- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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?"Mr. [Hugh] Culverhouse has been a great owner. He hasn't come to the dressing room yet to give me any suggestions. Well, I need some advice. I called the Baltimore owner but he was busy."
McKay's offensive coordinator, Johnny Rauch, resigned early last week, and McKay announced that he would assume Rauch's duties and also call plays for Spurrier. "I never had an offensive coordinator before," he said, "but I found out you're supposed to call someone that in the big leagues." In another move the Bucs signed former Pittsburgh Quarterback Terry Hanratty, but he was not activated for the Seattle game.
Unlike Tampa Bay, Seattle has had no quarterbacking problems. In the Seahawks' opening exhibition game, free agent Jim Zorn, a 23-year-old lefthander from Cal Poly, played the second half and brought them from a 24-0 deficit to within two yards of a tie, scrambling to just shy of the goal line on the game's final play as Seattle lost to San Francisco 27-20. Zorn has been No. 1 ever since, and now ranks first in the NFL in pass attempts, averaging almost 35 a game, and second in the NFC in passing yardage. "We're not trying to live by the pass," says Jerry Rhome, who coaches Seattle's quarterbacks and receivers, "we're just trying to live. I don't know anyone who can set up quicker or release quicker than Jim. He can really get rid of the ball. Sometimes he doesn't get it to the right place, but he can get rid of it." The 6'2", 200-pound Zorn has not had exceptional pass protection, and, as a result, has had to scramble for his life on occasion. Before the Tampa Bay game, he was tied for the team lead in rushing.
In the rabbit vocabulary of the book Watership Down, "zorn" means, perhaps fittingly, "all is lost." When told this, Zorn replied that in German his name means "anger." But Zorn is neither lost nor angry, and his name is no mystery around the NFL. He almost made the Dallas Cowboys last year, and was cut only two days before the season began when the Cowboys had to make room for Running Back Preston Pearson. The Rams quickly snapped up Zorn, and although they never officially added him to their roster, they kept him close by all year. The Seahawks outbid several clubs for his services last winter.
Zorn appends "I Corinthians 1:31" to his autographs. The verse "Who ever wants to boast must boast of what the Lord has done" seems applicable since Zorn is extremely unassuming. He agrees that his coach should call his plays. "I'm really young, you know," he says. "I don't know situations real well. I'm a little bit inconsistent, maybe because I'm young. I don't know. We'll find out what makes me tick." Zorn insists on polishing his own game shoes, wears the same knee pads he had in high school and drives a yellow Volkswagen with 79,000 miles on it. "I'd like a Porsche but God knows I couldn't handle one," he says. "My priorities would be all wrong. When God thinks I need a Porsche, I'll have a Porsche. He doesn't restrict you from buying one." Does God restrict him from throwing interceptions? "No," says Zorn, who has thrown eight, "He allows that."
Thus far, Zorn's favorite target has been rookie Wide Receiver Steve Largent, who leads the league with 23 receptions after catching three passes against Tampa Bay. Largent is neither big (5'11", 184 pounds) nor fast, but the Seahawks traded a draft choice to Houston for him at the urging of Rhome, who coached him at Tulsa.
Unfortunately, the Seahawks are not as blessed with running backs. In fact, Seattle is the only team in the NFL that has rushed for fewer yards than Tampa Bay. Four of the five backs on the Seattle roster were acquired on waivers just before the league opener with St. Louis. For two days that week the Seahawks practiced with just one running back, and at times they had to play the Cardinals with five wide receivers on the field. After that game, a 30-24 loss, Zorn was quizzed about the new players. "We got good play from some of our new people," he said, "particularly running back...er...er...No. 44."
That's the way it is on expansion teams—a lot of confusion and a lot of hope for the future, all taken with a grain of salt. Spurrier probably expressed it best: "We're pretty close to being a good team," he said. Then he thought a second and added, "But right now we're terrible."