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Jim Zorn vs. Sherm Lewis: 6 games each


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Of course all opponents are not equal, and I would like to point out the strength of schedule before I start talking about anything else offensively.

Redskins with Zorn calling plays:

2 Wins, 4 Losses.

Combined record to date of teams played: 19-53

Redskins with Sherm Lewis calling plays:

1 win, 5 Losses

Combined record to date of teams played: 50-22

Over the first 6 weeks of the season with Jim Zorn calling plays the offense averaged:

13.1 points per game

195.3 passing yards per game

98.6 rushing yards per game

Over the past 6 weeks of the season with Sherm Lewis (and Sherm Smith) calling the plays the offense averaged:

20.1 points per game

245 passing yards per game

103.3 rushing yards per game

That means with Sherm Lewis in charge we have produced on average 7 more points each game, 50 more passing yards, and just 5 more rushing yards.

Here are some other interesting statistics:

DEVIN THOMAS STATS, 2009

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With Zorn calling plays Devin Thomas had 4 catches for 26 yards through 6 games.

With Sherm Lewis calling plays Devin Thomas has had 19 catches for 261 yards and 3 touchdowns.

MALCOLM KELLY STATS, 2009

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Kelly had 7 catches for 73 yards with Zorn

Kelly had 7 catches for 121 yards with Lewis

JASON CAMPBELL STATS, 2009

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First 6 games: 107/163, 1,197 yards, 6 TD's, 6 INT's

Last 6 games: 137/207, 1,527 yards, 9 TD's, 6 INT's

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Nobody is denying that the offense has been better over the last 6 weeks with Sherm Lewis calling the passes. To me it looks like our 2nd rounders from last season were being held back by the offensive play calling. Zorn was squandering the talents of Thomas and Kelly.

It looks like Campbell has really stepped it up as well. Zorn may be a good quarterbacks coach, and Campbell might not be a great quarterback, but he may be much better than we thought he was over the first 6 weeks of the season, in fact he may be good enough to just hang on to for another year or two while we build more important parts of our team such as the offensive line.

Just something to think about.

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Everyone is soooo set that the difference is Sherm Lewis... but in reality.... there are a number of changes that happened then. Portis is now out, Cooley is out, and our other receivers have been forced to step up as a result. I think the difference is the players touching the ball, not the play calling. Zorn isn't the best at it, but Sherm Lewis didn't make THAT BIG of an impact.

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Everyone is soooo set that the difference is Sherm Lewis... but in reality.... there are a number of changes that happened then. Portis is now out, Cooley is out, and our other receivers have been forced to step up as a result. I think the difference is the players touching the ball, not the play calling. Zorn isn't the best at it, but Sherm Lewis didn't make THAT BIG of an impact.

I agree. I think it is a combination of Sherm Lewis and the players. Just watching the Skins play now compared to earlier in the season they seem to be playing harder.

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as convoluted as our playcalling process is, I find it hard to determine who deserves the credit for the improved offense... but the one thing I can confidently give credit to lewis for that I failed to see zorn utilize is the play-action-fake-rollout... I always wanted to believe zorn was setting it up with the stretch plays to the left but it just never happened, and lewis was quick to identify that as an effective play, according to our tendencies and talent...

then again, who knows who is calling what... I've heard so many different versions and overrulings and under 2 minute is zorn, redzone is zorn, only first and second is lewis, smith calls run plays, blah blah... only under snyder could a organizational structure so simple as designating one person to call plays become so disorganized...

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I didn't know what to expect when Sherman Lewis was brought aboard, but I think he has made a tremendous difference. Jason Campbell has even said on radio interviews that there were some extra motions and such that were making a difference. The first thing that came to mind was the first touchdown where Devin Thomas lined up as if he was going to block on the left hand side and then slipped back to the right side (something you often see tight ends do... except everyone knows tight ends do that).

I really would have no problem if Sherman Lewis was promoted to head coach and he decided to bring back Jason Campbell. If he's scoring 20PPG now (which has been an elusive number for us), imagine how we'd be doing with a better offensive line, a better power-running game (meaning obvious run situations), and versus a more complete schedule (instead of the toughest schedule). He's even getting Santana Moss open in the redzone, who also got open in the redzone under Gibbs. With Zorn, we all dismissed Moss as a non-threat due to his height.

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Under Zorn, he would call the worng plays at the wrong time. Everyone and their mother knew the Skins would run on 1st, run on 2nd and then have to throw on 3rd and long. Everytime we needed short yardage he would run the stretch play.

Under Sherm the offense is less predictable. Another person that should get credit is Buges, he's got these castoffs and misfits playing some decent ball on the O-Line

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"...It has been wittily remarked that there are three kinds of falsehood: the first is a 'fib,' the second is a downright lie, and the third and most aggravated is statistics. It is on statistics and on the absence of statistics that the advocate of [sherm Lewis' play calling making a difference in the Redskins offense] relies..."

There are too many variables to really look at the difference in the Redkins offensive output and attribute it to one play caller versus another.

Are the second year receivers "getting it"?

