It never fails to happen. The new guy is named coach. Promises are made, or implied, about new and improved outcomes. Unconscious expectations set in for a first-year title and an outbreak of world peace.
Illusions are shattered with early setbacks, followed quickly with a whisper campaign that the new guy won't work out.
You'd think by now that fans (and owners) would expect coaching changes to get off to a slow start, and that one game does not portend the season. However, a few early comments by bloggers and sports writers after the Washington Redskins' loss to the Giants already say that the Zorn experiment is failing.
Let me throw some names and numbers at you.
|Joe Gibbs I||8-8|
|Joe Gibbs II||6-10|
Washington fans will recognize the list as the first year records of Redskins coaches since 1981. The average first year wins for this group? 6.4.
How about other coaches with other teams?
|Bill Parcels, Giants||3-12-1|
|Bill Parcells, Patriots||5-11|
|Bill Belichick, Browns||6-10|
|Bill Belichick, Patriots||5-11|
|Marty Schottenheimer, Chargers||8-8|
The average first year wins for this group? 5.4.
First-year coaches don't always lose their first year. Steve Mariucci went 13-3 his first year with the 49ers. Sean Payton went 10-6 his first year with the Saint, followed by 7-9 his second season.
George Allen was 9-4-1 in his inaugural year with Washington. Then there is Norv Turner's 11-5 performance in his third bite of the apple as coach of the Chargers.
But it's more typical that teams pay a price for coaching changes. It takes a season for coaches to adapt to the players they inherit, just as players adapt to the coach. Some very successful coaches got off to very slow starts with their teams.
The jury is still very much out on Mr. Zorn, but one bad game is too soon to apply labels either way. One preseason isn't enough time to install a new offense, let alone migrating from one offensive system to another.
Jim Zorn will be in good company with Joe Gibbs and Marty Schottenheimer if he can guide the Washington Redskins to an 8-8 record in his first year.