Tavern Talk: The Heat Is on Jim Zorn

Michael LombardiContributor ISeptember 24, 2009

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 20:  Head coach Jim Zorn of the Washington Redskins exhales as his team runs out the clock against the St. Louis Rams during their game on September 20, 2009 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.  The Redskins defeated the Rams by a score of 9-7.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

National Football Post


Have you ever seen the Washington Post’s D.C. Sports Bog by Dan Steinberg? Great stuff, and this week he examines ‘Skins head coach Jimmy Zorn trying to take a timeout as special teams coach Danny Smith comes over to throw his body all over the idea.

Steinberg breaks this down Zapruder-like in his blog with great commentary. Click the link above and it will take you right to his breakdown. And for this frame by frame, there’s not a timeout taker on the grassy knoll.

The pressure is really on Zorn this week as the ‘Skins face the Lions, a team that has not won since December 2007. Zorn had a little confrontation this week with legendary Redskins quarterback and radio analyst Sonny Jurgensen, who is also the best friend of owner Daniel Snyder.

Jurgensen questioned the play calling in the red zone, specifically the Clinton Portis halfback option pass, which works well going to the left but not as well going to the right. Most teams forget who’s left-handed at running back and it catches teams off guard.

Anyway, the play failed and the ‘Skins ended up going 0-5 in the red zone, which put Zorn under enormous pressure.

Here’s part
of the Jurgensen-Zorn confrontation from D.C. Sports Bog:

“Third down, I'm the quarterback, and you call the halfback throwing the ball for me, I'm calling timeout or calling an audible,” Jurgensen said. “I'm not letting the halfback throw it. That's what you pay me for.”

“Well then, I would have to take you out of the game,” Zorn countered. “As soon as you called timeout, I'd say what's wrong with my play, because...”

“It didn't work!” Jurgensen interrupted.

“No, but I called it to work. Alright?” Zorn said. “We called it to work. It didn't work. There were a lot of plays out there that didn't work. And I'd take you out of the game. Sorry, Sonny.”

AP expect Clinton Portis to do more running and less passing Sunday in Detroit.

Not a good idea to get into a confrontation with a man who’s best friends with your boss. But clearly, the heat is on Zorn, and whether he wins Sunday in Detroit, the heat will remain on him, in large part because the offense will fail to achieve success.

And he got the job as head coach for his ability to run an offense, even though he never called plays in Seattle.

Is this a must-win game for the ‘Skins? I would say yes because the level of confidence in Zorn is very low right now in Washington. In a town where all that matters is approval ratings, Zorn’s rating is not recognizable. And unless he can catch lightning in a bottle, this Redskins team will never be good enough to be an NFC playoff team.

Is that Zorn’s fault? No, not at all. This team has design and production problems. However, the owner who designed the team is going to blame the man who’s in charge of production. That’s how it works in the NFL.


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