- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2008

After more than a month in limbo, the Washington Redskins’ players had a uniform reaction to the hiring of Jim Zorn as coach: surprise and relief.

“I’m glad we have a coach,” defensive end Andre Carter said. “It’s been tough waiting.”

Fellow defensive end Demetric Evans said he was surprised the Redskins settled on Zorn, a former Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach who wasn’t one of the seven candidates interviewed for the job after Joe Gibbs’ surprising retirement Jan. 8.

“It’s shocking that they hired someone who wasn’t even in the race,” Evans said. “We just wanted a coach so we could know what our schedule is going to be with OTA days and minicamps. Guys want to be able to plan the rest of their offseasons. It took longer than anyone expected, but I’m hoping by taking so long that they made the best choice.”

Center Casey Rabach was pleased to hear that Zorn, a former quarterback, wants to keep the running game segment of the offensive equation intact.

“That should make it easy for us up front,” Rabach said. “And I know he has done a good job working with quarterbacks, which is good for [quarterback Jason Campbell].”

Tight end Todd Yoder was happy after learning Jan. 25 that Zorn was going to be the offensive coordinator. That Zorn was made the coach 15 days later took the players by surprise as much as it did fans.

“I had been talking to [Pro Bowl tight end] Chris Cooley, and we were excited about Coach Zorn being our offensive coordinator,” Yoder said. “At this point in the search after everything that had gone on, I’m not surprised by anything. Maybe they wanted to bring in some new blood. It’s been hard to focus not knowing who your coach is. Now we can quit worrying and start working.”

Snapper Ethan Albright got an upbeat, firsthand report about Zorn from Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck at the Pro Bowl.

“I was talking to Matt on the beach yesterday, and he was telling us how great Coach Zorn is,” Albright said. “Yeah, he hasn’t been a head coach, but he played for 10 years, and he’s been coaching for 20 years. Matt said that players really respond to Coach Zorn. And since most of the coaching staff is back, we’ve got some stability.”

Indeed, most of the position coaches are back, including at tight end (Rennie Simmons), offensive line (Joe Bugel), receivers (Stan Hixon), linebackers (Kirk Olivadotti), cornerbacks (Jerry Gray), safeties (Steve Jackson) and special teams (Danny Smith). Earnest Byner still could return to work with the running backs. And former defensive line coach Greg Blache has been promoted to defensive coordinator.

“Having Greg Blache staying and getting promoted has guys excited about what we can do defensively,” Evans said. “Greg’s been a coordinator before, and he knows our personnel.”

Or as Carter said, “Greg knows how we work, and we know how he works. We have a great relationship. It gives us a lot of continuity.”


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