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Zorn in an awkward spot

Zorn in an awkward spot

Bob Molinaro, Washington Redskins reporter for the Virginian-Pilot in Tidewater, did a Q&A with Jim Zorn when the Skins were down in Virginia Beach for their annual Beach Blitz.

Certainly, nothing earth-shattering was revealed in the interview. I did, however, find one of Zorn's answers interesting because it pointed out a challenge that he faces that most other rookie coaches don't have to deal with.

Here is the exchange:

Will your system make Campbell a better quarterback?

I just cringe answering a question like that, because it might imply that the staff before me failed, and that's not it at all.

Usually, when a new coach takes over he doesn't have to tiptoe around making sure that he doesn't say anything that could be interpreted as a knock on his predecessor. Sure, you don't want to go around slamming the guy you replaced, but by the same token you don't have to be guarded in any implied criticism.

However, most new head coaches aren't replacing legends with busts in Canton, Ohio. In fact, Zorn is in a spot where few, if any, have been before.

He's replacing Joe Gibbs, who won three Super Bowls here in his first run. While his second run wasn't as successful, he helped get the Skins back on the right track. On top of all that, he's a better person than he is a football coach.

Now, many who followed the team through the glory years and the more recent so-so comeback—present company included—have had some critical things to say about the way Gibbs coached in his comeback.

But that would be vastly different from Jim Zorn coming in and going negative on Coach Joe. We have been here, watching every play of every game, following every event from week to week, month to month, year to year. We've earned the right to take issue with the Hall of Famer.

Zorn, on the other hand, has been hanging out on the Left Coast for most of the past few decades. He hasn't been here so he hasn't built the credibility to be critical of what Gibbs did and didn't do.

And, no doubt, behind closed doors, Zorn occasionally wonders, "What the hell was he thinking?" when watching film. Every once in a while he's talking to a player who was here last year and wants to say, "He wanted you do it that way?" And, behind closed doors, Zorn might let such comments pass through his lips.

That doesn't mean that Zorn thinks he's smarter than Gibbs or that he knows more than Gibbs. Different coaches have different ways of getting things done and it's natural that what one coach thinks makes perfect sense would have another coach rolling his eyes

But in public, talking to reporters, he has to be very careful not to let anything slip. For the next several months, well into the season, Zorn will continue to "cringe" every time he gets a question that involves an answer that could be phrased in a way that might be considered to be a knock at the way Joe Gibbs did things.

Zorn is just starting to live down the "maroon and black" gaffe. He doesn't need to make another verbal misstep. It's obvious that he's being consciously careful not to.

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Redskins coaching staff believes backups on O-line will be 'ready to roll'

Redskins coaching staff believes backups on O-line will be 'ready to roll'

All signs point to the Redskins starting Arie Kouandjio at left guard this weekend against the Eagles, and the coaching staff knows it's a big chance for the second-year man.

Incumbent starter Shawn Lauvao injured his groin last week against the Cardinals, and has not practiced all week. Assuming he doesn't play, this would mark Kouandjio's second start this season. He also got the start against the Browns in Week 4.

Washington coach Jay Gruden did not speak glowingly of Kouandjio's play against Cleveland, but it wasn't a negative review, either.

"He’s played one game, he played OK," the coach said. "He has another great opportunity for him. He’s waited his turn, done what’s asked of him. Practiced hard, played hard, and it’s a great opportunity.”

With center Spencer Long currently in concussion protocol and backup John Sullivan started to go in the middle of the Redskins offensive line, the group will have a number of new faces against the Eagles. The right side of the line, with guard Brandon Scherff and tackle Morgan Moses, will be the same as its been all year, though both of those players are nursing ankle injuries. 

"We have confidence in the guys that if some of those guys that are backups need to step up and be ready to roll," offensive coordinator Sean McVay said. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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One stat that should make DeSean Jackson very dangerous against Eagles

One stat that should make DeSean Jackson very dangerous against Eagles

The Eagles defense is on a big-play streak, but not one that defensive coordinators will like very much, and it could be very good news for the Redskins and DeSean Jackson. 

At this stage of his career, Jackson is a well-known deep threat. While much of the 2016 season has been disappointing for Jackson, in back-to-back weeks, the vertical passing attack has worked. In Arizona last Sunday, Jackson only caught one pass, but it went for 59 yards. On Thanksgiving in Dallas, Jackson hauled in a 67-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins as part of his season-high 118 receiving yards.

"What he brings to this football team, he brings something that not a lot of people can bring, and that’s obviously the speed and the big play ability," 'Skins head coach Jay Gruden said of Jackson.

The last two games moved Jackson's yards-per-catch average back in normal range with the rest of his career at 16.5. Halfway through this season, Jackson was averaging below 14 YPC, which would have been by far the worst of his career.

"A lot of people think that we haven’t utilized his speed quite like we should, but I think he has had a major impact on this football team," Gruden said. "His deep threat has an impact on the defense. It opens up areas for Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder and the backs sometimes. He’s been a major influence for this football team in a good way."

Beyond just the big plays, the Eagles defense has given up 645 passing yards in their last two games. Cousins has historically played well in Philadelphia, and should be in good position to do the same this weekend.

And based on the Eagles' past six games, expect Jackson to have another big game at Lincoln Financial Field. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!