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Zorn 'trying not to lose heart' with 3-8 Redskins

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[December 01, 2009]  ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -- With a winning season no longer possible, even Jim Zorn could use a motivational kick in the pants. Or, as he put it: "I'm trying not to lose heart."

The Washington Redskins coach held the sort of news conference Monday that is commonplace throughout the league this time of year.

He's resigned to the fact that the team won't accomplish its goals this season, but he's proud of his players. The losing hurts, it's his responsibility, and it's all he can do to poke fun at his own plight even as speculation mounts that he won't be back next year.

Never mind that the Redskins are playing as well as they have all season, having lost back-to-back close games to the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. Never mind that Chris Cooley and Jeremy Jarmon were added Monday to an injured reserve list that now has nine names with a combined 25 starts this season.

The reality is a 3-8 record, and that's a downer for any coach.


"I certainly am accountable for our football season -- no question about it -- and I'll be held accountable. It's awful," Zorn said, adding a bit of nervous laughter. "It really is. But I'm trying not to lose heart myself, I want to stay positive. Our players inspire me, our coaching staff inspires me because we're working hard to try to make good decisions and sound decisions.

"That's what I'm trying to contend with. Not just give up, and not just go 'woe is me' and sink back into a hole. I try to face what's before me. It's difficult. I'll be a better coach because of what I'm going through. It's just hard to go through it."

The Redskins allowed a late touchdown to lose 7-6 to the Cowboys and allowed 11 fourth-quarter points Sunday to fall 27-24 to the Eagles, adding to what is now a nine-game road losing streak that ties the franchise record. Given the state of the NFC, Washington would be very much a contender if it had won both games.

"That's good, maybe, around the lunch table," Zorn said, "but it's not very good in the planning stage because there's just not enough time to lament on what could have been."

With five games remaining, it's time for the coach to appeal to his players' sense of pride. To their credit, the Redskins haven't shown signs of splintering during a difficult season.

"I'm going to call for them to dig down deep," Zorn said. "They've been doing that all year, and I'm not trying to create any fantasy that's not there. We kind of know what the real situation is for us. These have been excellent players. I'm very proud of our football team. I'm very proud of the way that they've played.

"They've hurt after every loss. It's not the type of thing where we come in after the game and just take showers and just leave. It hurts. It hurts the coaches, it hurts the ownership, the fans. There's nothing good about the end result. The only thing I can say is what were pushing towards is just that pride in doing a good job and being pros."

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It's now been five games since the front office stripped Zorn of his play-calling duties and gave them to consultant Sherm Lewis. On the surface, the results are encouraging: The Redskins are scoring more and gaining more yards.

"I think it's been a help," Zorn said. "We've been scoring points. The way that we've done it has created some sense of rhythm to our plan. We work hard to get everything down right, and it's working."

That said, Lewis only calls the pass plays, and he does that with help from assistant coach Chris Meidt. Offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis calls the runs, and Zorn takes over during the two-minute drill and at various other times.

Against the Eagles, Zorn perhaps wishes he had stayed quiet. Asked which plays he called, the coach said -- only half-jokingly: "I think I called every play that was not successful in the football game."

[Associated Press; By JOSEPH WHITE]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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