Zorn: No Problem With Smith's Actions Before Timeout

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

During one of the fourth quarter's most memorable moments Sunday, Washington Redskins Coach Jim Zorn attempted to signal for a timeout before a fourth-down play, and special teams coach Danny Smith just about jumped in front of him, trying to physically prevent him from doing so. Smith was trying to get Zorn to wait until the play clock got closer to zero, to run off the maximum amount of time.

Zorn was asked Monday about the sequence; here's his explanation, in full.

"He saw the 25-second clock and I didn't, because there was a pile," Zorn said. "Where I was, my vantage point, you can only go down so far. And so my vantage point, there were about four or five guys in front of the 25-second clock. He had looked at the other clock. And so we had time that we could take off the clock. He doesn't have a headset on, I do, I couldn't hear him. And you know how he gets going, 'YEEEEE-HUH!' You know, he just kind of got fired up about it, wanted to make sure. He saw me calling timeout, I didn't hear him, and so he came and got right in front of me. Because I was looking out onto the field."

Asked whether he'd want an assistant to so forcibly control his actions during a game, Zorn said: "Absolutely. We're all in it together. And he was helping the situation out, he wasn't hurting the situation. I wasn't hurt by him doing what he did."

Some players hadn't seen this sequence at all, but several had.

"I don't know exactly what happened, but Danny's a very smart coach," said Mike Sellers, one of the special teams captains.

"Danny knows the game and I think he was really into the game, so I think he made a good decision," Rock Cartwright, the other special teams captain, said. "And we were able to run some more time off the clock, so that's a good thing."

-- JURGENSEN, ZORN FACE OFF: Plenty of fans and analysts have questioned the third-and-five play call midway through the third quarter, when Zorn dialed up a halfback option to Clinton Portis, whose pass fell incomplete in the end zone. The Redskins then settled for their third field goal. Legendary Redskins quarterback and radio analyst Sonny Jurgensen was among those who questioned the call, but he did so while talking with Zorn during the postgame show Sunday.

"Third down, I'm the quarterback, and you call the halfback throwing the ball for me, I'm calling timeout or calling an audible," Jurgensen said. "I'm not letting the halfback throw it. That's what you pay me for."

"Well, then, I would have to take you out of the game," Zorn countered. "As soon as you called timeout, I'd say what's wrong with my play, because . . ."

"It didn't work!" Jurgensen interrupted.

There was a long pause.

"No, but I called it to work. All right?" Zorn said. "We called it to work. It didn't work. There were a lot of plays out there that didn't work. And I'd take you out of the game. Sorry, Sonny."

-- Dan Steinberg

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