I never really had anything against Jim Zorn. His resume included the fact that he was both a college and NFL Quarterback. He worked under Mike Holmgren. The NFL should have been in his blood.
Many scoffed when he was first hired about how he had no experience as an offensive coordinator and felt that he had no business making the jump straight to head coach. They mocked Snyder for making such a move, but pretended like it was unprecedented. Andy Reid made the jump from QB Coach to Head Coach, and the Eagles have been a playoff team for over a decade now.
Steve Mariucci is another example of a coach who skipped the offensive coordinator position and at the time of Zorn’s hiring was a candidate for the ‘Skins head coaching position.
What do Reid, Mariucci and Zorn all have in common? Mike Holmgren.
Much like Bill Walsh, and Don Coryell; Holmgren has bred many of the leagues finer head coaches at one time or another.
So, in Zorn, you have a former NFL Quarterback, who has been working under Mike Holmgren as a Quarterbacks Coach, the thought that maybe, just maybe he becomes the next Andy Reid wasn’t exactly far-fetched.
Hindsight is always 20/20, and as it turns out, Zorn is not a good play-caller. Certainly, many are patting themselves on the back right now saying “I told you so…” and they did, but with the amount of people second guessing everything that the Redskins do, you are bound to have those who can say “I told you so” to anything negative that happens with this team.
Many people have come close to throwing their shoulder out of joint patting themselves on the back about how they were right that Jason Taylor would be a bust; but none of them expected that the man would suffer a freak medical condition that would leave him injured for nearly half the season.
With Zorn, it’s different. Many people said Zorn wouldn’t have experience calling plays because he was never an offensive coordinator. Those people were correct, but nobody would say anything about how they were wrong if Zorn had been marching this team to it’s second consecutive play-off berth as opposed to cleaning out his desk after two abysmal seasons.
Everyone knew going in that Zorn was a risk because he had never had the experience of being an offensive coordinator. The man had an NFL pedigree that couldn’t be ignored, and all things considered, I’m still scratching my head as to how a man with that many years experience in this league could not grasp the basic fundamentals of the game when it came to play-calling.
Anybody that thinks it was not the play-calling needs to explain why the team went from averaging 13 points a game under Zorn; averaged 21 points per game under Sherm Lewis’ play-calling (not including these last three games where the team had obviously given up).
Zorn’s pending termination was one of the worst kept secrets in the league, and for most of this season we heard from pundits and commentators about how Zorn was being mistreated by the Redskins. None of them could show why Zorn should be given more credibility, or even why he should keep his job past this year, but they all painted Zorn to look like a battered spouse.
A couple of weeks ago, Jay Glazer reported about how he had heard the team made Zorn sit in on interviews with potential candidates to take over his job. “They made him watch” said Glazer who was clearly painting the Redskins front office as the bad guys and suddenly the Fox NFL pregame show became Hands Across America for Jim Zorn. They talked about the poise and character he showed during this the most difficult of times for him.
Yet nowhere did anyone admit that Jim Zorn wasn’t cutting it as the head coach. Nowhere did they talk about how poorly this team had performed since starting out 6-2 in his first year. They finished that year 2-6 and had gone 2-4 versus a series of teams that had not won a game all season until they played his team.
The Redskins will get the fourth overall pick in the draft, and have lost to two of the three teams ahead of them (St. Louis and Detroit).
They praised Jim Zorn for his poise and felt sorry for him, but failed to recognize or even acknowledge that Zorn was a grown man, and if he felt the team was doing him wrong, could find the door out if he wanted to. Zorn failed to recognize his role in the Redskins’ futility. Even after the team began to perform better on the field, he still whined about how play-calling was “the favorite part of his job” that had been stripped away from him.
I give Zorn little credit for “sticking it out.” It wasn’t like the man wasn’t getting paid. Even if he had quit mid-season, things wouldn’t have necessarily improved, but really, could they have gotten much worse?
The fact is that the winds of change, they are a-blowin’. Vinny Cerrato’s “resignation” has paved the way for a new day in the Redskins’ front office. If the team had won out it’s last three games; then Bruce Allen’s job would have been made more difficult. Seeing as how clearly the coaches and many of the players had given up, it only makes his job easier this offseason.
With Allen will come a fresh perspective; one without loyalties to favorite players or coaches. Zorn’s head is already rolling, expect more to come.
At the end of the day, I still say Zorn was worth the risk. It was a gamble, and we lost. That’s why it’s called gambling. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next.