Redskins lose to Chargers to finish 4-12, expect to fire Zorn

The Redskins went west, looking for a victory in their final game of the season.
By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 4, 2010

SAN DIEGO -- An optimist to the end, Coach Jim Zorn looked forward Sunday after the Washington Redskins squandered a late lead in a 23-20 loss to the San Diego Chargers that ended their disappointing season.

Shortly after the Chargers rallied for a game-winning touchdown with 35 seconds to play in front of 67,554 at Qualcomm Stadium, Zorn declined to address multiple reports that the Redskins plan to fire him Monday, instead focusing on his plans to strengthen the Redskins' roster for the 2010 season and beyond.

"Really?" Zorn deadpanned when a reporter informed him of the reports. "I have no indication of that. And I would not even comment on that until, you know, there's a lot of things, I'm sure, out there as far as stories. There already has been. I get that. But I'm working on our team meeting. I'm working on our offseason schedule. And until [I'm told differently], I'm getting ready."

It is highly unlikely, however, that Zorn will be given the opportunity to execute his short- and long-term plans for Washington. The Redskins (4-12) finished the season on a three-game losing streak that appears to have closed the book on Zorn's tumultuous two-year tenure.

Many within the Redskins organization say it is probable Zorn officially will be fired early this week -- likely on Monday -- as the Redskins continue their latest major reorganization under owner Daniel Snyder. Zorn, who had never been an NFL coordinator or head coach until the Redskins hired him for those jobs, has a two-season record with the Redskins of 12-20.

Bruce Allen, the team's new general manager, declined to comment on the reports of Zorn's imminent ouster. "I wouldn't respond to that," Allen said. "But thanks for the heads-up."

As they prepared to leave a locker room after a game for the final time this season, players spoke of Zorn as if he had already moved on. "He was like a second-year head coach, he was learning and stuff like that," said defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who sat out the loss because of an injury.

"If you give him time, he could have been really good. But you can't expect him to be like a Hall of Fame coach his first and second year out of the gate."

Said defensive lineman Phillip Daniels: "It's Dan's team. Whatever decision he makes, the organization makes, you have to respect it. That's just the way it is."

On Sunday, Zorn watched the Redskins falter down the stretch again. Washington rallied from a 13-0 first-half deficit and took a 14-13 halftime lead. The Redskins extended their lead to 17-13 in the third and 20-16 in the fourth, but failed to withstand a late rally by San Diego's backups.

After winning the AFC West title and earning a first-round bye, San Diego (13-3) played its starters briefly against Washington. No. 2 quarterback Billy Volek teamed with second-team fullback Mike Tolbert on a go-ahead, two-yard touchdown pass within the game's final minute.

The Redskins failed on downs as quarterback Jason Campbell threw four consecutive incomplete passes. Volek kneeled once to run out the clock, and then Zorn, flanked by a Redskins security official and followed by television cameramen, slowly walked off the field, strain evident on his face.

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