Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Jim Zorn Would Not Be a Good Fit in Chicago

Don't do it Jim

Now that the smoke of getting fired has blown over, Jim Zorn's name is surfacing as a candidate for other NFL jobs, we always knew, no matter how bad it got, that Jim Zorn had made a lot of friends in thirty years in the league and there would be PLENTY of suitors that would not hold his Washington experience against him, at least for positions below head coach.

First it was Cleveland, that speculation swirled mainly before new president Mike Holmgren decided to keep head coach Eric Mangini, the only way I see Jim Zorn on coach Mangini's staff is if Mike Holmgren forces coach Mangini to take Jim, which would mean coach Mangini is as neutered as Jim Zorn was in Washington, and I think Mike Holmgren is more of an adult that that, he would rather see Eric Mangini fail on his own than be known as a meddler.

Now it is Chicago, after the Bears' disappointing 7-9 season team leadership stripped head coach Lovie Smith of defensive playcalling duties and fired most of coach Smith's offensive staff. Now Jim Zorn's name has surfaced as a potential candidate for quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator or both.

I think this is not a good match for Jim Zorn and he should be wary of taking a postion in Chicago, and this is not because I do not want to see Jim coach again or because I think he cannot handle the job because I do want to and think he can.

Jim should not take a position with the Bears for three reasons:

1. Jay Cutler is barely coachable and not teachable. A huge amount of Jim Zorn's 2008 success in Washington was tied to quarterback Jason Campbell's improvement that year. Jason opened 2008 with eight straight games without an interception and only threw six for the year, down from eleven in 2007 on just thirteen starts. Jason also improved his ball protection, fumbling only seven times, down from thirteen in 2007.

Personally, I attribute Jason's improvement in 2008 not only to Jim Zorn's teaching, but also Jason's openness to being taught. It takes a receptive mind to hear the constructive criticism Jim laid on Jason and then take the teacher's input and really internalize it. And Jason did. He listened, he believed in the program and he improved.

The easy way out as an adult that has been in a single profession for a period of years, is simply to smile, say uh-huh a lot, appear engaged and then go back and do what you do. That right there is Jay Cutler. An arrogant and self centered quarterback archetype, he would laugh in Jim Zorn's face.

After watching Jay revel in twisting the league in knots as Jay tried to discredit his new coach in Denver then put interested teams on tenterhooks with speculation on where he would land and how many first round picks he would cost, do you really believe he is open to input about his mechanics and his field vision, even after career highs in interceptions and sacks in 2009? And if he was, do you think he would consider Jim Zorn to have any authority after watching Jim be humiliated in Washington, leaving in disgrace?

Hypothetical interchange:

QB Coach Zorn: Jay, we need to work on your pocket presence, your progressions and check downs.

QB Jay Cutler: Yeah just like when you checked down to
the unemployment line.

2. If it does not work Jim Zorn will get the blame and it will hurt his reputation further. The Bears and general manager Jerry Angelo all but fired Lovie Smith, in fact they Zorned him: took away his specialty playcalling duties and fired his offensive staff out from under him. Lovie Smith in 2010 will be very much like Jim Zorn in 2009. Everyone will be looking for scapegoats.

If Jim comes in and takes a lead role in the offense and it does not work it all has a good chance of landing at Jim's feet, there is already a narrative out there that says Jim's playcalling is suspect and one that says he is not a good leader and one that says he wears off after a few games. Whether you think of these memes as true or real is irrelevant, he will be in a new media market full of lazy sportswriters just like every market, the easy headline to write will be


Lovie Smith can expect to be fired after 2010 if not during, Jim should not open himself to going down with that ship, that is a losing proposition.

3. Jim Zorn should be in no hurry and should wait for the right opportunity. There are many young quarterbacks out there that could benefit from Jim Zorn's tutelage and while the easy story to write may be that Jim's reputation is in tatters, the reality is he is still highly respected for what he has done in Seattle, he still has friends in the NFL.

With another year at 2.4 million dollars coming to him, he should step back and attempt to sublimate his desire to get back in the game right away, to put on a happy face and show that he is not broken by his experience in Washington, in favor of figuring out what he really wants to do in the NFL, how high he really wants to go and then selecting the right opportunity.

Jim Zorn was and is a good guy, I am not going to trash him on the pages of The Curly R, we will be discussing his tenure frankly in the coming weeks.

Jim Zorn: Uncredited image from here via here.


Rich Tandler


While it might benefit Zorn mentally to sit back and collect the cash this year, it's dangerous to sit out for a year with the stench of failure hanging in the air. He'd better snag something or he may be knocking on doors and not getting an answer at this time next year.