the harsh truth

(photo by Brian Murphy)

During the Skinscast taping last night, I said that in my humble opinion fans will give more leeway to rookie head coach Jim Zorn than to quarterback Jason Campbell.

Even though I have been labeled a “Campbell apologist,” I realize that this is clearly a make-or-break season for the fourth year signal caller out of Auburn. It’s safe to say the only reason Zorn got the job was because management felt he was the best-case scenario to help Campbell realize his untapped potential. What’s more, the ‘Skins focused their 2008 draft almost exclusively on adding weapons to surround Campbell with as much support as possible – using their top three picks to add pass catchers Devin Thomas, Fred “Sleepy” Davis and Malcolm Kelly to the mix.

It was at that exact moment the fanbase realized management’s decision to live and die with Jason Campbell. If he grasps Zorn’s West Coast offense, then brighter days are ahead. If not, well … that’s a subject many ‘Skins fans don’t even want to contemplate. With these thoughts fresh in my mind, I decided to take a closer look at Campbell’s career in hopes of seeing what he’s brought to the table thus far and try to figure out how this story may play out.

After holding a clipboard his rookie season, Campbell found his way onto the field in 2006, starting seven games for the Redskins. The team went 2-5 in games Campbell started in 2006. That year he completed 53 percent of his passes, with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions and a QB rating of 76.5.

The following season, Campbell started 13 games before his season was ended prematurely due to a knee injury.

The ‘Skins went 6-7 in games Campbell started in 2007, which doesn’t take into consideration that Todd Collins came into the Chicago Bears game and led the team to victory after Campbell’s injury. For the season, Campbell completed 60 percent of his passes, with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and a QB rating of 77.6.

When you add in this week’s loss to the Giants, the Redskins are 8-13 with Campbell running the show. Here’s what Campbell has done over his 21-game NFL career: a 57.6 completion percentage, with 23 touchdowns and 17 interceptions and a QB rating of 77.4.

For what it’s worth, Mark Brunell has a career passer rating of 84.2. Sonny Jurgensen finished his career with a QB rating of 82.6. Joe Theismann had an identical QB rating of 77.4. Outside of our nation’s capital, Campbell’s rating is good for 22nd best out of active quarterbacks, and compares to the career ratings of Charlie Batch (77.9), Jon Kitna (76.8) and the ageless wonder Vinny Testeverde (75.0), who may very well end up back in New England after Tom Brady’s season was cut short.

Redskins fans aren’t going to want to hear this, but Campbell’s completion percentage of 57.6 actually puts him below the career marks of Jeff Hostetler (58.0), Jeff George (57.9) and even Ty Detmer (57.7). Campbell’s completion percentage is good enough to rank 24th on the active players’ list, which is just above Kyle Boller’s 56.9 percentage. Any time you’re in the same category as Boller, you can’t feel good about yourself.

So where does all of this leave us?

Although there have been flashes, nothing on Campbell resume says that he is without a doubt, The Franchise. If he gets it together and leads the Redskins offense to glory, then great. But if, for one reason or another, he simply can’t get it together between now and the season finale at San Francisco, then there’s a very real chance we’ll reach a “Matt Leinart situation,” where a change of scenery is probably best for everyone involved.

While several questions remain unanswered at this point, one thing is for sure – when the 2008 season comes to a close we’ll be able to say once and for all whether Jason Campbell is the answer.

Update: A reader politely asked me to compare Jason Campbell’s first 21 games to Peyton Manning. Not sure what someone should take from this information, because I’m a nice guy, here you go:

Jason Campbell’s first 21 games:
8-13 record
375 completions
651 attempts
4,130 passing yards
57.6 completion percentage
23 touchdowns and 17 interceptions
77.4 QB rating

Peyton Manning’s first 21 games:
6-15 record
432 completions
751 attempts
5,134 passing yards
57.5 completion percentage
37 touchdowns and 35 interceptions
75.5 QB rating


  1. PC
    September 10, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    compare peyton manning vs campbell in their first 21 games

  2. DukeDuekDuke
    September 10, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    We won’t know. Because there will be limitless streams of “he’s only had one season in this offense” and other fits of denial that Jason Campbell is never gonna be the guy here. I love the kid, but some peoples’ attachment is so obvious and sad. I can’t wait until skin color is truly irrelevant in America

  3. Sasparilla Gretsch
    September 10, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    I’m not sure what your last sentence means, Duke. Are you saying that Cambell gets more leeway because he is black? I have seen absolutely no evidence that this is the case. Assuming that I’ve understood you correctly, I think that you’ve gone so far out on a limb that it’s about to snap.

