The Washington Redskins certainly would feel better these days if they had somehow pulled out a recent series of agonizingly close losses and entered Monday’s game against the New York Giants riding a five-game winning streak.
But, say those familiar with the thinking of Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato, that still wouldn’t have been enough to save the job of coach Jim Zorn - even if the Redskins now stood at 7-6 and just a game out of a playoff berth.
Zorn’s fate was apparently decided after the Redskins’ stunning 14-6 home loss to the lowly Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6, a defeat that prompted Snyder and Cerrato to take playcalling duties from the coach.
So if Zorn has been a dead man coaching for nearly two months, who will take his place next season?
A half-dozen Redskins veterans said there has been no speculation among the players about a replacement for Zorn, but it’s certainly a hot topic everywhere else.
Immediate speculation centered on big-name coaches - just the type of hire favored by Snyder, who previously brought in proven winner Marty Schottenheimer, college wizard Steve Spurrier and Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs.
Plenty of coaches of that caliber are available: Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, Mike Shanahan, Mike Holmgren, Tony Dungy and Brian Billick won a combined seven Super Bowls from the 1996 to 2006 seasons, and all currently are out of the NFL.
Most of them, however, seem unlikely to join the Redskins.
Cowher rejected Snyder’s overtures last year and reportedly has said he won’t accept a job with the Redskins.
Gruden and Dungy have indicated they plan to stick with their current jobs as television analysts.
Holmgren seems likely to take a job as the front office boss with the Seattle Seahawks or Cleveland Browns. And in any case, he likely wouldn’t want to take the place of Zorn, his former assistant with the Seahawks.
Shanahan, dismissed by the Denver Broncos after last season, is more likely to be receptive to a Snyder overture.
But Shanahan, who won Super Bowl titles with the Broncos in the 1997 and 1998 seasons, is sure to have plenty of other suitors.
The Buffalo Bills already have discussed a job with him. The Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears and Houston Texans all are potential suitors.