Guest At The Park: Talking To Brian Billick

The FOX Sports announcing crew was here today, Dick Stockton, Brian Billick, and Brian Baldinger along with their producer and director, all watching practice and holding production meetings in preparation for Sunday’s game.

Through last season, Billick was the Baltimore Ravens head coach, a legendary offensive mind on a team that relied heavily on its defense, with quarterbacks who never quite seemed able to execute his system. So he seemed like a logical person to ask about Jim Zorn’s first season here. Our conversation was short, but both illuminating and encouraging, at least with an eye toward the long-term.

This is Jim Zorn’s first season calling plays for an NFL team. He’s clearly got ideas on offense, but what adjustments will he have to make as a head coach?

He doesn’t have to make any adjustments as a play caller. He’s been around long enough, he’s played in the NFL, however many, eleven, twelve years. The challenge for Jim is just putting all the pieces together as quarterback coach, offensive coordinator, dealing with the media. There’s a lot to be dealt with that … I don’t care how well you try to prepare yourself. Until you’ve lived it and created YOUR routine — and his routine’s gonna be different than Mike Holmgren’s was, so he’s got to find his rhythm and his own routine as a head guy.

In your years in Baltimore, you were an offensive-minded guy on a team best known for its defense. Based on last week’s game, it looks like Zorn might be in a similar situation. How does he deal with that?

When you become a head coach, you’re no longer an offensive head coach or a defensive head coach. You’re the head coach. Now, certainly, he’s going to be held accountable not only for 16 wins, but for 1200 playcalls. And that’s a tough double-whammy to take.

Speaking of being accountable, you worked in Baltimore, so you know how demanding fanbases can get. What should Redskins fans be looking for from Zorn as he settles in here?

The fans obviously need to look for IMPROVEMENT. Is the team looking better this week than they were last week? It’s a work in progress. Fans don’t like to hear that. You want to win now, you’ve got some assets, but by the same token it is a learning curve not just for a new offense, but a new STYLE of offense. Defensively, it’s pretty much the same system, a little bit different under Greg Blache, so obviously you can expect them to go about it a little bit differently. But the offense is clearly on a learning curve.

What’d you see from that offense in practice, then?

You know what? The ball wasn’t on the ground a lot. It looked like the typical “west coast” practice in the sense that it was very high tempo and not a lot of balls on the ground. And that’s a good thing.

Billick and Joe Theismann

Billick and Joe Theismann

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26 Responses

  1. Quote from SI.COM. Worst eval of any team from week 1.

    6. Washington — The stench from the Redskins’ egg-laying performance against the Giants has had too long to linger. Let quarterback Jason Campbell and the offense look as ragged at home against the Saints as they did against New York and I guarantee you we’ll hear the drumbeat for backup Todd Collins begin to build. After three straight woeful performances, starting with their fourth preseason game, the Redskins and new head coach Jim Zorn need any positives they can muster.

  2. geez, worst team eval from week 1? we lose a game by 9 points and get that crap?

    It’s no wonder fans can’t keep it together.

  3. I think Jim Zorn and all the coaches and players are doing a great job. To lose to the defending super bowl champions by only 9 points is pretty good, especially when you have a first year coach and offensive scheme. I am very impatient too and want us to win every single game right now, and feel helpless that I can’t do anything to help the team. I think all the fans should look at all the positive things that happened in the game and how we were truly in the game until the end. Also, our coaching staff and team really cares and works hard and will improve each week. You certainly can’t say that about most other teams. I think we can be playoff contender this year once the coaches and players get the offense rolling. Go skins!

  4. No kidding. People keep losing perspective. It is a sixteen game season, not just one, and there are new things to learn.

    Notice that the offense began to struggle when we went from simple playbook to full playbook. When the growing pains are over the offense will look better.

  5. How can we look the worse when we only lost by 9 to the defending champs? Did they watch the Rams play? I have all the confidence in the world in this coaching staff and this team.

