WASHINGTON (AP) -The Washington Redskins hired Jim Zorn as their coach Saturday night, a surprise ending to a monthlong search for a replacement for Joe Gibbs.
``I've always dreamed of being a head coach with a franchise rich in tradition like the Redskins,'' Zorn said in a team news release. ``As a player who had to fight Redskins teams at RFK as well as at our home field, I know about the history of this franchise as well as the passion of its fans. I won't let you down.''
The Redskins said the 54-year-old Zorn agreed to a five-year contract. He will be introduced at a news conference at 3 p.m. Sunday
``We're proud that our search was diligent, thorough, and resulted in today's announcement,'' owner Dan Snyder said. ``Jim's track record and reputation as a player, great teacher, and as a coach makes us confident that they will translate to success for the Redskins.''
Zorn, a former Seattle quarterback, was the Seahawks' quarterbacks coach for the last seven years. The Redskins hired him to be their offensive coordinator - his highest coaching position until now - on Jan. 26 while continuing their search for a head coach.
Snyder and his advisers settled on Zorn after completing the last of their initial interviews, with New York Giants coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, earlier this week. The owner had to wait until the Super Bowl was played to speak to Spagnuolo, who withdrew from consideration Thursday and signed a new three-year contract with the Giants.
Zorn was one of many candidates interviewed by Snyder in a methodical, secretive process that began after Gibbs' resignation Jan. 8 and included marathon interviews usually conducted at Snyder's home.
Most of the contenders' names eventually became public - Spagnuolo, Jim Fassel, Steve Mariucci, Jim Mora, Ron Meeks, Pete Carroll, Jim Schwartz as well as Redskins assistant Gregg Williams - while Zorn's status was supposedly settled once he accepted the job as offensive coordinator.
ns to the playoffs in two of his four seasons.
Determined to make the right choice, Snyder was deliberate in his process, conducting exhausting research on each candidate and multiple interviews with several. Meanwhile, he took the unusual step of selecting offensive and defensive coordinators - hiring Zorn away from the Seahawks and promoting defensive line coach Greg Blache - before putting a head coach in place.
``We knew of Jim's stellar offensive reputation, so we hired him as coordinator, but we also suspected he would be a strong candidate for head coach,'' Snyder said. ``After our first six-hour interview with him, I told Joe (Gibbs), 'This guy would make a terrific head coach.' But we stayed true to our commitment to interview every candidate.''
After Spagnuolo withdrew, Snyder said he called Zorn and told him he was being considered for the head coaching job.
``We spent two days taking Jim through the same interview process as every other candidate,'' Snyder said. ``Those sessions only confirmed my earlier comment to Joe: Jim Zorn will be a terrific head coach.''
Although Zorn is essentially making the jump from quarterbacks coach to head coach, Gibbs said the Redskins' veteran assistants will be able to help with the adjustment period. Most of the Gibbs' staff has been retained.
m was preparing to compete in Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout exhibition race. ``So what they did is continuity-wise, they kept the coaching staff and the support group and the training group and everybody, so he's in a real solid (situation).''
Zorn takes over a team that went 9-7, snatching the NFC's final wild card berth on the last weekend of the regular season, before losing to Seattle in the first round of the playoffs. The Redskins have a core of talented players, but there are question marks at several positions that need to be addressed during the offseason. The team is also well above the salary cap, although it has already started to address that problem by opening contract renegotiations with some of its highest-paid players.
The offensive system will undergo an overhaul under Zorn, who is expected to install a version of the West Coast offense. He will also have to sell himself to players who have expressed disappointment that the job didn't go to Williams, the mastermind of the defense for four seasons and the assistant often portrayed as Gibbs' heir apparent. Williams and Snyder had four meetings about the job, but Williams was eventually fired and has since been hired as defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Zorn was a longtime local favorite in Seattle. He was the franchise's original starting quarterback in 1976 and played nine seasons with the team. He returned as an offensive assistant from 1997-98 and again as quarterbacks coach in 2001.
AP Sports Writer Chris Jenkins contributed to his report from Daytona, Fla.

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