Browsing all articles tagged with Jim Zorn

NFC East 2010 Predictions – Mark’s Pick

The NFC East is more unpredictable than it has been in years. The Redskins have a new premier QB and a new HOF-caliber coach but will that be enough to improve the team right away? Can the Giants defense regain its form as one of the best defenses in the league? Will the Cowboys offensive line stay healthy enough for them to dominate? Will the youth movement in Philadelphia succeed this year or do the young ones need a little more seasoning?

I have a few theories on the answers to those questions and that has largely shaped my predictions. However, I can very easily seeing things going the opposite way as well. So without further ado, let us move on to the predictions.

1st Place – Dallas Cowboys 10-6

Once again the Cowboys are the most talented team in the division, at least on paper. They have a Pro Bowl QB, a trio of talented running backs, multiple passing weapons, and a fearsome pass rush. There are issues with an old and beat up offensive line, an unproven kicker, and a weak secondary. I think all of those will come back to bite the Cowboys…in the early playoff rounds. Their high-powered offense should win them enough regular season games to take the division.

2nd Place – New York Giants 8-8

This prediction is more based on the Giants tough schedule. They have games at Indy, Houston, Minnesota, and Green Bay. Those are teams they may be able to beat at home but look to be tough matchups on the road. The Giants D has gotten healthier and their performance should improve over last year, but do not expect them to regain their Super Bowl form. They no longer have the talent or the coaching. The Giants disappointing run game could also cost them a few games as it is hard to protect a lead if you cannot run.

3rd Place – Washington Redskins 7-9

The McNabb-Shanahan era has started. While it seems inevitable to be better than the Zorn-Campbell era it is not going to be an overnight success. The offensive line had a major overhaul this offseason and may take a while to gel. Rookie left tackle Trent Williams may end up being a star but right now is still a green LT that elite pass rushers can expose. The wide receiving core is full of good storylines but not much actual talent. Finally, the switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 defense will not happen overnight either. Starting safety Kareem Moore will miss a good chunk of the regular season, Albert Haynesworth does not appear to have bought into the program entirely still, and Andre Carter is having some trouble adjusting from 4-3 end to 3-4 outside linebacker. Next year, I can see this team being a favorite to win the division, this year there is just too much change going on at once.

4th Place – Philadelphia Eagles 4-12

The Eagles organization may think otherwise but I do not see a team jettisoning their starting QB and RB and making the playoffs the same year. McNabb and Westbrook may be a touch on the old side and injury-prone but they were also two of the best offensive players the Eagles have ever had. For all the promise LeSean McCoy and Kevin Kolb have, they have proven very little so far. Once opposing defenses get more tape on them they will find that big plays do not come as easy. And if either one of them gets injured there is no decent backup now.  The Eagles bolstered a top 15 defense through the draft but did not add any notable veterans. In a few years this should be a good team, but right now they are mostly raw potential. I see them losing a lot of games because of inexperience this year.

So those are my picks for this year. But before you start any flaming comments let me reiterate that I could be very wrong on nearly every team. The Cowboys offense could continue rolling and finish with more than 12 wins or the offensive line could fall apart early and they could struggle to make .500. The New York Giants could become a dominating defense again and take the division. The Redskins may actually win now, especially if Clinton Portis, Donovan McNabb, and Albert Haynesworth feel like they have to prove themselves every game. The Eagles young ones could come out like a house on fire and perform right away. Like I said the NFC East is more unpredictable than ever. It should be fun year.


What Shanahan puts in his new contract

Currently Mike Shanahan and Dan Snyder are working out the details of a contract to put Shanahan in charge of the 2010 Washington Redskins.  We all know that past free agent acquisitions and coaches have come here to get as much money as possible.  Thankfully, we have an owner who is able and willing to make sure top talent and creative minds are attracted to come to D.C.

However, beyond the “max” deal, what could Shanahan be looking for in his new contract?  Let’s use the Jim Zorn experiment as a guideline, shall we?

1. Clear delineation of authority and power with regards to player discipline. Numerous reports have surfaced lately about discipline issues with players going to other sources when there were team issues.  Circumventing the head coach is an issue of rebellion and insubordination – even if they were “tight” with Vinny Cerrato or Dan Snyder.  If Shanahan wants a successful stint in D.C., he must lay down the law and operate under clear methods of communication between players and the coaching staff.

2. Authority to hire and fire staff as he sees fit.  Jim Zorn walked into this head coaching position with little if any authority to bring in “his guys”. Shanahan will be assumed to have this authority, as most head coaches would think they’d have.  However, if there is ever an issue he wants to be able to point to the contract (as it is rumored Cerrato did with Zorn) and point out his power.  For example, let’s say some time down the road Bruce Allen thinks there is another person better suited for the offensive line coaching position than Kyle Shanahan wants.  Papa Shanahan can go to his contract, make the decision and mediate between the two options.

