Inside the Ravens with Aaron Wilson

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Zorn set to revisit Redskins, Fedex Field


Jim Zorn isn't consumed by bitterness, grudges or hard feelings.

The Baltimore Ravens' quarterback coach hasn't spoken with Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder since the night he was fired as head coach a few hours after returning from the Redskins' season finale in San Diego.

And it doesn't sound like Zorn has plans to seek out Snyder when the Baltimore Ravens face the Redskins Saturday night in a preseason game at FedEx Field.

It figures to be an emotional evening for Zorn as he'll be on the opposing sideline after coaching the Redskins for the past two seasons.

Known for his positive demeanor, Zorn didn't stray from the high road during an interview after practice Tuesday at McDaniel College.

"What is the right way [to deal with it]? You just get fired, thank you very much and you move on." Zorn said. "I really think that's how we have to handle it, or we could go sit in our rooms for a few weeks and mope and feel sorry for ourselves.
It's not the way life is, really. We're called to handle difficult situations as well as glorious situations."

It was an extremely rough year for Zorn last season.

One year removed from a somewhat promising 8-8 campaign as a rookie head coach, the Redskins went into a downward spiral.

They nosedived to 4-12.

Zorn was embarrassed when he was relieved of offensive play-calling duties six games into the season having lost four games. The Redskins gave the responsibilities to assistant Sherman Lewis even though it had been years since Lewis had called plays or worked in the NFL.

Introspective by nature whether he's coaching or riding his trademark mountain bike, Zorn said he learned a lot from the experience even though it didn't turn out the way he wanted it to.

"It's an exciting position, it really is," Zorn said. "It's intense. There are so many details of the football game. You do feel like the intensity level is very high. You can't have an error, you can't have a mistake. That's what we coach to: perfection.

"I think that's been brought out in me extensively. It's kind of to the max. When you think about a position coach versus the head coach. ... There's just sort of a heightened awareness there."

The Ravens are acutely aware of Zorn's contribution.

As a former Seattle Seahawks quarterback who set several franchise records, Zorn has provided a lot of perspective to Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.

And the Ravens know this will be a big night for Zorn as he returns to square off against his former employers, who are still paying his salary out of the remaining years on his contract.

"Jim Zorn, obviously, we've had fun with it," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "And it's going to be very meaningful for him. I hope the Redskins fans are very respectful. This is a good man. He's a great coach.

"He's brought a lot to us as a Raven, and I know he gave his heart and soul for the Redskins for two years. That's kind of what it's all about. It's a tough business, but we're proud to have him here. He's meant so much to our quarterbacks and to our team, and he's made us a better football team."

Harbaugh and Zorn got to know each other over the past few years as both were hired as head coaches two years ago.

Both are active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and their wives got to know each other, too.

"We had become good friends just being up the road from them," Harbaugh said. "We had developed a little bit of a relationship with the families. So, we'd been talking pretty much all the way through."

Once quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson accepted the Oakland Raiders' offer to become their offensive coordinator, it wasn't long before Zorn interviewed for the vacancy. He met with Harbaugh and other team officials at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and a deal was quickly worked out.

"When Hue Jackson had the opportunity to go to Oakland as the offensive coordinator, then the dialogue changed," Harbaugh said. "We were just very fortunate that he chose to come here."

The most emotional aspect of the reunion for Zorn is likely to take place on the field before kickoff and after the game.

That's when players and coaches congregate and traditionally have a few conversations.

Zorn figures to be warmly received.

"I got close to some of those players that are on that team, so I wish them well, but we all move on," Zorn said. "My concentration is now to help this football team win. I'm really excited about being a part of the Ravens.

"That's where my concentration is. I don't spend a lot of time going, ‘Gosh, oh gee, whiz, I'm not this or that,' because we don't have time. We're all concentrating and focusing on this football season. That's it."

How's it going to feel for Zorn to run out on the field wearing purple and black instead of burgundy and gold?

What's it going to be like to gaze across the field and see Mike Shanahan running his old football team?

"It'll be different," Zorn said. "I don't know how weird it'll be because my responsibility is to get these quarterbacks ready and get this offense ready in any way I can. That's what I'm doing right now."

If Zorn ever gets another chance to become an NFL head coach again, he says he wouldn't shy away from giving it another shot.

Right now, though, that's not his focus.

He's enjoying what he's doing, working with Flacco, Marc Bulger and Troy Smith.

"I don't know, the circumstance is either going to be there or it's not," said Zorn, who has previously tutored Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Batch. "I'm not in any hurry. If the opportunity arises, I'd like to have the opportunity. I really enjoyed [it]. If I have the opportunity to be here for however long, 10 years in the capacity that I'm in right now, I'm willing."

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