Bears should take a long look at Paul Hackett

Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times recently chimed in on the Bears’ offensive coordinator dilemma (as in, it’s almost February and they don’t have one) and suggested that Jim Zorn should be on the team’s radar.

On the surface, hiring Zorn might offer the Bears some value. Outside of Mike Martz, he’s the biggest name available and he did have success with the Redskins in 2008 before they crashed and burned during the second half of the season.

But the problem that Jensen seems to forget is that Zorn was a disaster this past year in Washington and had his offensive play-calling duties stripped from him mid-season. Granted, that doesn’t mean Zorn can’t rebound and become a successful OC elsewhere, but there are seemingly better candidates available.

One in particular is current Raiders quarterback coach Paul Hackett. He has a ton of experience working with quarterbacks and had successful stints as an offensive coordinator with the Chiefs (’93-’97) and Jets (’01-’04) before settling in as a QB coach for the Bucs and Raiders over the past four years. He also recruited Carson Palmer when he was the head coach at USC.

During his five years as Kansas City’s offensive coordinator, the Chiefs made the playoffs in four of those five seasons. They also ranked fifth in offense in his last year there before taking over as USC’s head coach from 1998 to 2000. During his stint in New York, the Jets made the playoffs in three of his four years and while his offenses never cracked the top 10, don’t forget that the J.E.T.S. didn’t have a roster full of Pro Bowlers on the offensive side of the ball.

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Redskins fire Jim Zorn

Black Monday was kicked off in the NFL with the firing of Jim Zorn, which surprised absolutely no one.

From the Washington Post:

“The status quo is not acceptable,” General Manager Bruce Allen said in a statement. “I felt it was necessary to not waste a moment of time to begin building this team into a winner.”

The Redskins may swiftly announce his replacement, possibly within hours. In December, Washington forced out longtime front office executive Vinny Cerrato and announced the hiring of new general manager Bruce Allen within two hours, putting in motion the overhaul of the franchise’s infrastructure after a 10-year period that featured just two playoff appearances.

Former Denver and Oakland coach Mike Shanahan, who won two Super Bowls with Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway and the Broncos, has been the presumed hire for weeks. Several NFL sources have said over the past month that they believe Shanahan has long been the choice of Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder, who now must hire his seventh head coach since he took control of the team in 1999.

Zorn wasn’t given much of an opportunity to succeed from the very beginning. He was hired by Daniel Snyder to become the Redskins’ offensive coordinator and then thrust into the head coaching position after Snyder couldn’t find a candidate he liked. Zorn was overmatched from the beginning and despite getting the Redskins off to a good start in 2008 his inexperience eventually did him in.

After losing his offensive playcalling duties earlier this season in Washington, I doubt he’ll land a gig as a coordinator right away but you never know. Even though he was fired, I imagine part of him has to be thrilled that he’s leaving that mess behind.

We’ll see if the Redskins move quickly on Shanahan. I suspect they will.

Report: Shanahan, Redskins already in talks (via the Denver Post) reports that the Redskins have begun discussions with Mike Shanahan about their head coaching position, despite the fact that Jim Zorn still occupies it.

The Redskins on Thursday hired Bruce Allen, son of late Redskins Hall of Fame coach George Allen, after Vinny Cerrato abruptly resigned.
Allen maintained Jim Zorn was still the Redskins’ coach.

“Give us some time to see how our relationship develops,” Allen said.

Zorn’s job status is believed to be tenuous, with the Redskins’ record at 4-9 and three games to play.

Zorn’s tenure in Washington has been bizarre from the start. In January of 2008, he was hired to be the team’s new offensive coordinator. But in February, Snyder decided to make him the new head coach despite the fact that Zorn had never even been a coordinator in the league.

Now, just two years after he was hired, he has to endure a situation in which his job is being filled while he still has it. He’s a better man than I, because if I knew I was going to be replaced at the end of the year, I’d be flipping Snyder the bird as I walked out the door. But I’m sure Zorn feels that he has a responsibility to his team and if so, he deserves credit for sticking around.

Zorn wasn’t ready to become a head coach when he was hired, but he deserves a shot to be an offensive coordinator someplace else. Hopefully other teams are monitoring his situation in Washington and will give him an opportunity to gain experience as an assistant.

Decade Debate: 10 Worst NFL Head Coaching Hires

Perhaps more than any other sport, a bad head coaching hire in the NFL can ruin a franchise for the better part of a decade. When you consider the free agent and draft acquisitions that are made to fit a coach’s style and philosophy, it’s no wonder that it usually takes years for a team to rebound after a bad coaching hire. As part of our ongoing Decade Debate series, here are the 10 worst head coaching hires of the past decade. To be clear, this ranking is based on the result of the hire, and not necessarily the hire itself. (Although the ranking could be a combination of the two.)

10. Eric Mangini, Cleveland Browns, 2009

One might argue that since Mangini hasn’t even gotten through his first year in Cleveland yet that he doesn’t deserve to be on this list. But others will argue that since he was absolutely despised in New York that the Browns should have never hired him in the first place. After all, was the one winning season he had with the Jets worth the Browns giving him a shot? Some of the moves that Mangini has made since arriving in Cleveland haven’t been bad at all: Trading Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, trading down multiple times to acquire more picks in the draft, acquiring safety Abram Elam, etc. But considering he hasn’t won many players over with his crass attitude, has made two quarterback changes and only has one win under his belt, things couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start in Cleveland. It’ll be interesting to see if the Browns fire him after only one season.

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NFL Week 13 Top 5 Observations: Saints 33, Redskins 30

Here are five quick-hit observations from the Saints’ 33-30 overtime win over the Redskins in Week 13.

1. Team of destiny? Uh, yeah – maybe.
Up 30-23 with just over two minutes remaining, the Redskins could have iced the game with a 23-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham. But he missed the chip-shot and not surprisingly, the Saints took the gift 80-yards for the game-tying score. To win in the NFL, teams have to be a mixture of good and lucky. Well, New Orleans is better than good – they’re great. And after today, it appears that they have quite a bit of luck on their side as well. Sometimes, teams are just destined to win and it looks like it’s the Saints year.

2. The Saints better get healthy.
They may be a team of destiny, but injuries on the defensive side of the ball are starting to mount for the Saints. They were absolutely shredded for 367 passing yards by an offense that has been anemic all season and they better get healthy before they face the likes of the Vikings, Cardinals, Cowboys or whomever come January.

3. How does any defense stop this Saints’ receiving corps?
Marques Colston caught two passes for 46 yards and a touchdown today and he was about the third or fourth most productive receiver for the Saints. Robert Meachem (8 receptions, 142 yards, 1 TD) is finally starting to cash in on his first-round ability and Devery Henderson (6 receptions, 61 yards) turned in his best game of the season. Washington’s secondary is one of the best in the league and it still couldn’t figure out how to defense the New Orleans’ receiving crops. Defenses just have to pick their poison with this bunch.

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