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Doug Farrar

Jim Zorn: Epic fail!

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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Washington Redskins head coach Jim Zorn hasn't seen his play calling questioned much this year. Well, except here. And here. And here, and here, and here, and here...

If Zorn thought the boo-birds were after his head before, he's about to get a new lesson in career guidance from everyone in the nation's capital. And he'll deserve every bit of it after the work he did in Washington's 14-6 loss to the formerly winless Kansas City Chiefs. In a day that saw the Redskins get only seven first downs despite 265 total offensive yards gained, Zorn reached a new low in clipboard theory.

First, there was the formation used in the play with six seconds left in the first half. The Redskins were down, 3-0, and they had fourth-and-2 at the Kansas City 36. For all the crap Zorn has taken for running risk-averse offenses when he'd be better off going for the gusto, it's a standard principle of the West Coast Offense he's so familiar with to get a quick out to your most reliable receiver in situations like these. Dink it for ten to Chris Cooley(notes), get out of bounds, and play to tie at the end of the half. Instead, Zorn went with four receivers -- none of whom were Cooley -- and Campbell in the shotgun. At the snap, the wide guys all ran deep routes, and Antwaan Randle-El went up the middle from the right slot. To complicate matters, Campbell had to wait for the routes to develop and moved forward under pressure. By the time the ball was in the air, the clock had run out. Whatever happened here, it would be the last play of the half. What happened there was an interception by cornerback Brandon Flowers(notes), and a lost scoring opportunity for the Redskins.

The Redskins responded to this debacle in the way you'd expect any dysfunctional team to -- by replacing their quarterback. Now we would find out if, as Sonny Jurgensen insisted, the 'Skins would be undefeated with backup "savior" Todd Collins(notes) in the game. Collins started out well, completing a 42-yard pass to Santana Moss(notes) on a drive that led to a field goal early in the second half. Clinton Portis(notes) started Washington's second third-quarter drive out with a bang -- a 78-yard run that put the ball at the Kansas City 10-yard line. And then, Zorn rolled out the following calls:

1. Shotgun, empty backfield. Collins overthrows Moss.
2. Shotgun, empty backfield. Collins overthrows Randle El.
3. Shotgun, single-back. Collins gets his pass deflected at the line.
4. Field goal.

As a head coach and play-caller, you know you're doing something very, very wrong when field goals are considered mammoth upgrades in the results department. The game ended when Tamba Hali(notes) sacked Collins in the end zone for a safety with seconds left in the game.

There are many problems that plague this team, from the front office to the recent draft picks, but the heat on Zorn is justifiable. The Redskins face the Eagles next Monday night, and then they have a bye. If Zorn's still on the payroll at the other side of that bye, I will be absolutely shocked.

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