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Monday, August 25, 2008
Zorn's about to make a big mistake

By Dan Graziano

Posted by's Matt Mosley

It sounds like Redskins head coach Jim Zorn is about to break an unwritten -- and wise -- code in the final game of the preseason: He's going to try to win. Hopefully his friend and mentor Mike Holmgren will call and talk some sense into him this week.

Zorn was probably a little too excited about how sharp his team looked early in preseason, and he's now taking this weekend's 47-3 loss to the Panthers way too hard. Yes, there were some horrifying moments in the game -- Jason Taylor's injury comes to mind -- but you have to keep in mind that it doesn't count. And that your best defensive player, safety LaRon Landry, didn't play.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I was thoroughly impressed with Zorn after spending about an hour with him at Redskins Park. And that's why the following quote from him caught me by surprise:

"I'm open to playing the starters," Zorn said Sunday. "I may have to do that just based on what we did out there. It's not about disappointment, it's about doing what's right. And it's not about throwing them back out there and putting pads on and scrimmaging for two hours because we did what we did. But it's a matter of developing just a drive, maybe. Just to go back out there and get back some tempo before we have to get into the season."

Zorn shouldn't trust his instincts on this one. You don't develop tempo in the final game of the preseason. Your one and only goal is to stay healthy, something the Redskins didn't do Saturday.

I know it's the ultimate second-guess, but why was Taylor even playing at this point in the preseason? He doesn't need to work on the intricacies of Greg Blache's defense. You line him up and tell him to chase the quarterback. He should've played in the second or third preseason game and then taken a spot on the bench. Zorn could've come up with one of those fake injuries that Norv Turner likes to roll out for LaDainian Tomlinson each week.

Playing all the starters Thursday sounds like an awful idea to me, and I have a feeling owner Dan Snyder and his right-hand man Vinny Cerrato agree. From what I can tell, the players (namely Jason Campbell) have bought into Zorn's philosophy. With that in mind, you can't overract to one poor outing in the preseason.

What will you prove by sending out the starters Thursday? The Jaguars think they have a Super Bowl contender, so coach Jack Del Rio isn't going to let his starters anywhere near the field.

Even if the Redskins' starters go out and hang three touchdowns on the Jaguars, it won't matter. It's high time someone finally admitted that the preseason isn't about setting any sort of tempo. It's about keeping everyone in one piece.

So far, the Redskins have come up short in that area.