Colts/Redskins recap: So Jim Zorn coaches quarterbacks?

Let's get this out of the way: Your Head Coach wins his game-calling debut 30-16 and his quarterbacks play out of their minds, the hyperbole will run wild. So that I don't have to keep reminding reader(s) of the fact below, all my pending effusive phrase should be contextualized by the fact that it was a preseason game against an injured Colts team (Indy fan reaction here). Still, it's hard not to be impressed by...

19 of 22 for 199 yards and 3 touchdowns with zero picks. Cumulative QB rating is 144 including the less impressive works of Derek  Devine and Todd Collins. Colt Brennan was a 157 QB Rating with a 90% completion percentage and Jason Campbell was even better (157.7 QB Rating, no incompletions). I've said it before I'll say it again and again and again: the people who will benefit most from the Jim Zorn experiment are the quarterbacks, as one could hardly hope for a better mentor than a guy who has spent his entire professional career either learning or teaching others to learn how to pass the ball effectively. That was the conventional wisdom going in being confirmed to the extreme at least after the tiny sample size that is this young season. Could any of us have reasonably expected better production out of our starting three quarterbacks, all of whom have had to learn an entirely new offense?

And look at how much we spread the ball around through the air: ten different players had receptions on just 22 throws. I don't know if that's unusual for a preseason game whatsoever (to be fair, the other team had 13 players with receptions) but receiving progressions were clearly read. Campbell was: Cooley, Randle El, Moss, Moss, Cooley. Even better was Brennan, who passed all over the place: Mason, McMullen, Davis, Mann, Goode, Cartwright, Mann, Davis, Mason.

We didn't draft Fred Davis just to look pretty as tight ends appeared prominently last night; Davis and Yoder led the team in receptions with 3, and Cooley tied for 2nd with two receptions. All three quarterbacks completed passes to tight ends.

The runners would not be outdone, though. Ben at Curly R has a prepetual love affair with Marcus Mason, and I can see why: He carried the lion's share of our 155 yards rushing. His 5.4 YPC average was superb and an enormous credit to him for keeping his eyes forward and legs moving. Reader dr WNC noticed that Mason round lowground. No dancing or dipping or diving or dodging, just solid lower them shoulders and move towards the chains and endzone.

Cartwright also aqcuitted himself well with 58 yards on 13 carries, though he did pick up many of those yards on his first run against a 10 man Indy defense.

Speaking of the defense... Chris Horton was player of the game by a mile. He was second on the team in tackles (5) but added 2 sacks, the last one looking effortless. Rookie Rob Jackson added another sack for 3 on the day. Matteral Richardson closed the game out with a nice pick six late in the 4th. Jared Lorenzen, one of my favorite non-Redskins to watch, was not amused.

Before we get to the peanut gallery, a Redskin fan/friend of this site/obvious Colt Brennan partisan was screaming quarterback controversy to me after the game. I told him that's way premature but couldn't deny that Colt Brennan really could not have done better. He was throwing laser beams peeyow pachow bizzang all over the field and looked generally menacing towards an admittedly subpar defense (made up of backups). In other words: he played much like he did in college, as an incredibly accurate passer who knows how to get the ball in the endzone.

Moving on, the bloggers said, starting with Redskin Report:

I didn’t originally catch that Chris Horton recovered the onside kick… and with that hair, it was well into the 3rd quarter before I caught that it was Horton (all I could see was #48).  But #48 was ALWAYS near the ball.  In a defense that was giving up WAY too much yardage, he seems to have a been a true bright spot in the defense.  My wife even started commenting on it, stating he seemed to have a good instinct on where to be.  Even on plays where he’s NOT making the play, he’s almost always right there by the ball.  Early return says our 7th rounder may be a keeper.

He benefitted from the dreads, as that made him the most recognizeable Redskin on the field at any given time. He didn't hurt himself, as Lee Gibbons pointed out, by constantly being in the play.

Curly R:

Marcus Mason is still the man, 18 carries for 98 yards and saw action in all four quarters. I am telling you people, this is the Redskins future tailback.

I am more convinced of that today than I was yesterday.

Redskins Insider, emphasis added:

The team has made a couple of moves, releasing safety Stuart Schweigert and linebacker Danny Verdun-Wheeler and signing safety Patrick Ghee and fullback-tight end Pete Schmitt.

