Playbook Talk: How to Speak Zorn
I chatted with several offensive players this morning about the Jim Zorn Playbook, and how it compared to the dearly departed 700-pager. While opinions differed, the players touched on the differences between Al Saunders's numerical system and Zorn's word-based system.
"It probably seems a little tougher just because all the terminology is completely different from anything I've ever had before," running back Ladell Betts said of Zorn Speak. "And it's all memorization, meaning they call the play, and you just have to know what to do.
"Like, based on our other scheme, it was more of a numbers system: you know, 'five eighty-five,' or 'four such-and-such.' And it told you what [to do]. This is not like that. They call the play, they say 'flanker drive,' everybody has to know what they're doing. They're all football words that I've heard before, but it's just the fact that it's all memorization."
A few minutes later, Comcast SportsyNet's Gary Carter asked Zorn who came up with these words. His answer is worth quoting in full.
"You know, there was a coach that coached here a long time ago, his name was Rusty Tillman," Zorn said. "And when he was coaching in Seattle, he was the designated terminology guru. And that kind of stuck in my mind; he took pride in coming up with the right word that meant something that players caught on to and things like that.
"So all through my playing career and my coaching career, you just try to think of those words that would mean something. It just, it meant something when you called it. And we tried to keep that on. Now I've come up with some words that actually didn't make it. And some of the words are jokes almost, because you just can't think of a word, so you say 'Banana.' You know, what's 'Banana?' I mean, who would ever think of 'Two Jet Banana,' right?
So that word never made it, just because it sounds so goofy, you don't want to start laughing when you're in the huddle, you know what I mean? But Mike [Holmgren] always liked words that denoted fast, like 'arrow' and 'LIGHTning' and 'SPEEDster.' You know, something like that, something that meant, 'we're gonna go fast, aren't we?' Not like 'feather,' 'Chevy,' 'easy,' you know, things like that. So when you think of all the words you can use, you want words that actually mean 'ROCKet,' 'TOUGH,' 'DEADLY,' 'DEAD MAN.' You know, things like that."
So Banana, Feather, and five eighty-five are out, and Dead Man is in. And if things don't work out, Dead Man goes walking, I guess.
By the way, veteran Skins watchers say that Zorn's recently concluded press conference might have been the longest Redskins head coach practice press conference in five years. The man can talk.
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