- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 6, 2008

Jim Zorn is smart, candid and upbeat, but he wouldn’t be the rookie coach of the Washington Redskins if not for his offensive expertise.

That expertise, however, hasn’t been apparent lately.

Including the preseason, Zorn’s starters have produced just 10 points in their past 22 possessions. Seven of those points came on a touchdown with 13 seconds left in the first half Thursday night that made the 16-7 season-opening loss to the New York Giants closer than it appeared. Washington didn’t make a first down other than by penalty until 1:10 remained in the first half.

“When you watch video, the answer is there about why we’re not scoring,” Zorn said. “When you’re putting together a new scheme, it doesn’t matter whose offense it was. There’s a certain learning curve. Every offense takes time. Even the Giants. They’re the defending Super Bowl champions, and they didn’t have it all together either. We will get better. We just didn’t convert those third downs.”

While Jason Campbell said the transition has been “a little bit bumpier” than he expected, the quarterback considered the loss to the Giants as “an opportunity see where we’re at and what we can improve on.”

But some of his teammates weren’t as upbeat.

“There’s no excuses,” receiver Antwaan Randle El said. “We’ve had our chances at the learning curve in preseason and training camp. We all need to be over that and be ready to put our best out there, and we didn’t do that yesterday.”

Center Casey Rabach replied with an expletive when he was asked what he thought of the offense’s performance against the Giants.

“I don’t buy this ‘it’s only one game’ stuff,” Rabach said. “We gotta start playing now. I’m really frustrated. We have too much talent to play like this.”

Receiver Santana Moss, who scored Washington’s only touchdown, took the patient approach. Moss said observers need to understand the Redskins are still adjusting to the West Coast passing scheme that Zorn brought from Seattle.

“If you’re looking for us to be the Seattle Seahawks the first week out of the gate, that would be the wrong thing to be looking for,” Moss said. “We’re going to come together slowly. We can’t come out here and be world-beaters. We just have to take our time and progress week in and week out, which I feel we can do. We’ve seen what we can be. We can’t sit here and say we didn’t do some things good because that would be a big fib.”

It wouldn’t be lying to say 11 first downs, 209 total yards and seven points amount to unimpressive numbers.

“As bad as we played in the first half, we come out down 16-7, and we really felt we had a chance, but in the second half, we could never get into the end zone,” running back Clinton Portis said. “We had opportunities, but we couldn’t convert, and that hurt us. The frustration is normal when a team holds you to three-and-out over half the game. We got too many weapons to be held to three-and-out.”

Smoot has hip pointer

Fred Smoot left the game in the third quarter with a back injury, but Zorn said Friday that the cornerback has a hip pointer that shouldn’t keep him out against New Orleans. Zorn also expects cornerback Shawn Springs, who sat out with a calf injury, to be ready. Special teams ace Khary Campbell’s quadriceps, which sidelined him in the preseason finale against Jacksonville, tightened up on him during the coin toss Thursday and kept him out against the Giants. But Zorn thinks he will play against the Saints.

Defensive end Jason Taylor said his sprained right knee “has been worse and has been better” but he made it through the game OK. Rookie safety Kareem Moore could return from the hamstring that made him inactive Thursday, but rookie receiver Malcolm Kelly probably won’t play against the Saints as he continues to recover from an ailing knee.



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