Zorn throws himself under the bus

Michael Silver

Editor's note: Michael Silver will not have a Live Trippin' session on Tuesday, Dec. 16. Live Trippin' will return later this month.

Jim Zorn, I'm rooting for you. I really am. I resolved back in February to give you a chance as an out-of-the-box hire, and I hope you survive to coach a second year with the Redskins.

But could you kindly stop bleeding all over the place?

Look, I understand that you're frustrated after losing for the fifth time in six games – to the Bengals, of all teams – which almost certainly doomed your team's once thriving playoff prospects. And I get the fact that you want to make a point of showing your players and your owner that you're blaming no one but yourself for Washington's predicament.

With all of that said, you are supposed to be a leader of men. And whatever your intentions, it's not very leader-of-menish to say, as you did at your news conference Monday, "I feel like the worst coach in America."

I am cringing. I am not the only one. 'Skins fans are cringing. Your players are cringing. Your bosses are cringing. Your loved ones are cringing.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is cringing.

The guy who threw the shoes at President Bush is cringing.

All of us (OK, maybe not the alleged Senate seat-peddler or the enraged shoe-thrower) are wondering whether this will turn out to be your Marty Mornhinweg Motorcycle Moment – the embarrassing public glimpse into your leadership deficiencies that convinces the masses and your boss that you have no chance to succeed at your job.

These people know exactly what I'm talking about:

• Bill Callahan. When the Raiders' coach shouted to reporters, "We've got to be the dumbest team in America in terms of playing the game," after a penalty-plagued 2003 defeat to the Broncos, he completely lost his locker room. Less than a year removed from a Super Bowl appearance, albeit one in which he was humiliated by ex-boss Jon Gruden, Callahan's dismissal was a given. Al Davis did the honors less than a month later, though, in fairness, the owner replaced Callahan with Norv Turner, and the Raiders remain penalty-prone.

• Denny Green. Seven words: "They are who we thought they were." That was the catch-phrase from the Cardinals coach's infamous, expletive-filled tirade to reporters in October 2006 after his team blew a 23-3 lead to the Bears on Monday Night Football. After that meltdown Green completely checked out, and with good reason; he was so fired.

• Mike Tice. Take your pick – was it the Super Bowl ticket-scalping scandal or the Love Boat fiasco? Either likely would've been enough to convince new Vikings owner Zygi Wilf to give the coach the boot after the 2005 season, which Wilf did about an hour after it ended, despite the fact that Tice went 9-7 and won his final game.

• Jimmy Mora. Two years after leading the Falcons to the 2004 NFC championship game, Mora went on the radio in Seattle with KJR-AM's Hugh Millen, his old roommate at the University of Washington, and was asked about the prospect of coaching the Huskies. Though Mora's team was preparing for a pivotal December 2006 game against the Cowboys, and Ty Willingham was employed as Washington's coach, Mora told Millen that the UW gig was his "dream job" and that he'd jump at the chance to take it, even if it were offered while the Falcons were competing in the playoffs. He later claimed he was joking, but Atlanta owner Arthur Blank was not feeling the humor: He fired Mora less than three weeks later after a 7-9 season.

I could go on and on – and I'm sure many of you will via email, which should give us a reason to revisit this subject in a future column. In the meantime, here's our weekly inquisitive glimpse into the NFL's current pecking order, with a significant change at the top:

1. Pittsburgh Steelers: When was the last time you saw an NFL team less stressed while trailing in the fourth quarter?

2. Tennessee Titans: Can this team overcome Albert Haynesworth's injury better than the '07 Titans did?

3. New York Giants: What's up with the offensive line, and can those Merry Pranksters get it together soon?

4. Carolina Panthers: Will "Identity and Theft" steal the thunder of Titans backs LenDale White and Chris Johnson come playoff time?

5. Dallas Cowboys: Given Jerry Jones' anatomical analogy about his football team's makeup, can we conclude that he's a "Team America" fan?

6. Indianapolis Colts: Will Dominic Rhodes, rather than Joseph Addai, be Indy's feature back during the playoffs – and did anyone see that debate coming?

7. Minnesota Vikings: How psyched was Michael Turner to hear about Pat Williams' fractured scapula?

8. Baltimore Ravens: Yo, A.J. Smith – with LeRon McClain moving to halfback, Lorenzo Neal sure doesn't look washed up, does he?

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: If the defensive end formerly known as Greg White starts howling at Philip Rivers from across the line of scrimmage, should we check him for excess body hair?

10. Denver Broncos: Is that Bono caroling to Champ Bailey, or is Mike Shanahan's singing voice just getting more nuanced with age?

11. New England Patriots: Given the sad circumstances, how impressive was Matt Cassel's focus on Sunday?

12. Atlanta Falcons: Is John Abraham teaching the Falcons that, contrary to conventional wisdom, they have to walk before they can crawl?

13. Miami Dolphins: Given Chad Pennington's importance to the team's playoff hopes, wouldn't right now be a good time to stop asking him to block out of the Wildcat formation?

14. Philadelphia Eagles: Did that Asante Samuel investment just pay off?

15. Arizona Cardinals: When Levi Brown – the man the Cards picked instead of Adrian Petersonfell flat on his back while heading to the locker room after Sunday's defeat to the Vikings, could there possibly have been a better metaphor for his team's effort?

16. New York Jets: Given that No. 6 overall pick Vernon Gholston has been an abject disaster, how impressive is the Jets' resurgence in '08?

17. Chicago Bears: By the time they take the field against the Packers on Monday night, will they still have something for which to play?

18. Houston Texans: How ridiculously good is Andre Johnson, and will we ever get to see him in a game that really matters?

19. Washington Redskins: When Santana Moss shined his shoes to celebrate a touchdown catch Sunday, was he suggesting that he wants Jason Campbell to be replaced by this guy?

20. New Orleans Saints: Now that they've officially been eliminated from playoff contention, will they lay down like lambs and fulfill my prediction about the Lions?

21. San Diego Chargers: How clutch was that onside kick, and how crazy is it that this team is still alive?

22. Buffalo Bills: Does Dick Jauron, who reportedly has signed a contract extension through 2011, have compromising photos of Ralph Wilson – or does Wilson just fear that he does?

23. San Francisco 49ers: How much more disciplined and poised do the 49ers look under Mike Singletary, and why do I feel like that's not a coincidence?

24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Is defensive coordinator Gregg Williams really the problem, or is he merely a convenient scapegoat for a confused head coach?

25. Green Bay Packers: Is Aaron Rodgers saving up his comebacks for later in his career, or is he just trying to distance himself from Brett Favre?

26. Cleveland Browns: Does this offense have any fight left in it, or are y'all the biggest frontrunners on earth?

27. Seattle Seahawks: Shouldn't some NFL team give Seneca Wallace a chance to compete for a starting job?

28. Kansas City Chiefs: Yo, Clark Hunt, with all due respect – what took so long?

29. Cincinnati Bengals: When Chris Henry pointed to the sky after his touchdown catch Sunday, was he thanking Mike Brown for giving him yet another chance?

30. Oakland Raiders: How does Nnamdi Asomugha stand it – and will the fantastic corner be stuck in silver and black for another year (or more)?

31. St. Louis Rams: At what point did the official whom Rams receiver Torry Holt accused of looking up at the JumboTron to call a pass interference penalty in Sunday's Rams-Seahawks thriller consider asking the stadium scoreboard operator to switch to a different game?

32. Detroit Lions: I know Calvin Johnson is a talented young player who's excited about his accomplishments, but how ridiculous does it look when a player on a team in the process of falling to 0-14 celebrates after making a first-down catch?