By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 4, 2008
CANTON, Ohio, Aug. 3 -- After celebrating the enshrinement of former star players Darrell Green and Art Monk into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Washington Redskins fans were still going strong Sunday in anticipation of another significant moment in franchise history.
Many of the supporters who packed Fawcett Stadium for the induction ceremony a day earlier remained to watch Jim Zorn's head coaching debut against the Indianapolis Colts. Washington kicked off the beginning of the NFL's preseason schedule and the Zorn era with a 30-16 victory over the Colts in front of 22,216.
Quarterback Jason Campbell had a touchdown pass on the game's opening drive, rookie quarterback Colt Brennan impressed in rallying the Redskins to the victory with two touchdown passes in his first professional outing, and the Redskins -- most important -- appeared to make it through without major injuries.
Tackle Stephon Heyer had a sprained right knee "that's nothing serious," Zorn said, and tackle Todd Wade, who was carted off, has an ankle sprain and will be reevaluated next week.
Zorn was a winner in his first game in charge, and the Redskins are in full swing behind him.
"This is a special game that we get to start out with," Zorn said. "The Hall of Fame game, [to] see two Redskins Hall of Famers go in and then to have so many Redskins fans here, it is pretty incredible, really. It is like a home game."
Washington played Denver when it was last in the Hall of Fame game, in 2004. In the first preseason game of former coach Joe Gibbs's second stint with the team, Washington defeated the Broncos, 20-17. Tackle Jon Jansen suffered a season-ending knee injury on the first series.
As expected, many key players were held out on both sides. Members of the Redskins' first-team offense and defense were in the game briefly. Zorn and defensive coordinator Greg Blache planned to use the top two units for about 12 plays or two series, whichever occurred first, players said, and they followed their script.
Zorn's career as Washington's play-caller could not have started better. Overall, Washington's three quarterbacks -- Campbell, backup Todd Collins and Brennan -- completed 19 of 22 passes for 216 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Offensive coordinator Sherman Smith will have significant responsibility in devising game plans each week, Zorn said, but Zorn will direct his version of the West Coast offense. After Washington won the coin toss and elected to receive, rookie safety Chris Horton recovered an onside kick at the Colts 45-yard line.
Campbell, who has been critical of his performance early in camp, looked sharp in leading the Redskins on a three-play scoring drive capped by his 20-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Antwaan Randle El. "I was excited to be able to score on the first drive," Zorn said. "There is nothing more remarkable than that."
The Colts failed to pick up Randle El on a crossing pattern, ending on his uncontested reception in the left corner of the end zone. Campbell also teamed with tight end Chris Cooley on an eight-yard pass and Rock Cartwright, starting in place of Clinton Portis, had a nifty 17-yard run.
"Randle El ran a good route, but it was opened up by [wide receiver] Santana [Moss] by him running a great post route," Campbell said. "The offensive line did a great job of protecting. I just had to step up into the pocket and give him an accurate throw."
With Portis out and Ladell Betts (thigh) sidelined, Cartwright and Marcus Mason split time in the backfield. Mason, who caught the go-ahead touchdown pass from Brennan in the fourth quarter, led the Redskins in rushing with 98 yards on 18 carries. Cartwright had 58 yards on 13 rushes.
Against a portion of the Colts' top offensive unit, the defense struggled to get off the field in its first series. Indianapolis had five first downs -- three times converting on third down -- on a 16-play, 73-yard drive that place kicker Adam Vinatieri finished with a 26-yard field goal.
Campbell also moved the offense well on his second series, completing his three attempts, including a 16-yard play to Moss. But the drive stalled at the Colts 46-yard line two plays after Campbell was sacked. Campbell went 5 of 5 for 61 yards and one touchdown, his work finished after the Redskins' second drive.
"I thought it was important for us to come out fast," Campbell said. "That is one thing we talked about as a unit, coming out and trying to move the ball quickly and having a rhythm and a tempo. The offensive line came out and set the tempo early.
"On the second drive, we made some plays, but we also stepped back; that is just part of the game. A guy came free and got a sack on us, but we just have to move on to the next play."
Brennan, competing with Derek Devine for the No. 3 quarterback position, kept the Redskins moving after taking control of the offense in the second half. In 10 attempts, Brennan, drafted in the sixth round out of Hawaii, completed nine passes for 123 yards.
"Oh, he just did a wonderful job," Zorn said of Brennan, "with poise and pass accuracy. We're really excited for him."
On Washington's first drive in the third quarter, Brennan displayed a nice touch on a deep ball down the left sideline to wide receiver Billy McMullen for 34 yards. Wide receiver Maurice Mann's 20-yard touchdown reception from Brennan tied the score at 16.
With 10 minutes 30 seconds left to play, Mason caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Brennan for the go-ahead score. Shaun Suisham's kick gave the Redskins a 23-16 lead.
"I was able to have some fun and throw the ball around," Brennan said. "I'm really proud of that second drive."
In his quarter of work, Collins completed 5 of 6 passes for 32 yards but the Redskins did not score (Suisham's 39-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right just before halftime). The Redskins appeared to have protection problems while the second-team line was paired with Collins.