Doug Farrar on new Offensive Coordinator Jim Zorn

You should know who Doug Farrar is. He's a Staff Writer for Football Outsiders (you all know my thoughts on FO) and also writes for Scout's Seahawks.NET, meaning he's loaded with knowledge on one of the newer members of the Redskins staff, O-Coordinator Jim Zorn, formerly of Seattle. I asked and he was gracious enough to answer me on Jim Zorn and what we should expect, generally, and Doug had nothing but good things to say:

As far as Zorn, the first word that comes to mind is "integrity". Integrity in his personal life, in his methodology, in everything he does. This is a guy who's in Seattle's Ring of Honor as a quarterback, had some great NFL seasons, won the 1976 NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year award, and he spent 1988 through 1996 as a quarterback coach/offensive assistant for three colleges. There are no airs about him. He has no entitlement issues - in fact he liked to ride his bicycle from home to practice in his second go-round with the Seahawks. He's got a lot of knowledge and he's not content to sit back and do things the traditional way. His QB drills have consisted of dodgeball (footwork and agility), Slip-and-Slides (QB slides), and having his players throw footballs into small nets yards away (accuracy, competitiveness). But everything has a purpose, and he's a guy who will pore over all the film it is possible to watch in order to make Campbell the best quarterback he can be. It says a lot that someone as anal retentive about and possessive of his quarterbacks as Mike Holmgren trusted Zorn as he did.

In the larger scheme issue, Seattle runs a modified version of the West Coast offense through Holmgren's tenure. It wasn't a pass-wacky gameplan until the second half of this year, when the running game fell apart and the Seahawks had to rely on Hasselbeck to get to the playoffs. I would liken it to the Elway-Davis Broncos of the late 1990s, very balanced, with a little more passing to the backs thrown in (he likes to do it more than he has because Alexander was a better runner than he was a receiver when he was elite). Zorn's a really good fit with a system that features versatile backs and less-than-elite receivers (that's not a slam on Moss and Randle El; Hasselbeck hasn't had any "A-guys" through the Seahawks' recent great seasons) in an integrated offense. The offense he has seen since 2001 features a lot of inside slants, skinny posts - quick passes designed to get YAC. Not sure how that jibes with the Saunders offense, but Holmgren teaches an offense that is ruthlessly efficient when it's on, and still pretty effective when it's having a collective bad day. More options than a defense can cover is the general idea.

I think it's a great fit, Zorn's a guy who's primed and ready for this promotion, and the Redskins will benefit from his presence.

All good news, especially regarding the personnel. I think we do have versatile backs in CP and Betts, the latter being the better receiver coming out of the backfield and the former being capable enough on short yardage, a great blocker, and very good once he gets into the open field. Our receiving unit could use some work, but by no means has it been dramatically outclassed by Seattle's (even if their overall offense has dramatically outclassed us consistently in recent years) receiving unit.

This coaching swap betwixt Seattle and Washington is a good mini-lesson on the law of unintended consequences. This isn't me complaining about the way things turned out (it would be a little early to declare Jim Zorn's tenure in Washington a failure, what without a single snap to his credit) but still fascinating to note. I mentioned Lazor going to Seattle last night to a friend of mine and perhaps piled it on as just one more error of Dan Snyder in refusing any kind of continuity for young Jason Campbell. He, my friend, said I'd gone too far, Bill Lazor left the Redskins. But I pointed out that had Snyder never fired Al Saunders, he wouldn't have had to hire a new offensive coordinator, which meant Seattle would still have their quarterbacks coach and, thus, no need for ours. Funny how that works out.

Anyways, I wish Bill Lazor the best when he's not against us, and Jim Zorn the best all the time. My thanks again to Doug Farrar for taking the time to answer my inquiries on Zorn.

PS: Also, Doug told me that this probably marked the end of the zone blocking era in Washington, which had enjoyed some success and use under Saunders. That's unfortunate, in my opinion, since the players tended to react very positively to the zone blocking scheme (even if opponents didn't; defensive linemen hate it). Oh well.

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