Other than financially, has anyone been better off after going to work for Daniel Snyder and the Redskins than they were before they got to Washington? Seriously. Has anyone come out looking better for the experience, enhancing their reputation or résumé? Be it a coach, a player, or a front office member? Anyone? Ever?
Zorn and his previously good name is the latest casualty, but he's far from alone in finding out how much a big payday in Washington really costs you. Joe Gibbs took Snyder's money, but in the end he lessened rather than burnished his hallowed and Hall of Fame coaching reputation by returning to D.C. for four mostly mediocre seasons. Steve Spurrier was handsomely paid in Washington, but all he did in his two frustrating years with the Redskins was reveal himself to be a total fraud in regards to his NFL coaching potential, quickly returning to the college game to restore his name.
It took Norv Turner more than three years to land another NFL head coaching gig after Snyder fired him with three games left in the tumultuous 2000 season. And even the solid, proven credentials of Marty Schottenheimer were dented somewhat by his one-year, drive-by coaching stint in Washington, where he went 8-8 before being summarily dismissed in favor of the all-conquering savior that Spurrier first appeared to be.
And let's not forget some respected veteran assistant coaches who passed through Washington in the last decade, and weren't necessarily enhanced by the experience. Al Saunders, Gregg Williams and Bill Musgrave come quickly to mind.
As for all the big-name players who have filtered through the Redskins locker room these past 10 years, cashing check after generous check, who among them enjoyed success in D.C. to match anything they accomplished elsewhere? Certainly not Bruce Smith, Deion Sanders, Jason Taylor, Shawn Springs, Adam Archuleta, Jeremiah Trotter, Mark Carrier, Dana Stubblefield, Jesse Armstead, Mark Brunell, Antwaan Randle El, Andre Carter and Brandon Lloyd (all right, I'll grant you that Brandon Lloyd is not a big-name player, but Washington paid him as if he were).
One national radio host put it rather fittingly while I was on air with him recently: "The Redskins are the reverse car wash. You come in clean, but you leave dirty.'' I myself once got the Redskins management in a tizzy by stating the obvious, that Snyder seems imbued with an "impeccable reverse Midas Touch.'' Other than his knack for adding financial value to his billion-dollar-plus franchise, everything he touches turns into something considerably less than gold.
And now we have Zorn's sad and ugly denouement to add to the list of failures in Washington. He's about to lose a job he never really sought in the first place, while the duties he actually wanted have already been taken away in humiliating fashion. He signed on to be the Redskins offensive coordinator and play-caller, after presumed front-running head coaching candidate Jim Fassel talked him up to Snyder in his own interview for the top job in January 2008. Zorn was promoted shortly thereafter, while Fassel was told, "Thanks, but no thanks.'' At this point, I don't know any more who was the real loser in that scenario: Fassel or Zorn?
It could be that this time, with the cumulative weight of his decade-long track record on his back, Snyder will face a very difficult sell to one of the big-name, Super Bowl-winning head coaches who are available. Maybe $7 million a year is all that will need to be said, but maybe Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher or Mike Holmgren will have other options to weigh against the instability and chaos that seems to perennially reign in Washington.
The Redskins tend to somehow diminish almost everyone they employ, and while the money's always good, the results usually aren't. So be careful what you wish for, Messrs. Shanahan, Gruden, Cowher or Holmgren. How much do you value your good name? Based on recent history, becoming the next coach of the Redskins just isn't worth it. No matter how much loot is dangled in front of your eyes.
• The story about new Redskins play-caller Sherman Lewis working as a bingo caller at a suburban Detroit senior center just two weeks ago is the kind of stuff you just can't make up. All I know is if Lewis's first few calls against the Eagles Monday night wind up being "B-20'' and "G-17,'' Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell might just want to audible.
• So you want to be an NFL head coach? Look around at the picnic that job is. There's Zorn in Sunday's postgame setting, sighing heavily into the microphone and looking like he needs a hug. There's an irritated Andy Reid, lauding the Raiders like they were Lombardi's Packers and offering little explanation of how his previously 3-1 Eagles could look quite that atrocious. There's a slightly subdued Rex Ryan watching his once high-flying Jets continue to swoon, and an "embarrassed'' Jeff Fisher trying to convince himself that he didn't just witness that 59-0 beatdown in Foxboro. And it must be marvelous to be Norv Turner in San Diego these days, as Chargers fans assemble the firing squad.
• I'm starting to think that the biggest losses any teams suffered this offseason were in Baltimore and Tennessee, where the Ravens and Titans saw defensive coordinators Rex Ryan and Jim Schwartz leave for head coaching jobs.
The Ravens and Titans went a combined 24-8 last year in the regular season, but they're already topped that loss total at 3-9 through six weeks of 2009. Clearly something has gone terribly wrong on defense in Baltimore and Tennessee.
• You can't overestimate the potential devastating impact to the Jets season created by the loss of defensive tackle Kris Jenkins to an ACL injury. Jenkins was at the fulcrum of Ryan's defense, and his ability to eat up double-team blocks is pivotal to New York's ability to both stuff the run and get pressure on the opposing passer.
Without Jenkins in the lineup, all three segments of the Jets defense have been weakened.
• And while we're thinking of New York, it had to be a little disconcerting to the Jets to see how much rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez seemed to struggle throwing in the windy Meadowlands against Buffalo. I'm not sure of the wind patterns that will prevail at the new Giants and Jets stadium, but I'm pretty sure it won't be exactly tranquil on that front once the football weather arrives every year.
Sanchez better work on his wind game, or he'll end up being known as the NFL's Mr. September.
• I know the Bucs are hesitant to throw rookie first-round quarterback Josh Freeman into the deep end of the pool before he can swim, but why wait much longer? You're going to lose this season with or without Freeman under center, so why not get his learning curve started? All you're doing with Josh Johnson is delaying the timing of Freeman's first few NFL quarterbacking lessons.
• The most astounding Week 6 statistic that somehow escaped my attention on Sunday? It's that the Eagles, 13-9 losers to the Raiders, were the first team in three years to fail to score a touchdown against Oakland.
Wow. I knew Philly's loss was bad. But that really puts into perspective just how bad.
• After a lot of us talking heads declared the league's bottom rung the worst in recent memory, with teams like the Raiders, Chiefs, Rams, Bucs, and Bills being almost historically bad, Week 6 proved once again that nobody knows nothing in the NFL. The Raiders, Chiefs and Bills all won Sunday, so I guess they're not hopeless for the time being.
• When anyone said Tom Brady wasn't "back'' yet, what that really meant was he wasn't back to his near-perfect 2007 form, when the Patriots' deep passing game was almost comically effective. That season, any time New England really needed to score, Brady and Randy Moss just played pitch and catch from 40 to 50 yards, making it look like Brady's play call was something like, "Go deep and I'll get it to you.''
Remarkably enough given the wintry conditions that descended on Gillette Stadium on Sunday, that's the part of the Patriots game that returned against Tennessee. The deep-ball passing game is back in New England, and that means Brady, and his ability to put the ball on the numbers way down field, is back. Which is very bad news for the rest of the AFC.
• It took me a while, but I finally figured out what the 0-6 Titans are up to. They're angling for the 2010 first overall pick, and the shot to draft their top choice of the franchise quarterbacks who are projected to populate next year's first round. That's why Jeff Fisher refuses to start Vince Young. He can't risk the chance of Young getting hot and winning a game or three.
Somehow I don't think Tennessee will be taking another ex-Longhorn quarterback in Colt McCoy.