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Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Skins have 'another set of eyes' on coaching staff



Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


You know it's bad when management hires an offensive consultant four games into the season. Redskins executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato announced during a conference call Tuesday evening that longtime NFL assistant and offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis was coming out of retirement to serve as a consultant for the club.

Cerrato tried to play down the significance of the move, but he might as well save his breath. Management has obviously lost faith in coach Jim Zorn's approach and it has brought in backup in the form of 67-year-old Lewis. It's an indictment of Zorn and his hand-picked assistants, offensive coordinator Sherman Smith and Stump Mitchell.

"We have had some struggles and thought that it was a good time to bring in a fresh set of eyes and see if there's anything that the fresh set of eyes saw that could help us," Cerrato told reporters.

Zorn issued the following statement via the club's public relations staff: "We're happy to have Sherm's set of eyes and voice to help us as we continue to find ways to create success on offense."

Yes, I'm sure Zorn's pleased as punch to have owner Dan Snyder and Cerrato bring in an elder statesman to give him some feedback. This is the beginning of the end for Zorn. If the Redskins' offense actually starts clicking, Lewis will likely get a lot of the credit. Cerrato made it sound like Zorn will decide what role Lewis plays on his coaching staff.

Does anyone believe that? I'm sure Snyder and Cerrato have told Lewis exactly what he's supposed to do. And this move also allows the Redskins to have a better option as the interim coach if Snyder decides to go ahead and fire Zorn during the season. That may sound harsh, but it's not like Snyder's afraid of making in-season changes.

I'm sure Zorn's embarrassed about Lewis' arrival, but it shouldn't have come as a big surprise. Zorn admitted that he was questioning his own game plan in the first half of the Tampa Bay game. That's not a great sign if you're an NFL head coach. Lewis has been an offensive coordinator with the Packers, Vikings and Lions, but he's been out of the game since 2004.

Charley Casserly, the Skins' former general manager, referred to the move as a "kiss of death" on Comcast SportsNet's "Washington Post Live" show Tuesday. And it's hard to disagree. If you have complete faith in your head coach, you're not bringing in consultants after four games. This seems like a desperate move to me. I realize that Lewis was indoctrinated in the West Coast offense during all those years in Green Bay, but this is a guy who's spent four years away from coaching. That's an eternity in this profession.

This is a franchise always in search of a shortcut -- and that's what Lewis represents. Snyder basically brought in an insurance policy in case Zorn and his players completely implode. At 2-2, that still hasn't happened but it could happen in a hurry.

I've always admired Lewis from afar. But it's ludicrous to think he can show up after so much time away from the game and make an immediate impact. This is like putting a tiny Band-Aid on a gaping wound. It might satisfy a few fans, but it's not going to change the course of the season.