Washington Redskins: Should the Team Bring Back Former Head Coach Jim Zorn?
I scared you there, didn't I?
Your immediate reaction upon seeing this article was probably reaching for the nearest heavy object and preparing to heave it at your computer in anger. But don't you fret, Redskins Nation. I am not suggesting that the Washington Redskins bring former head coach Jim Zorn back to take over his old post.
Rather, as we approach the NFL Draft, and the possibility of the Redskins drafting a quarterback grows, it has me wondering; should the Redskins bring back Zorn in the position he was meant to be at, which is a quarterback's coach?
Zorn's travels to being the Redskins head coach were bizarre to say the least, and saying he was under qualified to become the head coach is an understatement. Following in the footsteps of Jerry Jones before him by hiring a offensive coordinator and not giving the head coach a say in it, Redskins owner Dan Snyder hired Jim Zorn as the team's offensive coordinator after Joe Gibbs retired.
Many felt that former Redskins defensive coordinator (and I'd be re-missed if I didn't add, the defensive coordinator of the current Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints) Gregg Williams was a shoe-in for the job. He had built one of the leagues best defenses and had been with the team throughout the death of Sean Taylor, helping get the Redskins to the playoffs.
Snyder, as we have come to know, had other plans.
No potential head coach wants to come in with an offensive coordinator already chosen (unless you're Wade Phillips), so when Williams was unceremoniously passed over, and another head coach couldn't be found, Snyder did what any great business man would do; he announced that Zorn would be the team's new head coach, and spun him as the next great head coaching find.
It wasn't all Zorn's fault. For the majority of his time there, Zorn had absolutely no power within the organization. He couldn't hire his coordinators or fire the ones that were there. He had no say in personnel matters. He was handcuffed at every turn and made the scapegoat for an entire organization that had been mismanaged for more than a decade.
Zorn was simply over-matched, as he would've been as offensive coordinator. Zorn has spent most of his post football career (he's best known for playing for the Seattle Seahawks from 1976 to 1984) as a quarterback's coach. And if you look at the number's of the quarterback's he's coached, you'll see he's not a bad one.
His first stop as a quarterback's coach in the NFL was for the Detroit Lions, where he helped Charlie Batch reach an 88.3 passer rating, the fourth highest amongst rookies in NFL history. He was essential to the development of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, remaining with the team for the majority of his career, and also helping to develop Seneca Wallace into a viable back-up for the oft-injured Hasselbeck.
And, though rumors flew the two butted heads on occasion, former Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell posted his best statistics as a quarterback in the burgundy and gold with Zorn as his head coach.
When Zorn was fired by the Redskins, he was hired by cross-highway rivals, the Baltimore Ravens. Joe Flacco has just come off his best NFL season, something Flacco has credited to the teaching of Zorn.
The rumors coming from the organization that Zorn was "insubordinate" seem ludicrous when one considers his Redskins run, but none the less, the coach once again finds himself without a job.
With the Redskins eying the draft and a quarterback, it presents the Redskins a unique opportunity; to bring back Zorn to do what's best at. Coaching quarterbacks. It's what he's good at, and what he's had the most success at.
Perhaps Zorn wasn't the best fit for the Ravens. His background as a coach came mainly from the West Coast offense, which essentially meant he had to relearn a new offense.
Guess what the Redskins run?
A West Coast offense, utilizing Mike Shanahan's zone blocking scheme as a part of it.
The Redskins current quarterback coach is Matt Lafleur. Lafleur served as an offensive assistant for the Texans before coming to the Redskins. While there's no real telling what his effectiveness is—how does one coach Donovan McNabb after all—it might be a better move to have someone who is already experienced and has a good head on his shoulders and idea of what has to happen.
Should the Redskins bring back Jim Zorn as their quarterback coach?
As solid as Rex Grossman looked at the end of the season, he still had those "same ol' Rex" moments. Zorn seems to be good as lowering those moments and bringing out the best in the quarterbacks he coaches.
Meanwhile, he can also help train whatever new quarterback the Redskins bring in. If Rex isn't the long term solution, the 'Skins will likely be looking for one. Having a trained up guy under the help of Zorn could do nothing but help.
So why not given him a shot? Why not give Jim Zorn a little chance to redeem himself in the eyes of Redskins Nation?
Maybe it's a crazy idea, and it has no merit. Maybe Zorn isn't a good coach, and I'm giving him too much credit.
But Joe Flacco's reaction to his quarterback coach being fired is very telling. Clearly Joe thought he helped, and Flacco has become one of the leagues best young quarterbacks.
For the right price, and if he were able to really help, Zorn wouldn't be a bad addition the team's coaching staff.
And hey, maybe he can teach Danny Smith some of those awesome trick plays.
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