Quick Links

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.

Quick Links

Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

The next time Robert Kelley plows over a helpless linebacker, he'll do it with a new number on his uniform.

The second-year running back is switching from No. 32 to No. 20, according to Redskins.com. And he's not the only returning player who'll take the field in 2017 with a new pair of digits.

Su'a Cravens will no longer be No. 36 for Washington. Instead, he'll change to No. 30. DJ Swearinger will be taking over No. 36 after coming over from the Cardinals, a number that he reportedly purchased from Cravens for $75,000

Then there's Colt McCoy. McCoy has donned No. 16 for the past three seasons, but he's throwing it back to his college days and will now rock No. 12.

MORE REDSKINS: THE ULTIMATE REDSKINS DRAFT PREVIEW

Finally, second-year corner Kendall Fuller only spent one year with No. 38. As he hopes to improve in his sophomore campaign, he'll be doing so with No. 29.

As for the free agents, Terrelle Pryor will be replacing DeSean Jackson in more ways than one when kickoff rolls around. Not only will the ex-Brown have to shine as a top receiver for Kirk Cousins like Jackson did, but he'll also be sporting Jackson's No. 11.

New linebacker Zach Brown, meanwhile, is now No. 56, linemen Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain are Nos. 92 and 97 respectively and Brian Quick will keep No. 83 from his Rams days.

For a complete list of all the changes, click here.

RELATED: IS REUBEN FOSTER WORTH THE RISK?

Quick Links

How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

christian_mccaffrey_running_usat.png
USA TODAY Sports Images

How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

Do the Redskins have a draft need at running back? It depends on who you ask.

Jay Gruden seems to be very happy with incumbent running back Rob Kelley. Here is what he had to say last month about the second-year back, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, last month:

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden said. “I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

[Related: Full Redskins Seven-Round Mock Draft]

Kelley played in 15 games last year and rushed for 704 yards and scored six touchdowns. He started the last nine games and if you project his numbers in this games out over a 16-game season you get about 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s not Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell production but it’s good for a team that is going to rely mostly on the pass.

Gruden also praised third-down back Chris Thompson and backup Mack Brown. In a telling sign, he acknowledged that 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones is still on the roster but he didn’t have much good to say about him.

Why, then, do you see so many draft analysts listing running back as one of the team’s most urgent needs? Mark Maske, who is the Post’s national NFL writer but also a former Redskins beat reporter, has them taking Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey in his mock draft. “There certainly are issues on defense for the Redskins,” writes Maske. But there also is a need at running back.”

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said that the Redskins “obviously” need a running back as his rationale for mocking Florida State’s Dalvin Cook to Washington at No. 17.

So, what is it? Is Kelley adequate for the Redskins’ needs considering they call pass plays on over 60 percent of their offensive snaps? Would they run more often if they had a back like McCaffrey or Cook? And if they did run more would the offense improve?

I think that running back is like several positions with the Redskins. If they have to get through the 2016 season with what they have they will be OK. But if there is an upgrade on the board when they are on the clock they won’t hesitate to make the pick if he’s the best player available.

We will see what happens if, say, McCaffrey is still on the board when the Redskins pick at No. 17 and top defensive targets like Rueben Foster and Haason Reddick are off the board. That will be the true test to see how committed Gruden and the rest of the organization are to Kelley, Thompson, and company. 

More Redskins: When the talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags before