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Zorn earning respect from one coaching peer

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Updated Oct. 06, 2010 @ 7:27 p.m.
By Eric Edholm

I traded emails yesterday and today with a coach who has spent some time around Jim Zorn in the past and who has talked to him "in the past few weeks."

As the coach said to me, "This can be a brutal business. But you can't let it get to you. You can't let it (take) your pride. And that's what Jimmy's (not) doing, not letting him win."

Him, as you can imagine, equals Daniel Snyder.

I just happened to be talking to this coach, who asked to be nameless for this account, although I am not sure what he fears because this man appears smart enought to never take a job from Snyder given what he has seen happen to his friend, Zorn. But maybe he's just being low-key and not wanting to step on his friend's toes from afar.

Interesting timing, this email chain. Today, Steve Largent went on a Seattle sports-talk show and blasted Snyder publicly, defending his former QB.

I think Zorn is a decent guy who has gotten his feet lopped off from underneath him. Apparently, the Redskins do not value the role of play-caller, though, because in the past two seasons they now have given it to a coach who never has called plays (Zorn) and to a "consultant" who was brought in two weeks ago as an "extra set of eyes" (Sherm Lewis) despite having been out of the league for four-plus years.

Zorn would have been committing career suicide had he turned down the Redskins' head-coaching job two years ago, especially after he had been hired first as the coordinator. it would have been terribly awkward had he stayed in Washington, and had he left other teams might have seen it as a sign of weakness or of someone who didn't want to be a head coach or could not handle the pressure.

Now I think Zorn is handling it well. There have been various reports, confirmed by Largent's comments today, that Zorn considered stepping down Sunday night or Monday morning after he was stripped of play-calling duties.

But he's not backing down, which is what management wanted (it no longer would be on the hook for his salary), and yet he still appears to have the support of a good portion of the locker room despite the turmoil. Sure, some players (ahem, Clinton Portis) are not Zornophiles, but not every coach is loved by every player.

And I think the image of Zorn around the league is a good one. I expect him to hook up with a team as a QB coach after this season (yes, I think he will be employed elsewhere) and be a candidate for a West Coast offensive team in 2011 or thereafter. He is a bright, young coach who could hook up with his old boss, Mike Holmgren, should he come out of retirement next year.

Here's hoping that Zorn's irreconcilable differences with Snyder don't hurt his reputation in the NFL and prevent him from getting a good job with another team.

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