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An exclusive sneak peak at the Redskins playbook

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And by "exclusive" I mean only available to people within traveling distance to a Barnes & Noble and by sneak peak at the Redskins playbook, I really mean probably incorrect interpretation of exactly one play that Jim Zorn ran as quarterback in Seattle circa around 30 years ago.

As you may know, I'm in the process of reading Kenny Mayne's new book, An Incomplete and Inaccurate History of Sports. I'm not yet finished, because I haven't taken enough dumps, but so far so good. It's like diet Dave Barry but with more-betterish anecdotes, because they're sports related and Kenny Mayne is famous (my mom thinks Dave Barry is more famous than Kenny Mayne; also that I'm handsome), at least to people like me who were raised by Sports Center in early 90s. Kenny Mayne is from Seattle, which may help explain this video:



Mayne's appreciation for Z-Man is sincere, as he's devoted an entire chapter (term is used liberally; this particular "chapter," for instance, is about a page and a half long) to a play called the "Controlled Scramble" frequented by Jim Zorn when he was a QB for the Seahawks. Mayne describes the play thus, though he notes that when he contronted Jim Zorn about the name of the play, it was actually something other than Controlled Scramble, but whatev:

In the early days of the Seahawks, it was nearly a total scramble for Jim Zorn. He had an expansion team's offensive line, and he was constantly trying to come from behind. His ability to throw while on the run wasn't just an asset, it was a necessity. So they wrote up a play that matched his skill set: Controlled Scramble.

The look of the play was utter chaos: Zorn would spring out in one direction while the receivers flowed to that side of the field. Then he would reverse course and drop back even deeper in a rollout to the opposite side of the field. Something like this.

He then attempts to draw the play, and from the drawing it looks like the kind of frankensteinian disaster you wouldn't pick even while drunk in a game of Madden. How/if this play ever succeeded is beyond me. And although I've been told not to do so, I have attempted unsuccessfully to recreate Kenny Mayne's recreation of a sack-waiting-to-happen using Microsoft Paint. The black lines are simply to get more room to write. The green lines are what happens after snap. The blue line is the ball being passed to Steve Largent. I probably fucked uhmm, doodooed? it up, so don't treat the picture as testimony. Enjoy:


[Note by Skin Patrol, 05/05/08 3:41 PM EDT ] Getting the above from my hard drive to this post was taxing on my emotions and my soul. Please enjoy it.

Kenny Mayne continues:

By the time Zorn sprinted one way, then the other, he was a good twenty to wenty-five yards behind the line of scrimmage. (Normal rollouts have the quarterback eight to ten yards behind the line of scrimmage.) While Zorn was rolling right and then back to the left, his future Hall of Fame receiver STeve Largent was doing something similar. He'd open the play split left, run a deep post to the right, then turn himself around into a deep corner on the left (or sometimes break that into an "out" route).

The crowd (and the defense) would think they'd witnessed an incredible impromptu play. What they'd really seen was something else entirely: the illusion of chaos. Zorn and Largent knew where they were going all along.

I'm of the opinion that could be giving Zorn and Largent too much credit, since looking at the play it isn't entirely clear that even the person who wrote it up had that much faith in its success, but if it worked it works. Jason Campbell has the moves to pull off such a play, but I don't know if I have the nerves to watch it. Also he fumbles when sacked, indeed fumbled more last year in 13 starts than Jim Zorn had in 36 starts from 1981-1983.

And we don't have an expansion team's offensive line, rather we have very capable players so long as the injury bug gets pesticided.

I thought it was a cool story. If you were looking for actual news on the Redskins playbook, I imagine we'll have some better info available shortly now that the team has started minicamp. My blogging amigo at Riggo's Rag had this to say in an email:

[The playbook] came out a few days ago that he is giving a thinner version out for minicamp.  The goal is to only give them what they have time to work through during the practices.  And then as they are putting in more of the plays during OTAs and camp, they’ll be given more.  I like the strategy, because it takes pressure off of both Zorn and the players to get it all at once.  Plus, from what I understand, almost all of the running game will be the same as the Gibbs era including nomenclature so the vets know half (or so) of the plays already.

The key, as Kenny Mayne pointed out elsewhere, is keeping pressure of Jim Zorn. From what I've heard, though, Z-Man knows a thing or two about avoiding pressure.