- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 8, 2009

Out of football for nearly five years, Sherman Lewis has some catching up to do before his impact on the Washington Redskins can be quantified.

If in his role as offensive consultant he can offer ideas that kick-start a dormant passing game, his addition will be a success. But if the Redskins continue to be allergic to scoring 20 points, the hire probably will look like a desperate move by the front office.

As Lewis spent his first full day at Redskin Park, players and coaches alike said the scheme isn’t the problem, just the on-field execution that has the offense averaging only 12.2 points during a 2-2 start.

“It can only make us better; I don’t see it making us any worse,” fullback Mike Sellers said. “It’s about the players handling their business.”

The Redskins have failed to score 30 points in coach Jim Zorn’s 20-game tenure and this year have struggled particularly in the first half (13 points) and red zone (4-for-11). What Lewis’ role will entail is expected to develop as he becomes familiar with the personnel and Zorn’s playcalling style.

Zorn said Lewis will not be involved in game-planning or on-field coaching. He will watch games from the coaches’ box.

“It’s not something I was looking for initially,” Zorn said. “I wasn’t saying, ‘Hey, Vinny [Cerrato], you need to go out and find a guy for me.’ When the suggestion was made, I was open to it. I want to make sure I don’t have so much pride in having all the answers that somebody can’t come in and see what I’m doing.”

The Redskins’ modus operandi is that Lewis will observe and suggest. Zorn and Lewis dismissed the suggestion that Lewis’ addition is the front office’s first step in the former losing his job.

“I talked to Jim [on Tuesday] to let him know I’m here to help,” Lewis said. “I wasn’t planning on coaching. I’m not looking for anybody’s job. I thought it would be a nice challenge and a good change for me.”

Said quarterback Jason Campbell: “Sometimes you may wonder [about Zorn’s future], but knowing Coach Z personally, it’s not going to affect his work ethic and what he does.”

Most players shrugged their shoulders when asked about Lewis’ potential input.

“I don’t have a reaction,” running back Clinton Portis said. “You got to see what his role turns out to be and how we pan out. If we pan out and do something spectacular, it’s great.”

Lewis arrived at Redskin Park on Tuesday night and watched the video of Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay with Zorn. On Wednesday, Lewis attended offensive team and blitz meetings before the walkthrough and wasn’t scheduled to be involved in a full offensive staff meeting until after practice.

None of the offensive coaches’ duties have changed with Lewis’ arrival.

“I’ve never been around anything like this,” offensive coordinator Sherman Smith said. “[Zorn] told us it was something that had been suggested, and he said, ‘If it can help, do it.’ ”

Smith said the staff remains confident in the offensive scheme.

“That’s what we feel and what we’ve been saying, and that’s what the players are saying,” he said. “We feel we’re putting the players in good position to make plays. We just need to do it better, not do it differently.”

Said Zorn: “It’s very sound. It’s been well-used, it’s been creative and we’re still creating. We’re moving right along. We really are.”

That Lewis is now part of the process was a surprise to everybody, including him.

Lewis was last on an NFL staff in 2004 with Detroit. He spent the past four-plus years living in Novi, Mich. When the Redskins visited the Lions two weeks ago, he visited with fellow former Green Bay assistant Greg Blache and former Redskins linebacker Sam Huff at the team hotel. Lewis did not meet with owner Dan Snyder, Cerrato or Zorn, but he did attend the game.

On Tuesday, he was scheduled to call a bingo game at a local senior center when Cerrato called with the offer. Instead of helping with the local “Meals On Wheels” program Wednesday, he went to work for his fifth NFL team.

“I know the basic things it takes to be successful in this offense,” Lewis said.

For three years when Lewis called the plays in Green Bay (1999) and Minnesota (2000-01), his offenses averaged 345.1 yards and 21.7 points. But he had Brett Favre, Randy Moss and Cris Carter to work with. Zorn has to make it work with Campbell, Portis, only two go-to targets in the passing game and a leaky offensive line.

“We’re pleased that he’s here, and we’re pleased he was willing to come,” Zorn said. “He’s going to be a positive. I’m looking forward to seeing how it fits and how it works.”

Said receiver Santana Moss: “You never know what’s in store. When we get to listening to his input, we’ll know more. He’s a guy that might see some things. He’s here for a reason. It should be a plus for us.”

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