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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 3, 2010

Redskins will fire Zorn tomorrow, source tells AP

AP Sports Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

The Washington Redskins plan to fire coach Jim Zorn, an official within the NFL told The Associated Press.

AP library photo

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ASHBURN, Va. The Washington Redskins plan to fire coach Jim Zorn tomorrow, an official within the NFL told The Associated Press.

The Redskins planned to make the move on the day after the end of a disappointing regular season. Washington struggled early despite a weak schedule and was 4-11 going into Sunday's finale against the San Diego Chargers.

The official spoke to the AP on Sunday on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement has been made.

Zorn's dismissal has been expected for months. The front office stripped him of his play-calling duties in late October, and owner Dan Snyder has interviewed assistant coach Jerry Gray for the job, according to the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which monitors minority hiring in the NFL.

Gray's interview was an effort to comply with the Rooney Rule, which requires that teams consider a minority candidate for the head coaching position. With the Rooney Rule satisfied, the Redskins are free to act quickly to hire a replacement for Zorn. Former Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan is considered the favorite.

Zorn's replacement will be Washington's seventh coach since Snyder bought the team in 1999. Playing a substantial part in the decision will be Bruce Allen, who was hired as the general manager last month.

Zorn started 6-2 as a rookie head coach last season, but the team struggled over the second half and finished 8-8. This year's team has been hurt by numerous injuries, a lack of depth and tons of off-the-field distractions, but also by an inability of Zorn's West Coast offense to consistently find the end zone.

The Redskins failed to score more than 17 points in their first eight games, prompting the front office to bring longtime NFL assistant coach Sherm Lewis out of retirement as an offensive consultant and play-caller.

Zorn wasn't even on Snyder's list of candidates when Joe Gibbs retired at the end of the 2007 season. Zorn become a last-minute option when other contenders either showed no interest, dropped out or were deemed unsatisfactory. Snyder initially hired Zorn to be the offensive coordinator, then promoted him to head coach two weeks later after an extensive interview.

Zorn, who had never previously been a coordinator in the NFL, at times seemed overwhelmed by the head coaching job, but his strong start and quirky stories made him an early sensation last season. The front office soured on him in 2009, and executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato announced in October that Zorn would finish the season after a week of internal discussions on the matter. Cerrato has since resigned and was essentially replaced by Allen.