Jim Zorn knew his status as head coach of the Washington Redskins was tenuous back when his team was 1-1 – and coming off a victory, no less.
Ever since then, as the losses have mounted, he’s grown accustomed to the whispers and the stares and the general sense from all sorts of people that his job was in jeopardy.
"It’s kind of all around. I get hit with ‘the look,"’ Zorn said Monday. "And I get all that. I just have to press on. I have to push forward. So I had made a decision, when the first inkling of all this, all the speculation – I think it was after beating the Rams 9-7, you know, earlier in the season – I just made a decision then: I’m going to stay focused and see this through."
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The latest indication next Sunday’s game at the San Diego Chargers will be Zorn’s last with Washington: The leader of the group that monitors compliance with the NFL’s Rooney Rule said the Redskins already have interviewed one of the team’s assistants for the head coaching position.
Fritz Pollard Alliance chairman John Wooten said Monday that secondary coach Jerry Gray interviewed with Redskins owner Dan Snyder several weeks ago. Wooten said the interview satisfies the Rooney Rule that requires teams to talk to a minority candidate when filling a head coaching position. Wooten said it didn’t matter that the job is not yet vacant.
Still, with one game left in what he described as a "morbid" season, Zorn insisted his players’ effort shouldn’t be questioned and said he really would like to finish with a victory over the Chargers.
"I just don’t want to moan and groan about it all. I don’t want to create a situation where people look at me and feel sorry for me. Because some of this, I’m responsible for," said Zorn, who is 6-17 since starting 6-2 with Washington. "I’m the head football coach, and we’ve got four games under our belt. That’s not good, regardless of what the situation is."
With all of the distractions, all of the disorder, surrounding his team, perhaps Zorn can be forgiven for losing track of the losses.
After his club fell to 0-6 against the NFC East and 4-11 overall with yet another blowout defeat on national TV – a 17-0 loss at home to the Dallas Cowboys – Zorn talked Sunday night about being "4-13."
Pssst, Jim: This season might seem interminable, but NFL clubs still play only 16 games.
He poked fun at himself for that Monday, saying he was "delirious."
Asked if it feels as though his team is 4-13, Zorn smiled and said, "Oh, gosh, yeah."
It’s the first time the Redskins went winless in division games since 1994, Norv Turner’s first year as the head coach. That was the last time Washington finished a season with fewer than four victories (3-13).
After Sunday’s loss, cornerback Carlos Rogers also mentioned that game in Week 2 against St. Louis as the beginning of Washington’s problems.
"Since the Rams game, barely beating them, it started downhill from there," Rogers said.
He also referenced all of the off-field distractions – from the hiring of the retired Sherman Lewis to call plays, to the resignation of front-office chief Vinny Cerrato, to defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth‘s complaints – and lamented: "There’s been so much stuff with players, with coaches."
Or as Zorn put it Monday: "Each week, it’s been something different, hasn’t it?"
"I truly am having a great experience. It’s not fun, but it is a great experience," Zorn said. "And there are better days ahead. And I think we’re trying to deal with all the adversity that comes each day."
NOTES: RG Mike Williams won’t play Sunday at San Diego because of a torn muscle in his foot. … S Reed Doughty has a high ankle sprain and probably will be listed as doubtful against the Chargers.