Flacco takes Zorn's firing personally

Ravens QB believes firing of position coach

January 29, 2011|By Jamison Hensley, The Baltimore Sun

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is angry about last week's firing of Jim Zorn and is taking the release of the quarterbacks coach personally.

During an interview Saturday, the usually mild-mannered Flacco vehemently defended Zorn's coaching and expressed disappointment that the organization didn't take his opinion into account. Flacco voiced his support of Zorn to owner Steve Bisciotti and coach John Harbaugh after the season and left those conversations believing Zorn's job was safe.

On Thursday, the Ravens fired Zorn and expanded offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's responsibilities with quarterbacks.

"I'm not happy about it, and they know I'm not happy about it," Flacco told The Sun. "I'm not going to be happy about it for a long time."

Nearly all of Flacco's statistics improved in one season under Zorn. Compared to 2009, Flacco's touchdowns (25) and quarterback rating (93.6) increased this year, his interceptions (10) decreased and his passing yards (a career-best 3,622) remained essentially the same.

By getting rid of Zorn, Flacco felt like the Ravens were taking a swipe at his performance this season.

"I'm kind of taking it personal," Flacco said. "You're saying that you're not happy with the position. I'm not sure if there is any truth to that, but that's the vibe you're sending to your quarterback. I feel like I'm being attacked."

According to a league source, the Ravens fired Zorn because of philosophical differences between Cameron and Zorn.

Zorn's background is in the West Coast offense, which often didn't mesh with Cameron's vertical passing game.

Flacco built a strong relationship with Zorn and praised his straight-forward approach, even when they disagreed. Zorn talked through plays in the quarterback meeting room from a player's perspective (Zorn played quarterback in the NFL for 11 seasons) and used past experiences as a teaching tool, Flacco said.

"I believe I benefited from him as a player," Flacco said. "He helped me play with confidence. Come Sunday, he had me prepared to play against any defense. He was a big part of the offense."

Under Zorn this past season, Flacco ranked in the top 11 in the NFL in completion percentage, passing yards, touchdowns and quarterback rating. In the playoff win at Kansas City, Flacco recorded a quarterback rating of 115.4, a Ravens' postseason record.

"We tried to go out on Sunday and respect what [Cameron] wanted to get done," Flacco said. "I tried to run the offense the way Cam wanted it to be run. That's what I was trying to do, but maybe it was a matter of Jim and Cam not communicating."

Flacco said Cameron's increased role with quarterbacks "is going to be fine."

"We have a bunch of guys who know how to win football games," Flacco said. "I still wish Jim was going to be part of it. He wanted to be a part of it, and I wanted him to be a part of it."

After the season ended, Flacco said he heard that Zorn's job was in jeopardy. So, he called Bisciotti and Harbaugh to explain why Zorn should stay.

"The vibe I took was they were taking my opinion seriously," Flacco said. "But in the end, I guess they didn't. I wasn't surprised [by Zorn's firing], just disappointed."

Ravens officials have not commented on Flacco's concerns.

Flacco first voiced his displeasure over Zorn's removal after participating in the Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge, which benefits Special Olympics Maryland. The Jersey Shore's Pauly D performed a DJ set at the event.

"It was a lot of fun," Flacco said. "I heard people weren't dancing because they were looking up at him in amazement. That's pretty cool."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jamisonhensley

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