Ugly loss won’t help Zorn’s long-term prospects

Washington Redskins coach Jim Zorn’s long-term future with the club might have taken another hit after the franchise’s 19-14 loss on Sunday to Detroit, ending the Lions’ 19-game losing streak.

As the clock ticked down, Washington owner Dan Snyder watched the game with a clenched jaw and one source said the owner was obviously disappointed.

Photo Since starting 6-2, Redskins coach Jim Zorn has fallen to 3-8. Shutdown Corner reaction
(Paul Sancya/AP Photo)

“Yeah, this is the low moment,” the source said. “It’s not good. I don’t know which way this is going to go right now, but [Snyder] didn’t pay all this money to have this result, especially on offense.”

Zorn, in just his second season with Washington, has been dealing with speculation about his future going back to the end of last season. Initially hired as the Redskins offensive coordinator in January 2008 then elevated to head coach two weeks later despite never serving as a coordinator elsewhere, Zorn has seen his offense devolve into a major disappointment since the Redskins opened the season 6-2 last year.

In the 11 games since, Washington has gone 3-8 and has averaged just 12.7 points per game. Washington flirted with replacing starting quarterback Jason Campbell(notes) in the offseason, but was unsuccessful in trading for Jay Cutler(notes) or moving up in the NFL draft to select Mark Sanchez(notes).

In the past two games, the Redskins have scored 23 total points, were held without a touchdown by St. Louis at home in Week 2 and shut out by Detroit in the first half on Sunday.

Zorn’s lack of an extensive résumé and the inability of the offense to click on a consistent basis have started to erode his credibility in the locker room.

Zorn’s play-calling has been openly questioned in the past by running back Clinton Portis(notes). While a teammate said that Portis was off-base in some of his criticism, he believes that more players are becoming disgruntled with Zorn.

“Hey man, perception is reality,” the player said as he left the locker room. “We’re playing a team that didn’t stop anybody the first two weeks and we can’t get it going. It’s frustrating. Coach Zorn is a good man, but players don’t care about that if you ain’t winning.”

The player also pointed out that the Redskins didn’t handle the final 1:12 of the game well after having to spend all their timeouts going into that possession.

“We play too careful in some situations and it kills us. We throw to the middle of the field too much when we can’t stop the clock. Like I said, it’s just frustrating,” the unnamed player said.

However, Campbell disagrees with the notion of Zorn being solely the blame for Washington’s problems.

“It’s definitely not one person. It should not be on Coach Zorn at all,” said Campbell, after throwing for 340 yards. “We all have to uphold our part. We all have to go out and play. People can’t put this all on one person. If you’re a guy finger-pointing, then you’re wrong because we all have something that we can improve on.”

After the game, Zorn was inexact with his explanation.

“Well, there’s not many words to say yet,” Zorn said in a post-game news conference. “We did not treat this team lightly. We knew this team was good. They came in and got out ahead, but we certainly were not out of the game. Again, it’s about us taking care of details. … I believe that’ll be the difference once we look at it.”

While his future is seemingly bordering on bleak right now, Zorn could get a boost in the next three weeks because the Redskins face a weak schedule. They host Tampa Bay, play at Carolina and then host Kansas City in the next three games. Those teams are a combined 0-8 so far this season.

Jason Cole is a national NFL writer for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Jason a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Sunday, Sep 27, 2009