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Players Just Pleased to Have Coach

By Jason Reid and Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, February 12, 2008

No players attended the introductory news conference for Washington Redskins Coach Jim Zorn, but some yesterday at Redskins Park expressed a sense of relief that the long coaching search had produced a replacement for Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs.

"The players, the fans, the organization itself, [were] on pins and needles not having a head coach," defensive end Andre Carter said. "We're just happy that we finally have somebody to lead us."

After a coaching search that dragged on for 32 days and was shrouded in secrecy, the Redskins promoted Zorn, hired as Washington's play-caller on Jan. 25, to be the team's sixth head coach since the 2000 season. Zorn, who had never been a head coach or top-level assistant in the NFL before joining the Redskins, signed a three-year contract that includes two club options.

"I think everybody will keep an open mind," tight end Todd Yoder said. "The ultimate thing is do we win games?"

Zorn had been the Seattle Seahawks' quarterbacks coach for seven seasons.

"You need to know who your head coach is going to be, especially with the [scouting] combine, draft, minicamp and stuff like that coming up," lineman Lorenzo Alexander said. "You kept hearing about other guys but Coach Zorn is here now."

Coordinator Prospects

Sherman Smith is believed to be Zorn's top choice for offensive coordinator. Smith, the Tennessee Titans' assistant head coach-offense, and Zorn are close, league sources said.

Zorn also remains interested in Seattle running backs coach Stump Mitchell, sources said. If the Redskins are unable to hire Smith, Mitchell could also be considered for the offensive coordinator position. Mitchell is well-versed in the West Coast offense and, as with Smith, has strong ties to Zorn.

Smith and Zorn have never been coordinators. If the Redskins hired either, Zorn probably would call plays, sources said. If Mitchell joins the Redskins, current running backs coach Earnest Byner may go to Seattle.

Meantime, the team announced the hiring of Chris Meidt, head coach of St. Olaf College in Minnesota, as an offensive assistant, and said it had reached an agreement with John Palermo to coach the defensive line.

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