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.