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Practice – Offense Catching Up, Sort Of

Posted by Matt Terl on August 24, 2009 – 5:46 pm

Sort of a bizarre day at practice today.

Let me start with Coach Jim Zorn talking after practice about the progress that the offensive line’s made and go from there. Here’s Zorn:

“I think we’ve seen a lot of progress. I’m very excited about the fact that we have given our starters time and even our backups and young guys some time as well to stand strong and throw. We’ve had some good play development.

“You can see the plays developing now, and that’s getting a chance to make them work. We’ve picked up some complicated blitzes with these two teams we’ve played and we stood our ground. There have been some scrambles. There has been some need for scrambles, but not nearly as much as we’ve seen last year.”
And this seems to be true, and it seems to be reflected in the way practice goes. As players repeatedly predicted in the early days of training camp, the offense in general is slowly catching up with the defense. The disparity is no longer so great, and practices are no longer just the offensive players being chased around by the defense.

That’s not the bizarre part — like I said, that’s pretty much what people have been predicting. The bizarre part is that despite this closing of the gap, there were really no individual offensive performances that stood out today and the offense didn’t seem to be clicking at all.

It seemed like every time Jason Campbell through a perfect pass — and he threw a few — the receiver would drop it clean. Or the pass would be behind the receiver, but he’d make an impressive play to catch it. Only a couple times did everything come together — pass, open receiver, catch — and most of them were Campbell-to-Moss.

It seemed like there were several plays where the second-team defense was having surprising success against the first-team offensive line; I know I saw J.D. Skolnitsky push past Chris Samuels at least once. It was just that kind of day.

Two of the younger players stood out, although not necessarily for the right reasons: Marko Mitchell didn’t necessarily keep his momentum going from Saturday night, with a couple of balls bouncing off his hands, and Colt Brennan followed his rough game with a practice that looked uncharacteristically tentative. Coach Zorn’s comments after practice didn’t exactly offer a vote of confidence for Brennan.

“Well,” he said, “I have always said that Colt is just trying to battle with Todd [Collins] for the number two spot. I think that we saw that Todd was not willing to bow down and give up his number two spot. So the competition right now is for the number three spot, and Chase [Daniel] is making a statement about that.”

As far as Daniel goes, I didn’t notice him doing anything strikingly positive or strikingly negative.

And the special teamers were doing their downing-the-ball drills with the volleyballs again, and I finally asked someone why. “We do ’em with the volleyballs to get a true bounce,” Special Teams Coordinator Danny Smith told me. “If you do it with a football, you’re working the guys with a lot of reps. They may get ten reps but only three playable balls ’cause you can’t control the bounce of the ball. I want a rep every time they do it, so with the volleyballs you can control that and every rep is a quality rep.”

So now I know.

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