By Mark F. Gray
Now that the two headed monster which is the braintrust of the Burgundy has reduced the once proud franchise to laughing stock of the NFL, they are insulting the intelligence of the fans. Taking away the play calling responsibilities from Jim Zorn and giving them to Sherman Lewis is a scapegoat decision by Vinny Cerrato who is the architect of the misery that is the 2009 season.
The problems with the franchise rest on the shoulders of the owner Dan Snyder for trusting Cerrato as executive vice president of football operations and allowing a man who can’t build a championship franchise to spend time hosting a propaganda-based radio show. Cerrato’s track record of failure throughout the league has earned him the reputation of being a loser and he was part of the demise of the San Francisco 49’ers during the late 90’s. Now he has succeeded in leading another of the NFL’s storied traditions to well below mediocrity.
This is not to suggest that Zorn doesn’t have some culpability in the misery of the season but its not all his fault. Zorn should have never been hired as the head coach especially when he had never been a coordinator in Seattle. There are those who have ascended from position to head coach but Zorn was fast tracked toward this demise.
If Cerrato was spending more time in the front office and less on radio then maybe he could have seen what the Seahawks management knew. Zorn is an intelligent affable coach who everybody loved in Seattle but he wasn’t ready to lead them to another Super Bowl. Cerrato had already hired him as offensive coordinator and there’s no reason to believe that would have worked at this point either.
Ultimately, however, Zorn’s real fate is an unwavering loyalty to offensive assistants who haven’t been able to pick him up as well. There were already “extra sets of eyes” on staff but you have to wonder what were Sherman Smith and Stump Mitchell seeing or missing that sent Cerrato to the bingo parlor for Sherman Lewis.
Lewis, who must be getting a huge check to leave the peace of mind in Michigan, is not the savior for the season either. There’s no magic playoff dust on that script of plays he’ll put together. Cerrato hasn’t learned that if you draft offensive linemen after spending free agency dollars on skill players that may change the direction of things.
A former colleague, who works with NFL Network, says that the Snyder Cerrato collaboration is the biggest joke amongst league executives. Cerrato is known more for his expertise on managing the salary but Washington is the only team that would allow him to make personnel decisions. In truth, he’s a greater hindrance to contending than Dan Snyder.
Because Cerrato knows how to wiggle out of responsibility by throwing his coach under the bus doesn’t mean he should be safe at the end of the season. If you must keep Cerrato around then let him manage the checkbook but bring in an accountable executive who knows talent rather than some guy who forces a decision on his head coach then won’t come out and speak about it.
Maybe Snyder should take a page from Cerrato’s book though. Try bringing in a “personnel consultant” to oversee Vinny’s personnel decisions. Then after analyzing the glaring holes on the offensive line “strongly suggest” he give up those responsibilities as well. Finally, don’t worry about answering any questions about a move that makes the organization look like the Capitol Hillbillies either.