Year Two: Washington Redskins Coaching Staff

Ryan NotermanCorrespondent IMay 29, 2009

BALTIMORE - DECEMBER 07:  Washington Redskins head coach Jim Zorn watches his team against the Baltimore Ravens December 7, 2008 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore won the game 24-10.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Since Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder purchased the team for $800 million dollars in 1999, the Redskins have posted a record of 76-84. That is a 10 year stretch of losing.

During that time period the Redskins have made the playoffs only three times and won two playoff games.

They have had six head coaches, no coach—with the exception of Joe Gibbs—having a tenure longer than two years. 

The 27 years before Snyder took ownership, the Redskins only had five head coaches. That group combined for a 251-173-2 record.

So what does this staff have to do to become a long term fix for the Redskins? Here are the coaches that have to step up this year in order the the team to succeed.

Jim Zorn - Second year Head Coach

Most Redskin fans' were in shock of what they heard on February 10th 2008 when the word came that Jim Zorn would become the new Washington Redskins head coach.

Zorn was origanally signed on to be the offensive coordinator, but after further review, Snyder decided that he would better fit the head coaching vacancy.

Zorn came over from Seattle where he was the quarterbacks coach from 2001-2007. He also held the same position in 1999 and 2000 with the Detroit Lions. Before that Zorn was the offensive assistant at Seattle under Dennis Erickson during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.

While in Seattle he led Matt Hasselbeck to three pro-bowls and helped Hasselbeck set single season franchise marks in pass attempts, completions, and yards.

Hasselbeck is also the Seahawks leader in passer rating with 85.1. So it is no secret that Zorn knows how to handle quarterbacks, and that is no different than with Jason Campbell.

Campbell had a league best in 2008 with a 1.2 percent interceptions to pass attempts ratio. Zorn has brought a mistake free atmosphere to the Redskins and it has rubbed off on Jason Campbell.

It is great to see Campbell be patient and throwing short passes, but in order for Zorn to see the benefits of his West Coast strategy, Zorn will need to take risks with his play calling.

In 2008 the Redskins were 28th in the league with passing plays of over 20 yards. This is one stat that Zorn needs to figure out how to improve.

That means sitting down with offensive coordinator Sherman Smith and figuring a way to get the ball down field and open the the field up.

Sherman Smith - Second year Offensive Coordinator

Sherman Smith has spent 24 seasons in the NFL and is going into his second year with the Redskins as offensive coordinator.

Smith was hand picked by Zorn to lead the offense. They played in Seattle together for seven years.

Smith's main area of expertise is the running back position. For 13 seasons (1995-2007) Smith coached the running backs for the Tennessee Titans, and spent the final two years as assistant head coach.

This includes coaching LenDale White, Travis Henry, and the man who sits 22nd in career rushing yards--Eddie George.

The two sit down every week and put together the game-plan for the week's game. The west coast offense that has been put together by Zorn and Smith has had no problems in the running game, but needs to improve in the passing game.

Under Smith, Clinton Portis posted the second best season in Redskins history with 1,487 rushing yards. Credit should also be given to the assistant head coach/running back coach, Stump Mitchell.

Stump Mitchell - Second year Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs Coach

Mitchell came over with Zorn from Seattle where Mitchell was the running backs coach during the 1999-2007 seasons.

In his first seven years with Seattle, Mitchell coached Ricky Watters to two 1,000-yard seasons and Shaun Alexander to five.

With Portis going over 1,000 yards—it makes eight seasons that Mitchell has coached a 1,000-yard rusher.

Mitchell also brings experience from being the head coach at Morgan State University from 1996-1998, and was the running back for the St. Louis Cardinals for nine years starting in 1981.

So the man knows how to coach, and play ball.

It will be very important for the Redskins to continue their success in the running game so Mitchell can't have a down year.

With a running back like Portis it should not be hard to get another 1,000 yard season.

This means the offense should hold the ball longer and give the defense a breather, which the defensive coordinator Greg Blance would love.

Greg Blache - Second year Defensive Coordinator

Unlike the three coaches mentioned above, this will be Blache's sixth year with the Redskins and his second as the defensive coordinator.

Blache his first four years as the defensive line coach after he came over for the Chicago Bears where he spent five years as defensive coordinator.

In 2008 the Redskins was fourth in the league in total defense and second in the conference.

While the defense was very strong against the rush and the pass, they had a hard time forcing turnovers.

The Redskins intercepted the pass 13 times and recovered only five fumbles.

The other area the defense lacked was the pass rush which only had 24 sacks all year which ranked at 28th in the league.

In the offseason, Blache brought in Albert Haynseworth and drafted Texas standout Brian Orakpo.

Both players should be able to put plenty of pressure on the quarterback, and bring the sack total and turnovers up.

Coaches Under Pressure

The defensive line coach John Palermo will have to increase sack production this year or he could be gone.

This is Palermo's second year in the NFL. Palermo has spent most of his coaching career at the college ranks at some top programs including, Notre Dame, Miami (Florida), and Wisconsin.

The defensive line has been bolstered in the off-season with Haynseworth and Orakpo. So he is expected to get this unit into a immovable force.

Stan Hixon who has served as the Redskins wide receiver coach for six years now will also be under the gun.

In 2005 Hixon coached Santana Moss to a franchise record 1,483 yards receiving and an invite to the pro-bowl.

In 2008 the Redskins drafted Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly in the second round. Both were collegiate standouts at wide receiver.

Thomas saw action in all 16 games but rarely made an impact and Kelly only played in five games and suffered off and on with injuries.

Hixon needs to make sure that Thomas and Kelly both get a decent amount of playing time and be productive while on the field. This will help open up Moss, and help Campbell with a big year.

The 2009 Redskins coaching staff has a lot on their plate. They better lick the plate clean, and reach for seconds come playoff time—or they will be just another statistic in the Daniel Snyder era.


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