Redskins fire Zorn, start wooing Shanahan

Baltimore Sun

The Washington Redskins moved quickly in their pursuit of Mike Shanahan on Monday, flying in the former Denver Broncos coach on the same day the team fired Jim Zorn.

Shanahan and his wife, Peggy, landed at Dulles International Airport near Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va., in midafternoon and were driven away in a limousine to meet with owner Dan Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen. Snyder planned for Shanahan to stay overnight at the owner's house in Maryland, and a formal hiring announcement could come as early as today.

Shanahan's arrival was the highlight of a long, eventful day as the Redskins sought a new direction after a 4-12 season. The first move came in the pre-dawn hours, when Zorn was dismissed during a meeting in his office with Allen following the team's cross-country flight after a 23-20 loss to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

"It's real clear that we're going to be aggressive," Allen said. "What we're looking for in a head coach is somebody who can lead these men that we had in our locker room this year to levels they've haven't played through before."

Shanahan won two Super Bowls in 14 seasons with the Broncos. He was fired a year ago after Denver missed the playoffs for the third straight season.

Shanahan would be expected to bring his son, Houston Texans offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, with him to Washington. While the Redskins weren't making any announcements about a hiring, Texans coach Gary Kubiak spoke as if a Shanahan tandem in D.C. was virtually a foregone conclusion.

"Obviously it looks like Mike's coming right back in the business here real quick, and I know it's something he's always wanted, to work with his son," Kubiak said. "I'd be the same way."

Zorn went 12-20 over two seasons and lost 18 of his last 24 games after a 6-2 start in 2008. The Redskins struggled early this season despite a weak schedule and finished with their worst record since 1994.

"The status quo has to end," Allen said. "We have to change the way we've been doing some business. ... Last place two years in a row is not Redskins football."

BILLS: The front office cleared the way for the next head coach, informing the entire coaching staff to start looking elsewhere for jobs.

Interim head coach Perry Fewell was among those relieved of his duties Monday, though Bills officials said he is still a candidate and will be interviewed. Fewell is on a growing list of candidates likely to include former Ravens coach Brian Billick, Marty Schottenheimer - who hasn't entirely ruled out the possibility of returning to coaching - and Bill Cowher, who isn't expected to return to coaching this season.

Other potential candidates include Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, a former Ravens quarterback and the brother of Ravens coach John Harbaugh; Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier; Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera; and Schottenheimer's son, Brian, the Jets offensive coordinator.

GIANTS: First-year defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, whose unit gave up 427 points, third most in the NFL, was fired.

The dismissal came the same day that co-owner John Mara vowed to make changes after seeing the season end at 8-8 with two embarrassing losses in which the Giants were outscored 85-16.

BROWNS: New president Mike Holmgren was set to arrive Monday night to begin an overhaul of Cleveland's football operations and is expected to meet today with Eric Mangini, whose turbulent first season as the team's coach climaxed with a surprising four-game winning streak.

"I have a job," Mangini said Monday. "I'm proud of the job we've done."

Cleveland's offense finished last in the NFL, and its defense was next to last.

JETS: Linebacker David Harris has a sprained right ankle and his availability for the wild-card playoff game at Cincinnati on Saturday is uncertain.

Harris leads the team in tackles and has 5 1/2 sacks and two interceptions.

CARDINALS: Wide receiver Anquan Boldin has a sprained left ankle and underwent a magnetic resonance imaging Monday.

SEAHAWKS: Walter Jones says he would still like "one last run" with Seattle in 2010, but the six-time All-Pro left tackle would understand if his only NFL team thinks he's finished.

BENGALS: Chris Henry's fiancee said he jumped out of the back of her truck instead of falling and that she wasn't driving fast on the day the wide receiver was fatally injured.

Loleini Tonga told ESPN that she thinks Henry thought he would land safely and might have been scared because he saw someone calling the police. She said he didn't jump with the intention of harming himself.

The two had argued Dec. 16 at the home owned by Tonga's parents in Charlotte, N.C. She didn't say what the argument was about.

Henry died the next day from massive head injuries. Police called the argument a domestic dispute and are investigating the traffic accident, but no charges have been filed.

LABOR: A rookie wage scale is among the issues the NFL and the players' union are expected to discuss during labor negotiations today.

The NFL Players Association has presented a proposal that would include redirecting money paid to rookies into veterans' contracts instead. The union's plan would have a scale or cap for how much rookies would be paid, and the 32 teams would use the money saved from those contracts on established players. As much as $200 million could wind up in veterans' pockets.

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