Will The Redskins' Collapse Be Jim Zorn's Swan Song?

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IDecember 15, 2008

So in my real life I have this student who is an avid Redskins fan.

He told me that upon news of hearing about our new coach Jim Zorn this summer, he went about creating songs to celebrate the new era in Washington.

A Zorn opus if you will.

I don't remember all of them but "Zorn to be Wild" was my personal favorite.

Certainly most Redskins fans had Zorn-fever in the beginning of the season.  An unproven former Seahawk quarterback rolled into D.C. replacing the legendary Joe Gibbs and began with an impressive 6-2 run with improbable road victories over the two biggest NFC East rivals, Philadelphia and Dallas.

The Redskins were making big plays, Clinton Portis looked like an MVP candidate, and the defense was suffocating as usual.

Even the national media was jumping on Washington's bandwagon after injuries to Tony Romo and the midseason collapse of the Philadelphia Eagles.

The "Zorn"-meister could do no wrong.

The versatile offense also allowed you to use both songs like "Zorn To Run" and "Zorn to Fly"! 

Okay, I promise I'll stop.

Well a 1-5 record since that point has certainly changed opinions around the Beltway, and the only song fans are singing is a chorus of boos.

Zorn, Mr. West Coast Offense, is directing a team that ranks next to last in the conference in scoring offense.

Only the St. Louis Rams have scored fewer points than the Redskins this season and they still scored more against the hapless Seahawks yesterday than Washington did against the more hapless Bengals.

Zorn has alienated his best player, Clinton Portis; someone who is typically known more for his ridiculous mid-week outfits than his bad attitude.

In other words, Zorn must be careful.  If Redskins owner Dan Snyder has proven anything during his time in Washington, it is that he has no patience.

He bounced Marty Schottenheimer, an NFL Hall of Famer, after one season that included winning eight out of his last 11.

He has gone through coordinators, players, coaches, cheerleaders, hot dog vendors, you name it.  All in search of that elusive ring.  That chaos has created an atmosphere  lacking continuity which has always held back the Redskins.

It seems every time Washington may be figuring things out there is some major shift, and the team has to re-adjust.

Trust me Coach Zorn, if Bill Cowher gets the itch to coach again you can pack your bags back for Seattle. 

It would be a shame too. Zorn may or may not prove to be a great coach, but I think he is a great person and deserves the opportunity to see how things play out.

Many of the problems for Washington are issues he can't really help.

The injury bug has decimated an offensive line that was so powerful in the beginning of the year. 

It has prevented quarterback Jason Campbell from getting as much time back in the pocket as he had earlier in the season when he went over 200 passes without an interception.

It has also prevented an already dinged-up Clinton Portis from ever really getting on track over second half of the season.  Backup running back Ladell Betts has also proven that while he may be a serviceable back, he cannot fully carry the load left by an injured Portis.

The special teams is...in a word...awful.

The fact that Suisham has a job is beyond me.  I grant you that Zorn could probably do something about this, but what would Washington's record be this year with even an average place kicker.

The defense, as beloved as it may be, simply cannot generate turnovers.

London Fletcher has had a very strong season, but if he drops one more pass Zorn will have to super glue his hands.

When an offense is struggling, it is up to the defense to give Washington a short field and in critical times they have failed to do so.

Redskins fans need only remember the end of the Dallas game, where Marion Barber simply could not be stopped in the fourth quarter.

Say what you want about Jason Campbell, but he can't win the game on the sideline.

It is hard to find what exactly has been ailing the Redskins the second half of this season. 

How did Washington let a season with such promise get away from them?

Although Zorn is not the only problem, he may be the sacrificial lamb when the season is all said and done.

People will look at what happened at Miami, when Cam Cameron was booted after just one season and now the Dolphins are near the playoffs with football czar Bill Parcells running the organization, and see a precedent.

The Redskins still have two games left on the schedule and technically have not been eliminated from the playoff chase (although it is about as likely as Ralph Friedgen going on the biggest loser).

However, if Washington is taking an extended trip home for the holidays, there will plenty of questions asked from top to bottom about what went wrong?

The real question will be though: What is Washington going to do about it?