    I have consistently argued patience with Cambell. The most successful quarterbacks in football all share one thing in common: stability. Cambell has simply not had that, and neither have many of the players around him that are the keys to his potential success. I believe that had we retained Al Saunders for a third year, Cambell would look like a much different player.

  4. madchef301
    September 10, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Well put, stability is the key. Yet, as I write that I ask myself when the front office will demonstrate such a thing?

  5. BluCollar Redskin
    September 10, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    The front office won’t have stability if every time the team doesn’t win the fans and the media rip them for it. Growing back into a respectable franchise takes time, decisions have to be made and then stuck with. Patience.

  6. mcjunken
    September 10, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Homer, this is an outstanding article. Not only is it structured logically, it flows smoothly from start to finish. Your ability to explain the Zorn choice in terms of a commitment to Campbell in a single three-sentence paragraph is laudable. I’m not saying I agree with everything you’ve said or that your analysis is exhaustive, but it is succinct and aesthetically pleasing, IMO. I was down on you after your defense of Frost and his comments based on your personal relationship with him. I can only hope you’ll give Brooks a fair shake. In any case, keep up the logical analysis and good writing.

  7. Kenny
    September 10, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Now I really have to agree when is the last time you have seen a top notch quarterback with a unstable franchise name one. We change coaches and offensive cordinators like underwear. Look at Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, and for goodness sake Tony (I Love Jessica Simpson) Romo. Stability is the key thats like in real world scenerios if you keep jumping from one job to another sooner or later a employer will notice that you are unstable. We need to stick to our guns and let things go where they are going. Give Jason 2 years to get the system down.

  8. Coltfan
    September 10, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Uhhhh, yea people, it took Steve Young a really long time as a starter to be successful. And for how many years did the Patriots struggle when they replaced Drew Bledsoe. Tony Romo, Drew Brees, Ben Rothlisberger, I could go on and on and on with examples of QB’s who were successful quickly. I understand a QB needs to learn a system. I understand he hasn’t had the same coaches around him. But he has had the same core group of surrounding players and he still needs to throw the same football accurately. And if you want to look at it in a different light, he has gotten to try a bunch of different systems and he wasn’t successful at any of em. Dropping back and holding the ball until you get sacked will be unsuccessful in any system. I will give JC until mid season, if we aren’t 5-3 or better, I will be screaming from my Colt Brennan bandwagon that a change needs to be made. And not THAT kind of change Barack Obama. Good change. Go Colt! Hail Skins!

  9. Old Diver
    September 11, 2008 at 4:01 am

    Quarterback ratings only mean something if you have a winning record.

  10. hcoregoskins
    September 11, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    either way if you compare manning and campbell the differnce is payton had the same cooridnator since his rookie season and they were not afraid to go out there and let him throw the ball and learn. Jason on the other hand has had to listen to 4 and 5 people try to run the show no one knows who is giving orders anytime your defense coach sends 10 min on the field RIP Sean Taylor! and the head coach does not know about it but the fans knew a week in advance i would say something was drastically wrong last season and it was not the headsets! unless they used headsets instead of cell phones and normal speaking methods during lunch meetings in which case i could see how communication would be a problem. bottom line our QB has no fight in his eyes and running low on swagger

  11. LizKauai
    September 11, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Thanks for the very informative and, imho, very objective POV.

  12. Adam Russ
    September 11, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    I was in Tampa watching Campbell on his openeing day. I havent missed a game since. From what i gather, Campbell has been on such a short leash, he couldnt even breathe without being commanded to do so. Now, in the new offense, he has the freedom and ability to become a leader and make more of his own personal decisions. Its not going to happen overnight, but stick with this kid because big things are gonna happen for him. He knows how to handle himself, very hard working, and classy. Give him time and you will see him grow into the star, leader this team DESPERATLY needs. plus, we need a big game to get a good feeling going again! Hail

  13. Jef
    September 11, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    You didn’t take into consideration the mismanagent in the handling of a young QB. He’s had 3 offensive coordinators in his 4 year career, Peyton is with the same guy he started with. That continuity alone is enough to give Peyton the advantage.

    I want the Skins to win as much as anyone, but we cannot blame this young man alone. His bosses bosses have to have some sort of accountability as well.

  14. BUTCH
    September 12, 2008 at 1:15 am

    In this first game, Peyton had a 61 QB rating and Campbell had a 81 QB rating with two dropped passes, against the Super Bowl Champs, in their stadium, in a new offense, with one receiver who was cut by Philly and another receiver who was never a starter until he came to the Skins. I don’t think average fans realize what a mentally challenging game it is for QB’s. A young quarterback needs a year in a system before you can judge his worthiness.

  15. PaTGesuale
    September 12, 2008 at 10:32 am

    This is one of the most thoughtful and well-written articles I have read anywhere in a long time. Great job.

