- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jim Zorn used a telling word when he discussed the way he was stripped of his playcalling duties Sunday by Vinny Cerrato, the Washington Redskins’ executive vice president of football operations.

“It was strongly suggested to me after the game, with a meeting I had with Vinny in my office at the stadium, that I make a play-caller change,” the Redskins coach said at his Monday news conference. “Very difficult for me to think about it then. Thought about it, talked again with Vinny later on, and I’m going to comply with that.”


Not agree. Not go along. Comply.

The word often is used in situations involving police or government agencies or in legal proceedings. You don’t often hear an NFL coach say he is going to “comply” with a suggestion from his boss.

Type “comply” into Google News and see what comes up.

For example:

“The parents of a child who was abducted after they failed to comply with DSS requirements have been arrested, according to Henderson County Sheriff Rick Davis.”

“The Environmental Protection Agency ordered the Marina, Calif.-based operations of Mexican cement maker Cemex to comply with the Clean Water Act, the agency said.”

“Afghanistan is in the midst of a legitimacy crisis. The recent elections there did not comply with Afghan law, nor with international standards.”

And, there, amidst the arrests and EPA orders and international crises is Zorn saying he would “comply” with the suggestion, as he put it, that Sherm Lewis take over the playcalling.

It sounded as if he were repeating contract language that was put to him after the embarrassing 14-6 loss to the winless Kansas City Chiefs.

Former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy said what many were thinking: Zorn should have told management, “Hey, I’m in charge of this team on the field. If I’m not, then get rid of me.”

After all, Zorn by now must see he won’t be wearing the “maroon and black” much longer. What would he have to lose if he refused to go along?

He could get fired earlier and take the rest of his money - likely more than he has earned in his entire career as a player and coach - and go back home and mountain bike.

The question is hanging out there like a Jason Campbell pass - why not refuse?

Here’s one possibility: Perhaps his contract includes an insubordination - or, if you will, noncompliance - clause that provides terms for not paying him the remainder of his contract.

I don’t know that to be the case. I asked Zorn on Tuesday why he used “comply” to describe his actions.

“It is what was in my heart,” he said.

We asked him on the “The Jim Zorn Show” on Tuesday whether he considered resigning instead of complying. Zorn said no, then said he came to grips with this “strongly suggested” move because “we scored six points last week. Come on. … That is where I said, ‘OK, however it looks out there, here we come. Let’s try this.’ ”

Here’s how it looks: Redskins management determined it would rather have Lewis - a man with a suspect playcalling background who was out of pro football for five years and until recently was calling bingo and delivering meals on wheels - call the plays instead of Zorn, the man who was hired to be the coach and still has supreme confidence in his playcalling abilities.

A coach would “comply” with that only if he had too much to lose if he didn’t.

Here’s a word you didn’t hear: embrace.

“I think it is going to be very difficult,” Zorn said when asked how the playcalling process would work Monday night against Philadelphia. “We’re going to make the best of it. We know it will be pressure-filled, and we don’t know what the result will be.”

• Listen to “The Sports Fix,” co-hosted by Thom Loverro and Kevin Sheehan, from noon to 2 p.m. weekdays on ESPN 980 or espn980.com.

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