NFL: Jim Zorn hired as Washington Redskins coach
By JOSEPH WHITE
AP Sports Writer
By JOSEPH WHITE
WASHINGTON — The Washington Redskins hired Jim Zorn as their coach today, a surprise ending to a monthlong search for a replacement for Joe Gibbs, The Associated Press has learned.
Zorn will be introduced at a news conference at 3 p.m. tomorrow, according to a person who was informed of the Redskins' decision. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because a formal announcement had not been made.
Zorn, a former Seattle quarterback, has been the Seahawks' quarterbacks coach for the last seven years. The Redskins hired him to be their offensive coordinator — his highest coaching position until now — on Jan. 26 while continuing their search for a head coach.
Owner Dan Snyder and his advisers settled on Zorn after completing the last of their initial interviews, with New York Giants coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, earlier this week. The owner had to wait until the Super Bowl was played to speak to Spagnuolo, who withdrew his name from consideration Thursday and signed a new three-year contract with the Giants.
Zorn was one of many candidates interviewed by Snyder in a methodical, secretive process that began after Gibbs' resignation Jan. 8 and included marathon interviews usually conducted at Snyder's home.
Most of the contenders' names eventually became public — Spagnuolo, Jim Fassel, Steve Mariucci, Jim Mora, Ron Meeks, Pete Carroll, Ian Schwartz as well as Redskins assistant Gregg Williams — while Zorn's status was supposedly settled once he accepted the job as offensive coordinator.
Zorn becomes the sixth coach under Snyder, who bought the team in 1999, and he ends a string of high-profile coaching hires by an owner who had developed a reputation for hiring top names at a top price. Snyder's last three coaches were Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier and Gibbs. None had a cumulative winning record, although Gibbs took the Redskins to the playoffs in two of his four seasons.
Determined to make the right choice, Snyder was deliberate in his process, conducting exhausting research on each candidate and multiple interviews with several. Meanwhile, he took the unusual step of selecting offensive and defensive coordinators — hiring Zorn away from the Seahawks and promoting defensive line coach Greg Blache — before putting a head coach in place.
Zorn takes over a team that went 9-7, snatching the NFC's final wild card berth on the last weekend of the regular season, before losing to Seattle in the first round of the playoffs. The Redskins have a core of talented players, but there are question marks at several positions that need to be addressed during the offseason. The team is also well above the salary cap, although it has already started to address that problem by opening contract renegotiations with some of its highest-paid players.
The offensive system will undergo an overhaul under Zorn, who is expected to install a version of the West Coast offense. He will also have to sell himself to players who have expressed disappointment that the job didn't go to Williams, the mastermind of the defense for four seasons and the assistant often portrayed as Gibbs' heir apparent. Williams and Snyder had four meetings about the job, but Williams was eventually fired and has since been hired as defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Zorn was a longtime local favorite in Seattle. He was the franchise's original starting quarterback in 1976 and played nine seasons with the team. He returned as an offensive assistant from 1997-98 and again as quarterbacks coach in 2001.