- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Disappointed with the Washington Redskins’ offensive production during a 2-2 start, vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato approached coach Jim Zorn on Monday with the idea of adding a fresh set of eyes to the staff.

On Tuesday, the team hired veteran NFL offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis as a consultant. Zorn will remain the play caller when the Redskins visit Carolina on Sunday. The Redskins are 27th in points scored and red-zone efficiency and have failed to score three offensive touchdowns in a game this year.

During a 22-year NFL career, Lewis served as a coordinator for three teams before retiring after the 2004 season.

After meeting with Zorn and talking to Lewis, Cerrato brought the idea to owner Dan Snyder, who approved the hire. Lewis, 67, is expected to be at Redskin Park on Wednesday.

“We didn’t even discuss it until Monday, and his name didn’t come up until Monday afternoon,” Cerrato said during a conference call. “It sends the message that we’re bringing in a guy who has a ton of experience in the West Coast offense. We’ve had some struggles scoring, and you bring in somebody to see if there’s any advice or help he can give.”

In a statement, Zorn said: “We’re happy to have Sherm’s set of eyes and voice to help us as we continue to find ways to create success on offense. I’m excited to have him on the staff and welcome his input.”

Established offensive minds Brian Billick, Steve Mariucci, Mike Martz and Mike Holmgren are out of coaching this year, but the Redskins pursued Lewis, who last worked in the NFL for Detroit in 2004. The assumption of Lewis’ addition is to get a veteran play caller on the staff in case Snyder makes an in-season head-coaching change.

Asked to give Zorn a vote of confidence, Cerrato said: “He’s the head football coach. … I don’t think it’s anything but bringing somebody in to look at things.”

A league source confirmed the staff hasn’t been informed of any changes.

“Otherwise, they would have been warned and told, ‘Hey, you’re not in charge of that anymore; you’re in charge of this,’ ” the source said. “What I can imagine [Lewis] doing is sitting back and observing and then giving some thoughts and suggestions.”

The Redskins’ offense has been stuck in neutral for most of Zorn’s 20-game tenure. Under Zorn, they have yet to score 30 points in a game, and although they rank 13th in passing yards, a large chunk of that production has come in garbage-time drives.

In Sunday’s victory over Tampa Bay, quarterback Jason Campbell threw a career-high three interceptions, and Santana Moss was the only receiver to make a catch.

This isn’t the first time Snyder and Cerrato have solicited outside opinions to help the Redskins. In October 1999, the Redskins started 3-1. But upset with a defense that was allowing 29.5 points a game, Snyder hired Bill Arnsparger, then 72, to aid coordinator Mike Nolan.

In the next 10 games, the Redskins went 5-5 and allowed 22.6 points a game but still managed to win the NFC East. Nolan was fired after the season.

During 2003, Steve Spurrier’s final year with Washington, Joe Bugel spent 10 hours at the practice facility watching offensive game film, and Redskins personnel consultant Foge Fazio spent a day looking at the defense. Bugel and Fazio did not meet with Spurrier or the assistant coaches.

Cerrato cited Arnsparger’s hiring and when San Francisco brought back Bill Walsh in 1996 as a consultant to offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. The 49ers were third in points, but Trestman did not return the next year.

Lewis’ role is expected to be similar to Arnsparger’s, who attended meetings, practices and games.

“Sherm will be a member of the offensive staff, and it will be up to Jim how he’ll be used. They’ll get that figured out in the next day,” Cerrato said.

Lewis served as a position coach in San Francisco from 1983 to 1991, winning three Super Bowl rings. He followed Holmgren to Green Bay and was the Packers’ offensive coordinator for eight years. Holmgren, though, was the primary play caller.

Lewis called the plays in 1999 when Holmgren left for Seattle and was replaced by Ray Rhodes. Following his time in Green Bay, Lewis coached in Minnesota and Detroit.

“I am grateful to join this offensive team and an organization with such a great tradition,” Lewis said in a statement. “I am looking forward to working with Jim Zorn, Sherman Smith, Joe Bugel and the rest of the coaching staff.”

Said Cerrato: “He’s had a tremendous amount of success coaching offense at a number of positions and has been in big games and understands the West Coast offense. He knows it from the ground up.”

Note - With Hunter Smith’s groin injury likely to sideline him for at least a week, the Redskins signed punter Glenn Pakulak to the practice squad.

The Redskins, who released receiver Trent Shelton from the practice squad, will have to make one more roster move if they determine Pakulak is needed Sunday.

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