When I was at the Washington Redskins training camp a couple of weeks ago, I noted that when the practice was over, Jim Zorn brought together the entire team in a massive, 80-man huddle. This has happened at the end of almost every practice I've seen. The huddle usually lasted 30 seconds, a minute tops. The coach—Gibbs, Turner, Schottenheimer, Spurrier—all pretty much did the same thing. It went something like "Good work men, lunch until one, position meetings at two," and the huddle broke up.
In contrast, on that day, Zorn kept the team huddled up for a good five or ten minutes. I was too far away to hear what he was saying, but he was using the time to talk to his team. It may have been a reaction to something specific that happened or he may have had a few things on his mind that he wanted to tell his players on one of the rare occasions during camp that the entire team is assembled in one place.
Today, Zorn did it again, but this time his tone was more strident as he had a point to make. From Matt Mosley's NFC East blog on ESPN.com:
But at the end of Tuesday morning's practice, he sensed a teaching moment for his team. We couldn't hear it from our end zone section almost 50 yards away, but apparently a defensive player took exception to something defensive coordinator Greg Blache said and squared off with him in a verbal exchange.
Zorn didn't say anything at the time, but after practice, he called the team over and talked to them at length about what it means to show proper respect. He knew his speech was resonating because several veterans were heard saying, "That's right" as he talked.
So, the word is that when practice is over, the ice bath and showers may have to wait a while as Zorn makes his point.
(By the way, in the paragraph immediately following the ones quoted above Mosley shows some poor form. He overheard a comment that Zorn made to Blache that was not for public consumption and he quoted it in the blog. It's one thing if something is yelled on the field; it's another matter completely if two coaches are having a private conversation. Mosley won't find himself welcome on the practice field at Redskins Park or anywhere else for that matter if he keeps telling tales out of school.)
Zorn also is showing that he will communicate with players in other settings as well, like through the media. In particular, rookie receivers Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas took some verbal shots from the coach during his post-practice news conference.
Of Kelly, Zorn said that "he wasn't in condition to go through a training camp like this."
"He really wasn't," the coach emphasized.
Come on, Z-man, let us know how you really feel.
Both Kelly and Thomas failed the team's conditioning test.
"If you can't pass that physical test that we give, then something's not right," Zorn said.
"It's sort of a pride issue."
A portrait is emerging of a coach who is chatty and laid back, the prototypical nice guy. He's in the cool tactician mold of football coaches.
That is, until someone crosses a line. At that moment the nice guy disappears and stern disciplinarian appears. He doesn't rant, at least not publicly, and, like his predecessor, he doesn't curse ever. But he will choose the appropriate venue and get his point across in no uncertain terms.
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