  16. Nick from London
    September 12, 2008 at 11:38 am

    “bottom line our QB has no fight in his eyes and running low on swagger” hcoregoskins … I couldn’t agree more. Frankly this is the major issue. I don’t think there is a doubt that Jason Campbell has the physical tools to do the job and he works really hard which leads me to the conclusion that he isn’t mentally hard enough to drag the team over the line with him.

    In the opening game Santana Moss slowed down on a go route having beaten the corner on the outside because he thought JC got sacked. That to me doesn’t seem like a receiver who has confidence in the ability of the passer to make something happen.

    Granted the chopping and changing of systems can’t help matters but at the end of the day you still have to read the defense, you still have to anticipate where the receiver is going to go and you still have to make a split second judgement.

    The other thing that makes me feel that JC’s time may be limited is that Colt Brenan was the head coach’s pick. The combination of comments like “he’s so big I just want him to move faster” and the fact the Jim Zorn decided that he wanted to coach Colt Brenan makes me think that maybe he will get a chance over the next couple of years.

    Aaron Rogers had a great start to the season and you could see his players wanting to play well for him. Jason Campbell seems like a lovely guy who you wouldn’t mind if your daughter brought home … but I fear that he isn’t hard enough to make the time win by the force of his own will. When the chips are down that is what your big players have to do.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’m wrong and cursing the lack of coverage in the UK.

  17. Don P 4-life
    September 12, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Fans man I’m just tired of all the mumbo jumbo, I just wanna win man..! I know it’s only been one game, but we seen the same thing in preseason and it’s just disheartning @ this time… New system or not, grown men are still playin and gettin pushed around like some fricken rag dolls out there! Somebody needs to get fired the heck up and say shoot I don’t wanna be the weakest link in the NFC East! Instead of gettin n a must win situation toward the end of the season like we do every fricken year! Not gonna happen that way every year, teams have upgraded this year and we have to step the heck up like grown fricken men! Nacho was tired of getting paid to lose he wanted to win! Lol… (Nacho Libre)Lol!

  18. Samskeee
    September 12, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    The notion of skin color bias being a factor in why Jason Campbell gets a supposed pass is a sad one.

    “I can’t wait until skin color is truly irrelevant in America“. This was stated by username, DukeDuekDuke. You are in fact making race relevant suggesting that there is an attachment to Campbell through race. The majority of Redskins fans only care about two colors, the Burgundy and Gold.

    With that stated, the fact that some fans are calling for Campbell’s head on plate after one game is ridiculous and somewhat disappointing. This cult of Colt fans is very interesting. Redskins fans are amongst the top fanbase’s with the most knowledgeable fans, but with that said there is a portion of fans that are pessimist in which the Redskins can do no right. With a win against the Saints this Sunday the pessimist will be quieted for at least a week but a loss the following week will only cause the door knock to get louder.

    Good thing JC doesnt have the psyche of Vince Young or he might be too distraught to play Sunday (just trying to inject some sort of humor into this post but this maybe true). One thing missing from the argument against Campbell is the word, “Stability“. There has been none since owner Dan Snyder took over. Mr. Snyder appears to have seen the light or something resembling it.

    Since being drafted, Campbell’s toughest opponent has been stability. There has been many things working against JC being successful as the Washington Redskins quarterback. System changes, offensive line trouble, injuries to recievers, etc etc. The list goes on. The West Coast offense puts emphasis on accuracy, timing, anticipation, quick release, and mobility. This is 180 degree turn from the power offense full of max protects, runs up the gut, and throws predominantly downfield off play-action that was a staple of the Joe Gibbs offense.

    Jason Campbell has yet to play a whole season in the NFL, but yet there is a faction ready to pull the rug out from under his development. It is time to end the carousel of quarterbacks behind the center in Washington. Not since Mark Rypien has there been consistency at the most important position in sports. Give number Seventeen the stability and time usually given to former young quarterbacks turned all-pro elite quarterbacks. If Campbell gets a whole season under his belt in the current west coast scheme implemented by Zorn and has shown little or no progress then a move back onto what is the QB carousel plaguing this historic franchise is within logic.

    I for one have optimism. Not because I feel Campbell is the savior but rather optimism in maybe this year is the year the Skins get it together. I understand this is probably too positive an outlook but I thought that was all a part of being a fan; Supporting the team during times of glory and times of adversity. I love this team too much to have a glib outlook. The memories of gleam moments in histories past will not allow me and many other Die-hards to turn to the side of pessimism.

  19. Nick from London
    September 12, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Samskeee …. I agree that is too early to call for JC’s head after one game. Frankly I don’t think Colt will be ready for a year or two.

