Zorn Excited For New Project

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After reaching his goal of being an NFL head coach, Jim Zorn is back to being a quarterbacks coach, the same rung of the ladder where he began his professional coaching career 13 years ago.

Zorn still wants to be a head coach again, but sitting in his Owings Mills office with the Ravens' offensive playbook in front of him and video footage of Joe Flacco on the television, it's clear the new Ravens quarterback coach is immersing himself in his newest project.

Task No. 1: help Flacco take that important developmental step in his third season.

"It feels like a new beginning, but I'm not giddy," said Zorn, who was fired after two seasons and a 12-20 record as the Washington Redskins head coach. "I'm very grateful that John gave me the opportunity to work with Joe. I'm confident about that responsibility."

Zorn has talked with Flacco for 15 minutes on the phone, mostly just to exchange pleasantries. For the time being, the Ravens coach has delved into learning about Flacco and Cam Cameron's offense.

"We're all in it to learn, we're all in it to progress and get better," Zorn said. "I'm excited that I'm coming in at an early state [of Flacco's development]. My hope is that I can make an impact and earn the right to be heard."

Zorn's happy with where the project begins. He said he likes Flacco's poise in the pocket, his accuracy and his arm strength, in particular.

His mission is to feature those natural talents as much as possible, not change what has already been built.

"I don't have to come in and say, 'OK I have all the answers,'" Zorn told 105.7 The Fan. "He's gone a distance now and I'm not going to change the distance he's gone. I'm going to add on it. And I'm going to try to convince him if there's real glaring things."

Zorn comes from a West Coast offense in Seattle. The West Coast offense focuses on shorter, quicker routes, often over the middle of the field. It's a system in which the quarterback must quickly distribute the football, something Flacco was criticized for not doing at the tail end of the 2009 season.

While the Ravens' system obviously isn't going to change with Zorn's arrival, Zorn was confident he could help Flacco make quicker throws.

"Yes, I can and I will," Zorn said. "But I won't assume any problems. I already see some things I could make a comment about here and there, but you have to know about the offense before you critique the quarterback."

More than teaching mechanics, Zorn says he likes to "teach football." That entails knowing defensive fronts, coverages, blitz packages, how the run game works and how to play the field position game, for example.

After being a head coach, Zorn feels he has a better grasp on how the quarterback fits into the entire puzzle than he did when he was an NFL quarterback for 11 years or even a quarterbacks coach in Seattle for 11 seasons.

But Zorn doesn't want to overcomplicate things, especially at this stage of the learning process.

"There can be things that can be mind clutter," Zorn said in his radio interview. "I think that's what gets QBs. If the coach wants to be so heavy in the information category and not the playing and efficiency category, you can get a guy really bogged down. That's not what I want to happen here with Joe. I want him to be freed up to play at a real high level."

Flacco had an up-and-down sophomore campaign. After throwing for more than 300 yards in his first two games he finished the season with four straight games under 200 yards in which he threw two touchdowns and five interceptions.

Part of Zorn's focus will be trying to maintain a steady progression.

"There will be games Joe will struggle in, but you have to get it arrested," Zorn said. "You don't want bad game, good game, bad game, good game. You want a steady progression. You may have a blip or you may have a spike where he's lights out and everybody says, 'You're an awesome coach.' No, he's just getting the most out of his game."

Pundits weren't calling Zorn "an awesome coach" last season. But Zorn said he and his family have come to grips with his dismissal from the Redskins and he isn't out to prove anything to Washington.

Zorn said he is quite content stepping into the background in Baltimore. In fact, he would rather go unnoticed altogether.

"The best compliment I could ever have is that when the quarterback is playing lights out you have to look up in a book to see who the QBs coach is here," Zorn said. "That will reflect whether I'm proving myself. I'm really just thinking about coaching."

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