If there was even a slim chance Jim Zorn could return as coach next year, the 45-12 loss to the New York Giants on Monday night quashed it altogether.
As defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth put it: "We need somebody to lead us in the right direction."
Zorn went through a standard day-after routine Tuesday, reviewing the film and meeting with the media.
What he apparently didn't do was walk down the hall to ask owner Dan Snyder or new general manager Bruce Allen about the swirling reports that a member of his own staff has been interviewed for his job. Nor did it seem much of a priority for the coach to speak to Haynesworth, whose comments after the game were the most candid to date from a player about the coaching staff's leadership.
"I don't even know all that's going on, on the side," Zorn said. "I try not to be the investigative reporter. I try to be the head football coach and be open with our staff and players about the important things that are going on. There's so many things out there. I don't know what's true and what's not."
Zorn might the only one claiming not to keep track. Last week's hiring of Allen is seen as a precursor to the hiring of a new head coach - Mike Shanahan remains the overwhelming favorite - but the Redskins have to interview at least one minority candidate to comply with NFL rules when making such a move.
After Monday's game, secondary coach Jerry Gray - an African-American - refused to directly address reports that he's spoken with management about the job.
"To me, I think you've got to be professional about it because I think everybody is interviewing - players and coaches," Gray said. "Everybody is interviewing for Bruce. We've got to make sure that if you're going to be here, you've got to do your best. If you're not, then this is up to him to evaluate you."
Meanwhile, Haynesworth was saying plenty. He said the talent isn't to blame for the 4-10 record, but rather leadership because "we're just all going in different directions."
Haynesworth also said he missed the freedom to rush the quarterback that he had with the Tennessee Titans. Asked if he was glad he signed with the Redskins, the player with the $100 million contact said "Um," shrugged his shoulders and paused.
"Yeah," he said. "I mean, yeah, I like the guys here and stuff and Dan's been great and everything. Putting in this season right now makes it hard to say, 'Wow, I really appreciate being here.' But I know this is a great organization and we can always bounce back from it."
Asked to address Haynesworth's comments about leadership, Zorn attributed them to the emotions felt after a tough loss.
"After the emotions calm down, I would think that he could clarify that more. I wouldn't want to speculate on what that meant," Zorn said. "I'll talk to him, but I don't think I have to have some kind of special meeting over those comments."
The Redskins' improved play over a five-week span has given some credence to the notion that Zorn might be deserving of a third year as coach, but Monday night's game against an NFC East rival wasn't remotely competitive. This wasn't a hopeless cause against a monster team - like the 52-7 drubbing by the New England Patriots in 2007 - this was a halfhearted effort against a team that had lost six of its previous eight games.
"They were a football team that was better than we were yesterday, I will say that," Zorn said. "It was very hard to deal with as I watched the video."
The lowlight was a fake field goal attempted by the Redskins just before halftime. It was a high school play known by many names - "swinging gate," "wash bucket," "picket fence" - in which most of the players line up near the sideline. The Giants called timeout when they saw the formation, but Zorn decided to run the play anyway.
New York wasn't fooled at all. Punter Hunter Smith took the shotgun snap and, with no blockers in front of him, was immediately in trouble as several Giants blitzed. He heaved the ball downfield in desperation and had his pass intercepted.
Zorn knows this was one time he didn't make the right call.
"Looking at it, I would have kicked the field goal," the coach said. "But it didn't happen."
NOTES: DE Andre Carter suffered a biceps tendon tear in the game. He had an MRI on Tuesday, but Zorn said Carter will play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.... Zorn said RT Stephon Heyer, who left the game with a knee injury, is questionable for the Cowboys game.