Let’s cut straight to the subject that’s been buzzing around the message board and talk-radio world:
Should Jason Campbell be benched?
Clearly, his performance has fallen off in the past seven games. After the first five games of the year, Campbell’s QB rating stood at a very respectable 100 and he hadn’t thrown an interception.
Now, he’s at a mediocre 87.5 rating and he’s thrown four picks. After five games, ESPN’s Ron Jaworski said that he was a candidate for MVP. Now people are saying he’s the main reason the offense has been MIA.
So that has board posters and talk show callers calling for Campbell to be replaced. Put in Todd Collins, look what happened when he went in at this time last year. Put in Colt Brennan, look what he did in preseason.
Do either one of those but get another guy for next year. Campbell can’t make decisions, he holds the ball too long, he can’t make the throws, he can’t read defenses, he’s not a leader.
It’s important to note here that this outcry for Campbell’s ouster is coming strictly from outside of Redskins Park. Usually, when there is dissatisfaction among the players with the play of the quarterback, some off-the-record comments will be made to some of the media types.
I have checked with a couple of reporters who are out in Ashburn frequently and they both told me that there has been no grumbling about benching Campbell.
Let me repeat, none. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Not a whisper, not a grunt.
Now, I’m not going to go and try to put lipstick on the pig that has been the Redskins offense over the past month and a half or try to minimize Campbell’s role in it. A grand total of two touchdowns in three big November home games speaks for itself. The quarterback takes the snaps, he runs the show, and he gets Miss DC. A lot of it is on him.
But it’s not all on him, and that’s one of the two points I want to make here. This offense is not a well-oiled machine just needed a stud quarterback to take the wheel. Dropped passes, ill-timed penalties and missed blocks are problems that I can see with my own two eyes.
Yesterday, Jim Zorn went into detail about how Antwaan Randle El ran an 11-yard pattern when he should have run an eight-yard pattern. That made Campbell’s throw appear to be low when it was exactly where it should have been. Instead of being able to turn around and easily take a couple of steps for a first down, Randle El was touched down short of the first.
The second point to make here is directed at those of you who point to Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco and say, see, it shouldn’t matter that Campbell is learning a new offense, these guys can step right out of college and get it done.
Yes, Flacco and Ryan are having good years. That’s no guarantee that either of them will be good quarterbacks in the NFL for a long time. Did you ever hear of Daunte Culpepper? The learning curve is different for all quarterbacks. Let’s look down the list of the top QB’s in terms of rating and see how their careers have unfolded:
1. Tony Romo—Did not throw a pass for almost three-and-a-half years before bursting onto the scene.
2. Phillip Rivers—Drafted high, did not play much for two years, has been good but not great in three years as a starter.
3. Kurt Warner—Couldn’t make it out of college, played Arena League, bagged groceries, made the Rams as a backup, got his chance due to injury, won two MVPs, declined, nobody wanted him, now back as an unquestioned starter.
4. Drew Brees—Played in one game as a rookie, posted QB ratings of 76.9 and 67.5 in his first two years starting, had two great years with the Chargers, was allowed to leave as a free agent in favor of Rivers, has had two and a half stellar years in New Orleans.
5. Chad Pennington—Played little in his first two years with the Jets, then broke out in his third year, has been steady, if unspectacular, since then.
6. Jeff Garcia—Canadian League, made the Pro Bowl in San Francisco, bounced to the Lions and Browns, both of whom had major QB issues, to the Eagles, where he took over for an injured McNabb and led them to the playoffs, to Tampa Bay.
I defy you to find a pattern there and tell me where Campbell “should” be at this stage of his career. No, he hasn’t shown a steady progression from game one as a starter through yesterday, his 32nd game behind center.
But neither did most of the guys listed above, or many other solid starters around the league.
Take the quarterbacks of the last two teams the Redskins have faced. Matt Hasselbeck, under the coaching of Jim Zorn in Seattle, had many fits and starts with the Seahawks. Then, in 2005, he got it. A year later the Seahawks were in the Super Bowl and may well have won it if not for some strange officiating calls.
And Eli Manning seemed to be completely lost as late December of last year. Nobody in NFL history has thrown more incompletions in a game than he did against the Redskins in the Meadowlands in Week 15 of 2007.
A few weeks before that, he’d thrown four interceptions in an ugly loss to the Vikings. His demeanor was way too laid back. He’s now wearing a Super Bowl ring.
Not that all of this means that it’s a slam dunk that Campbell will be leading a parade down Constitution Avenue holding a Lombardi Trophy this year or any time soon.
It does mean that there is a potential payoff in being patient, letting Campbell stay in there until he and the other 10 guys on offense are executing the offense the way it’s supposed to be executed.
Sometimes to best way to change things is to make no changes at all. This is one of those times.