Jim Mora, Jim Zorn could have both coached in Seattle
A year ago, Jim Zorn and Jim Mora were both Seahawks assistants looking for head-coaching jobs in football. Mora could have been, in hindsight should have been, named as Tyrone Willingham's replacement at Washington. Zorn could have been and should have been named to replace Mike Holmgren of the Seahawks after this year.
Seattle Times staff columnist
A year ago, they were both in Seattle. Both were assistants looking for head-coaching jobs.
They were here, and they were ready for the next step, the next stop.
This is a tale of two Jims, Zorn and Mora. What might have been and what is. The solutions that weren't.
In a perfect world, Seattle could ask for a mulligan, a do-over to start fixing its football emergency.
It could ask, as referees sometimes do, for the clock to be set back to, say, late last autumn, after the Apple Cup, when Washington football was beginning its free fall, and before Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren had decided his future.
The solutions were there, right in front of us, as obvious as Mount Rainier.
The answers to the troubles at Washington and to the future of the Seahawks were a pair of Jims.
It could have happened, but it didn't.
Jim Mora, the assistant head coach of the Seahawks and a former Husky, could have been, in hindsight should have been, named as Tyrone Willingham's replacement at Washington.
He would have reawakened the Tyee Club. He would have opened up the program, invited the entire state to practices, revved up recruiting and outworked every coach in the Pac-10.
Mora is a great communicator. He could have been the Northwest's Pete Carroll. The rebuilding plan already could have begun. There would be energy, instead of ennui, on Montlake.
Hiring Mora would have been the right call. He still bleeds purple and, quietly, he probably relished the idea of returning to his alma mater. He would have felt it almost was his duty as a Husky to come back and repair the mess.
But Washington decided to give Willingham a fourth year, and Mora, who is in charge of the Seahawks' suddenly shaky secondary, was named to succeed Holmgren after this swan-song season.
In this lost season, when the Huskies and Seahawks are a combined 1-8, we are left to think about what might have been.
While the Hawks were losing by 38 points last Sunday to the Giants, Zorn, just a short drive down the New Jersey Turnpike, was coaching the Washington Redskins to their fourth win in a row in Philadelphia.
Last year Zorn was the Seahawks' quarterbacks coach. He was Matt Hasselbeck's muse, a bundle of kinetic energy and sound coaching principles.
After seven seasons as a Seahawks assistant, he was ready to become a head coach. And it could have happened here.
Instead, Zorn, a Washington outsider, has become the ultimate Beltway insider. He has won the hearts and minds of fans there, not an easy task.
Washington is 4-1. It has won consecutive games at Dallas and Philadelphia and, with games against St. Louis, Cleveland and Detroit looming, it should be 7-1 by Halloween.
This is not to say that Mora won't succeed with the Seahawks. But imagine the excitement this city would be feeling with one Jim at the University of Washington and the other Jim preparing to replace Holmgren.
Losing makes a town feel whimsical. And no city in America feels more pain and knows more about losing in 2008 than Seattle.
And now losing Zorn hurts as much as losing games.
Jim Zorn is as much a Seahawk as Tommy Lasorda is a Dodger. But he is in Washington now, remaking Jason Campbell into one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL.
Through the first five games, Campbell's quarterback rating is 96.7. After throwing 17 interceptions in the first 20 games of his career, Campbell hasn't thrown one this season.
A classic dropback, pocket passer, he has been transformed by Zorn into a quick-flick, West Coast kid.
Meanwhile, without Zorn, Hasselbeck has struggled. Last season he threw 27 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. He had an efficiency rating of 91.4. In the first quarter of this season, he has thrown for only two touchdowns and has been intercepted four times. His rating is 57.7.
Of course Hasselbeck has had to deal with the injury plague that cost him all of his experienced wide receivers. And he has bravely played through back and knee problems.
But he hasn't been the same without Zorn.
And in this autumn of our discontent we look at a pair of Jims and wonder about solutions to Seattle pigskin problems that no longer exist.
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or firstname.lastname@example.orgWho's our biggest loser?
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UPDATE - 9:02 PM
Steve Kelley: What happened to the once-scary Huskies?
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom describes some of the factors that may have led to the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon on Thursday, May 23.