Washington Redskins Coaches Making Names for Themselves

Will SchleichertCorrespondent IMay 28, 2009

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 16:  Head coach Jim Zorn of the Washington Redskins walks the sidelines as his team plays the Dallas Cowboys on November 16, 2008 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Jim Zorn – Head Coach

Originally hired a year ago to be the offensive coordinator, Zorn was promoted just two weeks later after team owner Dan Snyder came to his senses and realized Jim Fassel was not the man for the job.  In his first year as a head coach at any level, Zorn led the team to an 8-8 record that included wins over both the NFC Championship Game competitors (the Eagles and Cardinals).

Zorn enters his second season as head coach of the Redskins after spending seven seasons as a quarterbacks coach in Seattle, from 2001-07.  There, he helped transform QB Matt Hasselbeck into a Pro Bowl player who would go on to break Zorn’s franchise record for consecutive 3,000 yard passing seasons. 

Before his last stint in Seattle, Zorn held the same position in Detroit from 1998-2000.  He began his NFL coaching career in 1997 as an offensive assistant in Seattle.  Prior to these gigs he was the quarterbacks coach at the University of Minnesota (1995-96) and the offensive coordinator at Utah State (1992-94). 

His coaching career began at Boise State in 1989 as an offensive assistant/quarterbacks and wide receivers coach.  He held this position for three seasons.

Zorn’s knowledge of the quarterback position became evident immediately as Jason Campbell set career highs in completions, passing yards, touchdown’s, and passer rating. 

The coach’s approach to offense helped the team limit offensive turnovers and finish in the top ten in total rushing yards.  Along with the normal head coaching responsibilities, Zorn’s other duties include play-calling and leading retro postgame cheers.

Joe Bugel – Offensive Line Coach

Coaxed out of retirement by Joe Gibbs, Joe Bugel made his triumphant return to the nation’s capital in 2004.  He arrived with the intention of helping his old friend rebuild the winning tradition in Washington they had shared together in the 1980’s.

“Buges,” as he is affectionately known, has spent 15 of his 32 years in the NFL working with the Redskins.  During his first tour with the team (1981-89) he helped build one of the most dominant offensive lines in league history, the “Hogs.” 

Upon his return five seasons ago Bugel was challenged to recreate the success of that unit, and thus the “Dirtbags” were born.  This new unit has paved the way for a 1,000 yard rusher in each of the last five years, and helped Clinton Portis finish fourth overall in rushing last season.

Bugel’s NFL coaching career began in 1975 as the offensive line coach in Detroit.  After two seasons he left to take the same position with the Houston Oilers.  Four years later he was with the Skins.

Among other coaching experiences, Buges was named head coach of the Arizona Cardinals (1990-93) and Oakland Raiders (1997).

Greg Blache – Defensive Coordinator

Greg Blache became the defensive coordinator last season after the departure of Gregg Williams.  He had spent the previous four seasons as the defensive line coach.

With Blache in the mix, the Redskins defense has ranked in the top ten four out of the last five seasons.  His emphasis on fundamentals and controlling the line of scrimmage was critical in holding opponents’ average rushing under 100 yards per game.

This past season was especially impressive as he guided the team to a fourth overall ranking while producing a unit that allowed only 18.5 points per game.  His challenges this season will be to integrate the new offseason acquisitions while keeping his players healthy and focused.

Before joining the Redskins, Blache spent five seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears.  Prior jobs also include positions as the defensive line coach for the Packers (1994-98) and Colts (1988-93).

Sherman Smith – Offensive Coordinator

Sherman Smith brought over two decades of NFL experience with him when he joined Jim Zorn’s staff last season.  The two were reunited after playing six seasons together in Seattle from 1976-82.

Zorn’s trust in Smith allowed the latter to help in the implementation of the new west coast offense the Redskins unveiled in 2008.  His hard work and dedication helped four players, Chris Cooley, Chris Samuels, Clinton Portis, and Mike Sellers, reach the Pro Bowl last season.

Before arriving in Washington, Smith spent 13 seasons as the running backs coach in Tennessee.  He led many of the franchise’s backs to their best years, including Eddie George, Travis Henry, and LenDale White.

The 2009 Washington Redskins coaching staff is not quite on par with some of history’s most memorable coaching trees.  Each successive win, however, brings the Jim Zorn coaching tree one step closer to the heights of its peers.