Two Of a Kind: Zorn and Blache

stephen rileyCorrespondent IMay 13, 2009

CINCINNATI - DECEMBER 14: Head coach  Jim Zorn of the Washington Redskins talks on his headphones during the NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium December 14, 2008 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Jim Zorn headlines the Washington Redskins coaching staff, directing the team as well as calling the offense while Greg Blache calls the shots on defense. Zorn made his coaching name as the Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach that helped Matt Hasselbeck achieve All-Pro status. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder originally hired Zorn to be the team’s offensive coordinator before appointing him head coach. Zorn brought the west coast philosophy to the east coast in what appeared to be the perfect fit for current quarterback Jason Campbell who had his best collegiate season operating out of a similar offense at Auburn University.

Zorn intertwined the west coast offense into a Washington offense that was best suited for the ground game. Leaning heavily on a massive offensive line and star running back Clinton Portis, Zorn tweaked a philosophy that traditionally, is a pass first, run second mentality. Zorn’s play-calling was at its peak early in the season when Washington was clicking on all cylinders as a team, outdeuling the likes of Jim Johnson and Wade Phillips as Washington took both games against Philadelphia and Dallas on the road. As the offense started to fizzle, Zorn’s play-calling and creativity took its share of criticism. For a first year head coach, Zorn learned a lot and the shortcomings the offense experienced late in the year should only benefit him and the offense next year.

For everything Zorn is to the offense, Blache is to the defense. For a unit that may not be as talented as some of the other top units in the league, Blatche squeezed the most production out of this group as he could get. Finishing fourth in the league in total defense, Washington was a formidable group on that side of the ball all season. Just like his previous stint with Chicago, Blatche prefers an in-your-face style with his corners pressing opposing wideouts and being physical with them at the line of scrimmage. He loves to involve his safeties in run support and isn’t opposed to bring pressure from any spot on the field when his front four aren’t generating enough push.

It will be interesting to see how Blache utilizes his new toys in Albert Haynesworth and rookie Brian Orakpo. Orakpo was a dynamite pass rusher at Texas and Haynesworth is one of those rare defensive line specimens that can double as a run stuffer and put heat on the quarterback as a pass rusher. Orakpo is also athletic enough to drop back in short zone coverage and play linebacker but his pass rush skills are enough to warrant every down use. Two chess pieces in Orakpo and Haynesworth should allow Blache to be even more aggressive next season.

The Redskins are in good hands with Zorn and Blache running their respective units. They’re both creative minds and utilize their talent well within their schemes. With a couple of additions and their players returning with a year of extra experience, both coordinators should be able to capitalize on successful seasons from last year.