Here' something of a grab-bag post for gameday, and unfortunately due to all the drama this week there's a lot of non-football items on it.
- First there's the Sellers-Portis tiff, which was quickly upgraded to a "feud" by the TMZ of football, Pro Football Talk. My own sense of this is that this sort of thing happens all the time on football teams, especially when things are going poorly, and the Redskins were just unlucky that this one made it into the media. And based on some of Portis' comments since the "incident," I doubt this is a long term problem. It looks to me like two guys got hot headed during a stressful time and it got out of hand. Until we see evidence that this is a simmering locker room problem, I am going to assume that these are two grown men (even if one of them is a little nuts) who can put it behind them. And of course a win today would do wonders to make this story look like ancient history.
- Potentially of greater concern is Greg Blache's state of mind. Secondary coach Jerry Gray (who just may be getting groomed for greater things - more on that in a later post) will now be taking all of Blaches meda questions. And with all the talk of Blache "needing a break," it seems like something is going on. One side effect - if Blache is feeling "burned out" as a defensive coordinator he's certainly not a candidate for interim head coach.
- Then, of course, the arrival of the dreaded "consultant." (Sherm Lewis to Stump Mitchell: "What would you say you do here?"). If you're Zorn there's no way not to assume that Lewis' role is to force you out of your job, or even take it for himself. Once again we're talking about professionals here, and while Zorn has the ego required of any head coach he badly wants to succeed, so just maybe the coaching staff and the new guy will be able to work together productively. But if not, there is every reason to worry that Zorn's credibility with the players can be undercut. This has to be managed carefully to keep the players from getting the perception that ownership is giving up on Jim Zorn and the rest of the season.
- Steinberg got a hold of Merril Hoge of NFL Matchup to get a professional opinion on the Redskins' offensive problems, and he sure makes it looks like Zorn's unwillingness to adjust teh scheme to suit his players' abilities is the problem:
"'I don't think they try to take advantage of their strengths. It's like they've got a philosophy and they want to run it regardless.... That, to me, is the biggest way to fail as a coach. Just watch the Tampa game. They did nothing to help their guys. The quarterback has nowhere to throw the ball, so then he gets sacked and looks like an idiot.'
Specifically, Hoge said the Bucs--once famous for the Tampa-2 zone--were running man concept stuff in their secondary for the majority of the game. He said the Redskins were countering with pass routes that would be most effective against zone schemes. He cited one 3rd-and-10 play in which the Skins ran three curl independent curl routes.
`Man, you're never gonna win a curl route against man, ever,' Hoge said. `Give 'em an option route. Stack your receivers. Run them across the field. You just can't run zone concept stuff and think you're gonna win [those battles]. You're not.'"
Enjoy the game today. The defense is going up against a turnover machine at quarterback, so no more messing around with generating pressure but not quite getting there. I wan't Delhomme on his back and the ball in the defense's hands.