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Style, Substance In Zorn's First Comments

Jim Zorn stood in front of three Super Bowl trophies and a packed gathering at Redskins Park.


Intimidating? You bet.

Still, Zorn embraces the challenge as Redskins head coach. He was formally introduced as the 27th head coach in franchise history in a Sunday afternoon press conference.

"I am very proud to be standing in an organization that has these [three Super Bowl trophies]," he said.

Of course, Zorn's goal is to bring a fourth trophy to Redskins Park. To do that, he believes he must first earn the trust and respect of players, assistant coaches and fans.

That sort of humbleness will take him far in Washington, even if he mistakenly referred to the Redskins' team colors as maroon and black.

"I know I have to earn [trust and respect] and I know I haven't done a thing yet," he said. "But I plan on working hard to earn it."

Through his 50-minute press conference, Zorn showed several sides of his personality.

He was glib. He was insightful. He was reflective. He used words like "grandiose."

At one point, Zorn even sounded a bit like Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee when he noted the month-long process that ended with Zorn being named to succeed Joe Gibbs was not without its "miraculous" elements.

Huckabee, of course, told a College Park, Md., audience on Saturday that he didn't major in math but in miracles.

For Zorn, the miracle was in his sudden rise from quarterbacks coach in Seattle to offensive coordinator of the Redskins to head coach of the Redskins--all in a matter of three weeks.

Headlines that read, "Quarterback Sneak" did not escape Zorn on his big weekend.

"When I was first asked by [Daniel M. Snyder last Thursday afternoon] if I would like to interview for the head coaching position, I was a bit taken aback," Zorn admitted. "I wasn't quite speechless because the first words out of my mouth were, 'Certainly I would like to do that.'

"It is just a bit shocking. After that, I just geared up, got my game face on and tried to get after it."

The process ended with Zorn landing the top job. He is expected to replace himself as offensive coordinator in the coming days, as well as fill out several other assistant coaching positions.

"I want to be here a long time," he said. "I want to make this a career and I hope everybody else will have that same attitude for me. That's how I look at it. I'm very excited about this opportunity."

For all of the style, there was plenty of substance involved in Zorn's first public comments.

He called Jason Campbell the team's starting quarterback, without hesitation.

He spoke about his philosophy for quarterback play: "They always need to 'act medium,'" which according to Zorn means always to stay on an even keel no matter the situation.

He expects to institute a West Coast offense that will be more balanced than other pass-happy versions. He said his system will include a strong ground game and rhythm passing.

"This whole game is about rhythm," Zorn said. "I don't think it is about hanging on to the ball until you see a guy already open and then go, 'He is open, I think I should throw him the ball.' In this game, you are going to get knocked down. You are going to get the ball knocked out of your hand.

"This game is about rehearsing that rhythm in practice. We will rehearse it, rehearse it, so that when the players get to the field, they will have rehearsed it enough they will know what is coming."

He expects coaches and players to make sacrifices to help win games.

"Really, we are here to make sure our players punish themselves," he said. "That is what the NFL is about. Will our players punish themselves? Will they be able to sacrifice and make those sacrifices to win a football game?

"That is what we are all here for as coaches and I have to make sure all that happens."

Lastly, he expects to continue--and improve upon--the success of last year's playoff season.

"What I am coming into I know," he said. "This is a team that is not in a rebuilding program at all. This team was a playoff team last year, as was the team I just came from. I know what we're about to do here. We are already competitive."

The Redskins saw all too much of Seattle's West Coast principles in the 2005 postseason, as well this January. That was Mike Holmgren and Matt Hasselbeck, with a good measure of Jim Zorn sprinkled in.

No one can say for certain how Zorn will fare in his first head coaching job. He made the move from quarterbacks coach in Seattle to offensive coordinator with the Redskins to head coach with the Redskins in what seemed like the blink of an eye.

Of this much, though, he is confident: "I'm coming in to a really good situation."

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