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Jason Campbell

Alex Smith and Jason Campbell, Peyton Manning and the Redskins

Two years ago the Redskins and 49ers were healing from varying degrees of disappointment. The Redskins had won four games under the recently-fired Jim Zorn, with 2005 first-round pick Jason Campbell. The 49ers had won eight games under Mike Singletary, with fellow ’05 first-rounder Alex Smith. Both franchises, bastions of greatness in the 20th century, continued to muddle through the 21st. Then they diverged.

The Redskins traded two picks for Donovan McNabb and shipped Campbell to Oakland. They struggled in ’10 before realizing what they’d done, cutting their losses and starting to rebuild in ’11, finally. The 49ers stuck with Smith, who improved slightly in ’10 before improving mightily in ’11.

What happened in San Francisco Saturday was not only a great game but perhaps the crescendo of Smith’s career. It was the manifestation of what I hoped Campbell would become, and the success Washington could have had they stuck with him. San Fran won 13 games this season and plays in the NFC Championship this week.

The 49ers have a top-shelf defense, very good special teams, a reliable running game and a quarterback who doesn’t fuck it up. That’s who Alex Smith is. He’s not Aaron Rodgers, and he’s not Tom Brady. He’s not Drew Brees either, but he did beat Brees, and he had a hell of a game in the process. This was always Jason Campbell’s ceiling, if the Redskins hadn’t pulled the rug out from underneath him.

Today, the Redskins are at another quarterback crossroads, but this time there’s no gradually improving first-rounder on the roster. There’s Rex Grossman, the draft and an offseason crop that includes Rodgers’ backup Matt Flynn and possibly Peyton Manning. Many picks need to be given to draft Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, and not much is known of the nearly unknown Flynn, so it’s Manning that seems to be the most likely option. Redskins reporter-turned-SportsCenter anchor Bram Weinstein even says it’s “VERY likely,” with caps lock and everything.

Manning turns 36 this offseason and is recovering from neck surgeries. It will take big money to sign him. The only way in which he’s right for a rebuild is that he wouldn’t cost draft picks.

The Redskins have been down this road before, though. McNabb was 33 when they got him, and his rating his last season in Philly (92.9) was higher than Manning’s in ’10 (91.9). McNabb never again played up to his Philly form, not in Washington and not in Minnesota either, not even close.

That isn’t the road to winning Super Bowls or even making the playoffs year after year, either. Of this season’s 12 playoff teams, 11 drafted their quarterback. The 12th, New Orleans, signed Brees when he was 27. Of the 48 teams that have made it to conference championship games since ’00, four were led by signal-callers acquired at age 30 or older: the ’02 Bucs (Brad Johnson), ’02 Raiders (Rich Gannon), ’08 Cardinals (Kurt Warner) and ’09 Vikings (Brett Favre). Of those, only the Gannon-led Raiders had multiple 10-win seasons. None of those quarterbacks were as old then as Manning is now.

The Redskins shouldn’t go with Manning, is my point. Beyond that, I’m not sure who they should go with. Just give him time, whoever it is.

Update: @jktipton said that getting Manning would be more like the Chiefs signing 37-year-old Joe Montana in 1993 than the Skins trading for McNabb. He’s right, and the Chiefs did make the playoffs twice with Montana. They haven’t won a playoff game since.

D.C. sports fan and digital media guy that's been doing this since 2004. Once threw a football further than Chris Cooley.



  1. Raven Mack

    January 15, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    I did this nerded out OCD thing earlier this year about coach/QB combos – – and that really pissed me off, because you could see Grossman/Beck was a failure, which meant whatever was done next would be starting fresh, but also would have wasted 2 yrs of Shanahan, and I don’t think we really have been shown he’s worth a crap yet. I don’t know man, it’s depressing. At this point, being 2 yrs of Shanahan would be wasted, I see them doing the Manning thing (or something like it for a vet) to buy more time. I was really excited for RGIII, but not sure I trust this team to trade up in a draft for him.

  2. The Mayor of FedEx Field

    January 15, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    Rex Grossman will be our starting QB next year. We more than likely will use a 3rd, 4th, or 5th rounder on a QB to be groomed for the future. We need playmakers. We need healthy players. We need depth. We will give up ZERO picks this draft, unless we are trading down to add more picks.

    Use the 1st and 2nd rounders on playmakers, WR, RB, maybe a top flight LB.

    Sign some OL, both starters and backups. Fill the roster with remaining draft picks.

