Ravens hire Zorn as quarterbacks coach
Former Redskins coach has 'a great resume,' Harbaugh says
The Ravens named Jim Zorn as their quarterbacks coach Saturday, the most intriguing and high-profile hire by coach John Harbaugh.
Zorn, 56, was fired by Washington Redskins on Jan. 4 after a disastrous second season as their head coach. The Ravens, though, were overwhelmed by his experience: 11 seasons as an NFL quarterback, 11 seasons as a respected NFL quarterbacks coach and a familiarity with their offense.
"That's a great resume for us," Harbaugh said.
Zorn's primary goal is to continue the development of Joe Flacco into an elite franchise quarterback. He becomes only the second quarterbacks coach for Flacco, replacing Hue Jackson (who joined the Oakland Raiders as their offensive coordinator Tuesday).
Although he took heavy criticism as the Redskins' head coach, Zorn is a highly regarded mentor for young quarterbacks.
As the Detroit Lions' quarterbacks coach in 1998, he was instrumental in helping rookie Charlie Batch adjust to the NFL. Batch's 88.3 passer rating that season ranks as the fourth-highest rookie mark in NFL history.
Three years later, Zorn was pivotal in the growth of Matt Hasselbeck as the Seattle Seahawks' quarterbacks coach from 2001 to 2007. With Zorn, Hasselbeck went to three Pro Bowls and set 12 franchise records.
Zorn's handling of quarterbacks comes from personal experience. An undrafted rookie, he became the charismatic leader of the expansion Seahawks for their first 761/27seasons.
Throwing to his favorite target, Steve Largent, Zorn was named the NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1976 and became the second player inducted into the team's Ring of Honor.
"Jim played successfully in the league for a long time," Harbaugh said, "and certainly understands what an NFL quarterback goes through."
Zorn could not be reached for comment. When Jackson left the Ravens Tuesday, Zorn immediately expressed interest in the job at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
He is looking to repair his reputation after becoming the latest coach to fail in revitalizing the Redskins under owner Daniel Snyder. With Zorn, Washington finished last in the NFC East twice and lost 18 of its last 24 games.
The Redskins struggled last season because of numerous injuries and the inability of Zorn's West Coast offense to reach the end zone consistently. After Washington didn't score more than 17 points in its first eight games in 2009, the front office stripped Zorn of the play-calling duties and gave them to Sherm Lewis, who came out of retirement.
Zorn was initially hired by the Redskins as their offensive coordinator in January 2008, but he was promoted to head coach a couple week later by Snyder.
He is still under contract with the Redskins for 2010 for about $2.4 million, according to The Washington Post. It is believed the Redskins will be responsible for paying Zorn the remainder of his 2010 salary minus what he earns from the Ravens.
"I've gotten to know Jim the last couple of years and I've been impressed with him as a person," Harbaugh said. "He's a good, kind and decent man. He's an exciting addition to our staff."
Note: Troy Smith wants to play for the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens backup quarterback recently told ESPN Radio's Cleveland affiliate. Smith, who grew up in Cleveland, has occasionally talked about his affection for the city since he was drafted by the Ravens in 2007. When asked about his desire to play for the Browns, Smith told ESPN Radio, "There is no doubt about it. It has always been a childhood dream of mine."