More Offensive Players Making Playcalls, At Least Theoretically

So on the fourth down to ice the game, Clinton Portis called the play. Here’s Peter King’s summary:

Fourth-and-one at the Eagles’ 38, 2:48 left, Washington up 23-17, Philly out of timeouts. Tricky call here. If Washington gets stopped, the Eagles take over with about 2:40 left and 62 yards to travel for the winning score. If Washington makes it on a running play and stays inbounds and plays its time-strategy cards right, the ‘Skins should be able to run out the clock by kneeling three times and going home with a dramatic win.

Zorn had his thinking cap on, with Jason Campbell and Portis and a couple of the coaches on the sidelines. “I called the formation first,” he said, “and then he called the play.”

In his press conference a few minutes ago, Coach Zorn described thinking about three different plays for the situation. And then “Clinton rolls by me and says, ‘Gimme the draw.'” Thinking about it further, Zorn added, “It wasn’t necessarily there — he WILLED it…. We got the first down because Clinton willed his way to those two yards.”

I wrote at the time that it was “one of the single gutsiest calls I’ve seen in recent memory,” although my original draft described Coach Zorn as possessed of “guts of tungsten,” only I didn’t write “guts.” See the DC Sports Bog’s attempts to find a newspaper-friendly way to describe that playcall for much more in that vein; the point is, it was a heck of a call, and it turns out that Portis was the one who made it.

So I asked around a bit today to see what some other guys would’ve gone for.

“I’d do something crazy,” said Todd Yoder. “It would be a double-reverse to Cooley and then Cooley gets to throw a touchdown to me. I don’t know how we would operate it, but somehow.”

Yoder wasn’t the only one who thought of going to the tight end (although no one else had Chris Cooley passing the ball). “The same scenario? I’d say play-action or a boot,” said Stephon Heyer. “They’re expecting fourth and one, you’re gonna dive the ball up the middle. That’s what everybody does: either quarterback sneak or running back up the middle. So what Clinton did, he went outside the box. He said, let’s make ’em believe that it’s gonna be up to pass, and let’s do the opposite and run the draw. It took them out of their thinking about going hardnose up the middle to stop gaining that one yard.”

Heyer has apparently given some thought to playcalling approaches. He continued, “So a boot works the same way: takes away them thinking ‘They’re gonna run right at us,’ instead of ‘We’re gonna fake it to run right at you and throw it over the top to the tight end.'” At this point, he became visibly sold on his play. “That’d be more than one yard – maybe five or ten … maybe more, depending on what they’ve got up top.”

Devin Thomas was thinking similarly big. “On fourth and one? I call the fade. I’m going for a quick fade. Either a quick fade or a slant, because they’re not expecting that,” he said. “In another situation, something like a double-move or a stutter-go … something where I can beat my guy.”

So it’s coming to you either way? “It’s coming to me. No matter what, it’s coming to me.”

That’s one approach, sure. And then there was Mike Sellers.

“Give Clinton,” he said.

What if it wasn’t fourth and one?

“It don’t matter. Give Clinton the ball.”

No matter what?

“You gotta have faith in your running back. I mean, I know what he can do. I deal with him every day, he follows my blocks.”

Okay. But Clinton called himself a draw — would you run the draw, or something else?

“Any time it comes to crunch time, you give it to Clinton. That’s my thoughts on it.”

It’s hard to argue with the results this week from a very similar approach, that’s for sure.


4 Responses

  1. I like all of those answers, but given portis the ball is the best choice. HAIL SKINS.

  2. I’m inclined to agree with Sellers. But, it was just a couple of weeks ago when we had a similar situation and we put the ball in Campbell’s hands. He hit a quick slant pass to ‘tana. It was awesome.

    That said, with regards to yesterday, and what makes the decision to give the ball to CP so ‘delicious’ is that the Eagles were ranked so strong *against* the run. We sealed the deal by going directly into the heart of their strength, and winning the battle. As Zorn tells the team, a plan is just a plan. The game is won or lost in the execution.

    The entire team gets the game ball in my opinion. But, over at Die Hard Redskins, we’re still doing our analysis. We’ll hand out the Die Hard Game Ball, shortly.

  3. Thomas needs to earn his catches and avoid bone-head penalties before he will get a pass thrown to him on a 4th and one to ice the game.

  4. If the O line is going to continue this play I have no problem with 38 runs a game that’s Smash mouth Redskins football! And it will always win you ball games along with defense. I love this new look skins team and Jim Zorn is the man in DC right now and that’s no joke. I mean I’m sitting at home when the Randle El to Cooley play was about to go down thinking to myself this would be a good time to dial up a Randle EL Option play out the trick bag and it happened! I’m going through the motions of watching the game and thinking what I would do in this situation and Zorn Did it about 90% of the time when last year I was amazed at how constrained we were. Now I feel like we have a coach and Quarterback we can build around. We can go out and get linemen and a cover corner. And we can finally stop thinking to ourselves in DC man when he leaves here he’ll go to another and become a superstar! Because that’s usually what happens! Now people will want to be a part of the skins again I believe if this keeps up. I mean I see kids 5 and 6 years old and are Patriots fans and I’m like ooooookkkkk how did this happen? Bad football since 92 is what happened! I mean every now and then we had a playoff team but we need to be there every season and if we miss them once or have to rebuild the team then we should be back no more than two years later. This is a proud Franchise and I am glad to see things getting back to the way they are supposed to be Redskins Scalping Cowboys and Our fight Song being heard on from RT 202 to 495!

    Hail to the Redskins!

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