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Meet the New Boss
"Every year that Vinny has been there, Dan Snyder has given him more and more to do," Williams said, "and now it's his time to step up there and take the reins and show the Redskins fans that he's able to handle every aspect of the organization."
The leadership Gibbs exhibited after Taylor's death, and throughout his return to coaching, strengthened Cerrato's belief that Gibbs's replacement needed to possess a similar quality. In the days after hiring Zorn as offensive coordinator, Cerrato and Snyder came to believe that Zorn was the best candidate. So on Feb. 9, they passed over former Giants coach Jim Fassel and promoted Zorn, 55, who had never been a head coach or offensive coordinator in the NFL before the Redskins gave him that job. Cerrato said he was confident in the hire, saying he knew that Redskins fans would see in Zorn the same qualities that he and Snyder saw in him.
Cerrato's changes extended all over Redskins Park. Some team physicians were replaced, the public relations staff was overhauled and the director of security was fired. Cerrato promoted Scott Campbell, formerly director of college scouting, to director of player personnel, ousted director of pro personnel Louis Riddick and hired Chicago Bears official Morocco Brown as the new director of pro personnel.
Cerrato said he will keep what he described as the team's communal approach to decision-making.
"No matter what anyone from the outside thinks, everybody has always had input in the decisions," he said. "Everybody has always had a say, and that's not changing. Before, it was Joe and I walking down the hall to talk to Dan about what our game plan was. Now, it'll be Jim and I walking down the hall to talk to Dan about the game plan."
Cerrato said he is concentrating on giving Zorn the support he will need in adapting to a much more prominent role. As a former quarterbacks coach, Zorn previously only had responsibility over a few players. Now he has to watch over the entire team.
"The biggest thing now is making the life of the coach easier," Cerrato said. "Let Jim handle just his first year of coaching. Let him worry about the quarterback, the offense and the team. Let him worry about that and take the load off of him with all the other stuff. Before, Joe did everything."
Zorn said he likes the structure Snyder has put in place. Zorn wants to concentrate on coaching and welcomes Cerrato's guidance, he said. "The thing that I've really liked about Vinny is how active he is," Zorn said. "He's very proactive in calling people and making sure he knows where guys are [in their thinking]. He's been very upfront."
The Redskins were not a major player in free agency this offseason. Cerrato, Zorn and their staffs decided the roster was in good shape, and Cerrato was not impressed with many of the available free agents. Cerrato limited himself to re-signing some of Washington's free agents.
The Redskins toyed with one monster move that would have given the Cerrato era a signature stamp. Starting wide receivers Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El are small at 5 feet 10 and the Redskins wanted a taller target for Jason Campbell, so they offered their 2008 and 2009 first-round picks to the Cincinnati Bengals for wide receiver Chad Johnson, according to league sources. They also held preliminary talks with the Arizona Cardinals about acquiring wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Talks on both deals went nowhere.
In the draft, Cerrato traded the first-round pick, No. 21 overall, to the Atlanta Falcons for an extra second-round pick. The Falcons took offensive tackle Sam Baker from Southern California, who has won the starting left tackle job on an admittedly weak line. The Redskins' starting tackles, Jon Jansen and Chris Samuels, meanwhile, struggled in preseason, with Jansen being benched.
Cerrato used his top three picks to address the size issue in the receiving corps, drafting wide receivers Devin Thomas of Michigan State and Malcolm Kelly of Oklahoma and pass-catching tight end Fred Davis of Southern California. In later rounds, the Redskins moved to address concerns at other positions, drafting Northern Iowa tackle-guard Chad Rinehart and Arizona State cornerback-kick returner Justin Tryon with their highest second-day picks.