(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:
4,130 passing yards
57.6 completion percentage
23 touchdowns and 17 interceptions
77.4 QB rating
Peyton Manning’s first 21 games:
5,134 passing yards
57.5 completion percentage
37 touchdowns and 35 interceptions
75.5 QB rating