Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Swan Song: The End of the Jim Zorn Era in Washington, D.C.

The Washington Redskins haven't experienced much success this past decade, and last Monday night was an ode to the pain and suffering this once-proud franchise has undergone.

With the Redskins losing 45-12 to the rival New York Giants in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter in a meaningless game, one could look out into the stadium bowl and see a sea of blue. Redskin fans were long gone; Giants fans had made FedEx Field their home.

The Redskins turned in a dismal performance in front of a national TV audience not only showing themselves to be incompetent, but downright stupid. The Giants beat them in every facet of the game, and then the 'Skins shoveled the dirt on top of their own coffin with an idiotic fake field goal attempt.

It was an ugly game. But then Washington made it laughable when they trotted on the kicking unit only send them in motion out to the left side of the field. At first I had to wonder, what does special teams' coach Danny Smith have up his sleeve?

After all, the 'Skins do have two special teams scores on trick plays this season.

However, this wasn't a calculated risk. It was the death rattle of the Jim Zorn era in Washington. Punter Hunter Smith lobbed up a duck, which was intercepted. Cue the subdued guffaws by Mike Tirico and Co. in the booth.

Exit Zorn. Stage left.

Albert Haynesworth summed it up afterwards: "I mean, the score, the record, they'd say that we're horrible, that we don't know how to play football," Haynesworth said. "But I've been around these guys a lot. I think they know how to play football. I think we're all just going different directions, and we need somebody to lead us in the right direction."

Truer words were never spoken.

Zorn was doing a good job this past month keeping his players focused. He had showed an ability to facilitate and prepare the team in the previous weeks of this lost season.

I believed he had at least saved his credibility with the team's performance the past month. In fact, I was willing to hear a case for retaining him.

However, any good will he had merited was quickly snatched away with this latest catastrophe.

How can the Redskins bring back a guy who had his play-calling duties stripped midway through the season? How can they bring back a guy who turned in three of his worst losses on Monday Night Football (Pittsburgh in 2008, Philly and New York this year) in front of national TV audience?

I want stability for this franchise; I really do. However, keeping Zorn doesn't give the Redskins much stability in anything but losing.

Zorn is a genuinely nice guy. He's a class act. However, that's really all he has going for him.

He wasn't even supposed to be the head coach, but was handed the job when Dan Snyder couldn't find a replacement for Joe Gibbs.

He has had almost no success here in DC; his struggles as a play-caller are astounding; and he has overall failed to get the most out of his players on the field (with the exception of a handful of games over the past two seasons).

Maybe he hasn't been given the best chance because he has lacked personnel on the offensive line, but the fact of the matter is that the Redskins have flopped too many times in many different situations.

They have failed in big games. They have failed in winnable games. They have failed as the favorite and the underdog. They have failed in close games.

All of that adds up to too much failure.

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