Zorn looks safe, for now

Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins' executive vice president of football operations, expressed frustration at criticism directed at the front office.
Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins' executive vice president of football operations, expressed frustration at criticism directed at the front office. (John Mcdonnell/the Washington Post)
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By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 24, 2009

By Rick Maese and Jason Reid

As Redskins players filed into the locker room following Friday's practice, most hadn't heard that Vinny Cerrato, the team's executive vice president of football operations, had stated publicly that Jim Zorn would finish the season as Washington's head coach. Told of the news, linebacker London Fletcher smiled and pumped his first.

"Wow," he said. "Finally some good news around here."

It has been a difficult few weeks for the Redskins, the team's struggles on the field intimately tied to the uncertainty off of it. But in assuring Zorn that he would have his job for at least the remainder of the season, the front office has sought to stabilize a team that was awash in confusion and drama.

"We was the soap opera for the NFL for the last two weeks," quarterback Jason Campbell said. "Hopefully it'll calm down a little bit."

With the offense struggling and management stripping Zorn's of his play-calling responsibilities following last Sunday's loss to Kansas City, speculation about Zorn's job security had intensified. Speaking on his weekly radio show Friday morning, Cerrato said he wanted to make "a few things perfectly clear."

"Jim Zorn is the head coach of the Washington Redskins, and will be for the rest of this season, and hopefully into the future," Cerrato said on ESPN 980's "Inside the Red Zone."

Cerrato had declined to discuss Zorn's future in recent days and weeks. He hasn't spoken publicly since making the decision last Sunday to install Sherman Lewis, brought out of retirement 2 1/2 weeks ago to serve as an offensive consultant, as the team's new play-caller. Zorn did not agree with the decision and briefly considered quitting that night, according to his friend and former teammate, Steve Largent.

Following practice Friday, Zorn said he did not necessarily need a public declaration of support.

"My deal is, I'm the head football coach. I want to be here for the next 10 years," Zorn said. "That's my story. I have a contract; it says what it says."

Zorn said he did not hear the morning's radio show and said Cerrato had not offered similar assurances in private.

Cerrato was not made available to comment Friday.

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