Quick Links

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.

Quick Links

You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

You probably don't realize how effective Kirk Cousins is as a runner

Back at the 2012 NFL Combine, Kirk Cousins ran his 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds.

Now, as far as QB 40-yard dashes go, that's not a bad number at all, but it's definitely not blazing, either. Defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, for example, ran his in 4.77 seconds that same year (while weighing 84 pounds heavier than the Michigan State signal caller), and 13 out of the 20 passers invited to the event topped Cousins' time.

That, plus the facts that Cousins isn't physically imposing and he clearly prefers to operate within the safe confines of the pocket, would lead you to believe that he's not much of a threat as a runner. But a stat — and this stat is far from an advanced one or a hidden one — indicates otherwise.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER ON SOME KEY KIRK COUSINS STATS

Over the last two seasons, Cousins has the third-most rushing touchdowns amongst quarterbacks. Cam Newton has 15 (not surprising), Tyrod Taylor checks in with 10 (also not surprising), and then there's Cousins, who rushed for nine scores in 2015 and 2016, which is good enough for a bronze medal on this particular podium (that's quite surprising).

Washington's starter has actually found the end zone with his legs more than peers like Andy Dalton (7), Alex Smith (7) and Aaron Rodgers (5) since taking over the primary gig in D.C., and all of those guys have reputations as runners that exceed Cousins'.

In fact, no one on the Burgundy and Gold has crossed the goal line as a ball-carrier more than the 28-year-old in the past 32 contests; Rob Kelley and Matt Jones are both three short of the man who lines up in front of them on Sundays.

Of course, Cousins isn't going to flatten defenders like Newton does, and he won't run around them like Taylor does. He also won't rip off big-gainers down the sideline when opposing team turns their back on him in man coverage.

But as the following highlights show, he hasn't just cashed in on one-yard sneaks the last couple of seasons, either:

All three of those plays were designed runs, and Cousins, while not exactly resembling Madden 2004 Michael Vickexecuted them perfectly. He doesn't really rack up yards — the numbers vary depending on which site you use, but the consensus is he's picked up about 150 total since 2015 — but Jay Gruden and Co. have developed a tremendous feel of when to use Cousins' feet instead of his arm in the red zone.

Sure, he's not going to show up on your Twitter timeline juking out a corner, and he won't scamper for much more than 10 yards at a time. But in a few games in 2017, Kirk Cousins is going to finish a drive with an impressive touchdown run instead of a throw, and that might shock you — even though it really shouldn't.

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER FROM BOTTOM TO TOP

Quick Links

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins talk, back end of D

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 22, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 202 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 50 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 19
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 28
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 42

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics from the past week on www.CSNmidatlantic.com and on www.RealRedskins.com.

What would a fair Redskins contract offer to Kirk Cousins look like?  As it turns out, the offer the Redskins made fell below “fair” territory. But perhaps they recognized that a deal never was going to get done, not this year anyway. Cousins is content to see things unfold in 2017 and decide on a longer-term destination next year. So, the team’s offer was not high enough but there really wasn’t an offer that was going to be sufficient.

Cousins explains why he's not offended by Redskins statement—Bruce Allen raised plenty of eyebrows by detailing some of the team’s contract offer in a statement. Clearly the intent of the statement, which revealed some details that weren’t very impressive under closer inspection, was designed to turn public opinion in their favor. Cousins, appearing on the radio the next day, didn’t have a problem with it and said that Allen had told him that he would do it. As expected, plenty of fans and media types decided to be outraged in his place.

Redskins have plenty of 2018 cap room for possible Kirk Cousins offer—With the focus turning to 2018, the fact that the team will have about $60 million in cap space becomes relevant. It’s enough to give him the $35 million franchise tag and perhaps enough to match a front-loaded offer sheet if the Redskins use the transition tag. But the cautionary word is that they have at least a dozen starters and key contributors who also are set to be free agents next year. They will have to find money for them or their replacements somewhere.

Redskins depth chart preview--Safety—Cousins talk dominated the week but other topics did draw plenty of interest. The back end of the defense, with Su’a Cravens converting from linebacker and free agent D. J. Swearinger moving from being mostly a strong safety to playing free, will be under the microscope this year. Whether the defense gets better may hinge on the safety position. 

11 predictions for the 2017 Redskins offense—Does Trent Williams make the All-Pro team? How many yards for Rob Kelley? One prediction for each projected offensive starter here including how many non-receiving touchdowns for Jamison Crowder.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it