It's Gut-Check Time for the Washington Redskins' Ownership and Fans

Craig Garrison SrSenior Analyst ISeptember 28, 2009

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 27: Head coach Jim Zorn of the Washington Redskins talks with players during a time out against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 27, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

First, a quick history lesson: Dan Snyder bought the Washington Redskins from the estate of Jack Kent Cooke in 1999 and quickly made a name for himself as a "meddlesome" owner. Following the signing of several aging big name free agents, the firing of head coach Norv Turner in the 2000 season while the team held a 7-5 record, the stage was set for a tumultuous era for the Redskins.

Assistant coach Terry Robisky would take over as interim head coach, the Redskins lose two of their final three games, miss the playoffs. Change becomes the name of the game in Washington.

Following an up-and-down season with Marty Shottenheimer leading the franchise, Steve Spurrier would be given his shot, only to see his "fun and gun" offense fail miserably in his second season, causing him to walk away.

Enter Joe Gibbs.

Most fans had visions of a return to glory. With fans clamoring for stability, for owner Daniel Snyder to let "football people" run the team, Gibbs would go 30-34 in his second stint as head coach and bring "stability" to the franchise.

When Gibbs retired following the 2007 season, owner Daniel Snyder stated the he wanted to create as much "continuity" and "stability" as he could for the franchise. Echoing the criticism that fans and football pundits had been voicing for years, he said he would give the new head coach plenty of time to turn the team around, and stay on course.

Enter Jim Zorn.

Many fans and football people around the league questioned his hiring, with no coaching experience beyond the assistant level, Zorn was an unknown quantity. Mr. Snyder stated that he felt Zorn would be a fine head coach, and that Zorn would be given the time get it done.

While skeptical, most fans claimed to be prepared to allow Zorn the time to fail or succeed. The opportunity to implement the changes that most fans, media people, and football analysts around the NFL claim they wanted from the owner.

Now, here we are. Present day. The day following an embarrassing loss to the Detroit Lions. A team that had lost 18 straight games. Never mind the fact that the Lions are not the same team that went 0-16 in 2008. Never mind the fact that the Lions had a very real opportunity to beat the now 3-0 Minnesota Vikings in Week Two of the season.

Never mind the fact that the Lions held the NFL's best running back to under 100 yards, or a future Hall of Fame quarterback to only 155 yards passing. No, don't think of any of that.

Let's instead clamour to fire Jim Zorn. Yeah, that's it! Lets go back to instability. Let's go back to constant change. Let's have another interim head coach who can fail just as miserably as almost 100 percent of those put in the same position do. Let's blow up the whole team, and start over. AGAIN!

Let's bench the ninth rated quarterback in the NFL. Let's forget that the seemingly instant success for new coaching staffs seen in recent seasons in Atlanta and Baltimore are rare at best. Let's not understand that the norm for this type of change is more commonly like that being lived through in Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Miami (yeah, they were great last year, 0-3 this year), New York (Jets, they had to change it all again didn't they), Cleveland and numerous others throughout the NFL's history.

Yeah, let's go that route.

We can hire Bill Cowher (one Super Bowl victory in over 10 years as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers), or Jon Gruden (one Super Bowl victory in his first year in Tamp, none since) or Mike Shannahan (two Super Bowl victories with John Elway, none since) or any number of "other" guys to come in and do what? Change. That's the only thing that would absolutely, positively happen. There would be change. Nothing else is guaranteed.

Or we can actually do what the fans and media and football pundits have said we need to do for many years. Maintain stability. Offer the players and coaches the opportunity to play through the difficulties and experience some form of continuity.

The opportunity to learn and grow as a group without constant upheaval. We could actually NOT "blow it all up and start over", and find out just how good or bad Jim Zorn really is. NFL history is full of examples of coaches who "fail" in their first efforts as head coach, to be fired early on, to only return later and show what they learned from the first time.

I say let's try to be patient. Let's try supporting our team through a rough spot and see what kind of team comes out the other side. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. But firing Zorn now only accomplish two things: another losing season, and another major change.

Zorn can't get better if he isn't here to do it. The team can't grow if we rip up the roots again.

Let's just try it. For a change.