Coach Zorn’s Day After Musings on Moss, Devin Thomas, and Sacks

As with the postgame comments last night, Coach Zorn’s press conference today seemed to acknowledge the obvious problems — pass blocking, pass rush — even while maintaining his trademark confidence. And his brutal frankness was on display, especially during his comments on Devin Thomas and Jason Campbell.

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Some excerpts….

On attempting the big play shot to Santana Moss:

    “When we took a shot down the field with Santana after they scored, that would’ve put us on the nine yard line. That was a deep pass, Santana went up for it, and it was a volitile situation. Had he come down with it, that’s a huge play. We did get protection, it was executed well, it was thrown well. He had to go to heroics to make the catch, and we didn’t get it. That was one of those handful of plays that you wish could’ve gone the other way.”

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At The Game: The Horse Trailer

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Some of the behind-the-scenes stuff I’ve gotten to see this season has been more impressive than I expected. The Monday Night Football production trucks from a couple weeks back, for example, were remarkable in their size and scope. On one level, they looked just like the production truck Comcast uses to produce the Redskins preseason games — just scaled out to something like seven times larger. And there’s three of them.

Other things, though, are a little less remarkable than I would’ve thought. The Sunday Night Football Horse Trailer falls pretty solidly into that latter category, at least on the interior: it’s a trailer. The front is set up as an office for their online updates; the back is a small bank of computers that handles the on-screen virtual scoreboard stuff during the broadcast. The trailer is used to transport material from one site to the next, traveling around the clock behind a motorcoach with three drivers — one more than Madden’s cruiser uses.

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Monday, November 17: About Last Night…

Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Post-game stuff coming throughout the day (Zorn’s news conference will be at 12:25, as usual), but here’s what you missed if you were watching football without the aid of the internet yesterday.

  • Late last week, I talked to John Madden about his videogame and the difficulty presented by Ethan Albright.
  • The GEICO Caveman was on the sidelines.
  • London Fletcher gets the linebackers fired up with an incomprehensible speech. (Literally incomprehensible, although it’s not his fault — the audio is very muddy.)
  • Quarter by quarter updates:
      1 (my initial reaction to the Darrell Green/Art Monk pregame celebration; excitement over a strong start by the Skins)
      2 (enthusiasm dimming, and a questionable challenge)
      3 (the blog makes its Austrian TV debut)
      4 (depression sets in).
  • And the postgame quotes, a litany of people talking about how they need to execute better.

On the whole, it was a really cheery evening.

Redskins v. Cowboys – Postgame, Several Ways of Saying the Same Thing

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As noted, there wasn’t a lot to be said about this loss. The team didn’t protect Jason Campbell, didn’t get to Tony Romo, and just basically didn’t convert its opportunities. How many different ways are there to make that point?

At least a few. Here’s Coach Zorn’s effort. Wordy, and with his characteristic optimism (which was much-needed, as optimism was thin on the ground tonight):

    “We have to have an answer on some pressure. Our quarterback got hit a lot tonight, and we’ve got to have an answer there.

    “Two things: one, we have to put pressure on the opposing quarterback, and then we have to keep people off of ours. I think that was the issue in the game, somewhat. It affects playcalling, from my standpoint, and also it allows the opponent to— y’know, if we can’t get to the QB, it allows him to take a little more time. It puts pressure on the DBs to cover for a long time as well.

    “And yet, with all of that said, I thought we did an excellent job keeping their run game from breaking anything, forcing them to throw. And then our DBs and guys coming up with plays. We got picks tonight. We did what we needed to do on defense to win the football game. You won’t hear Greg Blache saying that, because they’ll notice some things we could do better as well, but I thought our defense battled hard.

    “We even did a nice job offensively in areas. Our run game wasn’t bad, we actually got some yardage in the run game. But when you’re trying to mix, it’s hard to mix thinking about what you really can do in the pass protection schemes.

    “And I think that’s where we really need to improve. Pass blocking and our route-running. If we could pass protect just a little bit more, honestly, get just a little more time, we’ll have some things open down the field.”

Most people’s assessments could be summed up much more briefly. Here’s Campbell:

    “We got the ball at the beginning of the game. We tried to control the ball more and pick up the momentum, but we never really got back into a rhythm and picked back up from where we had left off. A lot of it had to do with things we just weren’t doing.”

Here’s Pete Kendall, using a car metaphor:

    “We seem to be stalling a little bit, and we need to find a way to get it revved back up, that’s for sure.”

Rock Cartwright, stating the blatantly obvious but exceedingly true:

    “We just came up short today, and it’s kind of frustrating when you work that hard and put in so much work during the week and then come up short. We’ve just gotta score points. If we score points, we’ll win football games.

Chris Samuels, in very, very brief:

    Dallas played great. They executed when the game was on the line. They got it done and we didn’t.”

