Jim Zorn wasn't able to make enough progress with the Redskins to make it past a second season with the team, but he didn't appear bitter about it when he spoke with Pro Football Weekly at the Senior Bowl. In fact, he said he's energized and "ready to work" — either as a head coach, offensive coordinator or QB coach.
Part of the reason that he was unable to hold his job in Washington was the perceived lack of progress with QB Jason Campbell, despite owning the reputation of being a great teacher at the position. The two went through their ups and downs in two seasons, and Campbell actually showed some progress in his second season under Zorn despite a litany of offensive troubles around him. Zorn told PFW he thinks Campbell, who will become a free agent and might not fit into the Redskins' long-term plans, can be a top-tier quarterback in the NFL.
"He has a great chance to be (a Pro Bowl-level QB)," Zorn said. "He needs to continue to improve himself. That's first. Second, he needs help with the overall offensive picture. The run game, the O-line, all those elements. Those can help him play well. I was just proud of the way he played. He was under some duress, and he still played well."
Zorn said he didn't want to make excuses for the injuries the Redskins suffered, including the losses of RB Clinton Portis, OLT Chris Samuels, ORG Randy Thomas and other key offensive players.
"Well, there were a lot of things that happened during the season," he said, "but certainly ... I could name all the things, but then it would just be a bunch of whining, anyway. We played with who we had."
Zorn clearly had little to work with in the ground game, which was the biggest shortcoming overall. Even with Portis and the O-linemen healthy, the ground game offered little. During the first part of the 2008 season, the run game was Zorn's bread and butter, but from that point through the end of his tenure in '09, Portis and the other runners did little with the poor blocking up front.
New head coach Mike Shanahan's run-game system was one of the more underrated elements of his success in Denver, but simply implementing a zone-blocking scheme won't create running success out of thin air. After all, Zorn and his staff used a zone-based scheme at times and still struggled to run the football consistently.
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