For Lazor, No Divided Loyalties
Saturday, November 22, 2008
RENTON, Wash., Nov. 21 -- There was a time, when Bill Lazor first started coaching at Cornell University, that his younger brother Dan was a linebacker at the school. And in a spring practice game, Dan Lazor roared through the offensive line and into the quarterback, knocking him to the ground for a sack.
Lazor, an offensive coach, nonetheless smiled at his little brother's big play.
That is, until one of the players looked up and asked, none too kindly: "Coach, why are you smiling?"
Last week at team headquarters, the Seattle Seahawks' quarterbacks coach chuckled at the memory. His prime charges now are Matt Hasselbeck and Seneca Wallace, but when he walks onto Qwest Field on Sunday he again will see Jason Campbell, the Washington Redskins quarterback whom he coached the last two seasons.
"I love Jason and I really enjoyed working with him," Lazor said. "I appreciated the work ethic he had and I appreciated the time he gave in the offseason. He and I were joined at the hip in the offseason."
But the lessons from that long-ago day at Cornell have not been forgotten. If Campbell throws a touchdown pass Sunday, Lazor cannot smile, cannot take even a moment to enjoy the beauty of the play or bask in the success he always knew Campbell was going to have.
"There will be no divided loyalties," Lazor said. His 3 1/2 -year-old son no longer wears Redskins jerseys to games; he has a Seahawks shirt and has learned to chant "Go Seahawks."
Still, the irony is impossible to miss. When Jim Zorn left the job he held for seven seasons as the Seahawks' quarterbacks coach to work for the Redskins, it was Lazor who was hired in Seattle as his replacement. Zorn inherited Lazor's big project, Campbell, and Lazor wound up with Zorn's quarterbacks, Hasselbeck and Wallace. This happens in football; coaches change all the time.
But it is rare for two quarterbacks coaches to essentially exchange players. Especially in the cases of Campbell and Hasselbeck, who had come to each coach as great talents in need of refining. Zorn had time to rebuild Hasselbeck, but Lazor left before Campbell completely developed.
When Lazor first took the Seattle job after he was not retained by the Redskins in the switch to Zorn, the two men talked. Zorn didn't ask much about Campbell and Lazor didn't wonder much about Hasselbeck. Instead the conversation was mostly about Hasselbeck's backup, Wallace, a player Lazor didn't know.
"He didn't necessarily pick my brain about the situation," Zorn said.
For a young coach still on the rise, Lazor has found himself in some ideal situations. He was an offensive assistant for Dan Reeves in Atlanta, then worked four years for Joe Gibbs with the Redskins and now is on the staff of Mike Holmgren in Seattle. And while Holmgren already has announced he is stepping down as Seahawks coach after this season, it has given Lazor a chance to work with the man who helped mold Joe Montana, Steve Young, Brett Favre and Hasselbeck. Several quarterbacks coaches under Holmgren have gone on to become head coaches, including Steve Mariucci, Andy Reid and now Zorn.
Holmgren, some in the organization say, has been impressed with Lazor, which might bode well for his chances of staying when the team is turned over to Jim Mora at season's end.
Lazor has not had many opportunities to talk to Campbell since he left Washington, but he always expected the quarterback would achieve success. Lazor said he thought Campbell's season-ending injury last December came at a terrible time because he was showing significant signs of improvement.
"He's got great character and physical ability to throw the ball, especially down the field," he said. "He was intelligent and he showed a great work ethic."
But Lazor said that what always impressed him was Campbell's ability to see everything while in the middle of a game.
"He could come to the sideline and have the vision of the whole field and tell you where everyone was and he was usually right," Lazor said.