‘Skins are on a roll — can they keep it up?

6 Oct

Quarterback Jason Campbell has yet to throw a pick in 2008
Great win over the Eagles on Sunday — the Rams, Browns, and Lions are next.
Barring a letdown, they could be 7-1 before butting heads with the Steelers and Cowboys at home.
Here’s the Eagles re-cap from ESPN.com …  The Redskins completed a remarkable two-week swing with a 23-17 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field to improve to 4-1. This is no longer an upset-minded team. Quite simply, this has all the makings of a playoff team.Washington withstood a furious start by the Eagles, and then spent the final three quarters dominating every aspect of the game. Eagles coach Andy Reid was left mumbling something about putting his team in the right position, which for now is dead last in the NFC East.A week after gashing the Cowboys for 144 rushing yards, the Redskins picked up 203 against the Eagles. Philadelphia came into the game giving up 53.8 yards per game, but Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts combined for 70 in the first half alone. Portis finished with 29 carries for 145 yards and a touchdown.With the Redskins facing fourth-and-1 at the Eagles’ 38-yard line with 2:48 left, Zorn never hesitated to call Portis’ number. The running back plowed forward for three yards to seal another huge division win. And when Zorn emerged from the visiting locker room later, Portis’ family members were waiting on him.

“I hope you don’t think I abused your son today,” Zorn said to Portis’ mother. Some of you might recall that Portis was critical of Zorn’s play-calling after the loss to the New York Giants, but that game’s now a distant memory.

On Sunday, the Redskins couldn’t have asked for a worse start. The Eagles scored on their first possession, and following a Redskins three-and-out, rookie DeSean Jackson returned a punt 68 yards to give the Eagles a 14-0 lead.

That’s when Zorn made an important decision. He stuck with a game plan that included a steady dose of running plays to the left side and passes to Chris Cooley. With the Eagles taking Santana Moss out of the game, quarterback Jason Campbell stayed calm and relied on other players.

“It would’ve been easy to get away from the game plan and get pass happy,” Campbell told me after the game. “But it was too early for that. We had a good game plan, so we just decided to stick with it.”

Campbell didn’t put up great numbers (16-of-29 for 176 yards), but he made two clutch plays on the Redskins’ final drive. As the official driver of the Campbell bandwagon (seats no longer available), I thought his pass to Antwaan Randle El with 5:50 left was one of the best of his career. Campbell stepped away from pressure while still looking downfield and then calmly delivered the ball to Randle El for a key third-down conversion. Three plays later, he raced for 15 yards on third-and-9 to extend the drive.

In the countless hours they’ve spent together, Zorn has tried to impress upon Campbell how important it is to concentrate when the game’s on the line. And during this four-game winning streak, Campbell has been at his best when the stakes are high. You can see it with his body language. On that final drive, he never appeared rushed at all. About five minutes before kickoff Sunday, Campbell looked over at Zorn and he was doing “knee touches.”

“Coach, you about to go play?” Campbell asked. “Just let me know if you want to swap shoulder pads or thigh pads.”

Last week, Zorn took a page out of George Allen’s postgame playbook and led the team in a rousing “Hip hip hooray!” On Sunday, it was Randle El who led the chant.

Wearing a flannel jacket that pointed to his Pacific Northwest roots, Zorn seemed amused by all the commotion outside the locker room. A month ago, he appeared to be in over his head. Now, he’s trying to land a coach of the year nomination.

“He loves football and he feels like he’s in the game,” Campbell said of Zorn. “And I think that’s how the players respond to him.”














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