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Head Coach Jim Zorn: "I Want To Win"

Posted by Matt Terl on October 19, 2009 – 3:32 pm


Head coach Jim Zorn’s press conference today was an interesting affair, to say the least. “Surrealistic,” was Larry Weisman’s choice of words over on the Redskins.com mothership, and I can’t really argue.

You can watch the whole thing up above; here are a few choice highlights and “surrealistic” elements.
Chris Samuels is out Monday night. This, as I mentioned earlier today, is not good. “As far as Chris Samuels’ position, he hasn’t been able to [review] that. The doctor has actually been out, and we haven’t gotten him in to read the stuff yet. There have been several [doctors], but one of the key ones in California has not been able to read the pictures yet. So we’re waiting for that, and then I’m sure we’ll hear a little bit more of the results of that as we get on through there.” Without Chris Samuels the Redskins chances to match last year’s Philadelphia Eagles and rally from 2-4 — another point Zorn brought up — decrease. Precipitously.

No starting quarterback has been settled on for next week. Zorn sees pros and cons to each, and was emphatically clear that he would be the one making the decision on the starter.

“Well, I think Jason has better mobility; I think he’s got a hose for an arm and can throw it down the field. I think Todd has been able to disperse the ball with alittle better accuracy and rhythm. So they each have their advantages and I just need to get a feel for how … I’m gonna watch the video again a couple of times.”

Despite the obvious looming subject of the new playcaller, and also despite yesterday’s depressing loss, Zorn opened with a list of the positives. This in itself is not unusual; Joe Gibbs was a BIG fan of this strategy, and you could hardly argue with Zorn’s comments about the defense:

“I want to tell you all how proud I was of our defense – who played extremely hard. They have been playing consistently, giving us, and putting us in positions so we can get the ball back and put drives together. I thought our defensive line was really active. I thought London Fletcher did a great job getting us in the right situations so we could make plays. We forced fumbles; we harassed the quarterback, and really shut down their run game. It was a great effort and they are to be commended.”

No arguments there But here’s another one of the positives Zorn enumerated:

“I thought our special teams was solid. We covered their punt, we got down on kickoff, and did a nice job. We did have one punt blocked. I saw that today and I have to talk to Danny [Smith] about it, whether it was soft or slow or whatever. For the most part, we did a nice job covering our kicks and held on to the ball.”

Some things can be considered “solid” despite the a few negatives; a special teams unit whose only plays of note were eight punts — including one blocked — and a couple of major penalties … well, that’s an unusual use of the word.

Zorn’s point of emphasis for the change of playcaller seemed to be how difficult it would be. Not that I disagree — giving up that large a chunk of your responsibilities is definitely a challenge. But Zorn was really very clear that this was not something he was precisely excited about.

“it was strongly suggested to me after the game, in a meeting I had with Vinny [Cerrato] in my office at the stadium, that I make a play caller change. Very difficult for me to think about it then, thought about, talked again with Vinny later on, and I am going to comply with that. He suggested that Sherm Lewis be the new play caller. This is not an easy thing.”

I actually admire Zorn tremendously for handing over a responsibility he cherishes in an attempt to better the team — more on that in a few — but his comments about Sherm Lewis didn’t precisely fill me with confidence about the switch.

“Sherm is going to try and get up to speed. The input that he is going to have is in the passing game on the things that he knows and he is going to try to get up to speed on those things that he may not be 100% comfortable with. He will be up in the press box. He will call the plays on Monday night. I will be down on the field relaying the play.”

And, later, “I feel for Sherm, because he has been here for two weeks. We are going to give him as much help as we possibly can to get a spark out of this offense.”

And, later still, in response to a question about how comfortable Sherm Lewis can be after just two weeks in the building: “I’m not going to speculate on how comfortable Sherm feels. I do know this; he’s been here two weeks. He’s going to have a strong suit. He’s going to have need for help. I can tell you that our offensive staff are a bunch of excellent football coaches and will give him every opportunity to put a great game plan together.”

Ultimately, Zorn is doing the most important thing: admitting that the offense has a problem, and taking a potentially difficult step to fix it. Zorn loves playcalling. When he talks about it, whether in a press conference or a one-on-one conversation, he becomes animated and enthusiastic. The fact that he’s willing to give this up in an attempt to spark a moribund offense is something to be admired, I think.

“That is really what this whole thing is about from my standpoint. The reason that I can comply with this, is simply because of the lack of scoring. It has been several weeks. I want to win too and if this has to be done this way, if this is going to be the key then I am certainly willing to give it a try. Because we are 2-and-4, and to not score in the last few weeks, and the way we have not scored is very frustrating to say the least.”

Also, “I don’t really have fear. I just think the seriousness of the decision to do this is that we lose cohesiveness in our team. Where is the cohesiveness in six points a game? See what I mean? So I am hoping this is a positive and we spark. It’s just going to be a difficult situation. I’m hoping its going to be a positive thing. That’s what the hope is.”

And, finally, in response to question about if he considered issuing an “I’m the playcaller or I quit” ultimatum: “I tried to soul search all of those things, but there are a lot of people involved. This is a big organization, it has got some strong leaders, and I hope I am one of those strong leaders. Sometimes we have to do things that are uncomfortable. So my comfort level is not there, but I also look at the production. This is not an easy thing, but the production has not been there. If this is something that we are all going to try to do to win, then I want to do that.”

I don’t know about surrealistic, but it was certainly an interesting press conference.

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