First, he predicted that Jason Campbell will have a pro bowl type season and lead the Redskins into the playoffs. Now, former Redskins Quarterback, and soon to host a new radio gig on ESPN 980, Joe Theismann tells Washington Post's Dan Steinberg that he believes Jim Zorn is not on the hot seat this season.
"I totally disagree with this being a make-or-break year for Jim. It's the second year in the system, it's the second year as the head coach, it's the second year as the offensive coordinator. There's so many things to deal with and learn. Practice looked so much different this year than a year ago, the players are a whole lot more comfortable and efficient, and it's the reflection of having a year behind you.
Here's the thing you have to understand, last year Jim wasn't really gonna be the head coach, he was gonna be the coordinator. And then boom, all the sudden, here you are, the head coach. I'm sure Jim's sitting there going, 'Well, I can do this, but my plans have changed a little bit, now I have not just the offense to deal with but special teams, defense, my coaches.'
And this is one thing that people don't understand, the most difficult thing for the first-year coach is he has to teach the coaches how to coach his philosophy and system, and so the players have to learn from a coach who's learning. Take that to any place in the workforce, you know how difficult a task that is. That was what he had to overcome a year ago. I think he's much more comfortable in his role as head coach.
Let's face it, depending on how Fred Davis, Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas and Chad Rinehart do will tell you what kind of job Vinny did as a GM. This is an incredibly important year for him. That was his first draft. Remember, Joe Gibbs was head of football operations before that. These kids were all Vinny's choices, and now Vinny gets to be evaluated on his contributions. Certainly Horton was a great find in the 7th round last year, and I think Kevin Barnes can be quite good....If you're gonna be successful as a football team and an organization, you need your number one [picks] to play. I don't think Jim's under the gun at all, and Vinny knows, 'Hey, these kids are my future.' I personally think he's done an excellent job filling the needs that we have."
Theismann has several good points. Yes, Jim Zorn was supposed to be the offensive coordinator for the team after being the quarterbacks coach in Seattle under Mike Homlgren. After the team could not find a head coach, Jim Zorn was promoted to the head coach position. Under those circumstances, Jim Zorn was learning as a head coach, and so is the team learning the west coast offense last season.
When the team struggled in the 2nd half of last season, Zorn's play calling schemes became more predictable for the opposing team's defense, and the Redskins struggled to score points. This season, Zorn is more comfortable being a head coach, and his team understands the offense better then last season. So it could be a recipe for success for Jim Zorn.
However, the team is still struggling at the offensive line and Jason Campbell has been okay , and Malcom Kelly, and Devin Thomas have been nursing minor injuries during camp. It's too early to judge the O-Line, Campbell, and the rest of the offensive right now, and maybe the first regular season game versus the Giants tells how much the O-Line improved from last season.
Also, Theismann is right about Vinny Cerrato. This is an important season for him as well because his 2008 draft picks, Fred Davis, Malcolm Kelly, and Devin Thomas need to step up this season to improve the offense and give Jason Campbell more options to throw to other then Santana Moss, Clinton Portis, Antawnn Randell-ell, and Chris Cooley. Those draft picks were selected from Cerrato, not Zorn
But despite Theismann points, its highly likely that Zorn will lose his job next season if the team fails to make the playoffs because Snyder is too arrogant, spend nearly $200 million in free agency and big name coaches are available in 2010. As for Cerrato, he will continue to play Danny'boy role yet again.
FYI: Joe Theismann will make his radio gig debut on Friday Morning from 8-10am on ESPN 980 (WTEM) with Kevin Sheehan, and will call the preseason game for Comcast SportsNet tommorrow with Mike Patrick in Baltimore.