Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Zorn, Matsko firings…The Rest of the Story

Many (myself included) have labeled former Ravens’ assistant coaches Jim Zorn and John Matsko as sacrificial lambs served up to save Cam Cameron by essentially re-directing blame for the team’s underachieving offense towards them and not the team’s offensive coordinator.

When rumors began to fly that Steve Bisciotti met with John Harbaugh for a total of five hours over the course of a few days to discuss among other things the team’s offensive architect just prior to the club’s annual State of The Ravens address, many concluded (and Harbaugh’s post address comments seemed to confirm this) that Harbaugh successfully salvaged another lifeline for Cameron.

I believed that the firing of Zorn and Matsko was Bisciotti’s influence. My conspiracy theory suggested that Bisciotti wanted to remove any potential future scapegoats and clear the way to assess blame or bestow praise accurately depending upon the performance of the offense in 2011.

However, it now appears that the firings aren’t the diabolical machinations that I once thought they could be.

Word now surfacing from Owings Mills suggests that Matsko wasn’t quite getting to the players on the offensive line – they weren’t embracing his style and there were some rumblings from that group to higher level coaches. Moreover, the team is said to really believe that recently promoted offensive line coach Andy Moeller, despite his troubles off the field, is a rising star among young coaches. He is said to have a unique ability to communicate equally as effectively with young players as with established veterans.

The seemingly unanimous support of Moeller at team headquarters suggests the same.

As for Jim Zorn, he was brought in to provide constructive criticism of Joe Flacco to help accelerate his development; to challenge him and to teach him how to break down game film like a professional.

That didn’t go as planned.

Zorn, being the nice guy that he is never provided the tough love to Flacco and morphed into a confidant more than anything else, treating him with kid gloves. It’s said that Flacco preferred it that way and that could explain at least in part why the Ravens’ signal caller was unusually vocal about Zorn’s firing.

Cameron on the other hand is tougher on Flacco and he’s unafraid to deliver the challenging yet necessary criticisms.

It remains to be seen if Flacco will embrace Cameron’s style.

Sometimes the most successful collaborations are semi-adversarial.

Charlie Weiss and Tom Brady come to mind.


Anonymous said...

So one guy was fired because his replacement was better liked by the players, and the other was fired because he was too well liked by the player?

That makes perfect sense.

Harryos29 said...

..If Bisciottti had a hand in the firings, that sounds like his style: Remove all doubt as to who is responsible and make that person 100% accountable for his area! I understand the CBA implications, as to being a reason for keeping Cam Cameron in the fold. Look at TJ and Dante, both came in late, and never seemed to learn the system? That is the word I'm hearing.

...All of this may be MOOT; if the two sides do not agree on a new CBA; lets hope not, there is enough money for everyone and we do not need any more GORDON GECKOS in the world; One is enough!

Anonymous said...

I didn't like Zorn as Joe's QB coach because of the exact reasons you've mentioned. IMO Cam knows what he's doing when it comes to grooming good QB's. Joe needs to toughen up mentally before he can take that next step.

Jerry B said...

Not buying this explanation, TL. This problem with the offense didn't just develop this year and Cameron's head coaching stint in Miami proves that the guy is not a good coach. Now, I'm not naive; I know there's a difference between head coach and coordinator, but the FACT remains that the offense was out of sync all year, didn't make use of the personnel and never really got untracked. And, this was his third year here with the same QB! As for not replacing him because of labor issues, Al Saunders coulda replaced him without missing a beat.......

Tony Lombardi said...


Not quite sure what you aren't buying. Simply stating the reasons that Zorn and Matsko were let go as explained to me.

If your commments are focused more on the concept of an adversarial relationship working for Cameron and Flacco, it was just another theory kicked around in Owings Mills. Perhaps w/o that QB coach buffer, the two can forge a better relationship.

I'm skeptical but willing to be proven wrong. I've beaten up pretty heavily on Cam. Earlier today I referred to him as offensive coordinator "pro tem", a Latin phrase which best translates to "for the time being."

Jerry B said...

Here's what I think, TL.....Harbaugh is loyal to a fault with some of his "close" associates, i.e., Mattison and Cameron. Had Mattison not left of his own accord to return to the college ranks, Harbaugh was NOT going to fire him and the same goes for Cameron. It has taken Bisciotti to make some demands of Harbaugh to get more "involved" with the offense, which doesn't sound like he's necessarily "sold" on Cameron either. And, to my way of thinking, that's not exactly a recipe for success!