    We wont give up anything to move up for a QB, and we will not take a QB at 6 just to take one.

    Rex Grossman is serviceable, we just need to surround him with more talent.

  3. A Fine Mesi

    January 15, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    @TheMayorOfFedExField: use a 1st and 2nd rounder on a RB or a LB? what world do you live in?

  4. Kuruption

    January 15, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    I was thinking along the same lines today. The game a couple years back where J. Camp and the Skins lost to the 49ers late in the season. The 49ers at the time were defined by an improving defense but had virtually no defense.

    Since then Gore has provided a solid running game and Smith has emerged from a guy struggling, to a guy who could manage a game and lately to a guy who can take over. I was never a fan of getting rid of J. Camp for an aging QB in McNabb. I like what Shanny has started to do here and no one has a crystal ball but I haven’t like what he has done at QB.

    As for the future, it obviously comes down to if Shanny thinks anyone available can right the ship. I’d love to see RGIII here but I think the only way that happens is if Cleveland gets Flynn. The Holmgren connection with him is something that I feel has been overlooked. However, if Cleveland doesn’t go that route I believe we will get him and try to get Blackmon. Will I be thrilled? Not really because I’m sure Flynn won’t look anything like he did in the last regular season game at GB. Excuses will be put out about the system, or injuries. Blackmon will find someway to get injured and become Michael Westbrook 2.0. Snyder will fire Shanny and we will be back to square 1.

    That is my dismal look into future but hopefully I’ll be proven wrong.

  5. Phil

    January 16, 2012 at 5:29 AM

    Peyton Manning going to the Skins means the same ol Skins. Getting rehash old legends that has very little to nothing in the tank.

    Let’s get guys who are young, hungry and talented that will grow in the organization.

    I’m for getting Matt Flynn. Looking at the pedigree of former Green Bay west coast offense QBs like Mark Brunell, Aaron Brooks and Matt Hasselbeck, all were successful QBs. The worst one was Aaron Brooks but he was still a playmaking QB for a decent amount of time with the Saints. Brunell had a solid career in Jacksonville and the same with Hasselbeck in Seattle. I believe both were also Pro Bowlers

    Before I was skeptical considering how Cassel and Kolb were less than stellar. Even though Schaub was drafted a round below Kolb, he did play a pro style offense and was more NFL ready.

    In any case if Flynn is let go by free agency it’s best we pick him up instead. If he’s franchised which I highly doubt, stay away. If RG3 is gone too…probably best to roll the dice with a lesser QB in the draft and sign a guy like Kyle Orton. At least he’s better than Rex & Beck.

    Oh yeah…spend every damn high draft pick on offense, especially OL. Everything else on defense will sort itself out. Only exception is drafting a CB since you can never have too many corners and a true 340-350 lb NT to anchor the 3-4. I don’t think Jarvis Jenkins or Cofield is big enough plus Jenkins had that nasty season ending ACL tear.

  6. Phil

    January 16, 2012 at 5:52 AM

    Cliff notes:

    1. Redskins throw cash and/or draft picks at Peyton Manning like usual.

    2. Peyton Manning’s neck gets broken in a Skins uniform.

    Sorry for the visualization but it’s very likely this happens.

    Local radio, newspapers and fans continue to go through the Groundhog’s Day craptacular decision making of the Daniel M. Snyder let’s make the Washington Redskins a continual laughing stock/joke of the NFL.

  7. Terps77

    January 16, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    What about the Redskins organization has anyone seen that says they are even close to capable of playing at the level we saw teams playing at this weekend? Watching the games this weekend just made me more unhappy.

    To me, continuing to blame things on Campbell not being here is the same as Obama contining to blame Bush. At what point does it becomes irrelevant as to who was here 3, 4, or 5 years ago?

  8. Hondo Howard

    January 16, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    I am still baffled at the thought that Jason Campbell was ever going to be a decent QB. He never got the hang of reading defenses, though he was given plenty of opportunity, and he never displayed any kind of consistent touch on tough passes into tight spaces. Alex Smith made some phenomenal throws to guys who were tightly covered Saturday. J.Camp was never gonna do that. Not a great passer, not a savvy QB. He had his chance. Dumping him was the move.

  9. Jamie Mottram

    January 16, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    Terps77, the Skins’ failure during Campbell’s time weren’t all his fault, and their current failure isn’t all due to his departure either.

    Hondo, Alex Smith’s first season that was better than Campbell’s 2009 season was this season.

