Jim Zorn, a veteran coach of 20 years and a renowned former NFL quarterback, today was named Head Coach of the Washington Redskins, succeeding Hall of Fame Coach Joe Gibbs, who retired Jan. 8.
"I've always dreamed of being a head coach with a franchise rich in tradition like the Redskins," Zorn said. "As a player who had to fight Redskins teams at RFK as well as at our home field, I know about the history of this franchise as well as the passion of its fans. I won't let you down."
"We're proud that our search was diligent, thorough, and resulted in today's announcement," said team owner Daniel M. Snyder. "Jim's track record and reputation as a player, great teacher, and as a coach makes us confident that they will translate to success for the Redskins."
Zorn, who signed a five-year contract with the team, spent seven seasons as quarterbacks coach for the Seattle Seahawks under head coach Mike Holmgren, where they shared in playoff trips for the past five seasons and one Super Bowl appearance.
His elevation to head coach at the Redskins adds his name to Holmgren's "family tree" of quarterback coaches who moved into the head coaching ranks, joining Andy Reid (directly from quarterback coach to the Eagles head coach), Jon Gruden, Marty Mornhinweg and Steve Mariucci.
Holmgren's tree also includes Jim Mora, Dick Jauron, Ray Rhodes and Mike Sherman.
Zorn said he was excited about working with the Redskins from the first moment the team contacted him.
"I know about the history and great fans of the Redskins. I played against the Redskins. I played against our two newest Hall of Famers, Art Monk and Darrell Green," Zorn said. "Like all Redskins fans, I am a long-time admirer of Joe Gibbs.
"Thanks to him, today's Redskins have a solid foundation that will serve us well. I expect great things of our team, and hold myself accountable for providing the leadership to make us successful."
Zorn broke into the National Football League in 1976 as the first quarterback for the expansion Seahawks, starting all 14 games and earning AFC Rookie of the Year honors.
Zorn is one of only eight players in the Seahawks' Ring of Honor.
"Playing experience like Jim's is an enormous advantage for a head coach," said Gibbs. "Every move he makes, every play he calls, is based on the foundation of having actually played in real time and in the face of real opponents. You can't learn that on the sidelines or in the classroom."
"Dan and Vinny worked extremely hard on this process, and their research and diligence paid off after many long nights and hard hours. They're to be congratulated for that," Gibbs said.
"Dan was impressed with Jim from their first meeting. The first time he talked to me about hiring Jim I could tell what a strong impression he had made," Gibbs added. "Jim was a heck of a player, I know because I had to coach against him. But everyone also knows what a high-quality person he is, it's the first thing people tell you."
"I'm also extremely excited about the fact that Dan has maintained such stability and continuity among the staff. Not just the coaches, but also the entire infrastructure--strength coaches, medical staff, and others--that is required to maintain chemistry on a team," Gibbs said.
The Redskins began their search for a new coach on Jan. 9, following Gibbs' decision to retire.
Snyder, Executive Vice President for Football Operations Vinny Cerrato,and other team officials evaluated more than 50 potential candidates for the head coaching job over two days and selected 10 for interviews, which began Jan. 10.
"We knew of Jim's stellar offensive reputation, so we hired him as coordinator, but we also suspected he would be a strong candidate for head coach," Snyder said. "After our first six-hour interview with him, I told Joe (Gibbs), ?This guy would make a terrific head coach.'"
"But we stayed true to our commitment to interview every candidate. That took longer than expected because the Giants kept moving through the playoffs. Once we completed our interview with Steve Spagnuolo and concluded a day of discussion about all candidates, I called Jim and asked him to meet for lunch," Snyder continued. "I told him we were considering him as the next head coach, and asked if he wanted to move forward. Without hesitation he said "absolutely," and that's all I needed to hear."
"We spent two days taking Jim through the same interview process as every other candidate. Those sessions only confirmed my earlier comment to Joe (Gibbs): Jim Zorn will be a terrific head coach," Snyder said.
"I appreciate our fans' patience during this process. We promised a full search and we stuck to that promise. I also want to thank Joe (Gibbs) for his daily encouragement to stay the course, be patient, and fully interview everyone we identified as a potential head coach," Snyder added. "I also want to thank all the candidates for their time and hard work. They are all strong coaches and good people."
Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins Executive Vice President of Football Operations, said, "I'm proud of our work over the past 30 days, and I'm excited by the outcome. e worked seven days a week, late into the night. We were thorough, professional, and detailed. Our process was designed to identify the best candidate and it did.
"Jim (Zorn) is the only coach we offered the job to, contrary to some reports."
Zorn began his NFL coaching career following nine years as a quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator at Boise State, Utah State and the University of Minnesota. He joined the Seahawks in 1997 as an offensive assistant.
The next season he moved to the Detroit Lions as quarterbacks coach, where he was instrumental in the development of rookie quarterback Charlie Batch. In his rookie season, Batch's 88.3 passer rating ranks as the fourth-highest rookie mark in NFL history.
Holmgren brought Zorn to the Seahawks as quarterbacks coach in 2001, where he coached current Seahawk quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, Trent Dilfer and Brock Huard.
In 2002, Dilfer began the season as the starter, with Hasselbeck stepping in to complete the season. That year, Seattle's passing attack ranked third in the NFL and Hasselbeck finished the season ranked first in the NFC with a 63.7 completion percentage and second in the NFC with a 87.8 passer rating.
With Hasselbeck entrenched as Seattle's starter, Zorn has worked with Holmgren in implementing the team's offense while also continuing the development of the quarterback.
Hasselbeck, now a perennial Pro Bowler, continues to rank among the NFL's best quarterbacks. Similarly, the Seahawk's offense regular ranks among the NFL elite.
Zorn, 54, and his wife Joy have four children: Rachel, Sarah, Danielle, and a son, Isaac. Rachel is married to Neal Mitchell. They have a one-month old daughter Hollis Joy.
Jim and Joy Zorn are active in Medical Teams International and Pro Athletes Outreach.
Medical Teams International is dedicated to implementing and supporting programs that address the causes and effects of inadequate health care worldwide. Their teams of medical, dental and other health professionals volunteer their expertise to serve hospitals and clinics worldwide.
Pro Athletes Outreach is led by former NFL offensive tackle Norm Evans and his wife Bobbe in its training of professional athletes and their wives to become leaders in Christ. In 1998, Pro Athletes Outreach expanded its scope to provide conferences to help train and equip coaches to support their work with athletes.