To say head coach Jim Zorn and his Washington Redskins football team have reached a crossroads is an understatement. Just three weeks into the season, Zorn is under fire by the media and Washingtonians alike.
With a 1-2 start that includes a déjà vu opening game loss to the New York Giants and the thwarting honor of ending the Detroit Lions 19-game losing streak, the Redskins passed the exit leading to the crossroads as their NFL GPS has taken them straight to “Crisis”ville!”
There are those who will create the illusion of a “panic-mode” mentality or convince you that the organization is on the verge of self destructing. Welcome to Washington, DC where the word steering has nothing to do with controlling a car.
Despite the pressures that come with coaching a billion dollar franchise, Redskins coach Jim Zorn has barely batted an eye during the onslaught of negative media attention hurled his way.
The always medium and somewhat reticent former NFL quarterback from Cal-Poly rarely strays from his surfer-dude approach to life.
Zorn showed that despite is relaxed approach to life, the pressure of winning does affect him. Maybe not like most humans, but the strain was evident during the team’s recent loss to Detroit.
After a game altering face masking flag was incorrectly reversed on a Santana Moss reception in the fourth quarter, killing the Redskins go-ahead drive at midfield, Zorn was livid.
Earlier this week Zorn showed a hint of frustration when a reporter asked him after practice, “Given the history of the owner, are you concerned about your job?” A befuddled Zorn snapped back with a question of his own, “Why would I be concerned about my job three weeks into the season?”
Zorn is correct, he shouldn’t be worried. He and the Redskins’ players made life harder for themselves by losing to Detroit last week, but they can salvage a sour start to the season by taking care of business over the next three games.
To quote one of the most prominent figures Washington, no, the world has ever known:
"When written in Chinese the word "crisis" is composed of two characters - one represents danger and the other represents opportunity." ~John F. Kennedy, address, 12 April 1959
Zorn’s job is in danger and he knows it. We all know it, thus the reference to “Crisis”ville earlier in the article. But there is an opportunity for things to get better real fast.
The lone win the Redskins have is one more win than their next three opponents have combined. Tampa Bay, Carolina and Kansas City are all 0-3, and you think things are bad in Washington. Try being a bad team with little talent and little hope.
Talent is one thing the Redskins are not short on. Continuity, effort, play calling, preparation and accountability are the root of this team’s problems.
This week brought some change in the right direction as the team prepares for Tampa Bay.
When asked if he was concerned about Coach Zorn’s job, Clinton Portis responded by saying, “I am worried about my job. Everyone should be worried about their jobs.”
“Why would we change what we do best?” Defensive Coordinator Greg Blache said when asked if he had any plans to rattle Detroit’s rookie quarterback Matt Stafford by blitzing more. This week he said he will take responsibility for the play of his defense. “I put the players in bad situations. It would be different if we did not have talent on this team. We have the talent so I am responsible for putting the players in a position to succeed. We will mix some things up this week.”
PLAY CALLING & PREPARATION
Tight end Chris Cooley addressed the Redskins problems on ESPN earlier in the week saying, “We just can’t make a play when we need it.” Realizing a problem is one thing, correcting it is another. There have been no knee-jerk reactions to the slow start. The coaching staff tells the media they are constantly reviewing game film and attempting to correct minor problems with the player’s performances.
PREPARATION & CONTINUITY
Translating all these tweaks and adjustments to game day and performing like the veteran laden team that they are will lead to improvement. However, the one ingredient coaches can’t force out of a player is effort.
This will have to come directly from within each and every Redskin player. Zorn does not believe in hard-hitting physical practices. Most practices (from what little the media is allowed to see during the season) resemble walk-throughs and it appears to spill over to game performances.
Zorn said he “Will not yell at grown men.” So it is up to the players to perform like the highly paid professionals they are and with the desire it takes to be a winner in the NFL.
Zorn’s stay in Washington could end with a loss to Tampa Bay this Sunday, or continue gainfully by winning three of the next four games heading into the bye week. But you could never tell by watching and listening to him on a daily basis. Medium is par for Zorn’s course!