Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Zorn, Horton, Portis, Campbell get love
From the ESPN NFC Blog, giving some love to the Zorn-again:
The halfway coach of the year: And our first Middie goes to Redskins first-year head coach Jim "Z Man" Zorn. Tom Coughlin has done a phenomenal job of guiding his players through some adversity (Osi Umenyiora, Plaxico Burress), but Zorn is the one who's caught everyone by surprise. When I talked to Joe Gibbs on Monday (you like how I did that?), he couldn't stop talking about the job Zorn has done. Zorn had the good sense not to blow up everything and make a bunch of changes. He's secure enough to surround himself with Gibbs holdovers, and he does a great job of empowering his staff. If you thought this team could be 6-3 after that opening game in the Meadowlands, meet me in Vegas next weekend. Zorn is the rare head coach who doesn't try to act like he has all the answers. His postgame news conferences feel like brainstorming sessions. I'm pretty sure he asked a reporter Sunday how he liked the Redskins' burgundy on burgundy look. That alone makes him worthy of a Middie. Rookie of the (half) year: Before the season, you thought Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson and Cowboys running back Felix Jones were the best candidates for a Middie. Neither of those players has disappointed, although Jones has missed three games with a hamstring injury. But for my money, no rookie has had a bigger impact than Redskins seventh-round draft pick Chris Horton. Fortunately for executive vice president of Danny Snyder's football team, Vinny Cerrato, Horton has helped take the attention away from those three second-round picks. If anyone spots Malcolm Kelly, send him back to Redskins Park. But the seventh-rounder Horton has been the team's best playmaker on defense -- outside of maybe London Fletcher. A scout told me recently that Horton was a "poor man's Troy Polamalu," which was definitely meant as a compliment. Horton is not particularly fast, but he always ends up near the ball. Watching him throw his body at Willie Parker on Monday was pretty entertaining.
Most improved: This one's always a little awkward. It sort of sheds light on the fact that a player may have struggled in the past. For instance, we've eliminated Clinton Portis and DeMarcus Ware from the "Most Improved" category. And our winner is: Jason Campbell of the Redskins. Despite his poor performance Monday against the Steelers, Campbell has been rock solid for much of the season. He makes plays when the game is on the line and he has embraced Zorn's West Coast offense. Campbell's biggest strength is his knack for remaining calm at all times. You can't tell by his demeanor whether he's won or lost -- and that's a good thing. The MVP after nine weeks: Clinton Portis is a no-brainer. A running back can set the tone for a team, and Portis' rugged style resonates throughout the organization. He committed himself to getting in better shape this past offseason and it's paying huge dividends. If the season ended today, Portis would be the odds-on favorite for league MVP. Who else are you going to pick? Albert Haynesworth? Nope, Portis is the man and he's poised to take home the MVP hardware.