Seattle Dragons’ Jim Zorn in familiar situation in leading new franchise

Jan 27, 2020, 1:40 PM | Updated: 4:37 pm
Seattle Dragons HC Jim Zorn...
Seahawks legend Jim Zorn is the head coach and general manager of the Seattle Dragons. (AP)

The Seattle Dragons of the upstart XFL will start their season in just over a week, and at the helm of the franchise is Seattle Seahawks legend Jim Zorn.

What to know about the Seattle Dragons and the XFL

Zorn, who was the Seahawks’ starting quarterback from the team’s inception in 1976 through part of 1983, also coached Seattle quarterbacks under Mike Holmgren from 2001 to 2007 before being named head coach of the Washington Redskins.

Now, Zorn will again be leading a new team in Seattle, but this time he’s doing it as the head coach and general manager of the Seattle Dragons. Zorn joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton to talk about his team and the new league.

Same situation, different scenario

As mentioned, Zorn has experience leading a new franchise in Seattle, though this time he will do it as a coach and general manager.

Something that will likely help Zorn this second time around is the Seattle fanbase. The Dragons are expecting around 20,000 in attendance for their Feb. 15 home opener and are leading the league’s franchises in ticket sales.

“When we started with the Seahawks, they packed the Kingdome and the product that we put out on the field wasn’t the top-quality product the Seahawks are putting out today,” Zorn said of the Seahawks inaugural season in 1976. “It wasn’t like we were a bunch of misfits, but we were starting something and starting a tradition and what I really appreciated about the Hawks and the Hawks fans at that time, they have their own name now, but the Hawks fans, they just loved the idea of we had an NFL team in the Northwest. There was a lot to prove then … I think it’s the same way now with this Dragons team. We’re a lesser group of footballers, if you will, with not many accolades at the present time. Everything’s brand new, but there is a feeling of newness.”

The team finalized its 52-man roster on Monday, which added new faces to the mix.

“You have a few new guys who just came in and I introduced them (to the team) this morning and guys are trying to learn names still, and that was what was going on in Seattle even with out expansion team, the Seahawks,” Zorn said.

It worked out well for Zorn and Seattle initially, as Zorn was the second inductee into the Seahawks Ring of Honor.

Familiar faces

Something that should naturally help the Seattle Dragons is that there will be familiar faces on the field.

Receiver Kasen Williams is one of them after starring at the University of Washington before bouncing around the NFL, including with the Seahawks.

“I think he’s going to solidify himself as a player to watch out for,” Zorn said of Williams.

The team has a few other former Seahawks as well.

Keenan Reynolds was with Seattle in 2018 and in the offseason ahead of 2019. Reynolds was a quarterback at Navy, running an option-rushing attack and scoring 88 rushing touchdowns, which adds to his versatility.

“He’s going to be a factor … He’s going to be really critical,” Zorn said. “He’s really smart and can play multiple positions. He’s going to help us on special teams … he is going to be our emergency QB as well.”

Former Seahawks offensive tackle Isaiah Battle is the Dragons’ starting left tackle and former Seahawks quarterback-turned-receiver B.J. Daniels.

Daniels will backup starting quarterback Brandon Silvers, who Zorn is excited to see play this year.

“He played at (Troy) and has not had a chance, really, to show anything in the NFL and he’s going to have his chance to show what he can do here,” Zorn said of his quarterback.

For the Dragons’ full roster, visit this link.

Something different electronically

In the NFL, coaches can communicate with one player on the field, typically a quarterback on offense and a linebacker on defense, through a specialized helmet that allows the players to hear play calls from their coach. That communication shuts down when there’s 15 seconds left on the play clock.

That is tremendously different than what the XFL will utilize.

“We’re going to have electronics in every helmet that’s on the field (on offense) except (the offensive line),” Zorn said. “Every receiver, every tight end, every running back and quarterback will be online. So when I call a play, I’m talking to everybody. I can call a formation and nobody has to really huddle, I can call the play and everybody knows the play and that’s how we can get things accomplished on the line of scrimmage in that 25-second clock that (the league is) allowing us to have.”

Zorn admitted the ability to communicate to so many players at one time may present some personal challenges.

“I’ve got to discipline myself to not go ‘no, no!’ or ‘not that’ or call out coverages,” Zorn joked. “That will be one aspect that will help us and I think it’s going to be enjoyable learning how to use that to our advantage and then develop our offense.”

The Seattle Dragons will play in the first game of the season against the D.C. Defenders on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 11 a.m. They make their home debut in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Vipers Saturday, Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. at Centurylink Field. For the Dragons’ full schedule, visit this link.

Zorn will join Clayton every Monday at 11 a.m. on the Zeke’s Pizza Hotline to talk about the Dragons’ last game and preview the game ahead.

Listen to Zorn’s discussion with Clayton at this link or in the player below.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton on Twitter.

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