Three days after the Washington Redskins’ offensive coaching staff endured the embarrassment of having management hand the play-calling responsibilities to a consultant, Sherman Smith clutched a laminated practice script with the game for Monday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“It’s not anything magical on this list here,” said Smith, the Redskins’ offensive coordinator. “They have to execute.”
And therein lies the difference between the view of coaches and players and the opinion of owner Dan Snyder and front office chief Vinny Cerrato.
When the duo stripped coach Jim Zorn of the play-calling, just hours after last week’s home loss to Kansas City, they attempted to re-invent the wheel by giving the duties to Sherm Lewis, who hasn’t handled the job in nine years.
But with their season on the brink of disaster, those intimately involved know why the Redskins are 2-4 and have yet to score more than 17 points in a game this year: They aren’t making plays.
Certainly, Zorn’s play calling left things to be desired, but if the Redskins turn around their season, it falls on quarterback Jason Campbell to bounce back from his first career benching, improved run blocking and protection from the patchwork offensive line and secondary production from pass-catchers not named Santana Moss and Chris Cooley.
The Redskins’ broken offense needs improvement in five specific areas (listed with league leaders; all statistics entering Sunday’s games).
FIRST DOWN PRODUCTION
1. Eagles: 7.09 yards/snap
12. Redskins: 5.91
The offense can’t stay on schedule because it find itself in second- and third-and-long situations.
Take away Clinton Portis’ 78-yard run last week against Kansas City and the Redskins gained 40 yards on 19 first-down snaps — a woeful 2.1-yard average. Eight plays went for no gain or lost yardage.
Against Carolina, the Redskins averaged 3.8 yards on 23 first-down plays and gained 2 or fewer yards on nine plays. Even when they won, the Redskins weren’t productive; they had 13 plays that went for no gain or a loss.
Failure on first down left Zorn with second-and-long calls that were obvious — draws or short passes to get a portion of the yards back.