- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 13, 2009


Texted an ardent Pittsburgh Steelers fan after his team clubbed Denver on Monday night last month: “U think the steelers knew what they were doing when they hired tomlin? Was that the same year as Zorn?”

No, Jim Zorn came to the Redskins the next year. But the inherent message was clear. Mike Tomlin, who won a Super Bowl and appeared en route to another, was a hot head coach. Zorn was a bust certain to be fired.

The Cleveland Browns beat the Steelers on Thursday. It was the defending champs’ fifth straight loss, three to really bad teams. They are 6-7 and probably out of the playoffs. All was quiet on the texting front.

Things happen in the NFL — strange, unexpected things that quickly alter the landscape and the standings. Like the Steelers suddenly looking awful. “It only takes a little bit to get you off track,” former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said the other day. “And once you get there, it’s hard to get back.”

Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots are looking a bit off-track. It has been a tough month, from his crazy fourth-down call to sending players home after they arrived late on a snowy, icy morning. The 7-5 Patriots aren’t what they were. What they are is one loss from their first three-game losing streak in seven years.

Does all this make Tomlin and Belichick bad coaches? Of course not. The question facing the Redskins, i.e., owner Dan Snyder, is whether Zorn is a bad coach.

Despite a horrid start and mounting injuries, the Redskins have proved to be a worthy, feisty opponent against some good teams. They played unbeaten New Orleans tougher than the Patriots played them, tougher than Pittsburgh played the pitiful Browns. Rather than collapse, which seemed likely, the Redskins actually have improved.

It’s hard to determine Zorn’s role in all this. But if he was criticized before, you’d think he deserves some credit now. At the least, it’s a matter worth exploring.


“We’re irrelevant for the last three weeks of the football season because we’re not playing.”

— Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez on why the Big Ten needs to add a 12th team, split into two divisions and have a championship game

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