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Campbell mixes the good, the bad, and the ugly

Campbell mixes the good, the bad, and the ugly

The world just wants to see the baby; nobody wants to hear about the labor pains.

That is the take that many have when it comes to Jason Campbell. They are not interested in the bumps and bruises, both mental and physical, that many young quarterbacks experience on the way to becoming solid, competent, NFL quarterbacks. They just want to see tight spirals over the outstretched fingers of cornerbacks nestle into the arms of receivers, clutch two-minute drives pulling Washington Redskins victories from the jaws of defeat and triple-digit quarterback ratings.

In 2007, we saw a mixed bag from Campbell, often in the same game. The back to back November contests in Dallas and at Tampa Bay were the prototypical Campbell games, the ones that defined his season. In both games he led furious comebacks from late deficits only to make fatal mistakes to spike potential winning drives.

In Texas Stadium, the Redskins fell behind 28-16 midway through the fourth quarter. Working without a huddle and taking snaps in the shotgun, Campbell completed 10 pass to account for all of the yardage in a 74-yard TD drive to get the Redskins within striking distance at 28-23. The defense did its job, forcing Dallas to go three and out, getting the ball back into Campbell's hot hand with 2:51 left.

In Tampa, a barrage of early turnovers had the Redskins down 19-3. A third-quarter touchdown pass, a 39-yarder to Chris Cooley, got the Redskins back into it. Early in the fourth quarter they got a step closer on a Shaun Suisham field goal. Again, the Washington defense stepped up, the Bucs went three and out, and Campbell took over with his team down by six with nine and a half minutes left to play.

From the Cowboy 40, passes of 11 yards to Keenan McCardell and 10 to Antwaan Randle El moved Campbell and the Redskins into the Red Zone at the Dallas 19 with 1:50 to go.

With plenty of time left at Raymond James Stadium, the Redskins were able to mix in the running of Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts along with Campbell's passes as they moved smartly from their own nine to a second and five at the Tampa Bay 32 with just under four minutes left.

One chance to move closer to the Dallas end zone went awry when Campbell misfired on a short pass to Portis. On second down, Campbell threw the ball right into the gut of Cowboy cornerback Terence Newman.

Veteran Bucs corner Ronde Barber played possum with Campbell, pretending not to see that the QB was going to toss a quick sideline pass to Moss. As soon as Campbell committed, Barber jumped in front and made the interception.

Again, the defense stonewalled Tony Romo and company giving the Redskins one last shot at a miracle from their own 30 with 34 seconds left. A couple of completions set up a Hail Mary from midfield, but the ball was batted away as time expired.

The final shot at Tampa Bay wasn't up against such long odds. Starting from the Washington seven with 3:05 left, Campbell completed seven straight passes to get to a first and ten at the Tampa Bay 16 with 31 seconds on the clock. On second down from there, though, Brian Kelly stepped up in front of Santana Moss in the end zone and picked off Campbell's pass to end the game.

Two November games against eventual NFC division winners. The Redskins aren't in either game at the end without some impressive heroics on the part of Jason Campbell. But if Campbell protects the ball better in critical moments, the Redskins have another couple of chances to pull out the game (all three of the picks came on second down plays).

These games were the final impression of Campbell that we carry into training camp. Sean Taylor was shot just hours after the Bucs game and he died a day later. The Buffalo game that followed is a blur created by shock, sadness, and disbelief. Four days later against the Bears he went out in the second quarter with a dislocated kneecap and didn't play again the rest of the year.

So that has us wondering—who is the real Jason Campbell? Or, more importantly, who will Jason Campbell become? Will he forever be the guy with the big arm who can make jaw-dropping plays in desperate situations only to fizzle when it comes to finishing off those drives? Or, will he learn to avoid the killer mistakes and be the hero week after week?

Time will tell us whether or not the labor pains are over or if they ever will go away.

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The Final Countdown: Redskins 8th worst play came from a big hit in Arizona

The Final Countdown: Redskins 8th worst play came from a big hit in Arizona

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 8 worst play of 2016

Redskins at Cardinals Week 13

5:13 left in Q3, Redskins ball 2nd and 8 at their own 29, Redskins leading 13-10

Kirk Cousins sacked at WAS 36 for -9 yards (Calais Campbell). FUMBLES (Calais Campbell) [Calais Campbell], RECOVERED by ARZ- Markus Golden at WAS 30. Markus Golden to WAS 10 for 20 yards (Chris Thompson).

