Zorn gets a win in Seattle: 'Cool'
Split pea soup? Amid the postgame splendor as he tried to describe what it feels like to come into Qwest Field and beat his former team and his mentor as the first-year coach of the Washington Redskins, Jim Zorn searched an adrenaline-overloaded mind for the proper words and eventually landed on soup.
“Coming in here and getting a win against Mike Holmgren and this team, that’s, that’s, that’s something,” Zorn said. “It’s not split pea soup.”
Here’s guessing that getting into the NFC playoffs – a distinct possibility for Zorn’s Redskins – will be something more than, perhaps, lobster bisque, and a Super Bowl win definitely more than filet mignon. But, Sunday it was split pea soup, ham was optional.
Culinary kidding aside, Zorn’s return to the Northwest was an unmitigated success. The Redskins snapped a two-game losing streak with a 20-17 win, moving to 7-4 and stayed tied for second in the NFC East with Dallas.
And that’s what Zorn had tried to maintain as his focus from the very beginning of the week – winning the game. Obviously, coming back to Seattle was going to be the story leading up to the game. Zorn couldn’t avoid that. After all, he was the first starting quarterback in Seahawks franchise history, and over eight seasons (1976-84) with the team, he threw for 20,122 yards and 107 touchdowns. And for the last six years, he was the Seahawks quarterback coach for Holmgren, working extensively with Matt Hasselbeck.
Before the game, he was reminded just how much time he spent with the Seahawks.
“It was hard before the game because I did know a lot of people,” Zorn said. “I wanted to say hi to a bunch of people. I just tried to keep from making it a distraction. It was kind of fun seeing people that I had worked with for so long.”
Two people he made it a priority to talk to were Holmgren and Hasselbeck.
“We visited probably more than I normally do,” Holmgren said. “I’m not real talkative with the coach before the game, sometimes I don’t talk to him at all. But, in Jim’s case, he came over and it was good to see him.”
Hasselbeck and Zorn, who talk on the phone often, didn’t speak this week for obvious reasons. The two exchanged pleasantries before the game, but not much else.
“I think he knows how I feel about him,” Hasselbeck said. “It just wasn’t the right time to talk.”
Zorn anticipated there would be a lot of talking before the game and prepared accordingly.
“Once we got done with pregame, I was well prepared knowing what I wanted to do because I did all the study before I got here,” Zorn said. “I knew it was going to be a distraction, and then I got my thoughts together and we came out and started the game.”
And once the game started, Zorn was all business. Watching him coach, you see many of the things that made him beloved as a player. He’s in a constant state of motion, pacing, jostling, waving his hands, jumping up and down, hugging players or screaming at officials. It’s all energy, all the time.
“You can never tell what’s going on in his mind because he approaches every game the same way, with the same intensity and the same fight,” Redskins receiver Santana Moss said.
It’s quite the opposite from his counterpart, Holmgren, who coaches with a building intensity that can occasionally erupt.
“(Zorn) is wired correctly, a little different than I am, but wired correctly,” Holmgren said with a small grin.
It seems Zorn’s particular wiring is what was needed for the rewiring of the Redskins. Washington was 0-2 in its last two playoff games at Qwest Field.
“There is some satisfaction in going all the way across the country to beat the Seahawks in their home stadium,” Zorn said. “It’s been difficult to do the last four or five years.”
During the week, Zorn never made it a big deal about coming back to Seattle. But obviously the local media outlets for both teams did. And that fact wasn’t lost on the Redskins players.
“I know what it means for him,” said cornerback Shawn Springs, a former Seahawk himself. “I know what he means to the Seahawks organization, and I know what he’s trying to start here in Washington, so it was big for him to come back and beat Coach Holmgren, who I know he has tremendous respect for.”
And on Sunday, the student gained another measure of respect from the teacher.
“He communicates well and his players are responding,” Holmgren said. “He seems to be the perfect guy for that young quarterback. When you put all that stuff together, it should work.”
Zorn could only smile when asked about the accomplishment yet another time.
“I think that it’s great to win against that team and those coaches that I know so well,” Zorn said. “I think it’s cool.”
Cooler than split pea soup.
Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483