It’s not the Hall of Fame Game. It’s not the season opener at the Super Bowl champion New York Giants on Sept. 4. But tonight will be special for Redskins rookie coach Jim Zorn because it’s his first home game.
For the record, Joe Gibbs lost his FedEx Field debut, a 23-20 preseason loss to Carolina on Aug. 14, 2004. Steve Spurrier won his first game in the stadium, 35-34, over Pittsburgh in August 2002. Marty Schottenheimer’s Redskins were walloped 27-6 by Atlanta in his welcome to Washington game in 2001.
So Zorn doesn’t exactly have an illustrious track record to match tonight against Buffalo. Zorn has coached four games in Landover as an assistant, including the only playoff game played there. That was Washington’s 1999 first-round victory over Zorn’s Detroit Lions during which Redskins guard Tre Johnson and Lions defensive lineman Robert Porcher were ejected for fighting. Zorn was also on hand when kicker Nick Novak, formerly of Maryland, had his 15 seconds of fame with an overtime field goal to beat the Seattle Seahawks in 2005.
Zorn’s second game as quarterback of the expansion Seahawks in 1976 was a 31-7 Redskins pasting at RFK Stadium, but he got revenge four years later as Seattle shut out host Washington 14-0. Losses like that helped get Jack Pardee fired at the end of that 1980 season, prompting the Redskins to hire Gibbs, whose second retirement this January led to Zorn’s hiring.
— David Elfin