I asked Fred Smoot about what he said to Darrell Green in the pregame, and even that conversation landed in the same place.

    “I just told Darrell congrats. I also had to say to him, I had told him back before he was done with football that he was a first ballot guy, and he didn’t feel like that. So we were just talking and I was just telling him that I was gonna go out there and try to make some plays for him.

    “Evidently, I didn’t do enough.”

Redskins v. Cowboys – Fourth Quarter Thoughts

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  • Well, the fourth quarter certainly isn’t starting off very strong. The Cowboys move steadily downfield to score a touchdown, and the drive includes one of those little Brett Favre-lite Tony Romo plays on a shovel pass to convert a third down. Just having fun out there, gunslinger, etc.
  • Very grim — the Redskins have another promising drive stall out from under them on a failed fourth down conversion. The Skins took a timeout between third and fourth downs to think through their options, and the Cowboys were actually trying to get their fans fired up for the defensive stop. It didn’t work — at least, not noticeably — but still a strange moment.
  • And the fourth quarter is made up of only three possessions. The Cowboys score, the Redskins don’t, and the Cowboys kill the clock. That’s about it.
  • After the Steelers game, it seems important to note this: the performance of the Redskins fans is one of the main things I can compliment in an ugly and disappointing loss. They stuck around to the bitter end, and seemed loud and engaged throughout. I have very little good to say about this one, so I’m curious to hear what Coach Zorn has to offer.

Redskins v. Cowboys – Third Quarter Thoughts

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  • That vague sense of disorientation that started when nearly half of the second quarter disappeared out from under me is being exacerbated by the halftime entertainment. Every pregame, the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders are introduced and do their signature routine. It’s become comforting and familiar to me, even though there’s at least one song in there that I can’t stand. ANYhow, that routine got preempted by the Darrell Green/Art Monk ceremony, so the cheerleaders are doing their thing now, and it is deeply unsettling.
  • And again, the Redskins run a drive that seems to eat the entire quarter — or, at least, six and a half minutes of it — but ends without any success. I had really gotten used to Jason Campbell‘s interception-free streak, to the point where I actually didn’t believe that his pass could’ve been picked off there.
  • Okay, that disorientation thing has reached terminal velocity. Leaving aside the fairly standard postmodern OMG-the-future feeling generated by the fact that I’m watching a YouTube video of the Austrian broadcast of the TV coverage of a game that’s in front of me live, this is just completely surreal. Here, check out the Fred Smoot greeting I mentioned the other day, and then see this blog get coverage on the Austrian national TV station.

    I am clearly HUGE in Austria. I think that was the strangest experience of my life, or at least this evening.

  • Hey, there’s Video Rocky McIntosh, imploring the crowd to cheer. It’s working, too, as Dallas is tagged with two penalties, including one false start. Nice work, Video Rocky McIntosh.
  • As Jason Campbell gets knocked around a few times and the officials don’t seem too concerned, I mention out loud that the quarterbacks aren’t being overprotected today. To my right, someone says, “Yeah, by the offensive lines.” Tough to argue with. Campbell is getting battered out there.
  • And the quarter ends the same way it started, Redskins 10 – Cowboys 7. Frustrating.

Redskins v. Cowboys – Second Quarter Thoughts

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  • Gorgeous interception by Rocky McIntosh, on a ball popped out by a crushing hit by Carlos Rogers. I can’t quite decide how to feel about the situation, though — that’s the second time the Cowboys have gotten that far into Redskins territory on what looked like surprisingly effortless drives, and I’m not sure how comfortable I am counting on getting a takeaway every time they’re down there.
  • And, wow, the quarter is suddenly mostly gone. Nothing quite like an almost-five-minute drive (yielding absolutely nothing, after the last two plays are a penalty and a sack) to just make a quarter disappear. A really remarkable designed run up the middle for Jason Campbell, though, for a gain of 22 yards. He’s a big guy, and he was bouncing off tacklers like a tight end on that one.
  • That guy with the whistle in front of the press box that irritated me during the Steelers game is back. He blows the whistle during Dallas offensive plays, and every time I assume there’s been a penalty blowing the play dead. This drives me insane.
  • Not as insane as that questionable challenge, though, on the spot on that punt. The chance of improving field position by twenty yards was really not enough potential gain to justify burning the last timeout. I’m slightly frustrated by this, but it’s making the people on either side of me apoplectic.
  • And even more apoplectic now that Dallas has scored a touchdown and the Redskins have no timeouts to use in an answering drive. That drive was exactly what I was worried about after Rogers’ interception.
  • Huh. I guess being that upset about the timeout was really worth it — a timeout would’ve meant another play there, in a strangely managed final drive. I can’t decide whether to be glad that the team is leading by three, or upset that they’re only leading by three.