who’s to blame: campbell or offensive line?

(photo by Brian Murphy)

By now, everyone is familiar with the “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” dilemma. Well, over the weekend, we participated in the Washington Redskins’ equivalent – “Who do we blame, Jason Campbell or the offensive line?”

Regular readers of this site know where we stand on the issue. We’ve always believed Campbell is good, but not great. He’s not the type of player who can throw an entire team on his back and single-handedly guide them to victory, but if he’s surrounded by the proper weapons, he’s good enough to get the job done.

Unfortunately, this year’s he’s stuck behind a below-average offensive line that’s been decimated with injuries and the entire offense has suffered because of it.

If the coaches dare to call any play involving more than a three-step drop, they run the risk of killing their quarterback. The Redskins offense takes a shot downfield once a game, not because there’s a chance they’ll complete it, but more so they can say they tried. For Redskins receivers to gain any significant amount of yards, they need to catch a quick pass, make a defender or two miss and then focus on gaining yards after the catch.

Our buddy, who we’ll refer to as “Bart,” refuses to buy into this line of thinking. He’s of the mindset that the Redskins offensive line would be perfectly fine, if not for injuries to tackle Chris Samuels and guard Randy Thomas. Concerning the team’s lack of depth on the offensive line, he challenged me to name any team in the NFL that has a great left tackle backing up a Pro Bowl left tackle. Bart is convinced the Skins had four starters locked in, if everyone remained healthy – even though Thomas hasn’t been healthy in three years and Samuels showed signs of breaking down last season. Bart was on a roll; logic be damned.

“Frankly, as often as Campbell may take a quick hit, he takes a late hit for not getting the ball out on time,” he said.

Bart finished up his argument saying, “Seriously, how long are we going to baby Campbell? He simply doesn’t throw the ball on any rhythm. He could make our line look great by throwing on time and limiting the rush.”

So, to recap, we’ve got Bart firmly convinced that the offense is stuck in neutral because Campbell simply doesn’t throw the ball on time. We’re of the mindset that Campbell does his Patrick Ramsey imitation because he knows that, more times than not, the guys called upon to protect him are going to fail. With neither of us willing to budge, we turned to a fair and impartial voice of reason – Hall of Fame quarterback Sonny Jurgensen.

“The Redskins could have Peyton Manning back there and it wouldn’t matter behind THAT offensive line,” Jurgensen said.

Bart tried his best to convince the Hall of Famer, but daddy wasn’t buying it. Mind you, Jurgensen is the same man who said the Redskins would have been 4-0 to start the year if they’d have gone with backup quarterback Todd Collins instead of Campbell. He’s by no means a blind homer or even a Campbell supporter. Jurgensen simply believes that the front office has neglected the offensive line for too long and the team is now paying the price.

We bring this debate up because we also learned some interesting news this past weekend. It seems owner Daniel Snyder has been a busy man these days. Two weeks ago, he was apparently on the sidelines of a Notre Dame practice, watching Fighting Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen in action. This past weekend, while in Texas for the Cowboys game, Snyder personally attended the University of Texas’ thrashing of Kansas 51-20. Word is he was there to evaluate Heisman hopeful Colt McCoy.

Look, anyone familiar with the Redskins knows the chances of head coach Jim Zorn and/or Campbell being around next season is somewhere between slim and none. And we’re bracing ourselves for the inevitable – namely Vinny Cerrato surviving the shake-up and keeping his job as the team’s vice president for football operations. Smart money says if any of those three is likely to remain employed at Redskins Park, it’s Cerrato. Fine. If it plays out that way, we’ll live with it.

We know that no one involved in the Redskins’ decision-making process gives a damn about what we think. But Sonny Jergensen is a completely different story. He’s a Hall of Famer and is someone who the owner has a great deal of respect for. When Sonny talks, Snyder listens.

If the team is going to roll the dice and use their first-round pick on a young quarterback – whether it be Clausen, McCoy or any of the other big names out there – they better spend the rest of the offseason focusing on their offensive line.

Randy Thomas is done. In all likelihood, the same holds true for Chris Samuels. Tackle Stephon Heyer can help provide depth, but probably shouldn’t be a starter. Guard Derrick Dockery and center Casey Rabach are both respectable, but nothing more.

So use your first rounder on a quarterback and then spend every remaining pick on the offensive line. If you draft four or five big bodies, you increase the chances of filling the void. The team should also target offensive linemen via free agency or trade. Anything to upgrade the line. More importantly, anything to increase the chances that the next Redskins quarterback becomes the franchise cornerstone the team is sorely missing.


