You’ve got to love Jim Zorn’s persona in the face of his demise.
He’s Cmdr. William Travis at the Alamo with Santa Anna’s Mexican army approaching.
He’s one of the 300 Spartans battling the Persian invasion.
He’s Breaker Morant, standing in front of a firing squad, declaring, “Shoot straight, you bastards. Don’t make a mess of it.”
OK, maybe he is not quite as inspiring. But Zorn is outflanked, outnumbered and soon will be out of time as coach of the Washington Redskins and has chosen to ignore the crumbling of his tenure and go out as if he will be in his office at Redskin Park come Monday and beyond, planning for the 2010 season.
“After the season we just have to evaluate - evaluate players, evaluate schemes and all the things involved,” Zorn said in his Monday news conference, the day after another embarrassing defeat, this one a 17-0 beating by the hated Dallas Cowboys.
The odds are as slim as any of those legendary figures who faced insurmountable odds that Zorn will be the one doing the evaluating. He essentially is the elder member of a family who you talk about right in front of him. Most media reports point to Zorn being fired sometime after Sunday’s game in San Diego against the Chargers (call it the Nice Guy Former Redskins Coach Bowl - Norv Turner against soon-to-be-former coach Zorn, probably two of the nicest men you will meet in football).
But Zorn said he has made a concerted effort to ignore the speculation about his future.
“It is all around,” Zorn said of the talk about his departure. “I get hit with the look. I get all that. I just have to press on and push forward. I made the decision when the first inkling of all the speculation started, after beating the Rams. … I made the decision then that I will stay focused and see this through. It is not fun. … There are better days ahead.”
He’s right about that. I would think collecting the final year of his contract money and then winding up back in the bosom of Mike Holmgren as his quarterbacks coach in Cleveland would qualify as better days.
“I think we are trying to deal with all the adversity that comes each day,” Zorn said. “Each week it has been something different, hasn’t it? … I don’t want to moan and groan about it. Some of this I am responsible for. I am the head football coach, and we have four [wins] under our belt. That is not good regardless of the circumstances.”
The person who gets the credit for this decision by Zorn to ignore questions about his job security is my partner on “The Sports Fix” on ESPN 980, Kevin Sheehan. Zorn’s show is featured on “The Sports Fix” every Tuesday, and after the worst win ever witnessed by human eyes - the Redskins’ 9-7 home-opening victory over the St. Louis Rams, giving the team a 1-1 record - Sheehan asked Zorn on his show whether he was concerned about his job security.
The question stunned Zorn, who couldn’t believe after a win that he would be asked such a question. But it should have been a wake-up call to the coach, who seemed oblivious to what most Redskins observers had known for some time - Zorn’s job security was in question from the day he arrived at Redskin Park and was introduced as the coach to succeed Joe Gibbs.
He was almost destined to fail, a coach hired because he was the last one in the room when the Redskins’ bosses passed over Gregg Williams and Jim Fassel and were passed up by Steve Spagnuolo. Zorn was supposed to be the offensive coordinator - which now, looking at his body of work as a play caller, would not likely have ended well, either - but was promoted quicker than a six-minute abs video when the Redskins were left scrambling for a head coach. He came into an organization rife with dysfunction and distrust, and not even a young, unproven Gibbs could have succeeded in this atmosphere.
Redskins fans, though, should cherish what Zorn may have accomplished here in his two years - he presided over a franchise failure that drove Vinny Cerrato away and may have finally led to a change in the way the Redskins’ football operations does business.
That passes for the stuff of legends in today’s Redskins lore.