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How low can they go?

Zorn stripped of play-calling duties after Campbell is benched in loss

Redskins slip as they try to regain their footing against the Chiefs.
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By Rick Maese and Jason Reid
Monday, October 19, 2009

As the Washington Redskins reached a new low, losing for the fourth time this season to a winless team, Jim Zorn breathed a deep sigh of frustration and insisted the blame fall on his shoulders.

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"Nobody has any more responsibility than I do," the embattled coach said. "That's the way I look at it. I've got to come up with answers. And I will."

Starting this week, he'll have some help doing it and a little less responsibility to worry about. Following the team's dreary 14-6 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Zorn met with Vinny Cerrato, the team's executive vice president of football operations, and was asked to give up his offensive play-calling duties, according to Zack Bolno, the Redskins' executive director of communications. After some discussion, Zorn agreed, and the two were expected to meet again Monday at Redskins Park to decide who might call plays moving forward. Two sources late Sunday night said recently hired consultant Sherman Lewis is expected to assume those responsibilities.

As they try to recover from Sunday's embarrassing loss, the team has a big question to answer. It begins the week unsure who will start at quarterback next Monday against Philadelphia. Jason Campbell's job security was yet another casualty of Sunday's loss, as Zorn benched him at halftime in favor of Todd Collins.

Campbell said Sunday evening he was surprised by the news that Zorn would no longer call the offensive plays.

"Right now, I can't tell you where the issues start at and what to do about them," Campbell said. "It's the most awkward position to be in as a team. We've all talked about it as teammates and we all can't put a finger on it. You can't point to any one person. Right now, it's just a crazy situation, a tough situation, and I don't think anyone knows how to" fix it.

Reached at his home Sunday evening, Zorn declined to comment on the change.

It's the second time this month management has weakened Zorn's standing as head coach. On Oct. 6, the team brought in Lewis, a longtime NFL coordinator well-versed in the West Coast offense. Reached Sunday evening, Lewis said he had not heard about the move.

"I'm just sitting here watching the game film, trying to correct it," Lewis said. "I haven't heard anything."

According to Bolno, owner Daniel Snyder was aware of the decision.

The team was not told about the decision after the game, but as news leaked out Sunday evening, players said they were surprised.

"He hasn't been a terrible play-caller," wide receiver Antwaan Randle El said. "He's been a pretty good play-caller. It's not, you know, all him. You know what I mean? He's made some great calls and he has some good ideas."


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