With apologies to the Clash, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate question to ask right now. Jim Zorn, onetime savior of Washington DC, is now on the ropes. The Redskins have been in freefall since week 8 and they haven’t actually looked GOOD since they played Philly the FIRST time around.
A lot of people are calling for his head and hoping that Zorn gets fired. My instinct says “Not so fast, we need to give him a chance.” But after last week, my heart says “Screw you, instinct! He needs to go!”
The answer is, as it often is, somewhere in between the two extremes. Those who are clamoring to fire him need to get a little perspective. Those who think we should give him several years no matter what need to recognize that some of the reasons to fire him are legitimate and not just knee-jerk, and that there’s some validity to the idea. Let’s look at the pros and cons…
SHOULD HE STAY?
- If we fire him, we need to start all over. Again. New system to learn. New coaches to trudge in. Even with a great coaching staff, it takes some time to assemble the right team and the right players. Starting over again is a huge setback.
- It’s not as bad as it feels. In my unscientific poll done in week 2 while tailgating at the game, the average fan prediction for the season was in fact 8-8. We’re really not below expectations right now. We’re right about on par. It only feels like it because we revised those expectations mid-season. Given the disastrous hiring process for the Head Coach and then the absolute blowouts we suffered through in pre-season and in week 1, most if not all of us would happily have jumped at the chance to be 7-7 with key victories over the Cowboys and the Eagles.
- Give him a chance. The man has never been an offensive coordinator, much less a head coach. He was shoved into this cold and he’s still learning. He’s a victim of early success and raised expectations. Let’s see what he can do now that he’s been through the meat grinder for a year.
…OR SHOULD HE GO NOW?
- Beginner’s Luck. There’s some evidence that the early success was simply because the opposition didn’t have any game footage to prep with. Nobody knew what to expect. Now they’ve “figured him out” and they’ve adjusted for him. Clearly he’s been unable to handle the defensive solutions that the opposition has come up with.
- He’s completely lost the team. The Redskins didn’t just lose to the Bengals. They looked like the Detroit Lions. Check that; the Lions actually put up a fight last week. They looked like the Rams; no wait, the Rams beat us. They looked like…well they looked like crap. They looked like the pre-season team that got shut out by the Carolina Panthers. They made the Bengals look like an offensive juggernaut. The team had given up. There’s no other way to put it. They came back to life briefly when they nearly tied the game, but then after the goal line fumble, it was over.
- Where’s the Real Zorn? The young, brazen coach who would speak his mind and make a gutsy move seems to have been replaced by Folgiers crystals. Zorn’s daring and fearless offense who would go for it and take risks has turned into a conservative replica of Joe Gibbs II. I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know what changed him. I just know I want the first guy back.
- Blame Game. Until very recently, Zorn has been pointing fingers at everyone but himself. Not only is that bad for morale, but it’s crap. The players out there are the same ones he had in week 6. They’re not the ones calling for a screen pass on 3rd and 25. He needs to understand that the system needs to change and evolve as other teams adjust to it. He stayed in one place and the rest of the league ran all over him. And then he pointed fingers at some of his best players and now they’re not even bothering to try to beat the Bengals in a must win game. At some point the Head Coach needs to step up and take responsibility. It should have happened four weeks ago, not four days ago.
IF HE GOES THERE WILL BE TROUBLE. IF HE STAYS IT WILL BE DOUBLE.
We’re basically in trouble either way. Normally I would call for some stability and for giving Zorn more time. I can accept a losing season. I can accept losing to the Bengals and Rams even. What really really scares me is the way the Redskins lost to the Bengals. If the players don’t buy into a head coach’s system and believe he can win, the season is over before it even began. If Zorn stays, he’s got an uphill battle winning back the team.
On the other hand, if they start over, we’re at the mercy of the Snyder/Ceratto hiring process/dart board. We’ll be subjected to the Jim Fassels and whoever else they can dredge up (I hear Art Shell is available). We’ll be reading about all these young coaches with talent who will interview with us for the sole purpose of gouging their current employers for a new fat contract. We’ll have to hear more about how many systems Jason Campbell has been through and that number will get one higher. All our good players will get one year older and have nothing to show for it.
SHOULD HE STAY OR SHOULD HE GO?
In the end, I think it has to come down to the final two weeks. Can Zorn get the team to believe in him again. Will they give up and spend the game day thinking about their golf tee times? Or will they show some professional pride and play hard and tough and come out with a win or two? If the Redskins last two games are repeats of week 15, he has to go. If the team can show some spark and some fire in it, I say give him another chance.
Give us a win against Philly, Zorn. Give us a reason to believe.