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Benching Campbell would be a big mistake

Benching Campbell would be a big mistake

Let's cut straight to the subject that's been buzzing around the message board and talk radio world:

Should Jason Campbell be benched?

Clearly, his performance has fallen off in the past seven games. After the first five games of the year Campbell's QB rating stood at a very respectable 100 and he hadn't thrown an interception. Now, he's at a mediocre 87.5 rating and he's thrown four picks. After five games, ESPN's Ron Jaworski said that he was a candidate for MVP. Now people are saying he's the main reason the offense has been MIA.

So that has board posters and talk show callers calling for Campbell to be replaced. Put in Todd Collins, look what happened when he went in at this time last year. Put in Colt Brennan, look what he did in preseason. Do either one of those but get another guy for next year. Campbell can't make decisions, he holds the ball too long, he can't make the throws, he can't read defenses, he's not a leader.

It's important to note here that this outcry for Campbell's ouster is coming strictly from outside of Redskins Park. Usually when there is dissatisfaction among the players with the play of the quarterback, some off-the-record comments will be made to some of the media types. I have checked with a couple of reporters who are out in Ashburn frequently and they both told me that there has been no grumbling about benching Campbell.

Let me repeat, none. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Not a whisper, not a grunt.

Now, I'm not going to go and try to put lipstick on the pig that has been the Redskins offense over the past month and a half or try to minimize Campbell's role in it. A grand total of two touchdowns in three big November home games speaks for itself. The quarterback takes the snaps, he runs the show, and he gets Miss DC. A lot of it is on him.

But it's not all on him, and that's one of the two points I want to make here. This offense is not a well-oiled machine just needed a stud quarterback to take the wheel. Dropped passes, ill-timed penalties and missed blocks are problems that I can see with my own two eyes.

Yesterday, Jim Zorn went into detail about how Antwaan Randle El ran an 11-yard pattern when he should have run an eight-yard pattern. That made Campbell's throw appear to be low when it was exactly where it should have been. Instead of being to turn around and easily take a couple of steps for a first down, Randle El was touched down short of the first.

The second point to make here is directed at those of you who point to Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco and say, see, it shouldn't matter that Campbell is learning a new offense, these guys can step right out of college and get it done.

Yes, Flacco and Ryan are having good years. That's no guarantee that either of them will be good quarterbacks in the NFL for a long time. Did you ever hear of Daunte Culpepper? The learning curve is different for all quarterbacks. Let's look down the list of the top QB's in terms of rating and see how their careers have unfolded:

  1. Tony Romo—Did not throw a pass for almost three and a half years before bursting onto the scene.
  2. Phillip Rivers—Drafted high, did not play much for two years, has been good but not great in three years as a starter.
  3. Kurt Warner—Couldn't make it out of college, played Arena League, bagged groceries, made the Rams as a backup, got his chance due to injury, won two MVP's, declined, nobody wanted him, now back as an unquestioned starter.
  4. Drew Brees—Played in one game as a rookie, posted QB ratings of 76.9 and 67.5 in his first two years starting, had two great years with the Chargers, was allowed to leave as a free agent in favor of Rivers, has had two and a half stellar years in New Orleans.
  5. Chad Pennington—Played little in his first two years with the Jets, then broke out in his third year, has been steady if unspectacular since then.
  6. Jeff Garcia—Canadian League, made the Pro Bowl in San Francisco, bounced to the Lions and Browns, both of whom had major QB issues, to the Eagles where he took over for an injured McNabb and led them to the playoffs, to Tampa Bay.

I defy you to find a pattern there and tell me where Campbell "should" be at this stage of his career. No, he hasn't shown a steady progression from game one as a starter through yesterday, his 32nd game behind center. But neither did most of the guys listed above, or many other solid starters around the league.

Take the quarterbacks of the last two teams the Redskins have faced. Matt Hasselbeck, under the coaching of Jim Zorn in Seattle, had many fits and starts with the Seahawks. Then, in 2005, he got it. A year later the Seahawks were in the Super Bowl and may well have won it if not for some strange officiating calls.

And Eli Manning seemed to be completely lost as late December of last year. Nobody in NFL history has thrown more incompletions in a game than he did against the Redskins in the Meadowlands in Week 15 of 2007. A few weeks before that, he'd thrown four interceptions in an ugly loss to the Vikings. His demeanor was way too laid back. He's now wearing a Super Bowl ring.

Not that all of this means that it's a slam dunk that Campbell will be leading a parade down Constitution Avenue holding a Lombardi Trophy this year or any time soon.

It does mean that there is a potential payoff in being patient, letting Campbell stay in there until he and the other 10 guys on offense are executing the offense the way it's supposed to be executed.

Sometimes to best way to change things is to make no changes at all. This is one of those times.

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Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!