WASHINGTON -- The Washington Redskins’ drop from surprising 6-2 start to almost out of playoff contention is generating chatter about the security of head coach and offensive coordinator Jim Zorn’s job.
It’s been a roller-coaster season for Jim Zorn and the Redskins, beginning with grumblings about a lackluster loss to the New York Giants in the first week of the season (granted, the Giants are the defending Super Bowl champions and the Redskins only lost by 9 points and held them to 16, none in the second half), then soaring to optimism about a possible 7-1 start before dropping into frustration at an upset loss to St. Louis, and then climbing once more to playoff prospects by midseason, with Clinton Portis looking like an MVP candidate in leading the team to a 6-2 record. But the last drop has been the steepest and longest: five losses in six games and barely a chance to make the postseason.
“The only real issue left in the season with two games left: whether Jim Zorn keeps his job beyond 2008,” Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise wrote Monday.
Sunday’s horrible 20-13 loss to a terrible Cincinnati Bengals team is Zorn’s fault because the team was unprepared, Wise wrote, but he stuck by his training camp opinion that “not giving Zorn at least two years to make this work flies in the face of everything the organization said it wants to be: less impulsive, more patient; about building for a championship future not merely trying to buy it in one offseason.”
Zorn put all the blame for Sunday's loss on himself but said he feels confident that he has the complete support of ownership.
Zorn said Monday he feels "like the worst coach in America," reversing course from his season-long claim that his schemes were solid but the players' execution was lacking. Instead, Zorn seemed to channel predecessor Joe Gibbs when he uttered the Hall of Fame coach's over-worn phrase: "It starts with me." He gave his players the day off so that he could take Monday and Tuesday to examine what went wrong.
Zorn’s decision-making has repeatedly been questioned this season, most recently his suddenly conservative play calling and a decision to run Mike Sellers on third down at the goal line against the Bengals, which ended with a fumble recovered by Cincinnati. Portis questioned his benching in the second-half of the game against Baltimore, creating locker room tension in the week leading up to the Bengals game.
“I'm now back to completely unsure of whether or not he is the right man for this job,” a journalism student and aspiring sportswriter posted on HogsHaven.com. "He has not shown the ability to change course and to adjust, which is exactly what all good teams are capable of. It looks like the team has bailed out on him, which worries me … I'm not saying fire Zorn -- unfortunately, we're stuck with him for a couple of years, for no other reason than that Jason Campbell cannot possibly be asked to adjust again -- but if our great players -- Portis in particular -- are disenfranchised, than we might as well just give up on a championship for the Zorn era.”
Several News4 viewers weighed in on the issue, with the majority saying the Redskins have exceeded expectations this season and that the rookie Zorn deserves more than one season to prove himself.
“Few coaches can just take over a team and make all the pieces of the puzzle come together and function as a well oiled machine,” wrote David Keister, Alexandria, Va., who also admitted he is not a Redskins fan. “Especially during their first season coaching that team. I think we should see how he does next year and see what kind of improvement we see then.”
Ellis Mbeh-Stephens isn’t so patient.
“He lost the leadership that he should have in the locker room,” he wrote. “He has led them to failure this entire season … Everything says that he needs to be fired.”
Bruce Helms wrote in with other questions to consider, like who should be fired.
“Who decides who goes and who stays on the roster?” he wrote. “Maybe (Executive Vice President of Football Operations Vinny) Cerrato should go.”
Helms wrote he “can’t imagine Zorn will be back next year” given the team’s play of late. He also posed the question, “Is Bill Cowher interested in coming back to coaching?”
So what are your thoughts about Zorn’s future? Post your comments below.