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Thom Loverro: A mandate for change
Question of the Day
The maroon and black era of the Washington Redskins has to end. Jim Zorn can’t continue as the coach of the Washington Redskins.
Relinquishing the playcalling - the news that came out after Sunday’s embarrassing 14-6 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs - won’t change much. It is Steve Spurrier and Hue Jackson all over again, and we know how that story ended.
All changing the responsibilities of the playcalling does is add to the perception that, as Boomer Esiason said on the CBS pregame show, this is a franchise on the brink of disaster. And that was before the loss to the Chiefs.
This once-proud organization can’t go into next week’s nationally televised “Monday Night Football” game against the Philadelphia Eagles with the story being about Zorn and the calls for his job, which were as vociferous as I’ve ever heard Sunday at FedEx Field following the loss. And changing the play caller will do little to defuse that.
In reality, he already has lost his job. In the postgame news conference, Zorn talked about his responsibilities as the play caller, something he obviously still embraced, based on his comments after the Redskins scored just six points against the worst defense in the NFL.
“The offense is better than six points,” Zorn said after the game. “It’s on me.”
Not anymore it isn’t.
The uproar won’t be diverted by this playcalling shift. The focus will remain on whether Zorn can survive yet another game as the Redskins’ coach - particularly when the man who is most rumored to be his replacement next season, former Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden, will be in town and in the booth Monday night for the game.
Add to that a stadium filled with drunken Eagles fans and angry Redskins fans, and you have a category five sports disaster coming this way.
This is why owner Dan Snyder should have instead just made the inevitable move. You fire Zorn and go into Monday night with an interim coach, then the Washington Redskins are nothing more than a bad football team.
And guess what? That’s not news. Everybody already knows that. The fans certainly know it, and in the final minutes of Sunday’s game at FedEx, for the 30 percent or so who were left in the stadium, they let Zorn and the players have it with as much anger as I’ve ever heard in this stadium. It got so bad in the final minutes - and this was before the Chiefs added five points to their lead with a field goal and a safety - that security guards on the field had to calm down fans behind the Redskins’ bench.
“I feel awful for the fans,” Zorn said. “I’m upset, too. … I’m the Redskins’ biggest fan.”
Zorn may feel awful, he may feel frustrated, but I doubt he feels as angry as the fans who still care enough about the Washington Redskins to stay around for the close of Sunday’s game. I don’t think anyone could loathe themselves as much as those remaining faithful expressed their loathing for Zorn and his players. That anger, to be fair, goes beyond the football field and into the offices of Redskin Park and those who run this franchise. But they don’t wear uniforms and headsets and are not on the field. So it is Zorn and the players who bear the brunt of that rage.
And those were the fans who cared enough to stay around and show their anger. What may be worse are the empty seats throughout the stadium at kickoff on this cold, damp day and the growing number that appeared empty as the second half went on. Apathy may be a more alarming development than anger.
At the end of the first half, with the Redskins behind 3-0, players heard the boos as they left the field for the locker room. But when the offense took the field for the second half, a cheer went up through the stadium as quarterback Jason Campbell, who had completed just nine passes for 89 yards and thrown one interception - remained on the bench and 37-year-old backup quarterback Todd Collins took the field. Zorn had finally seen enough of Campbell.
“I felt the need to create a spark offensively,” Zorn said.
And he did for a while. Collins hit Santana Moss over the middle on the second play for a 42-yard completion and led the team down the field on six plays covering 48 yards, leading to a Shaun Suisham field goal to tie the game at 3-3.
But it didn’t last. Both teams traded field goals in the third quarter, and with less than four minutes remaining in the game, Ryan Succop hit a 46-yard field goal to give the Chiefs a 9-6 lead. Then it disintegrated into a stalled Redskins drive, a poor Glenn Pakulak punt, another Kansas City drive that led to a field goal and, with 26 seconds left to play, Collins was sacked in the end zone for a safety by linebacker Tamba Hali, the final insult.
Zorn, bless his heart, wouldn’t hear of any talk about his future.
“That part is not up to me,” he said. “I’ve got to create answers on the football field.”
Where will Zorn look for those answers? He’s talking about looking into Campbell’s eyes again, as he said he did during the Tampa Bay game two weeks ago.
“This is my time to evaluate the video, look real hard, talk to these guys and look into Jason’s eyes and Collins and then move forward,” he said.
If Zorn looks into Campbell’s eyes these days, he may see an untethered silver balloon floating off into the sky - with his job in it.
About the Author
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