The question has been on the lips of Redskin fans and maybe the front office too. With all of the putdowns, insinuations and demeaning treatment, why doesn't Jim Zorn just quit?
Because quitting would be the worst possible way to get your next coaching job. Yes, Virginia, Jim Zorn has a future as a NFL coach.
So, coach Zorn, the heat got too much for you in Washington and you just melted away. Why should I hire you?
Pay attention now, people. Nobody quits a coveted job. Well, almost nobody. Public servants who see their service as a contribution to society may resign on principle. Elliot Richardson did that in 1973. Few others do.
If you doubt this, go look in the mirror. If you've been full time employed for more than ten years, you've run into that boss you've contended with, job appraisals you've thought unfair, or changes in working conditions you found intolerable.
Did you quit?
Jim Zorn became a better coach in 2009, if not a winning one, just by sticking it out. Zorn came to Washington to apply his offensive concepts (no pun intended) and to call the plays. He was tapped for the top job only when the Redskins ran out of candidates.
Playcalling and position coaching are about 20 percent of head coach responsibility. The biggest part of the job is executive leadership: organizing team operations, setting the direction, motivating, inspiring, pushing, correcting, rewarding.
The coach has to be the force in the face of adversity. It's football. Football is life in microcosm. There's always adversity in life. If sports teaches anything, it's don't quit until the last whistle.
Nothing in Zorn's career up to now prepared him for the 2009 season. Now he's ready for anything, or any owner.
Washington played better in the last four games than they did in the first nine. From the outside, we can't tell with precision how that happened. Maybe the Sherm Lewis move was a good idea after all.
I wouldn't have done what Zorn did. He more than complied with the front office's demand to make Lewis the playcaller. He worked to make it successful. That's leadership. Zorn was astute enough not to be the reason for its failure.
"The thing that held you back is going to lift you up." ~~ Timothy to Dumbo. Walt Disney Studios, 1941.
Had he quit, Zorn would not have been part of this Redskin Renaissance. Pundits would not have marveled at how the players are putting out effort for him. He would not have been around to see Vinny Cerrato axed before him. He could not tell the story of how the offense improved with its biggest stars on injured reserve.
The Redskins played their first eight games like they were exhibition games. They were not prepared. I expect stories to emerge showing that Zorn had lots of "help" with training camp and setting the roster. Zorn was the coach, so he is accountable.
Those other bizarre events gave Zorn gold-plated experience that will stand him well. Battle-tested Zorn will show up at FedEx Field someday with some other team.