Let's keep it all in perspective people
As Redskins fans count down the final hours before the opening of 2010 NFL training camp, it seems appropriate to start a conversation now about what we should regard as the future history of this team, not just how the team did, how they did against what we thought they could and should achieve. Curly R's two part series on Donovan McNabb and Redskins history begins today.
Part One: More Than One Way to Lead
Part Two: Tomorrow
How will the 2010 Washington Redskins be remembered in January 2011 and beyond? Will the realities of a sixteen game season bear out success or will Redskinsland realize optimism and the tantilizing possibility of a long term relationship with real football management made the collective think we could score a Super Bowl on the first date?
And even with Mike Shanahan at head coach and a new real actual general manager in Bruce Allen, is there a better example of an expectations rod than quarterback Donovan McNabb? Former rival, made the Redskins pay for years and years, all the guy ever wanted to do was win and stay in Philadelphia for his entire career and they would not let him, and now that he is out the door they are trashing him, it would seem Dono was best at hitting only open receivers and when he did make things happen it was not often out of the base offense. Oh to have such problems.
So Dono comes to Washington with all that experience and all that success and... what?
Is he immediately in the same class with Sonny Jurgenson and Slinging Sammy Baugh? Anyone? No?
How about Joe Theismann or Doug Williams? Any takers there?
One writer is already putting him in the class with Mark Rypien, quarterback and MVP of Super Bowl 26, the Redskins last real stab at glory. Fellow and professional writer Rick Snider wrote last week in the Washington Examiner about Donovan's natural leadership ability and how teammates are already flocking to it, with players agreeing to travel to Arizona to train with Donovan before camp.
This is not inconsequential a matter, as you will remember that the Redskins are the team famous for players that train on their own. From I Don't Know What You Did Last Summer where we discuss the shock SHOCK Joe Gibbs displayed when players did not show up for May 2007 minicamp after he agreed to let players train away from Ashburn, to two earlier Curly R pieces in February 2007 digging into that decision, Irregardless, Bad looking at it from the lens of Stan Humphries' ejection in the 1992 offseason and Revelations 53 breaking down coach Gibbs' philosophy that winning begets winning until the players call the shots, there is a rich and recent history of players not really working out with the team or much together in the offseason, so players agreeing to spend time with Donovan, away from home and in one of their last two weeks of freedom before the six month season begins, that is a big story.
What it is not is in any way an indication that former Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell was not competent enough to run an NFL offense. Rick illustrates Dono's halo effect by reminding us that Jason was good, just not an inspirational leader, and that Clinton Portis' radio interview trashing of Jason in January was really just the conscience of the team coming out.
That is total bullshit, and Rick even gets that, the top of the next paragraph in his piece reminds us that Jason had virtually no pass blocking in 2008 and 2009. The issue then seems to be that Jason's style is not of a particular type.
And while it is true that all teams need leaders, by definition the quarterback spot does not need to supply one hundred percent of that leadership. Tiki Barber mocked Eli Manning's attempt at taking charge in the huddle in 2007, by 2008 Eli was hoisting the Super Bowl trophy and no one will evar call Eli Manning a steely eyed leader of men under fire.
Ray Lewis was clearly the leader of the 2001 Ravens, quarterback Trent Dilfer ran an offense that did not score a touchdown in the month of October. Brad Johnson was not leadery enough to stick with the Redskins past 2000, by 2003 he was winning a Super Bowl on a team where Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp were the undisputed stars and leaders.
So I reject categorically the notion that Jason Campbell's personal style rendered him incapable of doing his part to win the Redskins a Super Bowl. When you have Jason Campbell on the field you are going to get an increasingly predictable performance, around which you can build a team. And the Redskins never really tried to do that. Peyton Manning, Jason will never be, neither will be ever be Jay Cutler.
If you want to examine the exact places where the Redskins needed leadership the past two years, look no further than Clinton Portis himself, that prima donna should throw fewer stones, look at the left tackle Chris Samuels, played his body into retirement, for a real leader only London Fletcher fit the suit.
Above all look at the shackles placed on the team by the horrendous performance of management: playing favorites with players, emasculating the coach, bringing in strangers and giving them total control of the offense on Sundays. The original Joe Gibbs would roll over in his football grave if he knew.
You think hard on what happened the past three seasons in Washington and tell me if Jason Campbell's lack of leadership was really the team's biggest problem. Or if it was even top five.
Donovan's Not Mark Rypien and Jason Was Not Jeff George concludes tomorrow with part two, Compared to What.
Donovan McNabb: Detail of photo from the ORB (Official Redskins Blog) here.