  6. You can say the 9 point difference was respectable, but look at the stats of the game and how the Skins were dominated, one could say they just sucked.
    They played like they were beaten in the 1st quarter and gave up to even try salvage a win. Losers for not trying. Defense kept them in the game.

  7. As a die hard fan since I could stand I for one am tired of hearing people do nothing but complain about ONE GAME…. I mean you’d think we were blown out by the worst team in the league and not the defending super bowl champs… Yes we were blown out in the first quarter but got better in every quarter following… I think our defense played great (after the first quarter) and our run game was stuffed because of no respect for the pass game… So please PLEASE just give the skins until week 5 before you throw them into the fire….. The play calling will get better so you wont need to worry about zorn (who seems incredibly bright) AND STOP RAMBLING ABOUT HOW GOOD A ROOKIE QB WAS AGAINST ALOT OF DB’S WHO DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT

    P.S. Don’t forget we have a very difficult schedule + We have a new offense/coaching staff + Division games against 3 potential playoff teams (5 More games)

  8. Thank you SkinsFan81 for being reasonable. It’s refreshing to hear a true skins fan on here.

  9. This game will say a lot about where we are, where we’re going, and how long it will take to get there.

    I love Zorny and wish the guys well. With time, we’ve got a guy who will nurture a team of character, poise and — from time to time fun and high spirits.

    We just need to settle in, buckle up and enjoy the ride.

  10. It’s a new year and we get to see our fav team play. Everything is new. A new offense for the 3rd time in like what how many year’s? Jason is ok but he’s not had a chance to prove it with all these changes but at least we can say he’s pretty smart. I like COLT but he’s still young give him 2-3 year’s and he could be like Bret. The offense has to PASS PROTECT a hole hell of a lot better. They are sucking right now. Last year was last year GIBBS is gone.

    SO REDSKINS FANS WE MUST MOVE ON TOO.

  11. I think we all can see Jim Zorn has a chance to be a heck of a head coach. Let’s trust his judgement in these things this year and just cheer them on. I know we’re going to have some rough games, but I just want to see them better in the last 8 games than the first 8. I love to hear the positive things being said this year by you all, let’s keep it up.

  12. My husband is a die hard redskins fan-lived in Wash D.C. area as a teen. Now we live in Hawaii, we’re still die hard redskins fans, even more so now that our “favorite son” Colt is there. We want to see Jim Zorn succeed, we want the redskins to succeed and we want eventually to see our man, Colt in there, leading the way! Go Redskins!! We are patient and trust this team under Jim Zorn will come together!

  13. I think what the fans want is for the Skins to succeed right now. We have so much talent on both sides of the ball, but we look like we are having so much trouble. Sure, I would like to see them win right now too, but we just have to be patient as everyone has said this is a new system with a new coach.

    With that being said, I think the team needs to play more consistently to have more of a chance to succeed. Also, when we need a first down, the receivers need to get to at least one yard before the line. The offense is too new right now to rely on Yards After the Catch (YAC) for a critical first down.

  14. hey washington53fan…the Rams were pretty good at on time because they drafted talent…when they stopped drafting talent they went down hill fast…guess what, Vinny is just getting us started down the same path. His draft was horrible. Just wait the worst is yet to come as long as he is in charge.

  15. Here is something everyone is missing.

    Gibbs left a playoff team with a playoff offense. Todd Collins was pro-bowl in those games he started. They beat the giants at home and destroyed the cowboys at home.

    Gibbs wasn’t fired. He walked away for his own reasons.

    So why scrap the offense and start over with players put on a roster – inluding our top two QB’s – to run an entirely opposite passing system?

    It’s not like the Skins sucked last year. Or were stale. Why make like an expansion team and go for an overhaul?

    Reading all of our comments and most are all defending the learning curve and saying give it time (well not me) and you know what – we’ve been had. You’re great fans and yes we should give Zorn time – if we were the Atlanta Falcons – but the Skins were headed in the right direction and yes they needed to tweak the system – but when Gibbs left he left success in place.

