Mike Wise: For Zorn, Winning Sure Beats the Alternative

The Redskins host the St. Louis Rams in their home opener at FedEx Field.
By Mike Wise
Monday, September 21, 2009

Even without rotten news about Randy Thomas, Sunday represented another easy opportunity to play the "Is Jim Zorn Serious or Sleeping?" game. After his team came away with a measly nine points on five possessions inside the 11-yard line against the sorry St. Louis Rams, the Zzzzz-man almost demanded more criticism of his play-calling. Really, the utter bafflement of his players not slam-dancing in the end zone against a truly inferior opponent.

But we're not going to go there, because while Washington 9, St. Louis 7 was unsightly, it so beats 0-2 in these parts.

Because an inconceivable loss to the NFL's most dreadful squad would not have brought on questions about an offense still having intimacy and commitment issues regarding its relationship with the goal line; how they are almost certainly going to have to cope without their veteran right guard for the rest of the season after Thomas tore his triceps; or why a former thrill-seeking quarterback as a player has suddenly fallen in love with the run-and-done game.


A start of 0-2 would have brought one hushed, elephant-in-the-room thought in Ashburn:

If Jim Zorn can't get the troops up to quash the lousy Lions in Detroit next Sunday, when does Greg Blache get the call from the bullpen? How long a leash of losing does Daniel Snyder give to Zorn, the man who 20 months ago coached quarterbacks in Seattle?

Three games? Five? Seven? Before going to Blache, the team's defensive coordinator.

And no one wanted that.

Not this early.

Not when Snyder has already echoed his now-annual proclamation, essentially saying, "NFC East or bust," and the next four games represent a bonanza chance for a record of 4-2 or even 5-1, while simultaneously setting up a monster Monday night in Landover with the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 26.

Nearly midway through his second season then, that's when we find out whether Jim Zorn can truly be considered as a long-term solution at head coach. For every bit of scrutiny here, I hold to the belief Zorn should get at least two years to prove his merit.

Zorn should be given the chance to finish 10-6, or 6-10, before deciding on his future. Barring abject failure on the field, any other move smacks of the same impulsive behavior that runs counter to the new continuity theme trumpeted from above, and the franchise would be as adrift as it was a decade ago when Snyder assumed ownership.

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