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OC—The Zorn Identity

OC—The Zorn Identity

Jim Zorn has accepted an offer to become the offensive coordinator of the Redskins.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Zorn interviewed for the position but returned to Seattle after that and it seemed likely that he would stay in his current position as the quarterbacks coach of the Seahawks. There, he could have been in line to become Seattle's offensive coordinator after the announced retirement of Mike Holmgren after the 2008 season.

Apparently, Zorn decided to go with the bird in the hand and take the job with the Redskins.

Of course, the Redskins now have this ex-bird in hand while they're still beating the bushes for a new head coach. A couple of days ago, the buzz was that Zorn would be one of a trio of new coaches with Jim Fassel manning the head spot and Rex Ryan of the Ravens becoming the defensive coordinator. It appears that Ryan will remain with the Ravens (although he has yet to sign a new contract with Baltimore), Zorn is in and Fassel remains in limbo.

So what might this move mean in terms of the top job? I'll give another shot at reading the tea leaves here. I'm not sure what it means for Fassel. On the one hand, it would appear (that phrase is used a lot since the Redskins are saying nothing) that Fassel has signed off on Zorn to be his OC since they were linked last Wednesday. On the other hand, if Fassel is going to be the guy, why not go ahead and pull the trigger, giving yourself at least two-thirds of the triple crown of coaches envisioned a few days ago?

Another possibility, one I see as more likely, is that the Redskins have decided that the new head coach will be a defensive specialist—Gregg Williams, Jim Schwartz, or the guy who apparently is holding up this whole thing, Steve Spagnuolo. It has been reported that Williams has signed off on Zorn as the OC. Presumably Schwartz and Spagnuolo would take Rip Torn or Joe Horn as the offensive coordinator if that's what it took to get a shot at a top job.

But why now? As I wrote yesterday, the pool of available assistant coaches is drying up. If the Redskins indeed are going to wait until after the Super Bowl to talk to Spagnuolo, they need to take care of some other areas before all of the quality candidates are locked up. Seattle didn't have to let the Redskins talk to Spagnuolo; permission is only automatic when an assistant coach is interviewing for a head coaching job. Perhaps in a few weeks they might change their mind. If they wanted Zorn, they had to move.

The Redskins can now start to plan for free agency on one side of the ball, at least. Let's say that they take five days to interview Spagnuolo, make their choice, work out the contract, have the press conference and get down to work. That will leave them with three weeks until free agency starts.

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Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked — and what didn't — against Arizona

Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked — and what didn't — against Arizona

CSN has teamed up with The Edge Systems to provide the occasional statistical review of Redskins game film. The Edge is analytical football software currently being used by coaches in the NFL, SEC, ACC and the media, providing some of the fastest and best data in football.

Below is a breakdown of the Redskins run game against Arizona - a game coach Jay Gruden admitted did not feature enough carries for Robert Kelley. 

The Redskins had a lot of success with their GAP runs early in the game.

In the first half they were successful on 75 percent of their GAP runs. 

As the game wore on the Redskins moved away from what had been successful and only ran two GAP runs in the second half.

As their power running game vanishing, mirrored their prospects for winning the game.

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State of the Redskins: Playoff chances trending in the wrong direction

State of the Redskins: Playoff chances trending in the wrong direction

Here is where the Redskins stand in Week 14 of the NFL season.

Record: 6-5-1, 3rd in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 2-2
vs. NFC: 4-4
vs. AFC: 2-1-1
Home: 4-2
Away: 2-3-1

Rankings and changes from Week 13

Offense (yards/game): 418.6 (2nd, no change from Week 13)
Defense (yards/game): 369.6 (23rd, +2)
Points for: 303 (10th, -1)
Points against: 295 (20th, -2)

Passer rating offense:  99.8 (8th, -2)
Opp passer rating: 95.0 (22nd, -3)
Yards/rush attempt: 4.5 (5th, no change)
Opp. yards/rush attempt:
 4.6 (29th, +2)
Weighted DVOA (Football Outsiders): 9.8% (10th, no change)
Playoff chances per FO: 41.5%, -14.1% from last week

Trending the right way: Not much, really. Their ranking in rushing defense improved a couple of notches but mostly because other teams got worse, not because the Redskins put the clamps down on the rushing game.

Trending the wrong way: For the first time in a few weeks the Redskins’ playoff chances are below 50 percent. Two straight losses will do that.  

Top three storylines:

Letting them have it—Jay Gruden is usually supportive of his team after a loss but that was not the case following the Cardinals game. He could be heard speaking to the team in angry tones in the locker room following the loss. We will see if this rare tirade jump-starts the Redskins’ stretch run.

Dealing with injury issues—Not only do the Redskins have to be concerned about the condition of Jordan Reed, whose status is unclear as he rehabs from a shoulder injury he suffered on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas, their starting center is in the concussion protocol. If Spencer Long can’t go the Redskins may have to add a center to back up John Sullivan.

Help wanted—The Redskins need other teams to lose if they want to make the playoffs. They need a little help if they win out to finish 10-5-1; they need more help if they finish at 9-6-1. Scoreboard watching starts at 4:25 on Sunday when the Bucs, a half-game ahead of Washington, host the Saints and continues on Sunday night football with the Cowboys at the Giants.

Next three games

Sunday @ Eagles (5-7)—The Redskins handled them well in October; the final score did not indicate how Washington dominated the game. The Eagles look more like a rebuilding team than a playoff contender and the Redskins could elimate them for all practical purposes

December 19 vs. Panthers (4-8)—The season of the defending NFC champs officially came off the rails on Sunday night when Cam Newton started the game on the bench because he didn’t wear a tie and he ended it looking at the wrong end of a 40-7 beatdown by the Seahawks. Still, the Redskins have never beaten Newton so this is not one that will come easily.

Christmas Eve vs. Bears (3-9)—There is no such thing as an easy game in the NFL but if the Redskins can’t manage to win this one they don’t deserve to make the playoffs.