Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What to Make of Jason Campbell

As if there was some notion by anyone that circumstances had changed, let us confirm for all that Redskins QB Jason Campbell is still very much on the hot seat. One of the most intriguing stories of the NFL preseason was how JC would respond to his own team attempting to trade him not once, but twice, the second time for a rookie QB who had never played an NFL down. If that doesn’t light a fire under a player, then nothing will. Unfortunately, if you’re a Redskins fan, his response in his first two preseason games has not been encouraging: 4 of 13 on passing attempts in five series for 43 yards. Not exactly catastrophic, but catastrophe was never Jason Campbell’s problem. His play has always resulted in more three and outs than interceptions, more of Coach Jim Zorn reluctantly sending out the punting unit, rather than slamming his clipboard to the ground over a costly turnover. He probably won’t do anything to lose the game for you, but he won’t conjure up any heroics to win the game either. It may be unfair to judge JC on five series in the preseason, several of them without his best offensive weapons. But thus far, the Redskins have seen essentially the same results that led them to attempt to trade him in the first place, albeit against the two most feared defenses in the NFL in the Ravens and Steelers (but hey, that’s what you’re up against in this league).
I’m not trying to turn up the heat, but the first pass attempt of the preaseason for Jets Quarterback Mark Sanchez (the aforementioned rookie who Redskins owner Dan Snyder apparently preferred to Campbell enough to attempt to trade for him) resulted in a 48-yard completion, outdoing Jason Campbell’s entire preseason performance in one play. Along with the lack of offensive starters (namely Clinton Portis and Santana Moss), Jason Campbell’s ragtag offensive line is a popular scapegoat for his pedestrian numbers. The lack of a deep and dependable receiver corps is also a legitimate disadvantage JC is facing. But unfortunately for him, Snyder isn’t going to wait around for an ideal situation to develop around the QB position; he wants results now. Typical Dan Snyder impatience: it is perhaps unreasonable, but then again, is it reasonable to believe from what we have seen that Campbell would flourish behind a strong O-line? Maybe it is, but it is a moot point because that scenario is unlikely to unfold during Campbell’s tenure as Redskins QB, he will have to play the cards he has been dealt.
No starting QB in the NFL needs a morale boost like Campbell. Fortunately, he has two more practice games before the real season starts, before every game that falls into the “Loss” column brings him closer to losing his starting job. Maybe the best thing that has happened for Campbell in the preseason has been the lackluster play of most of his backups, leaving the question of who could replace him for a full season with no clear answer. Campbell will not lose the starting job before week 1 of the NFL season, he should enjoy that wiggle-room while he can and play loose against the Patriots on Friday, take some chances downfield, regardless of his deathly fear of interceptions (it’s the preseason JC, take a chance!). A lack of offensive starters, a poor offensive line, another top tier NFL defense to battle against, will we be quoting one or all of these excuses for another forgettable outing by Campbell? Or will we be exhaling as Campbell goes out there and gets it done, regardless of who he is playing with, or against. It isn’t do-or-die time yet, but it’s fast approaching.

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