3. Playcalling Operations. This almost goes without saying after the whole Sherm Lewis situation that Zorn went through this year.  Would Dan Snyder dare try and make a power move towards Shanahan?  Probably not.  I can’t even think of Bruce Allen concocting such a plan, but better safe than sorry.

4. Roster and draft procedure. Bruce Allen and Shanahan will likely operate as a team for making player personnel decisions.  But as we know during the Cerrato era, things can be a little unclear when decisions are made.  It’s always better have things spelled out.  There’d be nothing worse than for this new staff than confusion over who is calling the shots on the players that Shanahan will be coaching.

These are the vital issues not only to Shanahan’s contract with Snyder but also if there is going to be success in this organization struggling for a new way of doing business.


Giants Game Recap: Santa Claus Isn't Real

Courtesy of riptheskull on Flickr

I remember one summer curiously asking my parents for probably about the 20th time in my young life, “Is Santa Claus real?”  When my mom told me, “Go ask your father.”  I was shocked.  She had always said yes.  My dad was doing work outside, and perhaps being detached from the holiday season was taken aback by my question.  ”Um, yeah, why?”  I told him that Mom had told me to ask him.  He then told me to go ask my mom.

I was so confused and felt that my whole life was changing at that moment, changing more than I had ever wanted it to.  After the back and forth, it was revealed to me that Santa wasn’t real and that he hadn’t been real (Saint Nicholas was real of course, but I couldn’t understand it at that moment and I don’t think I would have cared for that explanation either).  I sat there on the kitchen floor staring into the wall, wondering aloud “How is this even possible?  If Santa isn’t real, what else is a lie?”  I think I asked my mom if she was my real mom, if I *actually* lived in Maryland and if they had any other lies up their sleeves.  After all of that mess, while I’m still trying to grapple with this personal earthquake, my mom tells me, “Matthew, just don’t tell your sister.”

That’s kind of what happened last night.  Losing to the New York Giants, a divisional rival, with a score of 45-12 was bad – but what was worse is what some of us believed.  ”The Skins are getting better!” and “The offense is getting the system, it’s turning around!”  and “We’ve found our way, it’s a competitive fighting team.”  That this Washington Redskins team was competitive, that was our Santa Claus.  Last night, it was similar to finding out that Santa as we knew it didn’t exist.  But really, it was more like finding out that Santa didn’t exist while everyone in the country was watching, laughing and throwing our presents out the window.

In light of this painful but important epiphany, it’s important to understand what we do know, for sure.  As a kid I found out that I was actually a family member to the parents that had raised me and I was indeed a Marylander.  What do we know about the Redskins after last night’s atrocity of a game?

1) It was all a mirage, we do not have flying reindeer.

Beating Oakland was fun and being close to Dallas, New Orleans, and Philadelphia (to a reasonable extent) was but it doesn’t count for anything.  Many people thought we’d see the Redskins for who they really were against the Giants (optimistically believing something amazing would happen last night).  Well, the bad and good news is that we did and we do not have flying reindeer.

    • The offensive line that looked like it was coming together the last few weeks almost looked like it was TRYING to get Jason Campbell killed last night.  Not only that but rarely did you see an offensive lineman try to help him up after he was thrown to the turf.  (Hey guys, ignoring the problem, doesn’t make it disappear)
    • Defensively, with so much “talent” how in the world can you let Baby Brother Manning put up 45?!  There was no true pressure on Eli Manning for most of the night and few passes were defended.

2) Bruce Allen has to feel like he got a lump of coal for Christmas

The last few weeks the Redskins looked like a competitive team that needed direction, a stronger leader and some new play calling.  Last night it was hard to figure out which pieces to keep of this crappy puzzle.  It is oversimplifying it to say that Mr. Allen has a lot of work ahead of him.

3) Jason Campbell may not be our “Last Action Hero” but he’s a heck of a fighter.

Statistically speaking, Campbell didn’t have a strong night: 15/28 192 yards 2 interceptions, 2 runs for 36 yards and 1 touchdown toss.  That being said, he was the only one who looked he gave a reindeer’s tail during the majority of that game.  He kept pulling his mangled self off the ground, commanded the offensive unit that was betraying him and kept fighting.  That is, as Gibbs would say, “a true Redskin” in my mind, someone who doesn’t complain, doesn’t quit and gives it his all.

4) Jim Zorn is on the “Naughty List”, the debate is over

Whether there is a Santa or not, Zorn’s on the naughty list.  He’s done here.  All of the Zorn apologists and the ones’ that faintly cried, “it’s all coming together, don’t break up the system” are gone.  They are in hiding at the North Pole and no one can defend him after that debacle last night.  45-12 at home against a division rival on national television is beyond unacceptable.  It’s reprehensible and a joke.