Are the 3rd and 4th string running backs playing harder, because they want to be starters next year?

Was Portis too injured to be productive? Was the patch work O-Line not making holes for him?

Has Buges done a really good job with the patchwork O-Line since then?

Is the offense just flat out "playing harder" because they were tired of being such a low scoring team?

The best we can do is say, "Hey, this is working" and stop trying to fix it.

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Remember the first year Zorn started coaching/calling plays we were winning. And we all said wait until the other teams figure out how to stop Zorn and get some tape on him.

Wouldn't that same reason still be applied here. Other teams don't have tape on the Sherms' yet. Give it time people. It will be back to normal.

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"...It has been wittily remarked that there are three kinds of falsehood: the first is a 'fib,' the second is a downright lie, and the third and most aggravated is statistics. It is on statistics and on the absence of statistics that the advocate of [sherm Lewis' play calling making a difference in the Redskins offense] relies..."

There are too many variables to really look at the difference in the Redkins offensive output and attribute it to one play caller versus another.

Are the second year receivers "getting it"?

Are the 3rd and 4th string running backs playing harder, because they want to be starters next year?

Was Portis too injured to be productive? Was the patch work O-Line not making holes for him?

Has Buges done a really good job with the patchwork O-Line since then?

Is the offense just flat out "playing harder" because they were tired of being such a low scoring team?

The best we can do is say, "Hey, this is working" and stop trying to fix it.

Occam's razor probably applies in this situation.

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Remember the first year Zorn started coaching/calling plays we were winning. And we all said wait until the other teams figure out how to stop Zorn and get some tape on him.

Wouldn't that same reason still be applied here. Other teams don't have tape on the Sherms' yet. Give it time people. It will be back to normal.

Maybe yes, maybe no. One thing that is going to happen (think back to game 2 last year) is that teams are likely to realize they just can't shut the running game down and hope to win. Also, we seem to have a stronger threat than just Moss when passing.

I've noted is that we're hitting more fades while Campbell also seems to have an improved pocket-presence. I think this tends to open up the short passing game by giving the TEs and backs lots of open running room. I suspect (hope?) that this will open up deep crossing routes and the short middle has almost always been open. Defenses can cover all three but then they open themselves up to the running game if you got a RB with pop. This is why the WCO is so execution heavy, you force defenses to play assignment football and take advantage of the fact that you can overload their assignments.

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Remember the first year Zorn started coaching/calling plays we were winning. And we all said wait until the other teams figure out how to stop Zorn and get some tape on him.

Wouldn't that same reason still be applied here. Other teams don't have tape on the Sherms' yet. Give it time people. It will be back to normal.

I think Lewis might actually have the ability to make effective adjustments, though...something I question about Zorn.

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but the one thing I can confidently give credit to lewis for that I failed to see zorn utilize is the play-action-fake-rollout... I always wanted to believe zorn was setting it up with the stretch plays to the left but it just never happened, and lewis was quick to identify that as an effective play, according to our tendencies and talent...

Zorn and sherm smith, still select the plays for the week. Lewis just calls them.

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There are too many variables to really look at the difference in the Redkins offensive output and attribute it to one play caller versus another.
Its not so complicated, you can simply look at the plays themselves.

Lewis installed the shotgun 2RB formation in the red zone which has produced multiple touchdowns. We've scored on a play-action off a fake end-around, a slow developing WR-Drag to Devin, and the majority of the passing plays in the red zone have been very aggressive with every WR, TE and RB going out for a pass and not staying in to block.

Look at our red zone production, much better.

             Appearances          TD %      Scoring %
Zorn             14               42.9        85.7
Lewis            21               57.1        90.5

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I estimate that the quality of the players is an 80% factor in determining the success of a football team and the coaching is a 20% factor. So, the head coach with the better players has a huge advantage. Better players equals better execution.

The 20% coaching factor includes (in order of importance): planning the general strategy, creating the game plan, training the players to execute and playcalling.

So, when looking for causes for good results or bad results, I start out with the weight of these factors:

There's roughly an 80% chance that the cause of a good or bad outcome on the field has to do with the quality of the players and their innate ability to execute. Then, in descending order, it's less likely to be --

-- the quality of the overall strategy

-- the game planning (including personnel packages)

-- training the players

-- playcalling

Jim Zorn did not stand aside and allow Sherm Lewis to coach the team. So, it's conceivable that Lewis made suggestions that Zorn found useful. We don't know. But, it's highly unlikely that Sherm's playcalling was anything more than a minor factor.

There are several factors involved which probably contributed. The most important probably are:

-- better execution by the replacements playing for starters who were not performing well because of injuries

-- defense not allowing opponents so many clock-eating drives after Blache "threw himself under the bus

-- game plan pared down to eliminate deep drops and slow-developing pass patterns

-- better execution in the red zone due to random luck: two great catches versus two drops

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Good point...I had forgot about that game! lol...Ok, maybe if we had Betts or Portis right now the running game might be going better under Lewis...

Lewis called plays for Portis. Nothing much good happened until Portis left with a concussion and Betts replaced him. Levi Jones was a factor in the run game also.

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