    And who fixed what wasn’t broken . . . Well, I’ve been a shill for V & D so I’m going to eat my shoe . . . And say we’ve been had – and here we are arguing with eachothewr again instead of talking about how we’re going to beat the Saints. And all because a winning system was scrapped for something out of the box – by week eight we’ll know for sure if this decision is as bad as it’s looked the last three weeks.

  16. I was born in DC and have been a die hard Skins fan all my life — through the good times and bad. I like what I see in Jim Zorn and we need to give him time to develop his program. I coached high school baseball for 8 years and it took us 4 years to build a solid, sustainable program, but after that we always contended for the championship. The organization was criticized for bringing in older players past their prime and now that we are building through the draft, the organization is being criticized. Be patient and supportive — that’s what a true fan would do.

  17. Good point Gnome, I was a bit surprised we didn’t have more familiar faces on the sidelines from a team that had its best player murdered, half its O-line injured, starting QB out, and still made it to the playoffs. The system was starting to work, but we ran out of gas after an emotional rollercoaster. It would be one thing to bring in a brand new staff, but at least have a similar offensive system. We’ve been switching to opposite mentalities for too long now. Norv to Marty to Spurrier to Gibbs…and now Zorn. Not the trend you want in trying to build a stable contender.

  18. I can definitely agree with the comments on changing systems yet again. I guess I was just looking at it from the current situation and not from what we had. We did have a good team last year and if it was still in place this year, we would have really done some damage. I did disagree with releasing Greg Williams, he was a great defensive coordinator. I guess all we can do is hope Dan Snyder keeps everything where it is and give it a chance or we will see yet another system in a couple of years.

  19. 1 word todd collins

  20. I’m a doubter this year because of the way we’ve looked so far but boy when I think of that Minnesota game last year when the offense clicked and the defense stopped Adrian Petersen, I stop doubting. That’s the team I want to see and think we can be – a team that plays with purpose, emotion and reckless abandon. And I’m not talking defense only because the offense with Jason at the helm need to play the tails off. Todd led the team at season’s end. Can Jason do the same? Not doubting yet, we’ll see tomorrow.

  21. I never said that the skins are bad, only reporting what was on SI.COM. I thought it was interesting and wanted to share it, hopefully, to bring us Skins fans together. I am also a true skins fan! HTTR!!!

    Having suffered through to many seasons with failed hope, it is refreshing to see a refreshing coach come to town. I LOVE Jim Zorn! I really believe in this team and this coach.

    Again, HTTR!!

  22. Zorn may be a huge winner.But I have to question starting over with a veteran team that was winning. Makes no sense. I’ve hammered J-Lac 85% of the time I’ve tickled the keyboard about him because he’s negative without cause – but he’s beaten that drum and maybe he’s 85% right and I’m 15% a fool.

    I know – no use crying over spilled milk and HTTR – but it’s kinda unfair to guys like Portis, Betts, Samuels, Kendall, Rabach, Moss, Randle El, Thomas, Collins and so on who are at their prime or just past their prime to ask them to go from the playoffs to 180 in new system. CP’s musings this week seem to say that thought isn’t foriegn to the locker room.

    CP’s musings also go to a post I scribbled a day or so ago about the team seeming to be ‘thinking out loud’ these days where Gibbs ran a tight lipped team.

    A win tomorrow starts shutting up the malcontents like me. Maybe it’s a new day and I’m missing the logic.

  23. I get sick of fair weather fans and our local radio sports talk show host (Steve, B-Bitch, & Smokn Al Jokn). They just need something to talk about on the air. These guys weren’t selected by the Skins the 1st time thru so they are pissed. and still throwing darts. If sports talk radio was around during Gibbs first year he wouldn’t have been here for the 2nd. They just played the world champs and lost by 9. Big freakin deal. Give the staff and players a chance. They got smoked in the 1st half but were still in it. In the 2nd, things were there but they didn’t click. Shitski happens. If Portis doesn’t sabatoge the unit by the 2nd game, they will be right in the mix till the end.

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