Monday, January 04, 2010

End of the Zorn Quo

To the surprise of no one except, apparently, Jim Zorn, the Redskins officially acknowledged the failure of 2009 with his dismissal as head coach early Monday morning. Owner Daniel Snyder (His "Snydely Whiplash" moniker will be reserved until he makes his first team-sabotaging move.) issued the following statement regarding Zorn's firing:
"This has been an extremely difficult season for our organization and for the fans. Bruce Allen spent many hours examining the football operations, and we are both determined to do whatever it takes to build a championship team. That process begins today.

"No one in the organization is satisfied with our record over the last two years, and I am sure that Jim would concur with that statement. It has been painful for him too. I certainly accept responsibility for mistakes that I have made. I am hopeful that our fans will accept my commitment and pledge to deliver a franchise that can compete in the NFC East every season.

"Finally, I am mindful that this is a tough day for Jim and his family, and I do want to wish him success in his next endeavor."
What Redskins fans may appreciate about Snyder's statement is the recognition of a few realities. First, the words "extremely difficult" and "painful" were used. It's likely politics at work (he couldn't call it Cirque de Suck as suggested here) but it at least says that, yes, seeing the Redskins become the laughing stock of the league really hurts. And for Jim Zorn, the process of being hired for a specialist job, unexpectedly promoted to leader, stripped of his specialist work, then have replacements interviewed while his name's still on the door...well, that hurts too.

I commented on the Official Redskins Blog that Zorn was handed Mission Impossible and nonetheless handled the absurdities of his owner's whims with a high level of class and dignity. As Zorn handles this "tough day," he can at least leave Redskins Park knowing that he never gave in publicly to the nonsense surrounding him. Some other team will want that in a quarterback coach.

Second, Snyder finally stood up and said that he accepts responsibility for the mistakes he has made. That is a profound admission from a man who in week nine of the season, with his team 2-6, made his only public statement about the Redskins, saying cryptically that "we're disappointed and embarrassed." For the owner to not only admit that there have been mistakes with the Redskins (which is like saying that Tiger Woods has made some bad choices), but to say that those mistakes were his speaks volumes about where the Redskins have been and where they will be going. Or at least think they are going. Courageously saying (to read between the words) that the atmosphere at Redskins' Park with the shuffling of personnel, "general manager" players, and lack of accountability is honorable.

Now, of course, Snyder doesn't enumerate the mistakes he's made. And he likely never will. But the third point made in the statement should help smooth over the omission, give Redskins an olive branch and a reason to consider renewing their season tickets. He said that he hopes fans will accept his "commitment and pledge" to deliver a competitive team. This is well said because it reminds fans of the goal that has been absent since his tenure and, most importantly, it humbly suggests that fans may not receive his offering. He is admitting not only that he's screwed up, but that maybe, just maybe he deserved the "Fire Danny!" banners on 495, the Burgundy Revolution web posts, and the empty seats at FedEx Field.

Hours after the press release, General Manager Bruce Allen held his first press conference and signaled a seismic symbolic change in the direction of the team. After stating that Zorn was "disappointed, maybe surprised" by the firing, Allen quickly moved to discussion of the future. He said that "we need to change the way we do business" and that "the status quo has to end." Allen would not take the bait on questions about Mike Shanahan or any other head coaching candidate, simply stating that "we will look for someone who can lead these men to levels that they haven't played to before....and understands Redskins history."

Allen made clear that the 2010 season begins now. Let's see if the Redskins begin the season with the right people, in the right places, creating the right results.

Rumors circulate that Redskins One, the private charter jet of Daniel Snyder, touched down in Denver, Colorado early Monday morning. And what precious cargo might it be receiving...?

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