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

Tandler: The Redskins had survived a rocky start and they were in position to take control of the game after the Cardinals missed a long field goal attempt. But the situation turned abruptly when Campbell blew over guard Shawn Lauvao and hit Cousins, sending the ball flying. Golden scooped it up and returned it to the 10. Three plays later Carson Palmer threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Michael Floyd. That was the beginning of the end of the Redskins’ chances to get a road win that they desperately had to have.

More Redskins: An early look at first-round draft possibilities

Finlay: When the Cowboys opened the game by marching right down the field against the Redskins on Thanksgiving, nobody blinked, as Dallas' offense had been superb all season. When Arizona did the same thing the following week, there was reason for concern. The 'Skins were able to stem the Cards early, and even took a lead, before Campbell bull-rushed his way into the Washington backfield and blasted Cousins. The Cardinals defensive line was hitting Cousins all game, and this play almost seemed inevitable. It would later come out Lauvao was playing through injury, but bigger picture, the Cardinals loss was the first game the 'Skins truly needed and the team couldn't win. The loss dropped Jay Gruden's squad out of a playoff spot, and though the team would eventually inch their way back into contention, in hindsight, losing in Arizona was the first real indicator that the 2016 Redskins would not make the postseason. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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!

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Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Dennis Thurman

Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Dennis Thurman

The Redskins are set to interview Dennis Thurman for their vacant offensive coordinator position. Here is a look at Thurman’s qualifications for the job.

Before becoming a coordinator: Thurman played in the NFL for the Cowboys from 1978-1985. Redskins fans may best remember him for trying to break up the “Fun Bunch” celebration in a 1983 game. He played for the Cardinals the last season of his career. He coached the secondary for the Cardinals for two years before going to USC and holding the same job there from 1993-2000. Thurman then returned to the NFL as a Ravens defensive assistant and secondary coach. He moved to the Jets to coach the secondary there before getting promoted to defensive coordinator in 2012.

Related: Projecting the Redskins' roster--defense

Note: If you want more complete stats on Thurman’s defenses check out his page on Pro Football Reference. DVOA stats via Football Outsiders. A negative DVOA percentage is better than a positive number. Zero is average.

For players, * designates Pro Bowl selection, + designates first-team All-Pro

2013 Jets (8-8)

Rankings: Yards 5,359 (11th), points 387 (19th), takeaways 15 (31st), 3rd down 38.8% (13th), DVOA -5.6% (12th)
Notable players: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, CB Antonio Cromartie*, S Ed Reed

The Jets traded away their best defender, Darrelle Revis, during the offseason. Wilkerson led a good pass rush as he racked up 10.5 sacks and LB Calvin Pace had 10. It should be noted that head coach Rex Ryan is a defensive-minded head coach and he certainly had influence in what went right and what went wrong on that side of the ball.

2014 Jets (4-12)

Rankings: Yards 5,235 (6th), points 401 (24th), takeaways 13 (32nd), 3rd down 45.2% (30th), DVOA 3.5% (21st)
Notable players: DT Sheldon Richardson*, DE Quinton Cooples

If you want to know how a team can finish in the top six in yards and in the bottom 10 in points allowed just look at the lack of takeaways and the porous third-down defense. An offense with Geno Smith at quarterback couldn’t keep thinks afloat and Thurman was fired along with Ryan after the season.

More Redskins: Setting the odds on what will happen with Cousins

2015 Bills (8-8)

Rankings: Yards 5,702 (19th), points 359 (15th), takeaways 25 (12th), 3rd down 40.5%, DVOA 8.6% (24th)
Notable players: DE Mario Williams, DE Jerry Hughes

Ryan and Thurman both moved to upstate New York when they were hired by the Bills. This unit ranked fourth in both yards and points the year before Ryan and Thurman arrived and they obviously didn’t maintain that. It didn’t help that 2014 first-team All-Pro Marcell Dareus got into some legal trouble during the offseason and his production plummeted from 10 sacks in 2014 to two.

2016 Bills (7-9)

Rankings: Yards 5,712 (19th), points 378 (16th), takeaways 18 (23rd), 3rd down 40.0%, DVOA 8.0 (26th)
Notable players: LB Lorenzo Alexander*, CB Stephon Gilmore

Former Redskin Alexander had a good year, racking up 12 sacks and making the Pro Bowl but there wasn’t much else to talk about on defense. They essentially spun their wheels and Ryan was fired with a game left and Thurman soon followed him out the door.

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