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Zorn Says He'll Call Plays On Offense

Head coach Jim Zorn has decided he will be the primary play-caller on offense next season.

Zorn confirmed the decision in a press release on Friday announcing the hiring of Sherman Smith as offensive coordinator.

Zorn explained the roles that he and Smith will have in directing the offense.

"While I will call the plays during the games, our entire offensive staff will be putting together our game plan each week and Sherman will lead those efforts both in our offensive staff meetings and in our player meetings," Zorn said.

Zorn has said he will bring a West Coast offense approach to the Redskins.

On Jan. 26, Zorn was named the Redskins' offensive coordinator, with the expectation that he would call plays.

After Zorn was was elevated to head coach on Feb. 9, he said he would re-evaluate that decision.

In the end, Zorn decided to take on the responsibility of calling offensive plays. As the play-caller, he will be able to talk one-on-one with the quarterback on the field via headset.

It's the first time Zorn has served as a play-caller in his NFL coaching career. He was a pro quarterback for 12 seasons, so he has plenty of experience directing offenses.


Don't include Andre Carter among people surprised that Jim Zorn is the Redskins' head coach. In his two seasons in Washington, Carter says he expects the unexpected.

"There was no real shock from me," Carter said. "I'm just glad we can get set to go, be at ease and get a chance to learn from [Zorn]."

In San Francisco the first five years of his NFL career, Carter played for Steve Mariucci, who like Zorn hails from the Mike Holmgren coaching tree.

"The one thing that impressed me was that [Zorn] worked for Mike Holmgren for a few years," Carter said. "Coaches like that feed off of other coaches, but at the same they develop their own style, too."

Greg Blache, Carter's position coach the last two seasons, has taken over leadership of the Redskins' defense.

Carter is coming off his best season since 2002, his second season in the NFL. He had 55 tackles and 10.5 sacks last season, plus a safety in the Redskins' 34-3 win over Detroit in Week 5.


Through the years, the Redskins have promoted 10 assistants from within the organization as head coaches, but the hiring of Jim Zorn is unprecedented in team history, notes Michael Richman, author of The Redskins Encyclopedia.

In Redskins history, no one has ever been hired as an assistant in the offseason, then promoted to Redskins head coach before the regular season even started.

"The closest the Redskins ever came to this was when owner George Preston Marshall tapped Joe Kuharich, who had been hired as the Redskins' offensive line coach in January 1954, to replace Curly Lambeau as head coach after two exhibition games that season," Richman said.

"Lambeau went 10-13-1 in his first two seasons in Washington in 1952-53. After his Redskins were pounded by the Rams and 49ers in the first two 1954 exhibition games, Marshall fired him.

"Kuharich went 26-32-2 in five seasons in D.C."

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