Jim Zorn Over His Head?

Sunday wasn't his finest game

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    No, Jim, you can't challenge the coin flip.

    Jim Zorn's a nice guy. He's completely likable. But the more he talks, the more it seems like he's embodying the Peter Principle.

    Yesterday, he admitted to CSN that he didn't know the rules surrounding the turning point of Sunday's pitiful loss to the Carolina Panthers.

    The play, you'll recall assuming you haven't blacked it out, was the fair-catch punt turned fumble. Antwaan Randle El prepared to make a fair catch (what else?) on a short punt in the second half. Before he could catch it, a mass of bodies flew toward him and the ball bounced off a Redskins player, which was recovered by a Panthers player.

    Skins fans were up in arms, noting that the whole thing fell apart when a Redskins player (Byron Westbrook) was blocked into ARE, preventing the fair catch. He was, but it's that wrinkle in the rules that tripped up the Head Coach, too, as DC Sports Bog transcribes:

    Yeah, well, I knew most of the rule. But it turns out I didn't know one little phrase, and that was a passive player versus an active player. A player who's just standing there, he can't get pushed into the fair catch. But when two players are running like they're doing, and blocking or trying to not be blocked into the fair catch receiver, the fair catch is off. You can actually hit that guy.

    The Skins ultimately challenged the play, wasting the time out, in part, because he wasn't entirely clear on the rules. In this case, Zorn said he was "trying to challenge the reversal of giving our receiver an opportunity to make a fair catch when signaled, no matter where it was on the field."  Got that?  If you can figure out what the heck that means, you're doing better than most.

    Earlier in the game, Zorn had tried to challenge a complete pass that went for maybe a total of three yards.   This wasn't a third-down conversion.  This wasn't a three-yard pass into the end zone.  This was your basic run-of-the-mill three-yard pass somewhere in the middle of the field.

    Why would you challenge that?  It has basically zero impact on the game. 

    Thankfully the refs saved him from himself, preventing Zorn from wasting a challenge (and potentially a time out.)  But, still, what was he thinking?

    There's a lot going on on the field at any given moment, and a lot for a coach to manage and keep track of.  When things like this pop up, it really does make one wonder whether Zorn is capable of handling the job.