  1. Spence
    November 24, 2009 at 9:29 am

    No offense to your friend, but he couldn’t be more wrong. The offensive line is a shambles and was before the injuries began. The Redskins needed a punter to score for them in week 1 when the line was healthy. As for Campbell, he’s actually getting better. The Redskins will, most likely, discard him after the season. I wish them luck finding a better quarterback among the available free agents. And as for the draft, that’s a 3-year crapshoot with a 50% failure rate. Good luck with that, too. They’ll need it.

  2. SkinsFan
    November 24, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    I don’t understand what you mean by “We’ve always believed Campbell is good, but not great”. Seriously that means unless you have someone like peyton manning, it doesn’t matter who your QB is. There is just no point in talking if Campbell is good or ok or bad. Because it doesn’t matter what we think.
    And your post is depressing. Rookie QB, hit and miss with draft, new coach new scheme new new new. Tell you what, I enjoyed watching the broncos game and although we lost last week it was not bad watching the game because of the way defense and Jason played. not taking a shot before the first half(15 sec remaining) made me mad at zorn. are you seriously thinking you are going to playoffs? man I was mad. So I am not going to look too further into the future. I will look forward to a game on sunday. If it is a good game enjoy and savour(blue moon in my case). Not a good game too bad. next week maybe.

  3. Spoon!
    November 24, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    The line has been a shambles since 2005. Can I be the only person who remembers the injuries and the general caning the Seahawks’ D-line administered to drive us out of the playoffs in 2005 and 2007?

    Rabach, going into the 2008 off-season was the most glaring weakness, even beyond ORT. He was a prison-biyotch for any NG/NT lined-up over his face the entire 2008 season. You can deal with an ORT who needs help far easier than you can deal with fast pressure straight into the QB’s grill. A bad center allows just this kind of pressure and Rabach, for all his mastery of the offense and line calls, is physically overmatched 1:1 with a good DT/NT at this point in his career.

    The rest of the line was crap except Samuels who was coming off major injury. Randy Thomas, a terrific O-lineman when he has working arms, hasn’t been healthy in three years. His best weapon, his punch, is exactly nullified by the kind of triceps tears he has had. Kendall was incapable of pulling or practicing. Dockery was a mediocre when he left for Buffalo and has not markedly improved. Heyer is a guy who has had every opportunity to show he is a starter and he just isn’t. Saying he is a better pass blocker than 2008 Jansen is definitely damning with faint praise and he has never been half as good as Jansen as a run blocker due to inflexible hips.

    In essence, by passing on drafting young linemen, in drafts historically deep at O-line, Snyderratto have doomed us to continued years of crap offense. Based on projected FA O-linemen, there aren’t any expected to be available that even Snyder in an uncapped year could bring in to provide significant upgrades.

    You can’t draft an O-line in one year. Even the ’81 draft “only” got us three hogs and if Vinny ever showed any ability to draft like that it was in the Star Trek alternate universe where everyone has a goatee and is the opposite of their earthly counterpart.

    In short, Jason is more than good enough to pull a Rypien and “drive the Cadillac”. Unfortunately, he is driving a Yugo with no windshield.

  4. mike
    November 25, 2009 at 7:25 am

    Absolute truth number 1 in football: If the o-line is good, everything works. If the o-line is bad, nothing works. A good o-line makes the defense better by keeping them off the field. The one and only thing this team has been missing for the last 4-6 years is a good o-line. And so nothing has worked. Wanna know why you can’t stop Dallas at the end last week? Defense is tired out. If you can keep them off the field a bit more, you can win that game. Same thing last year at fedex against dallas. Couldn’t stop them with your exhausted defense. It was the o-line that was the problem. Is, was, has been, will be the problem.Wanna run better? fix the line. Wanna pass better? fix the Line.

  5. DC Landing Strip
    November 25, 2009 at 11:34 am

    I absolutely love the fact that Snyder is the one “evaluating” QBs, as if he knows half a shit about QB abilities.

    Snyder and Cerrato are of the belief that a QB exists on an island. Until the former admits he is wrong (0% chance) and the latter is fired, this cycle is going to continue forever.

    This offseason, we won’t be dropping a bad QB for a better one. We’ll be replacing one whipping boy for another. I give it until about next October when the honeymoon ends for Claussen/McCoy/Bradford/Whoever.

  6. Jeff
    November 25, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Who cares if its mostly the line or Campbell because there is not a snowballs chance in hell that Snyder is going to resign him as a starter and no, I doubt Campbell will resign knowing he’ll be a backup.

    Being in Seattle, I just hope Snyder is stupid, again, like in the past, and wastes his top pick on another QB bust, again, then who knows, maybe Colt Brennan will be available to my Hawks.

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