Steve Kelley | In world of NFL coaching, Jim Zorn has arrived
On Sunday, as the Seahawks lost for the ninth time in 11 games and the fourth time in a row, it is worth taking a moment to celebrate Jim Zorn's success.
Seattle Times staff columnist
Any more questions? Anybody still doubt that Jim Zorn is ready to be an NFL head coach?
Anybody still question whether that man on the other sideline, wearing the burgundy sweat shirt Sunday, wouldn't have been the best choice as the next head coach of the Seattle Seahawks?
Anybody doubt that the left-handed Zorn doesn't have the right stuff?
"I feel good about his success," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "He is wired correctly. A little different than I am, but wired correctly. He communicates well and his players are responding. He seems to be the perfect guy for that young quarterback [Jason Campbell]. When you put all that stuff together, it should work."
It's way too late to worry whether that "stuff" might have worked in Seattle, if general manager Tim Ruskell had promised Zorn the Hawks head coaching job after this final season for Holmgren instead of assistant coach Jim Mora.
And it's too early to doubt whether Ruskell made the right choice in Mora.
But Sunday, as the Hawks lost for the ninth time in 11 games and the fourth time in a row, it is worth taking a moment to celebrate Zorn's success.
He came home Sunday and coached the Washington Redskins to a 20-17 got-to-have-it win over the team that launched his professional career in 1976.
Zorn, the original Seahawks quarterback, probably was the fourth or fifth choice for the Redskins' job last January. He was first hired to be Washington's offensive coordinator.
But he is proving himself in one of the most demanding and obsessed markets in pro football. His calm, considered, slightly off-center personality is working in D.C.
"When they were looking and having a hard time figuring out who [the coach] was going to be," Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said, "it just was an obvious thing to me. You have your guy right there, so I'm glad that it worked out for him."
Zorn, who spent 17 years with the Seahawks, including the last seven as quarterbacks coach, called this win "cool."
It broke a two-game losing streak and moved his team into the thick of the crowded NFC wild card race at 7-4.
More than just cool, the win was emotionally gratifying. It was a necessary step in his coaching growth. A tough-minded win on the road. A win in the din of Seattle. A win over future Hall of Fame coach Holmgren, one of his mentors.
"It was very competitive," Zorn said of his Coach v. Coach against Holmgren. "The game was exhausting, really exhausting. I could see it on Mike and he could see it on me.
"I just wanted to make sure I stayed steady [during the game]. I always talk about 'acting medium.' I wanted to stay steady and concentrate on the things I had to do and not worry about all the little nuances of what a special game this was."
But in the final minute, after Shawn Springs intercepted one last-chance Hasselbeck pass, the Washington coach wrapped his arm around Shaun Alexander and celebrated.
"Now I can reflect back and say that I got a win over Mike Holmgren. That's something. That's not just split pea soup. That's a pretty good deal and I'm excited about that. And to watch Matt work and to watch him continue to impress, I mean, we had a tough go with him [today] and to come out on top and do what we did today to stop him, that's a pretty good deal."
After it was over, Zorn hugged assistant head coach Stump Mitchell, who came with him from Seattle. He met Holmgren at midfield and sought out his former pupils, Hasselbeck and backup quarterback Seneca Wallace.
Zorn's grin was incandescent.
"Just to come back home, a guy who played here, coached here, kids live here, to play against a coach who gave him an opportunity to be who he is today and for him to get a victory, I'm sure it means a lot," wide receiver Santana Moss said.
Very few players or coaches are more closely identified with the Seahawks than Zorn. He is part of the sports culture of this city. His name is written on the mezzanine level of Qwest Field, a member of the Seahawks' Ring of Honor, inducted in 1991.
And to come back to Seattle, in his first season as a head coach, to win a crucial November game, is a sign he has arrived.
"At the end of the game I told [Shaun Alexander], 'We got 'em here," Zorn said. "This was tough. I wasn't making any smart aleck remark or anything like that. He knows how hard it is to win here when you're the opponent. To get the win and to know what it takes to win in a place like this, with the fans here, I think we did something today."
Celebrate this win for Jim Zorn. Another victory that proves he can handle the hum and the heat and the searing pressure of coaching in the capital, coaching in the NFL.
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
firstname.lastname@example.org | 206-464-2176
UPDATE - 9:02 PM
Steve Kelley: What happened to the once-scary Huskies?
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.
(Courtesy of LeMay — America's Car Museum) New LeMay exhibit to look at NASCAR LeMay — America's Car Museum in Tacoma will look at the wil...
Post a comment