Redskins fire coach Jim Zorn after 4-12 season
JOSEPH WHITE | 1/3/2010, 8:09 p.m.
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -- The Washington Redskins say they have fired coach Jim Zorn. General manager Bruce Allen says Zorn was informed of the decision shortly after the team returned to Redskins Park early Monday, Jan. 4, following a season-ending 23-20 loss to San Diego.
Allen said in a statement released by the team that "the status quo is not acceptable." Allen, who has been the GM for three weeks, said he "felt it was necessary to not waste a moment of time building this team into a winner."
Zorn was 12-20 over two seasons as coach. The Redskins finished 4-12 this season.An official within the NFL told The Associated Press on Sunday that Zorn would be fired on Monday.
"I would not even comment on that," Zorn said after Sunday's game. "There are a lot of things, I'm sure, out there as far as stories. There already has been. So I get that. I'm working on our team meeting, our offseason schedule, and until I'm told that I'm on any other effort, I'm getting ready."
Zorn's dismissal has been expected for months. The front office stripped him of his play-calling duties in late October, and owner Dan Snyder has interviewed assistant coach Jerry Gray for the job, according to the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which monitors minority hiring in the NFL.
Gray's interview was an effort to comply with the Rooney Rule, which requires that teams consider a minority candidate for the head coaching position. If the NFL deems that the Rooney Rule has been satisfied, the Redskins are free to act quickly to hire a replacement for Zorn. Former Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan is considered the favorite.
Zorn's replacement will be Washington's seventh coach since Snyder bought the team in 1999. Playing a substantial part in the decision will be Bruce Allen, who was hired as the general manager last month.
"I don't know what to expect. Nobody does," Gray said after Sunday's game. "Bruce is going to evaluate everybody."
Asked if he would like the job, Gray said: "Well, if it's open and they call me, of course I do."
Zorn started 6-2 as a rookie head coach last season, but the team struggled over the second half and finished 8-8. This year's team has been hurt by numerous injuries, a lack of depth and tons of off-the-field distractions, but also by an inability of Zorn's West Coast offense to consistently find the end zone.
The Redskins failed to score more than 17 points in their first eight games, prompting the front office to bring longtime NFL assistant coach Sherm Lewis out of retirement as an offensive consultant and play-caller.
Zorn wasn't even on Snyder's list of candidates when Joe Gibbs retired at the end of the 2007 season. Zorn become a last-minute option when other contenders either showed no interest, dropped out or were deemed unsatisfactory. Snyder initially hired Zorn to be the offensive coordinator, then promoted him to head coach two weeks later after an extensive interview.
Zorn, who had never previously been a coordinator in the NFL, at times seemed overwhelmed by the head coaching job, but his strong start and quirky stories made him an early sensation last season. The front office soured on him in 2009, and executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato announced in October that Zorn would finish the season after a week of internal discussions on the matter. Cerrato has since resigned and was essentially replaced by Allen.
"I'm still reeling from this loss," Zorn said. "Anything that I say about my future here would just be babbling along. I'm going to be forthright and ask and get things moving, but I certainly want to be the head coach here."
AP Sports Writer Bernie Wilson in San Diego contributed to this report.