Jim Zorn Got a Raw Deal in Washington

First, I want to preface this article by stating a few things. I know the timing of this article is not the best after the debacle last night. I am not saying Jim Zorn should be retained. I am also not saying that he is a good Head Coach. Clearly Jim Zorn is in over his head. The question is, who's fault is that? From where I sit, it is not Jim Zorn's fault per se.

Now, before anyone questions that statement, let me explain that a bit. Are there things Jim Zorn could have done in his two years in Washington better? Of course there are. There are probably a lot of things he could have done better. He could have perhaps benched Jason Campbell for longer than a part of a game this season early on. He could have probably told his defensive coordinator a few things about the defense. Of course, he could have also not called that ridiculous fake Field Goal last night at the end of the half.

All that being said, a few things need to be remembered. Jim Zorn was originally hired by Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato to be the offensive coordinator. Here was a guy who played QB in the NFL and then had been the Quarterbacks Coach for the Seahawks. He has been credited for the development of Matt Hasselbeck by Hasselbeck himself. However, he had no prior history of being an offensive play caller.

Then, for whatever reason, Vinny Ceratto, former VP of the Redskins, decided he would be a good head coaching candidate. I think this has more to do with him being the only head coaching candidate after the Redskins were told no by several other candidates including former Giants Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. For the record, Steve Spagnuolo was with the Redskins as an intern in 1983 under Joe Gibbs.

So, they take a coach, with no prior play calling duties, and then proceed to make him the Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator and Quarterback coach? Are you serious? Talk about a lot on the plate of an inexperienced NFL Coach. That almost reads of a set up or a destined to fail situation.

Then, if that wasn't bad enough, the Redskins' front office proceeds to give him nothing really new to work with. Sure, in 2008 they drafted three pass catchers in the 2nd round. But other than that, and an Free Agent here or there, they did not give the offense much help. The 2009 Draft was all defense until the 7th round.

So, Jim Zorn, a first time Offensive Coordinator and Head Coach, is supposed to take Joe Gibbs' players farther in the NFL than Joe Gibbs himself? Really? That was the expectations laid on the shoulders of Jim Zorn? That is fair?

Speaking of players, let's talk about this aspect for a minute. Just about every fan who watches Redskins games and has a decent level of football knowledge saw what was coming with the Offensive Line this season. Chris Samuels and Randy Thomas have been injured before. One should expect at least one of them to probably get hurt again. Then, to compound the problem, the Front Office cut Jon Jansen. Many fans thought it was time for that so we won't hold that against the Redskins.

However, what should be held against the Redskins' Front Office is the complete and utter ignoring of the Offensive Line. I mean, all of these injuries happened and where was the depth? Oh, that is right, they signed Derrick Dockery again who the Bills deemed not worth the money. Then they also coaxed Mike Williams from a local all you can eat buffet to try and make a come back. This was the depth at Offensive Guard that Jim Zorn had to work with.

The Redskins' Front Office, after a struggling offense in 2008, proceeded to sign Albert Haynesworth and draft all defense in 2009 until the Seventh Round. They also traded a future third rounder for Jeremy Jarmon, another defensive player. Again, not much offensive help when the offense was clearly the weakest link of this Redskins team by leaps and bounds.

Speaking of the 2009 draft and offseason, it should also be pointed out that Dan Snyder, right in front of Jim Zorn, gushed about Mike Shanahan with John Lynch. Yes, this was in March of this year. I mean, what owner in their right mind does that with the current head coach standing right there?

What it all boils down to is the situation Jim Zorn got himself in to. Is he a good head coach? Probably not. Is he a good offensive coordinator? Probably not. But is there enough evidence to give these answers so absolutely? I do not think so. Perhaps in a better situation, with a GM the fans actually do not want fired, with a QB the fans actually think is pretty good, he could do an ok job.

It stands to reason that Jim Zorn's biggest mistake was a mistake many other's have made. Not resisiting Dan Snyder's money. He had to know this was not the best place to get his head coaching feet wet.

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