and Patrick Chung (both second-rounders from New England), Brian Cushing (Texans, first round), James Laurinaitis (Rams, second round), and DeAndre Levy (Lions, third round).

On the lookout ... for fantasy fans

» Mike Wallace of the Steelers had just two catches for 50 yards on Sunday, but you can tell he will have a bigger role each week. He can make plays with the ball in his hands and he demonstrated a toughness that has to make Steelers coach Mike Tomlin very proud.

» Nice to have you back involved with the offense, Lance Moore. Last year, Moore scored 10 touchdowns for the Saints, but injuries this year have limited his production. With six catches and a touchdown against the Giants, he looks back to form.

Off the beaten track

» The race for the first pick in the 2010 draft is currently between St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Tennessee. But the way the Titans are playing, they might be the favorite to have the pick.

» Jaguars QB David Garrard made a huge mistake by not getting enough loft on the ball on a swing pass that Rams defensive end Leonard Little intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Aside from that poor throw, Garrard played well, throwing for 335 yards.

» The Panthers completed just nine passes but ran the ball for 267 yards against Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers are really bad at stopping the run or pass. Each week, depending on the opponent's strength, this will determine the area they are attacked. As they fly across the Atlantic this week to face the Patriots, they might have to stop both based on New England gaining 193 rushing yards and 426 passing against the Titans.

Three-step dots

» In their run defense, the Steelers will miss defensive end Aaron Smith, who was placed on injured reserve last week with a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. But having safety Troy Polamalu back will make this week's home game with the Vikings must-see TV.

» I know the Lions are bad on defense, but Packers QB Aaron Rodgers looked very sharp yesterday. If his offensive line gives him time -- and that is a big if -- he can make all the throws.

» The Giants will be back, and they won't soon forget the feeling of heading home after that whipping on Sunday.

» It was great for the Chiefs to get their first win of the season. They had played extremely hard but not effectively the previous few weeks. On Sunday against Washington, without scoring a touchdown, they won a game. Cheers.

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