- The Washington Times - Monday, October 19, 2009

However longer Jim Zorn is coach of the Washington Redskins, he is going to exhaust every possible scenario in an effort to turn around a floundering offense that consistently comes up short of the end zone.

His halftime move to bench quarterback Jason Campbell on Sunday was perhaps the biggest of his 22-game tenure… until he agreed to give up playcalling responsibilities during a meeting with executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato hours after the Redskins lost 14-6 to the Kansas City Chiefs.

A team source said Sunday night that offensive consultant Sherman Lewis will call the plays.

Lewis called the plays for Green Bay in 1999 and Minnesota from 2000 to 2001 and was hired at Cerrato’s suggestion Oct. 6 to serve as a “fresh set of eyes.” Among those not chosen were offensive coordinator Sherman Smith and assistant head coach-running backs Stump Mitchell, neither of whom have NFL playcalling experience.

According to a Redskins spokesman, Cerrato told Zorn in the meeting: “I believe you have too much on your plate. We have to take responsibility off of you. I want you to succeed. I want somebody else to call the plays.”

Zorn responded, “I don’t disagree.”

Owner Dan Snyder did not attend the meeting.

Things came to a head when the Redskins were unable to score a touchdown against a Chiefs defense that entered 28th in points and last in yards allowed.

With the Redskins trailing 3-0 at halftime, Zorn inserted Todd Collins in hopes of igniting the offense, but the change produced only two field goals. The Redskins failed to score a touchdown for the second time this year.

Before his meeting with Cerrato, Zorn was asked about his tenuous future.

“That part isn’t up to me, so I won’t answer that question,” Zorn said. “It’s not up to me. I have to create answers on the football field.”

Snyder last fired a coach in-season 10 years ago when he dismissed Norv Turner with three games left.

“Mr. Snyder has chilled out since he took over the team,” fullback Mike Sellers said. “He’s become more patient. But I don’t know how much more patience he’s going to have.”

Because he is involved in all the major football decisions, Snyder’s patience with Zorn’s playcalling probably ran out against the Chiefs even though the necessary parts aren’t on-hand to combat injuries and the decision to draft two receivers and a tight end in the second round of the 2008 draft continues to provide little in return.

“From my standpoint, I look at and take full responsibility,” said Zorn, whose team fell to 2-4. “I’m the head football coach. Nobody has more responsibility than I do. I’ve got to come up with answers, and I will. We had a really good after-game [meeting], and it was to the point, and we have to come back out.”

Part of that meeting, one player said, was an expletive-filled tirade by defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. Another player said: “It was a great speech. He gave us some words of wisdom and told us to hang in there.”

But as the difficult defeats pile up - Kansas City broke a 6-6 tie with 3:36 remaining on Ryan Succop’s 46-yard field goal and then got a field goal and a safety - the harder it becomes to rebound.

“The losses are mounting up, and it does get tougher,” defensive end Phillip Daniels said. “But at the same time, we’re professionals. We know how to come back. It’s a veteran team, and it’s put on each man to dig deeper and try and get things turned around.”

Said Zorn: “It’s going to be a very hard week. Last week, I thought that was as hard as it would get. It just got harder.”

First up for Zorn is a hard decision: Who starts at quarterback against Philadelphia?

Campbell (9-for-16 for 89 yards) was benched for the first time in his 42-start career in favor of Collins, whose first pass went for 42 yards to Santana Moss; however, Collins finished 6-for-14 for 75 yards.

Zorn would not name a starter for the Eagles game and said Campbell’s inability to throw downfield necessitated a change.

“I felt like we had some things open, some things that were obvious,” Zorn said. “I felt that Jason, as he was trying to get the ball to the right guy, we were late on hitting some things, and then we were inaccurate.”

The Redskins’ first four possessions consisted of one first down, three punts and a lost fumble. Zorn told Campbell he had one more drive to turn it around. When that possession ended with a sack, Campbell returned to the field for a final shot.

What ensued was a chaotic drive that reached the Kansas City 46 with 60 seconds remaining but disintegrated with a last-gasp throw by Campbell from the Kansas City 36 that was intercepted at the goal line.

On his first drive, Collins’ deep post throw to Moss moved the Redskins to the Kansas City 27. Sellers was called for holding on the next snap, and Shaun Suisham hit a 40-yard field goal.

On the Redskins’ next possession, Clinton Portis’ career-long 78-yard run gave the Redskins a first-and-goal from the 10. Three Collins incompletions preceded Suisham’s 28-yard field goal.

“It was the same thing,” center Casey Rabach said of the struggles to reach the end zone. “I’m out of answers.”

Said Zorn: “For me, really frustrating. This offense is better than six points - 100 percent. And that’s on me. … We’re deep into the red zone, and to not be able to score, it’s awful and it’s my fault.”

Part of the new play caller’s objective will be to create more production in the red zone (six touchdowns in 15 trips) and on third down (29.7 percent, below the NFL average of 37.8 percent).

Before meeting with Cerrato, Zorn maintained he still has the locker room on his side and believed his staff was constructing sound game plans.

“I have to just keep moving on and keep helping our football team with the next call,” he said. “One of the things that should be checked out when the players are in the huddle and I make a play call, are they going, ‘What?’ I don’t sense that. I don’t sense any moaning and groaning between series. I get confidence from our players and their want-to and their belief that what we’re doing is right.”

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