Ravens fire Zorn; Cameron to handle quarterbacks

Former Redskins coach may not have agreed with offensive coordinator on how to coach Flacco

January 27, 2011|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

The Ravens fired quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn on Thursday and immediately expanded offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's responsibilities with quarterbacks.

Zorn's release came after a seven-hour meeting this week with Cameron and coach John Harbaugh in which they questioned him about Joe Flacco's development this season, a league source said.

Instead of hiring a new quarterbacks coach, Harbaugh decided that Cameron will have more hands-on duties with the quarterbacks.

"We've talked about this since the end of the season, and we believe this will help improve our offense," Harbaugh said.

Offensive assistant Craig Ver Steeg, who has been a quarterbacks coach on the college level, is expected to assist with the quarterbacks at practice. But this marks the first time that Cameron hasn't had a quarterbacks coach on his offensive staff in his ninth year of being an NFL coordinator.

By not having a quarterbacks coach, it will create more direct communication between Flacco and Cameron.

"Cam is noted for his development of quarterbacks and that includes Joe Flacco and Pro Bowl players like Drew Brees and Philip Rivers [in San Diego]," Harbaugh said. "Cam is excited about this change and is looking forward to it."

Zorn is the second coach to be fired after the Ravens offense finished a disappointing 22nd in the NFL, joining offensive line coach John Matsko.

In his only season as the Ravens quarterbacks coach, Zorn was known for his quirky drills; in one, he hurled huge Pilates balls at the quarterbacks to improve their mobility. Zorn, who played quarterback in the NFL for 11 seasons, had a resume that included developing Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Batch.

Flacco enjoyed his first year with Zorn, according to one source, and improved under him based on statistics. Compared to 2009, Flacco's touchdowns (25) and quarterback rating (93.6) increased this year, his interceptions (10) decreased and his passing yards (3,622) remained essentially the same.

But team officials weren't pleased with Flacco's consistency during the season and during games. There were concerns whether Zorn was on the "same page" with Cameron when it came to what Flacco should be learning, a source added.

Although there was speculation that Zorn would be let go because he wasn't a good fit with the team, it was believed his job was safe after he survived last week's meeting with Harbaugh. But the Ravens ultimately fired Zorn at a time when the rest of the coaching staff was attending the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

The Ravens hired Zorn on Jan. 30, 2010 to replace Hue Jackson, who left to become the Oakland Raiders' offensive coordinator. Zorn had just been fired as the Washington Redskins head coach after the 2009 season.

"He was able to help us get back to the playoffs and we thank him for his contributions," Harbaugh said.

Sun columnist Mike Preston contributed to this article



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