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Will Campbell Be "Our" Quarterback?

Will Campbell Be "Our" Quarterback?


I was on my way home from Redskins Park on Wednesday and the guest on SIRIUS NFL Radio (which I listen to waaay too much) was Carl Peterson, the GM of the Kansas City Chiefs. Among the topics was the announcement that had been made earlier in the day that Trent Green had been cleared to play after suffering a concussion in the season opener and that he would start at quarterback for the Chiefs this Sunday. Green got the nod despite the fact that Damon Huard performed well in his absence.

Why make this move? “Trent Green is our quarterback,” Peterson said.

No further explanation was needed. Green is the face of the Kansas City Chiefs. When you think of that team in this decade, Green behind center is what comes to mind. If he’s healthy, he plays; there is no decision to be made. Green has a solid track record of accomplishment, of getting the job done for the Chiefs.

And, even though he started his career bouncing around as a third stringer and cut his teeth as a starter in Washington and in St. Louis, Green’s identity is that of a Chief.

When Peterson said that Green is “our” quarterback, he wasn’t just speaking on behalf of the Chiefs organization, he was talking for all Chiefs fans in Kansas City and wherever else they may be.

Mark Brunell has been the Redskins’ starting quarterback for the better part of the last two and a half years. He’s had his ups and downs but even in the up times the city and the team’s fans at large haven’t embraced him. Brunell has never been referred to as “our” quarterback in the sense that Peterson used that term in talking about Trent Green. He has been and always will be a Jacksonville Jaguar since he spent his prime years on that team.

The Redskins have not had an “our” quarterback in a long time. Taking just the years between the end of Joe Gibbs’ first stint as head coach here and now, 1993 through the first nine games of 2006, the Redskins have had 16 different quarterbacks start games. Only two quarterbacks—Gus Frerotte in 1996 and Brad Johnson in 1999—have started all 16 games in a season. Frerotte is the leader in starts in that time frame with 46. Johnson only lasted two seasons here and while Frerotte was a nice story as a seventh-round draft pick fans were always looking to replace him, not embrace him.

Mark Rypien could have been the man but he only started every game in two seasons, 1990 and the 1991 Super Bowl season and other than in ’91 there were always doubts about him. Doug Williams won a Super Bowl but he started out as a Tampa Bay Buc and he played in just five games in that championship 1987 season before the playoffs. Williams’ high water mark in starts for the Redskins was in 1988 when he started 11 games. He was well liked, perhaps beloved for a time, but he never was “our” guy.

You have to go back to Joe Theismann to find the last one who was “our” quarterback. For seven straight seasons he was the guy behind center. He didn’t even like to come out of the game for a single snap, even when the score got out of hand. His entire NFL career was spent in Washington. Theismann was a brash, arrogant, quarterback who loved to hear himself speak, but he was “our” brash, arrogant blowhard.

Before him there was Billy Kilmer, who didn’t qualify from a steadiness perspective as he started every game just once season, 1971, but became “our” guy with his gritty play and off-field hell raising. For a while, he was only “our” quarterback to half of the city as the other half embraced Sonny Jurgensen, the team’s last true superstar at the position. Before Kilmer arrived, Washington was Sonny’s town. Jurgy was the very embodiment of the concept of “our” quarterback. Going back further, there was Eddie LeBaron and, of course, Sammy Baugh.

Considering that the most recent quarterback embraced by all of Washington as “ours” ended his career over 20 yards ago, we are due to have another one. Jason Campbell will make his first start at quarterback on Sunday. He has all of the physical tools plus the looks, demeanor, and personality to become “our” man. The Redskins drafted him and have been grooming him for this moment for the past year and a half. If he succeeds, it will be as a Washington Redskin.

Will Jason Campbell become “our” quarterback? It’s not something that can be anointed; it has to be earned. Campbell will start the process of earning it on Sunday.

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Trent Williams promises that the best has yet to come from him

Trent Williams promises that the best has yet to come from him

If you took 100 random NFL fans and asked them to name the best player in the league, there's a very strong chance none of the 100 would say Trent Williams, the Redskins left tackle who clears paths like a snowplow. But according to an in-depth ranking system published a few weeks ago from Bleacher Report, Williams is in fact the correct answer.

The system, called NFL1000, is supposed to "bring exposure" to players who aren't as appreciated as they should be, and in the eyes of the analysts who built the rankings, no one should be appreciated more than Williams, who beat out Tyron Smith and Aaron Rodgers for the top spot. But that's still not the peak of his performance, the lineman says.

No. 71 apparently just got a hold of the NFL1000 list, and in a Wednesday Instagram post that featured it, he said his "best is yet to be seen." Sorry, opposing pass rushers.

In addition to that accolade from Bleacher Report, Pro Football Focus chose Williams as their highest-rated offensive lineman, and the Professional Football Writers of America assigned him to their All-NFC team. It wasn't a perfect year for the Pro Bowler, however, as he was suspended for four games during a critical stretch in the season's second half (the Redskins were 2-2 without him).

Nevertheless, because an offensive lineman is often doing his job best when you aren't hearing his name called, it can be easy to take someone like Williams for granted. These types of awards, though, show the 28-year-old's value — value that he says will continue to climb in 2017. 

MORE REDSKINS: SETTING THE ODDS ON WHAT THE 'SKINS WILL DO WITH COUSINS

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Need to Know: The early odds on what happens with Redskins and Cousins

Need to Know: The early odds on what happens with Redskins and Cousins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, January 19, 98 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 42
NFL free agency starts 50
First Sunday of 2017 season 235

The coordinator search and more

As noted above, we have 42 days until the deadline for the Redskins to put the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins. The immediate future of the franchise is contingent this situation being handled correctly by the organization. It’s time to turn the attention and the $100 in imaginary casino chips towards what might happen with Cousins as the process unfold. We will revisit this from time to time as the various deadlines approach so consider this the early odds.

Sign before the tag deadline, $5—This seems unlikely after his rather cold response to my question immediately following the season-ending loss to the Giants when he said, “The ball’s not in my court.” He indicated that it’s up to the Redskins to tag him. It doesn’t look like he and his agent will have much of an inclination to sit down to any serious negotiations before that happens.

Let him go into free agency, $5—Yes, I know that this is out there but it makes no sense to take the chance of the possibility that he could walk with zero compensation. While there might be some logic in finding out what Cousins would be worth in a true free market in order to establish the basis for a fair contract the risk of behind left empty-handed is just too great.

Tag and trade, $20—This also has been discussed by various media types as a possibility. It would involve giving Cousins the non-exclusive franchise tag, which would let him go out and negotiate a deal with another team. The Redskins could then match that offer or choose to get compensation. The CBA calls for compensation of two first-round picks although the two teams may negotiate something less. The most frequently suggested trade partner is the 49ers and their soon-to-be head coach Kyle Shanahan but there are probably around half a dozen teams, maybe more, who could be interested. If the Redskins don’t think they will ever sign Cousins long term this could be the way to go.

Tag and sign by July 15 deadline, $30—This may be a little low for this possibility. Perhaps if the other options are off the table he will consider that he is a perfect match for Jay Gruden’s offense and that he might not be such a good fit elsewhere. There also is the possibility of injury or, for whatever reason, Cousins having a subpar season. Those thoughts could spur him to instruct his agent to get the best deal he can get in Washington.

Tag and play the season on the tag, $40—Right now, this appears to be the mostly likely scenario. They can afford the $24 million cap hit and it would get them one more year of his services. However, the prospects for him remaining in a Redskins uniform for 2018 and beyond would be very cloudy.

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