We have been debating Jason Campbell's ability for a few years now. I can hear my on-air partner JP in my sleep.
"I already know who Jason Campbell is as a quarterback. He is who he is, an average QB".
Campbell has been in the league for four years now. He has been the full time starter for two and a half years. Less than three years at the helm and people want to write him off and trade for a disgrunteled QB or move up in the draft to take a flyer on a rookie.
But I believe history will show that this year will be Jason Campbell's finest as a Redskin. Not everybody comes into the league like Dan Marino. Sometimes good things come to those who wait.
The number one criticism of Jason Campbell has been that he doesn't throw touchdowns. I can't argue the numbers. He's thrown just 35 touchdowns in 36 games. Last year's 13 TD's was his career best. Those certainly aren't impressive numbers.
But, I bet you didn't know that there is a Hall of Fame quarterback that started as a rookie and took six years to throw 18 TD's. Does the name Terry Bradshaw ring a bell? He started 51 games before he had 18 TD's in year six. Jason Campbell has started a total of 36 games. Bradshaw didn't throw for 3200 yards until his tenth season. Campbell threw for 3,245 in his third year as starter. Bradshaw's career QB rating is 70.9. Campbell's is 80.4. Bradshaw's career completion percentage is 51.9. Campbell's is 59.7. Oh and by the way Bradshaw went on to win four Super Bowls.
Have I gotten your attention? Just because a guy doesn't play right away or play at a high level immediately doesn't mean he is doomed to be mediocre. It took Trent Green five years to even get on the field. He was a two-time pro bowler. Chad Pennington played for seven seasons before he passed for 3200 yards. He is a two-time Comeback Player of the Year. Eli Manning's career QB rating is 76.1. In terms of number of starts, Cambell is only in the beginning stages of what would be is third season. That's way to early to write off a guy with his pedigree.
How quickly we forget that this guy starred for four years in the SEC at Auburn. He never completed less than 62% of his passes in any of his four years. He completed 70% of his passes as a senior, threw for 20 TD's and guided the Tigers to a perfect 13-0 season. He was a number one draft choice for the legendary Joe Gibbs. We are talking about a world class athlete in Jason Campbell. This is not some unknown player with no resume. The man has been groomed to be a star in this league.
Unfortunately he's had to endure seven different offensive systems in his last eight years dating back to college. By contrast, Peyton Manning had the same offensive coordinator with the Colts for his first 11 seasons. Common sense will tell you how much of a difference that can make in a player's development. Plus the fact that Joe Gibbs version 2.0 was very wary to pass the football. Remember all the dink and dunks during Marc Brunell's tenure. I'm not convinced that Jim Zorn was ready to have Jason Campbell fire away at will in his first season either- particularly when trying to teach Jason yet another offensive scheme.
People forget how long it takes quarterbacks and teams to learn the west coast offense. Matt Hasselbeck didn't break out until his third year in Seattle and his fifth year in the league. You don't believe me? Listen to west coast offense guru Mike Holmgren.
"I've always said it takes three years, but three to where they know where to go," Holmgren said. "Then, in years four and five, you polish your trade to really become good, not just to know what to do, but do it well. It takes until then so they know where to go, [and] to make the throw. It takes until then where you know you're getting this type of pressure here, so sidestep and make the throw. That's what you get the more you play the position."
This will be Campbell's second year in the west coast offense. The arguement can be made that the best is yet to come. Santana Moss is an extremely capable number one receiver. Even in a bad season for him, he had 79 catches last year. Antwaan Randle El is often picked on, yet he's had 104 catches in the last two seasons. Chris Cooley is a two-time pro bowler who is coming off 83 catches last season. They just need either Malcom Kelly or Devin Thomas to break through in his second year to complete an extremely capable group of receivers. If they get anything from Fred Davis that's a bonus.
The Skins have a future Hall of Famer at running back in Clinton Portis, who is still 27 years old. Jon Jansen will be replaced at right tackle by either Stephon Heyer or Mike Williams. Heyer is much younger and healthier. Williams started 47 of 51 games before injuries forced him out of the game. He's a former #4 pick overall in the draft who's still just 29 years old. If he's healthy he could be the steal of the offseason. And don't forget the addition of Derrick Dockery at guard. He's started 93 of 96 games as a pro. He's only 28 years old. Throw in Chris Samuels at left tackle, Casey Rabach at center and Randy Thomas and you have a pretty experienced offensive line. They should give Campbell just enough time to make his reads.
Throw in the fact that the defense was ranked #4 in yards allowed and #6 in points last season without Albert Haynewsorth. I see some short fields in the Redskins future this season. One other tidbit to consider. It took Joe Theisman eight years to throw for 3000 yards. It took him six years to throw 20 TD's. He had a pretty good career with the Redskins too. If you think going to two Super Bowls is any good.