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Wednesday, October 21: Sherm Lewis's Past Players Speak Up

Posted by Matt Terl on October 21, 2009 – 10:03 am

No one knows quite what to expect from new Redskins play-caller Sherman Lewis. He’s been in the building for two weeks, hasn’t called a play for something like five years, and — you may have heard! — was calling bingo numbers not all that long ago.

(Sidenote for everyone who wants to make totally hilarious bingo/playcalling jokes: as I mentioned yesterday on Twitter, only certain numbers can be applied to each letter. You can find a full list here, but suffice it to say that B78 is NOT actually a legit bingo call. For even more about the culture of bingo, may I direct you to Dan Steinberg’s incredibly long — and entertaining — feature on the subject from the Washington City Paper. End sidenote.)

ANYHOW, Rich Campbell — Redskins beat writer for the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg — got in touch with two of Lewis’s former players: ex-Vikings wide receiver (and current ESPN analyst) Cris Carter, and ex-Packers wide receiver (and current Comcast SportsNet analyst) Antonio Freeman.

And the picture they paint of Lewis’s playcalling certainly sound … well, promising, given the Redskins early-season woes. I highly recommend reading the whole article, but here are a couple of notable excerpts:

Lewis liked to have the Vikings’ line up in three-receiver sets, Carter said. Former Green Bay receiver Antonio Freeman corroborated that. They also recalled Lewis’ affinity for big wideouts.

“The big receivers are going to run your underneath routes, those crossing routes, slants and drag routes–and that’s what this offense needs,” said Freeman, who’s now an analyst for Comcast SportsNet. “They need a big guy to get those third-and-4’s and -5’s and help Jason Campbell to have an outlet.

“A lot of times for a bigger quarterback, it’s hard to find those [smaller] guys when you want to run a true West Coast offense with slants and crossing routes.”

Hey, that’s interesting. If only the Redskins had a couple of under-performing big receivers who might benefit from an increased role….

Then there’s this.

“When he was the coordinator, he wanted to go deep,” Freeman said. “He wanted to take shots down the field. He took shots and put guys in the right positions with his play calls to be able to take advantage of one-on-one opportunities.”

Freeman gushed over Lewis’ work in the red zone and on third downs, areas in which the Redskins have struggled significantly this season.

“The red zone was his true specialty,” he said. “He knew how to spread defenses out and get the ball to guys to score points.”

As Carter notes in the article, it’s not like Lewis is going to be doing a ground-up revamp of the offense. But it’s heartening to hear that his strengths actually were in areas where the team has been weak. And let’s be honest: heartening news hasn’t been too easy to come by lately.

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