A Change Would Do No Good

By Mike Wise
Monday, October 12, 2009


Now that Jim Zorn's time appears short, now that the Holmgren Watch, the Shanahan Watch, the Gruden Watch, the Cowher Watch and the George Allen Seance have begun in earnest, an important question must be asked:

Which coach, who is already filthy rich and has bona fide credentials, would want this miserable, no-upside job?

What experienced, egocentric winner would want to take over the sorry lot that gave back a 15-point lead -- the largest lead of the Zorn era -- to a Carolina team waiting to crumble to 0-4 at home Sunday?

Is a guy like Mike Shanahan or Mike Holmgren naive enough to think he can fix an off-tackle run from the 3-yard line unfathomably resulting in a safety? Think about that play, the absurdity of where it started and where it inexplicably ended.

Is Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher truly deeply enough in denial to believe he can turn Mike Sellers into an aggressive blocker again? Or actually make a patchwork, Band-Aid offensive line that Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations, forgot to fix in the offseason somehow mow down a team that finished 30th against the run? That line on Sunday featured a right guard who had not started an NFL game since 2005 and another who had not played a regular season down since 2007.

Have any of the most sought-after motivators and fixers in the game foolishly convinced themselves that Zorn, as hooey and over-explanatory and all-twisted-up inside as he is right now, is the main problem with this franchise?

When they watched the Redskins' two touchdowns Sunday come inside the 10-yard line only because of turnovers, is that all Zorn's bad, too?

Because D'Angelo Hall could not bring down an aging quarterback on a one-on-one bootleg before he clinched the game with a first-down run -- because John Fox made the call of the game and killed a brilliant, if wasted, defensive effort by Washington -- does some big-name guy feel that he is the answer?

After an expected season-opening loss at New York to a Giants team that is the class of the NFL, the Redskins have lost to two winless teams in three weeks -- including a Detroit franchise that on Sunday lost its 21st game in 22 tries.

It's unclear how safe Zorn's job is at this moment because we have almost gotten to the point of not insulting the man by further asking him the question. And when the guy who brought you in won't give you a vote of confidence the week Cerrato usurps part of your authority by hiring an offensive consultant from the NFL's Paleolithic era, well, the writing is on the wall.

All we know is if Zorn is the coach this week, he probably has to beat Kansas City at home on Sunday to make it to Philadelphia and the bye week.

Should he have called a stretch, off-tackle run play out of his own end zone? Probably not. Same goes for using up all his timeouts because of lousy communication on the field with eight minutes left.

But Zorn could not make Devin Thomas come up with a tough deep catch to preserve a drive in the fourth quarter. He could not make Jason Campbell run for two more yards on the Redskins' last offensive possession.

It's unreal that people actually believe this is about the coach.

During a week in which Team Tumult personally hazed itself -- when Sellers confronted Clinton Portis for selling him out to coaches, when Sherman Lewis's old bones were shipped from Detroit to Ashburn to provide quality control for the woeful West Coast offense taught by Zorn, when no one including Daniel Snyder seemed to get out of his own way, when defensive coordinator Greg Blache decided to stop talking to the media for reasons that probably make sense -- the faltering Carolina Panthers represented a chance for redemption.

And after a tough defensive start and a two-touchdown, second-half lead over an awful Carolina team just waiting to fold, Washington could not even manage that on Sunday.

You think a real NFL coaching commodity wants this gig?

Mike Shanahan is sitting on $21 million of Pat Bowlen's money. A former NFL team official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he has heard from several people close to the former Denver Broncos coach who say that he has no interest in having Cerrato be the architect of his team.

Mike Holmgren has a home in Mexico a lot closer to San Diego than Washington. Even though he has said he'd like to coach on the East Coast, he isn't waiting for Jim Zorn to lose his job.

Jon Gruden is coaching from the "Monday Night Football" booth at this moment, waiting for the right gig. Bill Cowher is reportedly not a huge Snyder fan. But then, neither was Marty Schottenheimer before he got paid.

Let's be clear, though: There are several jobs that are much better.

If it's not the unfortified offensive line, it's the feuding backfield, featuring once-elite running back gradually morphing into an aging warhorse.

Really, it's so much more than the coach.

In fact, every time I think Jim Zorn's job is coming to an end, I wonder why more people don't bring up Vinny Cerrato's employment. In the offseason, the Redskins internally decided the offensive line was the reason for their 2-6 slide at the end of 2008. The fact that Zorn had to stand in front of the media gathering at his postgame news conference Sunday and actually admit that Jason Campbell was not allowed to execute any slow-developing plays because his quarterback would be leveled or hurt tells you everything you need to know. If this year truly implodes in Zorn's second full season as the team's coach, will Snyder play the last card in his deck and jettison his long-time confidante to appease a fan base more incendiary every day?

Since no coach alone can fix this mess -- not even a Hall of Fame-bound coach -- maybe that's the real question the Washington Redskins need to answer.

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