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Monday, October 20, 2008
Zorn never wavered after loss to Rams

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- At least the Washington Redskins waited until after the opening kickoff Sunday to make the announcement.

 
 AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson
 Jim Zorn's Redskins rebounded from a defeat to win on Sunday.
As Cleveland Browns quarterback Derek Anderson led his offense onto the field, the PA announcer at FedEx Field gleefully announced that the St. Louis Rams had beaten the Dallas Cowboys, 34-14.

A crowd of more than 90,000 roared its approval, and the Redskins went out and won a football game they were supposed to win. Just like in Dallas, the doubters had shown up in force after the Redskins' 19-17 loss to the then-winless St. Louis Rams. We wondered if the Z-Man's magic had run its course. But very much unlike Dallas, this is not an ego-driven locker room. The Cowboys are led by the thin-skinned Wade Phillips, whose coddling ways have contributed to this being a remarkably soft team.

Redskins coach Jim Zorn, who described the loss to the Rams as a "bummer," said that he told his players not to "flinch" last week. He walked into a team meeting last Monday and said, "You guys are gonna be kicking yourselves when you watch the film of this game."

As we speak, the Cowboys' film session has probably turned into a group therapy situation during which players are reminded how special they are. And you wonder why Phillips has been a short-timer as a head coach? He's an excellent defensive coordinator, but he has no business running a team.

No, the Redskins don't resemble the Cowboys in any way. On Sunday, they had to rely on the best running back in football and a stifling defense. If not for an uncharacteristic late fumble by Clinton Portis, the Browns would've never found the end zone. The Redskins don't have the most talent in the rugged NFC East, but they have an identity -- and that's more important.

Defensive coordinator Greg Blache has taken the best parts of Gregg Williams' old defense and added some of his attitude. It's not by accident that teams seem to fall to pieces inside the Redskins' 5-yard line. As Zorn put it, the Redskins try to "establish the line of scrimmage" in what we now call the green zone.

What Zorn means is that the Redskins don't lose hope when an opposing team reaches their 1-yard line. If you haven't figured it out, goal-line stands have a way of building a tremendous sense of confidence. And it also can break the will of an opposing team.

The Redskins have a road game against winless Detroit next week, and I don't expect another letdown. After they improve to 6-2, they face Pittsburgh in what should be a slugfest.

Over the weekend, I read somewhere how the Redskins aren't winning games by enough points. Really? Because I think winning close games can help build character. At this point, the Giants and Redskins are clearly the class of the Beast.

And the Eagles could join them if Brian Westbrook comes back from the bye week healthy. The Cowboys have taken themselves out of the conversation. The desperate move to trade for wide receiver Roy Williams only served as a brief distraction from what really ails this team: an utter lack of courage.

From what I saw, the Cowboys absolutely quit in the second half -- and maybe it happened earlier. Until they win a game or two, we shouldn't take anything they say seriously. Look at the last 12 games this team has played, and try to tell me Brad Johnson is who lost Sunday's game.

I'm tempted to comment on this team's rapid fall from grace. But now I'm trying to remember why we gave them any in the first place.