Monday, May 3, 2010

The Straw that Broke the Campbell's Back

Two weeks ago, the Washington Redskins traded Jason Campbell, a former first round draft pick and 3 year starter, to the Oakland Raiders for a 2012 4th round draft pick. This is the equivalent of running over someone's dog and asking them to apologize to you.

Campbell has been a stand up guy in Washington, anybody will tell you that. He took the blame when necessary and pointed out areas of improvement while always promising to work harder. He wasn't one to call out his teammates or pass the blame onto others, something I respected him greatly for. However, the results never showed up. His performance was like abstract art, you really appreciate the effort but you're not quite sure what you're looking at or why you're paying him $7.74 million over the next two years.

I think the one flaw Redskins fans couldn't get past was Campbell's apparent lack of passion. He was, what football people call, "cerebral". Which is code for boring, disenchanting, and uninspiring. Don't believe me? Jim Zorn was also called a "cerebral" coach...

No matter what happened with the Redskins, no matter what aberrant behavior Clinton Porits would engage in or how many losses we had piled up we always got the same response from Campbell. "We need to work harder, do the little things and get it done next week."

I guess he's right, but from the leader of your offense you want more than that! You want passion, drive, determination. You want the other players to respect you and fear you a little. In the words of Michael Scott, "I want people to be afraid of how much they love me."

I appreciated Campbell taking responsibility, but it never motivated the team. You never had the sense that he was in control of things. Until now.

Like I said, getting shipped to Oakland is pretty much as low as it gets in football. They may not be the worst team in the league, but the culture, the management and the players truly make it a black hole. Getting sent there by a team you have been incredibly loyal too is worse than a smack in the face, its a groin punch.

So when I saw Jason Campbell running QB drills in Oakland in his practice jersey next the plodding landmass that is Jamarcus Russell, I saw something different from him. As he answered questions from the media he had this glare in his eye that said, "Dan Snyder, I may eat your Adam's apple with my Cinnamon Toast Crunch tomorrow morning."

I think the trade to Oakland was the final straw for him. He had been disrespected and unfairly blamed for all of the Redskin's problems over the past 3 years. Even though his total yardage, touchdowns, and completion percentage grew consistently each year in the league, football analysts said Campbell was the problem. After being dragged through the proverbial mud for three years, sacked 102 times and losing 27 games you'd think Campbell had seen his worst. Now he's in Oakland for at least two years in another new offensive system, trying to turn another franchise around with another front office in disarray.

Tough cookies bro.

I don't envy Jason Campbell, but I do wish him the best. I never thought he was the issue in Washington. I also didn't think he'd be able to win a Super Bowl, but he wasn't the guy responsible for the destruction of a storied football franchise. That would be this despicable midget -->

Given the Redskin's reputation and Campbell's career I'm actually pleased with a 2012 4th rounder. If teams were patient the Redskins would have ended up cutting Campbell and a team in need could have picked him up off waivers for an incredibly cheap price. Proving, yet again, that Oakland is the armpit of the NFL.

I expect Campbell will put up good numbers in the coming years. He'll do what he did in Washington, and I think he'll do even better. He's jaded now. He's determined. He finally has something to prove.

Unfortunately, he'll go down as a mediocre quarterback and nothing more. Which is a shame for a stand up guy who gave his all to play the sport he loved. He's the product of chaotic front offices and turnstile coaching. He was forced to learn new offensive systems almost every year, And all the while he held his head high and did what was asked of him.

I think Oakland was lucky to get their hands on him.

But I'm glad he's not under center in Washington anymore.

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