At times Sunday afternoon Jason Campbell looked like the franchise quarterback the Washington Redskins had hoped he would be this season. However, at other times he made the same mistake of holding the ball too long that caused there to be doubt about him in the first place.
Coming into this season there was much pontification about how Campbell would react to a tumultuous off-season in which the Redskins tried to trade him, twice. All off-season Campbell replied with the politically correct stock answers of 'Its behind me', 'I'm moving on' etc etc. No one really knew how he would react, but if Sunday's game is any indication Campbell seems to have put that ordeal behind him.
After the Redskins first two fruitless offensive series Campbell attempted and completed only one pass. Game announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman even insinuated that Redskins Coach Jim Zorn did not seem to have confidence in Campbell and based on the teams bumbling two first series they seemed to be right.
When Zorn finally did put the ball in Campbell's hands on the third possession of the game he looked sharp. Campbell worked the middle of the Giants zone for two consecutive first downs on passes to Chris Cooley (17 yards) and Antwaan Randle El (13 yards). The drive ended however with a Campbell interception that should have never happened because firstly Campbell had passed the line of scrimmage and secondly because Santana Moss should have come back to the ball.
In that drive Campbell however showed much of the upside that prompted the Redskins to draft him in the first-round four years ago. His accuracy on the throws over the middle was pinpoint. Even though the pass was picked, Campbell showed his mobility by getting out of the pocket and attempting to create a positive despite pressure right in his face.
Campbell finished the day going 19-26 with 211 yards, 1 TD, 1 fumble and 1 interception. His quarterback rating was a very respectable 93.6 - compare that to Eli Manning's 93.5 rating for the game. He had these numbers despite his number one and two receivers - Santana Moss and Malcolm Kelly respectively - combining for three catches for 12 yards.
The biggest mistake Campbell made all afternoon was on the fumble that Osi Umenyiora took to the house in the 2nd Quarter. That turnover made the game 17-0 and pretty much sealed the Redskins fate. The most disappointing part of the turnover was that it was completely avoidable. Had Campbell stepped up into the perfect pocket that his O-Line created for him.
Campbell's best drive of the day came on his last drive when he drove the Redskins from their own 28 yard line for their only offensive touchdown of the game. For most of the possession Campbell operated out of the shotgun. The Redskins went no huddle for the drive and tired out the Giants D driving down the field in under two minutes. Campbell even mixed in a 16 yard scramble during the drive. Campbell ended the drive by throwing a perfect strike to Cooley on a skinny post route.
The Redskins have a few get-well games coming up against some dregs like St Louis, Kansas City and Detroit before resuming division play so Campbell is in line for some big games coming up. If he can eliminate his turnovers and continue to capitalize on the opportunities the defense gives him - specifically in terms of running the ball more - then the Redskins may soon find out that he was really the franchise quarterback they had been looking for all along.