Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ex-QB situation developing

Jason Campbell's critics claim he lacks the fire of a major-leaguer. Maybe so, but his most recent move suggests he's beginning to turn the corner.

The scapegoat formally known as Jason Campbell signed his $3.1 million free agent tender Monday challenging his current/soon-to-be-former team to make the next move.

For those of us who rarely understand what ESPN's Adam Schefter is talking about when he rambles on over free agent tenders and buyouts, this basically means Campbell is no longer a restricted free agent and is once again a Washington Redskin... contractually speaking. In reality, this move gives Bruce Allen and the rest of Washington's front office a shot at dealing Campbell before the April 22 draft.

Looking back, Campbell's fate as the starting QB in Washington was in doubt long before McNabb was brought in. Skeptics zeroed in on Campbell long before Shanahan and Allen arrived too. Realistically, the team that selected Campbell with the 25th overall pick in '05 never entirely believed in him.

Campbell was drafted following the '04 season in which both Patrick Ramsey and Mark Brunell struggled to lead Gibbs's outdated offense. He then sat his entire rookie season and the first 10 weeks of 2006. Finally, in week 11 he took over for a declining Brunell and finished the season with more TDs than his predecessor despite playing in fewer games.

In 2007, Campbell led Washington to a 5-7 record before dislocating the patellar ligament in his left knee. Todd Collins replaced Campbell for the rest of the season and led the inspired Redskins (sans Sean Taylor) to an unexpected playoff appearance, their second since 1999.

Seemingly, Campbell's been on the chopping block ever since.

In 52 games under center for Washington, Campbell completed over 60% of his passes and accounted for 58 TDs and 38 INTs (82.3 QB rating). He improved in every statistical passing category in each of his four seasons despite playing under incompetent head coaches (with all due respect to Gibbs) in different offensive systems each year with inconsistent receivers and arguably some of the league's worst offensive lines (third-most sacked QB since 2007).

But in spite of it all, the only number that seems to sidestep detractor's blinders is Washington's abysmal 26-38 record since Campbell was drafted in 2005.

It's far-fetched to assume he would have put up similar numbers to Manning, Brady or Brees had he been able to play on a playoff-caliber roster, but few experts deny Campbell's potential to win as a starter in the NFL.

Just ask DC's own Mike Wilbon:
I've hoped Campbell would leave the management-coaching dysfunction that undermined his career and find a professional situation. That could have happened with Shanahan now in charge. But Campbell, no matter how hurt he probably is now, should drop to his knees and feel his prayers have been answered... Campbell, free of upper-management meddling and the coaching revolving door with the Redskins, is young enough, talented enough and hard-working enough to be a terrific quarterback... I told Campbell what I'm writing now: the best thing that could happen to his career was to get the hell out of here, away from new coaches, new coordinators, new systems and the same old dysfunctional way of running a football team... I hope Campbell can fulfill the vast potential the Redskins organization wasn't smart enough to see or develop fully.
For a team desperately attempting to improve upon its loser culture, change is warranted. But to let go of arguably your most levelheaded, unheralded and unfinished product strikes me as downright disloyal.

Perhaps letting him go is just the fire Campbell needs.

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