1. Stuart Schweigert didn't play all that well but was hurt more by the great performance of Chris Horton, in my opinion. As telling perhaps as the way he played on the field was the fact that Chris was constantly on the field in the first place. He was on special teams to start and making sacks to finish. Best wishes to Schweigert.

2. Praise jeebus Pete Schmitt has returned -- JaLa should've said resigned. I don't know how long he'll last on the roster given he plays behind Nemo and Sellers and has already been cut once. Just speculating here, but wouldn't Schmitt make the perfect goal line player? He is being trained to block like a fullback but has phenomenal hands. His emerging hybrid playing style could do serious damage in the redzone a la Sellers circa 2005. Just sayin'. Hogs Haven still loves Pete Schmitt.

Hog Heaven:

The big concern when Joe Gibbs left was “continuity,” especially regarding Jason Campbell’s grasp of the offense. After a two year investment in Al Saunder’s offense, you figured the big payoff for Campbell would come this season. It was put at risk when Daniel Snyder sacked Saunders. 

Jim Zorn’s time invested in the quarterbacks showed in the Hall of Fame game. Campbell (5/5, 61 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT) was sharp leading the offense to an opening drive touchdown. Todd Collins, said to be struggling in training camp, was less effective, yet completed five of six passes. And then there was the Colt Brennan show (9/10, 123 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT).

Chris Cooley's iPod speaks.

TORB (The Pickler!) has the scoop on Malcolm Kelly which I can't quote because to do so would be to steal the entire post's content. To paraphrase: Kelly to have surgery, will be out at least two weeks. My hat is also tipped to TORB (The Magnificent!) for finding The Om Field, run by former Extreme Skins mod Om (hence the name). Om is a talented writer and an extremely passionate Redskins fan, and he probably likes Art Monk even more than I do:

I’ll be honest, what I've come to realize is that I don’t really want to know what it is that moved me so deeply last night, watching Art Monk stand tall, silent and humble as wave after wave of pent-up adulation washed over him ... all before he’d said a single word. Hell, two minutes into that tribute, as far as I was concerned he could have simply nodded, maybe given a little smile, and walked silently back to his seat.

AOL Fanhouse:

The only thing that truly disappoints me is that the interviews with the Hall of Fame class are too short. Usually, they invite each member into the broadcast booth and spend a few minutes with them. Now, they don't have everyone in the booth (some interviews are done on the sideline) and all the interviews are painfully short. I mean, ask a better question than "how does it feel?"

Of course, if I had my druthers it probably would've been more Art Monk, more Darrell Green, all the time, although that's horribly selfish of me. Fug it.

Washington Times quoting Jim Zorn:

On whether he took time during the game to take in the moment:

"I was very excited about calling plays. I was wondering how it was going to be on the sideline. What last night showed was that our staff has a lot of experience and everybody did their job. We had a lot of veteran leadership on the sideline, and all of them stayed in the game and rooted on the younger players."

Mark Newgent giving appropriate love to Darrell Green and Monk:

How fitting it is that Art goes into the hall with his teammate Darrell Green. For Redskins fans of a certain vintage, the names Art Monk and Darrell Green conjure up nostalgic reflections of our youth, the glory years. Watching the game with our families, turning the volume on the television down and the radio up to hear Sonny, Sam, and Frank call the game, when the playoffs were a given, and all that mattered in our lives was a win on Sunday. The Redskins provided moments, Art and Darrell’s among so many others, that transcend football.

Ben aint' alone in Marcus Mason love:

He was decisive, quick to the hole, and he had a sneaky way of dodging through traffic to make the most out of each carry. He wound up with 98 yards on 18 carries. Mason also caught a touchdown pass from Colt Brennan, improvising like a veteran as the rookie QB rolled out of the pocket.

And yet...

Barring injury, Mason has a very small chance of making the final 53. It's a numbers game, as simple as that.

And, finally, before I head to dinner, Mr. Irrelevant has the floor:

Loser: Shaun Suisham — Missed a 39-yarder, makes me hate kickers.

Loser: Me — Actually watched a full preseason game and blogged about it.

Kindred spirit, that guy.

And now I tag, which should probably take me another 10 minues. I'll be back tomorrow with more, make sure you keep an eye over at Buffalo Rumblings this week as we face him this coming weeked (I'll be in Las Vegas!). Cheers and HTTR.

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