ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -Rookie Redskins coach Jim Zorn has found a way to win the confidence of his players. He predicted days in advance the plays that would succeed in both of Washington's preseason victories.
``Coach Z pretty much called out the plays that were going to be the plays that stand out in the game,'' running back Clinton Portis said. ``That's two weeks in a row. When you get that belief and that excitement, it's good to see.''
The Redskins improved to 2-0 with Saturday night's 17-14 victory over the Buffalo Bills, and in both games the first-team offense had solid numbers. Starting quarterback Jason Campbell, even though he's learning a new play book, is 12-for-15 with a 125.6 rating over the two games.
But the players are particularly impressed with Zorn's knack for knowing which plays will lead to big results. The 12-yard touchdown pass from Todd Collins to Ladell Betts in the second quarter- a wonderfully executed screen - was one such call.
``I think it helps the confidence of the team,'' Zorn said. ``There were a couple of plays during the week that I said, 'When I get here, I'm calling this play, and it's going to be successful when I call it.' And it sort of happened, you know? It did. It happened.''
The fact that both games were victories is also good for morale, including Zorn's. Some coaches treat exhibitions as glorified scrimmages with little or no regard for the final scores, but the thrill of victory as a head guy is a new sensation for Zorn.
``I want to practice winning, for me as a head coach,'' he said. ``It's not like I'm gritting my teeth and I'm punching guys and grabbing guys and shaking guys or anything like that, but it's just that I like to win.''
As he did last week, Zorn reviewed the game with a balance of the good and the realistic, making sure to note that the team has ``a lot of work to do.'' The tempo of the offense is better but still not where he'd like it, and the defenses he'll face in the regular season will be much more complex that the vanilla schemes of August.
Yet there's little doubt that his students are catching on fast.
``It's football,'' Portis said. ``How hard can football be? Once you get the terminology down, you're still doing the same thing. You can only run a 'gut,' 'stretch,' 'dive,' 'draw' - there's five runs you can basically run that everybody in the NFL runs. Your passing routes, you've got 'slant,' 'cross,' 'out,' 'up,' 'go,' so it's the same. We've just got to get the terminology down and make it work in the system.''
Zorn's team has committed only nine penalties in two games. After a turnover-free debut, there were two against the Bills - Marcus Mason's fumble on the opening kickoff and Collins' bad-decision interception late in the first half.
The Redskins have also been extremely fortunate with injuries, with nothing more than bumps and bruises for the starters. That includes receiver Antwaan Randle El, who isn't expect to miss any practice after X-rays And, hey, they're undefeated.
``For the most part, we are executing mostly what we're setting out to do,'' Zorn said.
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