The Silver Tinseled Lining

There are a lot of things to love about the Holiday Season, even though it felt like my life was over when I found out about Santa, it wasn’t.  I just operated differently.  Now that we know what the Skins aren’t (competitive, good, able to keep it’s starting quarterback upright for more than three plays in a row…), we can adjust our lives accordingly.  There’s a lot of work to be done for next year, and in the meantime enjoy Dallas week before they actually have to play the game.


Christmas comes early for the Redskins

Whether you were on your morning commute, at your workplace, or just getting out of bed, the news spread like wildfire: “Vinny Cerrato is out”.  Vinny Cerrato resigned this morning as Vice President of the Washington Redskins this morning.  I probably got four texts from fellow Redskins fans announcing an early Christmas present.  Dan Snyder has also  taken a reach back to the past and has connected someone very familiar with a winning Redskins legacy by hiring Bruce Allen (son of former Redskins coach George Allen) as his new man in command.

At first I was skeptical, as most Skins fans are with such a bold move during the regular season.  But this seems to be a serious move by Snyder.  Mr. Allen was in Tampa with Jon Gruden and is credited with putting that Super Bowl winning team together ( led by former Skin  Brad Johnson).  Other than that I was unaware of his personnel prowess but the press release by the Redskins outlines it well:

  • From 1995 to 2004 Allen was the GM with the Oakland Raiders
  • “he was part of three AFC West Championships, two appearances in the AFC Championship game and a berth in Super Bowl XXXVII”
  • From 2004 to 2008 Allen was GM with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • 2005 and 2007  the Buccaneers were AFC South Championships

Questions Arise

Here’s the situation though, will Snyder step back and let George Allen do what he’s supposed to do?

Does this mean that Jon Gruden is automatically the leading candidate for hire for the Redskins Head Coach next year?

Will Allen give Jim Zorn a fair evaluation for the improved play of the team during these last few weeks.

Your Thoughts

Do you like this hire?

Same old story different name?


Dan Steinberg remembers Vinny’s “legacy


Five Reasons why the Redskins can't Win against the Saints

Matt may be a little too optimistic about the Skins chances with his latest article, but back here on Planet Earth the Skins have about as much chance of beating the Saints as the Detroit Lions did. Not to say I wouldn’t love an upset, I’ll be cheering for one, but I’m not delusional.

5. Injuries On Friday’s injury report both teams listed a number of players. The Saints outweigh the Skins in quantity, but not impact. A healthy Skins team would have trouble against the much better Saints; without playmakers on offense (Portis, Sellers) and defense (Hall, Haynesworth), the Skins will barely be able to hang on.

4. The Big Play The Redskins D has been susceptible to the Big Play all year. Last week it seemed like every Eagles receiver was able to get open at least once 20 yards downfield.  In the Redskins most recent win against the Broncos on November 15th, star Denver receiver Brandon Marshall was left wide open twice for Touchdown catches- one for 75 yards and one for 40 yards.  The Saints  wideout Marques Colston is tied for first for the most catches of 20+ yards with fifteen. The Saints 2nd WR Devery Henderson has eleven. Even if the Skins can keep Drew Brees off the field for the majority of the game, the quick-strike ability of the Saints is too much.

3. Too many weapons The Saints simply have too many offensive weapons. With a secondary depleted by injuries it is unlikely that there is going to be much man coverage in the Skins defensive gameplan. The problem is that their have been breakdowns in the Skins zone coverage often in the past few games. The Skins defensive players either do not know their assignments or are not recognizing when players enter their coverage area quickly enough. Either way opposing teams are getting more wide open pass catching opportunities than should be seen in a professional game.

2. The Saints blitzes will overwhelm the O-Line The Redskins have had no consistency on the offensive line this year. This week Mike Williams is back in at Right Guard after Edwin Williams disappointed last week. Not that it matters, neither is a starting caliber Guard, and to be frank, neither is most of the present offensive line. Stephon Heyer is especially suspect. If he is beat  on a few blitz packages, he is likely to get jumpy and start committing false start penalties. The Saints D is going to be in Campbell’s face all day, and he is not going to be able to establish his rhythm.

1. The Two-Minute Drill Even if the Redskins can keep this game close by some miracle, they will find a way to lose. For two weeks straight the Redskins have squandered away slim leads. If the Redskins offense is put on the field to win the game late, it won’t. Jim Zorn and Jason Campbell have perfected the art of failing at a two minute drills. I think this is a combination of the fact that Zorn gets to call the plays for the two-minute drill and the Redskins offense has no audibles. The more I see Zorn coach the more I’m convinced he couldn’t call plays for PeeWee football. Campbell is then stuck with Zorn’s idiotic calls because he has no audibles. Campbell also has to stay more collected during high pressure situations, he too often does something stupid with too little time left.

It does not look great for the Redskins tomorrow, but like all Skins fans I’ll be hoping for a Miracle.