And the Redskins roar into 2004
I'm going to editorialize, and this is not an endorsement of Mark Brunell.
As I was on my way home last night, I heard the news on the radio that Joe Gibbs has named Jason Campbell as the starter, and from what Jason said to the Washington Post, it now looks like it's his job to lose. Everyone seems to think this is a great idea, but no one is staking the season on this which is an odd position to take. Wilbon:
If the Titans can play rookie Vince Young (who already beat the Redskins at FedEx Field), if the Cardinals can go to rookie Matt Leinart, if Cleveland can trust second-year Charlie Frye, if Norv Turner and the 49ers can get four wins in nine games out of second-year Alex Smith, if Tampa Bay can go with rookie Bruce Gradkowski, then why shouldn't the Redskins take the wrapping off Campbell and see what he looks like?
Because I believe there is a playoff team somewhere inside those Redskins uniforms. The Titans, Cardinals, Browns and 49ers had no realistic hopes of playoff runs. Once Chris Simms went down with a burst spleen, the Buccaneers' hopes were dashed. They're just out there trying to win a game. Skin Patrol:
I am extremely excited as I called for this weeks ago. I want to stress that this is by no means "giving up" on the season; we weren't going anywhere with Brunell. We certainly were not a team capable of winning 7 games in a row (which is essentially what we need for post season).
Jason Campbell gives us a deep threat as well as represents the future of this football team. I want to stress to fans that his introduction to the NFL will likely be rocky, and he will struggle at times. People might even suggest that we were better off with Brunell. But whatever happens this move is in the best interests of the future of this franchise as determining where Jason Campbell is at developmentally is crucial to evaluating our needs as a team.
With so much uncertainty around Jason Campbell and how he will perform at gametime, it will look in retrospect on January 1 that it was wishful thinking to take the position that to put Jason in the game was simultaneously not giving up on the season and allowing for him to struggle and mature. There's only 7 chances left. It will, though, take the heat off the defense and Bob Novak for a couple of news cycles.
Curly R aside: with Sean Taylor suddenly coming into focus as a defensive liability, both by Wilbon and Steinberg, did anyone else notice that the Redskins once again let the opposing offense have it's way, yet still held the team to a reasonable number of points? Take away the Sheldon Brown pick-6 and the fumblateral from Reggie Brown to Correll Buckhalter and the Eagles scored 13 points. Those crazy-ass kind of plays frustrate a competitive team and downright demoralize a weak team.
Jason looked unsure in preseason, and we have no real way of knowing where to start with his strengths and weaknesses. Recall if you will that the Redskins were 3-5 going into a week 9 game against the Bengals in 2004. Joe Gibbs switched out an ineffectual Mark Brunell in the second quarter. Patrick threw for 210 yards and a TD, but also 2 INTs and the Redskins lost. Patrick then went on to lead the team to a 3-4 record for a 6-10 season.
What's different this year? Well for better or for worse, both we and the coaching staff knew what Patrick could give. He had been tested in live gameplay and had a book on him. The coaches knew where he needed coaching and where he was strong. We have none of that with Jason. Don't know how he'll do in the huddle, don't know how he reads defenses, don't know if he's checking down all his receivers. I'm all in favor of the Redskins getting better, which often in the NFL means you have to get worse first.
This is giving up.
Detail from photo of Jason Campbell: Jonathan Newton / Washington Post
Patrick Ramsey: uncredited photo from teh internets