There is a saying in professional sports, common amongst athletes and coaches alike. “You are only as good as your last game.”
Last October quarterback Jason Campbell led the Redskins to a 25-17 victory over the hapless Detroit Lions improving the team’s record to 6-2. Campbell was brilliant, completing 23 of 28 passes for 328 yards and one touchdown.
Coaches, fans, talk radio hosts, and television personalities believed Campbell had turned the corner. The former first round draft pick who was hand selected by former Redskins Hall-of-Fame Head Coach Joe Gibbs as the future of the team had finally lived up to expectations.
The honeymoon was short lived as the Pittsburgh Steelers—2009 Super Bowl Champions—and their number one ranked defense came in to town and humiliated Campbell and the Redskins on Monday Night Football, 23-6.
Campbell looked confused and at times intimidated by the physical Steelers defense. The Redskins' season turned on that game as did Campbell’s confidence, and the team would proceed to win just two more games the rest of the year.
Concerned by the play of their quarterback in 2008, owner Daniel Snyder and Head Coach Jim Zorn decided to explore other options.
After publicly acknowledging efforts and subsequent failure to acquire disgruntled Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler and moving up in the draft to select USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, the Redskins were left with an ego-bruised Campbell to lead the team in 2009.
Snyder typically gets what he wants in business and for his Redskins team. If he wanted Cutler and Sanchez bad enough they would be wearing burgundy and gold. What Snyder and Zorn tried to do was light a fire under their laid back field general who needs to play with sense of urgency and show a burning desire to win.
It was clearly a message they wanted to send or Campbell wouldn’t be the Redskins quarterback heading into the 2009 season.
Campbell’s career as an NFL starter is on the line next season and he knows it. He publicly acknowledged that he was bothered by the team’s pursuit of Cutler and Sanchez. Disappointed and hurt, Campbell has been rarely heard from since the NFL Draft.
Campbell will have to “Cowboy-up” for the lack of a better word, and perform with leadership and maturity while putting behind the trade rumors and hurt feelings.
The Redskins success in 2009 and his career are riding on how he deals with the controversy that has surrounded him since that Monday Night meltdown against the Steelers last November.