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Zorn’s strategic error costs Skins

Zorn’s strategic error costs Skins

There really isn't a whole lot to break down about today's game. The teams traded hot streaks for 55 minutes and then they exchanged scores at the end.

It's the Niners' last score, the game-winning field goal, that is the focus here. San Francisco never should have had a chance to try it, or at least it should have been a much greater challenge for them. They got the chance, however, because Jim Zorn made a rookie mistake.

Go back to the end of the Redskins' tying drive. At the 2:00 warning, the Redskins have a second and goal at the nine. Clinton Portis runs for two yards to the seven and the clock keeps ticking. On third and goal at the seven, the ball is snapped with 1:28 left and Campbell completes a pass to Chris Cooley for five yards down to the two. It's fourth and goal at the two and the clock is running. With 1:15 left, Zorn calls timeout.

That was his big mistake.

Why stop the clock then?

Sure you want to talk about the fourth-down play. After all, it's your last shot. If you score, you can put it into overtime. If you don't, you lose.

But why call timeout with well over a minute left with the clock running? It became a one-play game. Zorn needed to let the clock run down as far as he could, as though they were trying a game-winning or tying field goal, because you want to leave the other team as little time as possible to answer your score.

Cooley went down with about 1:21 left. The 40-second play clock started at about that time. Had Zorn chosen to burn off the maximum time before going for it on fourth, there would have been about 42 seconds left for the fourth-down play.

After Campbell scores, the Niners would have had about 35 seconds left to try to score. It wouldn't have been impossible, but certainly the extra 30 seconds they had thanks to the early timeout helped them dramatically.

I can think of a couple of reasons why Zorn might have wanted to preserve some time, but neither really holds water. He may have wanted to have some time with which to work had the Redskins failed to score but a penalty had given them a first down. But they still had two timeouts left. They would have been able to take four shots at the end zone in 35 or 40 seconds easily and they would have been able to run or pass.

Zorn might also have been thinking that he wanted to save time should his team not reach the end zone. But if Campbell's run fails, the 49ers get the ball with about 1:09 to go and the Redskins have two timeouts. Two kneel downs followed by the Skins' two remaining timeouts and there's about a minute left. Another knee on third down and the Skins can't stop the clock. At about 20 seconds, San Francisco has to run a fourth-down play.

The safe-aggressive call in that situation is to have your punter run around in the end zone and take an intentional safety. You then have a free kick from the 20 with 15 seconds left. It then takes a miracle.

If I'm missing something here, let me know.

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NFL Draft 2017: First round talent, but injuries explain Fabian Moreau's third round selection by Redskins

NFL Draft 2017: First round talent, but injuries explain Fabian Moreau's third round selection by Redskins

On the field, Fabian Moreau makes plays from his cornerback slot that translate to the NFL game. Staying on the field has been a different matter though. 

In five seasons at UCLA, Moreau dealt with his fair share of adversity. He took a medical redshirt year in 2015, suffering a Lisfranc injury three games into the year. More devestating to his draft status, however, was an injury suffered during his Pro Day in late March. Moreau tore his pectoral muscle while lifting weights.

For many, that injury caused his slip from a possible fringe first rounder to Washington's prize with the 81st pick. It's possible Moreau will be back from injury by the time training camp opens, but it seems likely he begins the summer sessions in Richmond on the PUP list. 

At the combine, Moreau ran a 4.35 40-yard dash. Serious speed, and it instantly makes the 6-foot, 206 lbs., Moreau the fastest corner on the Redskins.

In his senior season, Moreau grabbed two interceptions, forced a fumble and made 31 tackles. Not scared to get physical and play press coverage, Moreau's mindset should mesh well with Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland as he looks to force his way to playing time. 

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Redskins take UCLA cornerback Moreau in the third round

Redskins take UCLA cornerback Moreau in the third round

After taking Alabama DL Jonathan Allen in the first round and Crimson Tide linebacker Ryan Anderson in the second, the Redskins drafted UCLA corner back Fabian Moreau in the third.

Moreau may have been drafted earlier but he suffered a torn pectoral lifting weights during his pro day. Although medical evaluations have said he should be ready to participate in training camp, he lasted until the 81st pick.

Moreau has good size at 6-0, 206 and he is a plus athlete. At the combine he ran a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash. In 2016 he led the Bruins with six pass breakups and also two interceptions. He is also considered to be a good run defender.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.