    My point was looking 18-24 months down the line I fear that JC may have been found out mentally. In a game like this so much rests on the QB and his ability to stay cool and make the right decisions at the right time. In the end THAT is what makes the difference (Brady doesn’t have the biggest arm but he has the best brain.)

    I really hope that Campbell grows into the roll as he seems to be working hard and he has talent. I read a blog on this topic and someone said that Brennan has “it” and I agree. There is something about him that makes you feel that he can make something happen. I have to admit that I don’t get that with JC, not yet anyway.

    I will continue to support the team but I’m not confident in some of the personnel at the moment.

  20. Marc McArthur
    September 13, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    You need a QB to be kind of a prodigy going into the NFL unless your defense is super ultra-amazing. I hear things like JC is a “deer caught in the headlights”, or that he can’t scan and compute multiple receivers running their patterns. You really can’t help but wonder if this guy is progressing. If we win it’s usually by 1 kick or TD. When you see other teams in the nfc East win by big margins you just have to hang your head. Manning!, McNabb!, Romo!, Campbell? No wonder we are in last place! Put Colt in Now!!!!!

  21. hcoregoskins
    September 15, 2008 at 10:12 am

    After watching yesterdays game and putting it under the microscope even after the excitement of what I call chimney scud missile number 89 bravo cause that bomb was dropped right down the hatch!

    Even after all of this I would like to give JC a big pat on the back for what I consider to be his biggest moves forward in Burgundy and Gold (A.)I could see the fight and determination in his eyes and he looked collected in the fourth quarter. (B.)If I am not mistaken that is his first game winning TD pass. And this first 4th quarter comeback and win the game with everything on the line not think and throw a no pick game. (C.)I could see the determinination and drive to win in his eyes. (D.)He felt the pressure and got the hell out of dodge!

    Now one thing that they he must do more of to put this team over the top is get the ball more to his all world tight end Chris Cooley! Like he did in yesterday’s game the rest will open up. Chris Cooley is an open field Nightmare! And if we can get him the ball in the middle of the field 6-7 times a game then watch out because you then have to respect Portis you then have to respect Moss and so on.

    Another thing I noticed was that JZ gave JC a game plan more suited to his capabilities fewer 3 step drops and more 5-7 step drops to get our lumbering QB more time to deliver the football. When we do more of these total offensive things then our offense as a whole will be unstoppable and there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to do this week in and week out in the NFL with all of the weapons we have at our disposal. And I know they are not ready yet but whenever Fred Davis Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas come around then the let the fireworks begin. And Kelly must have done something special to end up out on the field as early as he did in yesterday’s game. Even if it was only for a few plays.

    The only thing I didn’t like from yesterdays game was the Poor showing in the rezone which baffled how we came away with either no 6 point play and on 2 occasions no 3 point play! that will not suffice in the long run we need jump balls and we need a potent rezone offense because 60 yard drives aunt gon do it if were starting at our own 20! and we have not had a Mark Mosley/ Chip Lowmiller type of kicker in umm since Chip Lowmiller and Mark Mosley! so we do not want to be putting the game on the Leg of our kicker threw out the season with that being said go out and win by 10-14 and problem solved the only time we should want to see the kicker after the 3rd quarter is with 4 seconds on the clock in the 4th quarter to win or tie or a game winning attempt in OT! and that’s really the only time I care to see our kicker other then the PAT!

    Now all we need is a side order of consistency and we can do some things. and I need to add that Chris Horton is a stone beast and goodbye Reed Daughty! go ahead and grab you some cold bench and get my man Horton in there because any rook who can smell the ball that well is cool with me its like Sean Taylor is some ware saying here you go guys this guy will do in my absence and he is a gamer which will always impress any coach I mean this guy didn’t know he would start until Sunday morning! and granted no other team has seen any film on the kid but his play was outstanding and should earn him a spot on the filed for at least another week well that’s all for today the skins grew so I am not going to slam all the bad that saw out there so I am going to leave it at this Antwan Randle El your butter fingers nearly put the game out of reach and this is supposed to be your specialty and since you have been in Washington I have not seen a return longer then 20 yards…..what gives bro?

  22. Nick from London
    September 17, 2008 at 9:06 am

    I have to agree with hcoregoskins (again!!) and give JC a big pat on the back for leading the team to a win in the 4th quarter.

    This was clearly a big step but it is only one game. I’m hoping this is the start of him blossoming into a really top flight QB.

    Almost more pleasing to me was the O-line looking better, Moss getting behind the DBs and seeing Cooley making a nuisance of himself over the middle.

    The weapons are there…just needs a little consistency.

    Bring on Arizona

Leave a Reply

HomerMcFanboy background image