- The Washington Times - Monday, December 22, 2008

The way the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles played offense Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field, you easily could have named this final home game “The Worst Coach in America” Bowl.

Redskins coach Jim Zorn tied that moniker to himself when he made the statement last week after losing to the lowly Cincinnati Bengals that he felt like “the worst coach in America.”

Two months earlier, you likely would have gotten no argument from Eagles fans if Andy Reid had made the same confession. Despite his team’s three-game winning streak entering Sunday’s game, Philadelphia fans might bestow that insult on Reid again after his team’s performance in a 10-3 loss to Washington.

The win, of course, relieves Zorn of that burden - for now.

“I can say I don’t feel like the worst coach in America today,” Zorn said after the game.

He shouldn’t feel like he is Bill Belichick, either.

The NFL would go out of business if what took place on Sunday at FedEx Field was the league standard. It was like watching “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”

A soccer game would have been more entertaining.

Still, style points aside, the 10-3 win - which went down to the final play of the game, when LaRon Landry and Fred Smoot stopped Reggie Brown at the Washington 1-yard line - went a long way toward stopping the black hole that was engulfing this franchise in this 1-5 stretch.

“Losing like we have the past several weeks has been really frustrating and continued to build everywhere,” Zorn said. “Last week was a real downer, and you can’t describe the emotion of toughing it out and coming through with a win.

“Everyone finally saw we really can do, and we did stick together,” he added. “We found a way to win.”

The win didn’t preserve Washington’s playoff chances - Atlanta’s win over Minnesota on Sunday eliminated the Redskins (8-7) from the wild card race. And while the game was hardly an endorsement of Zorn as the offensive “genius” that Clinton Portis sarcastically referred to two weeks ago, it does, for now, avert what seemed to be a crisis of confidence facing the rookie coach.

“He needed this win,” Smoot said of Zorn. “He’s been through a lot, especially for this being his rookie year coaching. … We had a lot of early success, and then we had some late troubles. It’s been tough. Getting this win is probably kind of refreshing for him.”

It puts some much-needed distance between Zorn and his nationally publicized “worst coach” comment. I am sure, though, if you listen to Philadelphia sports talk radio Monday, you will hear something like this from Sal in Upper Darby: “We lost to the worst coach in America. What’s that say about our guy?”

The Redskins managed to move the ball on the Eagles’ defense in the first half, at least through the air. Philadelphia put no pressure on Jason Campbell, who completed 15 of 23 passes for 103 yards. But all Washington had to show for that and 55 yards on the ground was a field goal by Shaun Suisham in the second quarter.

That was an offensive explosion compared with what the Eagles produced - 66 yards of offense. Donovan McNabb managed just six completions on 11 attempts for 31 yards.

It was a first half of offensive football befitting whoever is the worst coach in America.

But the Redskins’ defense came out in the second half and provided a boost when Jason Taylor sacked McNabb for a 7-yard loss at the Philadelphia 28 with three minutes gone.

McNabb fumbled, and self-proclaimed Hall of Fame linebacker London Fletcher scooped the ball up and ran for 12 yards to the Philadelphia 18. Five plays later, Portis scored from the 1 for a 10-0 Washington lead. Philadelphia got a field goal from David Akers, but its final scoring chance was stopped at the 1 as the game ended.

It was not the kind of win to put on a coaching resume. And it doesn’t make the body of work by the offensive “genius” over the last seven games any more impressive - a total of 76 points.

But it wasn’t a loss, and that was the most important thing for Zorn and this organization - to relieve the pressure, whether perceived or real, that the outspoken rookie coach may be just a one-year-and-done act.

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