Tuesday, October 06, 2009

There Are Nine Signs Your Coaching Job May Be in Danger

Jim Zorn has eleven of them

And thus we reach the end of the beginning of the end. The Redskins are bringing in a consultant. To help with the offense. That offensive guru Jim Zorn runs.

Vinny Cerrato and Dan Snyder have hired Sherman aka Sherm Lewis, a former assistant coach who quote has a ton of experience with the west coast offense unquote (op. cit.).

Sherm is best known as the offensive coordinator in Green Bay from 1992 to 1999, during that time head coach Mike Holmgren and quarterback Brett Favre won Super Bowl. Mike Holmgren called the plays for Sherm's entire time there, except for the 1999 season, Mike had moved on to Seattle and Ray Rhodes became coach, the team was 8-8 that season, I certainly do not blame the record on Sherm Lewis' playcalling.

After leaving Green Bay with Ray before the 2000 season, Sherm moved to the Minnesota Vikings for two seasons under head coach Dennis Green, the team was 16-16 during that time, Sherm was out of football in 2002, then on to Detroit for two seasons under head coach Steve Mariucci, the Lions were 11-21 during that time.

Sherm's coaching experience goes back to west coast offense progenitor Bill Walsh as running backs coach in San Francisco, Sherm then worked with Mike Holmgren in Green Bay so there is a direct path down to Jim Zorn's coaching generation, coach Zorn of course having worked for Mike Holmgren for eight years in Seattle before coming to Washingtion.

The big idea here from the Redskins boardroom appears to be that Sherm Lewis is a west coast offense authority and will be able to look at the playbook, the playcalling, the personnel and the game management and be able to offer some veteran advice without being a threat to horn in on Jim Zorn's action or have any reason not to improve the team, Sherm was never really a playcaller at the NFL level and coach Zorn has already playcalled more games than Sherm did in his one season as designated playcaller.

Which is great in theory, but what happens if Sherm does anything other than validate coach Zorn's approach? How exactly will Sherm deliver advice, or quote tinker unquote with the offense without undermining coach Zorn's authority? What are Sherm's responsibilities to the front office? Will he be in closed door meetings with owner Dan Snyder and shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato, delivering his assessments?

And while Sherm and coach Zorn may be from the same coaching tree and coached in similar systems and worked for the same people at different times, they have never actually worked together. Anyone that knows enough about football coaching knows coaches would rather struggle and get better with the ones they know than to be paired with someone they do not know.

I can tell you meddling is a quick way to piss off your coach and make him look at getting fired and getting paid that last year of his contract to do nothing as a better alternative to hearing second hand filter from the consultant through the owner on what should change about the way he has been running the team for nearly two years. And that is not to say I am in the tank for Jim Zorn, just to say that whatever it is the Redskins have or have left right now, they are in danger of losing it.


Quick media reaction to this hiring has not been on the side of this being an on the level attempt to help the head coach improve the team, thanks to Dan Dan the Sports Bog man for the helpful links (op. cit.):

John Keim at the Washington Examiner was the bleakest for Redskins fans, he talked to an NFL general manager that said this move sets the team up for a new west coast offense playcaller, if things do not turn around and soon the team fires Jim Zorn, names Greg Blache head coach and Sherm Lewis offensive coordinator. I think this move would spell disaster for the team, wash out 2009 as a season and set the team back to square zero, needing a new coach and quarterback.

Our old buddy Jason La Canfora at the NFL (Network) noted that now the team has someone on staff that may (may) be qualified to call the plays, this sets the team up for a scenario in which coach Zorn is relieved of playcalling duties but remains the head coach and quarterbacks coach. I can see this as a plausible scenario, coach Zorn relinquishes playcalling but can still work on developing Jason Campbell and will still be involved in gameplanning. I would be he could even register an occasional in game strong suggestion to Sherm as re: playcalls, like Joe Gibbs was rumored to have with Al Saunders.

Personally I see this as getting out the old vaudeville hook for coach Zorn. In football as in life it is hard to take a step back in a relationship, I am not sure I see Jim Zorn doing anything for the Redskins other than what he is doing now, for better or for worse.

Raise your hand if you think this was coach Zorn's idea. In fact I will bet you he argued all the way against this idea until he realized everyone in the room was looking at him in silence. Charley Casserly is right, this is a kiss of death.

Jim Zorn: RedskinsTV.com via DC Sports Bog here.