Zorn Hired

When the Redskins hired Jim Zorn today – he's agreed to become their new offensive coordinator – the obvious question was this: what did it mean?

The obvious place to start is with Al Saunders, who will be fired with one year left on his contract. Owner Dan Snyder and executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato started badmouthing him a year ago and when Joe Gibbs stepped down, it was only a matter of time before Saunders exited. It's clear that Snyder and Cerrato want to run the show so no coach will have much power. This move exemplifies that.

As for the head coach, it's unusual, but not unheard of, to hire an assistant coach before the head coach. Dallas did this with Jason Garrett, tabbing him as its offensive coordinator. Of course, Wade Phillips will always be on somewhat thin ice in Dallas. Zorn, though, is not the rising ‘'genius'' that Garrett supposedly is.

Also, several candidates – and perhaps all – brought Zorn's name up in their interview with Snyder and Cerrato, which is why they sought to talk to him in the first place. So if all the candidates were willing to work with him, is it that big a deal to hire him before a coach? This allows the Redskins to wait on their head man and still put together a good staff.

Zorn is well-regarded around the league. Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is high on him and former Seahawk QB Trent Dilfer said he learned more in the Monday film sessions with Zorn than with any other coach. Zorn is a bit unconventional with his drills, sometimes using things like a slip and slide for sliding drills.

The thing about this hire is that on Wednesday it appeared imminent but a day later it appeared he was going nowhere. But he apparently decided that to move up, he would have to get out of Seattle, where he spent 13 years as a player and coach.

What sort of offense Zorn eventually will run remains to be seen. He won't have the same talent as they had in Seattle, but he does have a young quarterback in Jason Campbell and a strong backfield. In Seattle, the Seahawks have emphasized the run and the pass in recent years, turning into a pass-heavy offense this year. But they reached the Super Bowl with a balanced attack.

Redskins players will take this as change they really didn't want. At least one player hopes it spells the end for Clinton Portis. But it most certainly will mean a bumpy learning curve for Campbell. However, for him to take a big step forward, it may be necessary for him to take a step back. This move is designed for his next five to 10 years and not just next year.


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