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The Whole Calling-Plays-From-The-Booth Thing Was Not A Debacle

Posted by Matt Terl on October 27, 2009 – 11:04 am

Yes, we’ve reached the point of the season where “was not a debacle” is high praise.

Anyhow, I’ve heard from a few people that the Redskins play-calling chain — Sherm Lewis in the booth radioing to Sherm Smith on the sidelines radioing to Jason Campbell on the field — was the subject of some skepticism during last night’s TV broadcast.

And why not? It was the subject of some skepticism here as well.

Here’s what Sherm Smith said about the procedure on Thursday:

“When I was in Tennessee,” he recounted, “we did this with Norm Chow — he was in the press box, Craig Johnson called plays — and there were startup costs to that. There really was. There were the delay of game…. So that’s natural. That’s gonna happen. It can’t be helped.”

And, later, this:

“We’re gonna try not to get those penalties,” Smith said, “but it’s … I don’t want to say it’s inevitable, but it could happen, and I wouldn’t be, like, ‘Whoa! What is THAT all about?'”

Head coach Jim Zorn’s characteristic optimism also sounded tempered in response to a similar question on Saturday.

They’re both experienced coaches. They’ve got a system worked out. They’ve been communicating very well. We used it electronically in practice yesterday, and we used it verbally in practice today. Will there be glitches? There might be a couple, but there won’t be that many. I think these guys will work it out, and we’ll work it out between series. If we ever have one problem, we’ll address that problem and work it out. I think right now, in my foretelling, it looks pretty good.”

Then the game happened. And despite all the onscreen explanations of the system, despite all the concerns all week, here’s the net result for the Redskins:

  • No delay of game penalties.
  • One false start penalty.
  • No notably wasted timeouts.
  • Jason Campbell actually finished with a respectable QB rating of 91.6 despite not seeming to have a very good game.

The tempo in the fourth quarter seemed sluggish, especially given the game situation, and that may be symptomatic of a larger problem, but I haven’t heard it attributed to the chain of playcalling.

So, no, it may not have generated an offensive explosion, but for all the “OMG they’re using radios! Bingo caller! Two weeks with the team!” hysteria … well, like I said in the title: at least it wasn’t a debacle, and maybe it even showed some promise.

Thanks to Mister Irrelevant for the picture of the TV. I have no idea if the camera ever actually showed Jason Campbell in his little square or not.

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