  10. FedE Al

    January 16, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    Skins sign Flynn as a FA and also drafts a QB. Possibly a trade up for Tannehill in the late 1st. Thus ‘Skins get their QB now and start to develop QB of future. Most likely the ‘Skins will trade one ala what the Patriots and Eagles have done.

    it’s a win-win for the Skins and doesn’t mean wasting all of our draft picks to get RGIII

  11. ThisGuy

    January 16, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    YES. I said it before: let’s draft our own Peyton Manning, instead of signing the old one with a broken neck. Along those lines, fuck Matt Flynn. Let’s develop our own guy.

    How about Blackmon or a stud CB at #6 overall, then Russel Wilson (Wisconsin) in the second or third round?

  12. illformula

    January 16, 2012 at 8:36 PM

    i second The Mayor’s comment, minus taking a RB in the 1st or 2nd.

    Blackmon won’t be there at 6, but Claiborne will. Or we trade down and take an ILB (Hightower) or one of the many OL expected to go in the first.

  13. The Mayor of FedEx Field

    January 16, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    @ A Fine Mesi: You think we dont need another LB? By all accounts, London Fletcher wants to come back next season, but he is a free agent, and he is the best defensive player we have, making him the defacto best LB we have. Rak and Ryan, OLB’s. So we need two ILB’s. Rocky Mac is as good as gone, evident by his special teams playing late last season. Even if Fletcher returns, Perry Riley hasnt done enough to guarantee he starts next season.

    I would love RG3 in B and G. Not happening, unless we give up mad picks. Will he make an immediate impact? Cam Newton like RC Season? Maybe. Maybe not. Rex is no world beater, but if we have better weapons around him, he will perform better.

    Rb isnt a done deal. Helu and Royster both played well for rookies. But we will draft a RB this year, and if there is value at #6 for a top tier RB, he is ours. We need CB, ILB, RB, QB, OL, DL, I would even say a K. With many holes to fill, you have to KEEP your draft picks.

    We scored an excellent draft last season, even with 2 of our top 5 picks injured for the majority of the season.

    We are not that far away from really being able to win the NFC East. Ten game will do it next season. We make a few field goals in two games against Dallas, and keep Beck on the bench, and maybe we would be talking about playoffs right now.

    Once your in, anything can happen. See the last two weeks of playoff games.

    Im excited for 2012. I think Mike and Bruce have a plan, and that this year is the year we make the biggest leap. Salary Cap is in great shape, and we have all of our draft picks, plus some. Maybe even get some late round comp picks for Rogers (SF) [1st Rounder + production with new team = 3rd round comp pick] and maybe Rocky if we dont sign a free agent to replace him.

    Either way, we can make some serious upgrades with draft picks, free agency, and the return of some injured players ie: Hankerson and Jarvis Jenkins.

    PS: The world I live in, is awesome.

  14. Terps77

    January 17, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    Jaime Mottram, I know Campbell is not at fault for what went wrong while he was here, and I see where youre going with the article, but I never saw what I saw Saturday out of Alex Smith in Jason Campbell. I think seeing his ceiling as high as Smith’s is wishful thinking.

    I think everyone knows Danny and Vinny Cerrato are truly at fault for the current wasteland that is the Washington Redskins organization.

    The Mayor needs to post more. “The world I live in, is awesome.” comment is beautiful writing.

  15. Jamie Mottram

    January 17, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    Correct. I wish the Redskins built a better team around Campbell, and I think he’d play up Smith’s level had they done so.

    And yes, this blog is a better place with the Mayor on it.

  16. The Mayor of FedEx Field

    January 17, 2012 at 9:24 PM

    Redskins Picks at #6 –

    Bucky Brooks: Robert Griffin III, QB
    “After watching the Rex Grossman/John Beck debacle, Mike Shanahan has to find a franchise quarterback for the Redskins to move forward. Griffin possesses big-time potential as a dual-threat playmaker, and the Redskins’ movement-based passing game could make him an instant star.”

    Charles Davis: Jonathan Martin, OT
    “Many expect Washington to make a play for Robert Griffin III or draft Trent Richardson of Alabama. Mike Shanahan’s system has always seen production from lower-round backs. The OL still needs help.”

    Steve Wyche: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB
    “I could see the Skins try to move back and nab a wide receiver but you can’t have enough CBs.”

    Pat Kirwan: Devon Still, DT
    “There are a number of ways the ‘Skins could go here but a solid five-technique to continue the rebuilding of the defense makes more sense than a running back this early in the draft. Too bad there isn’t a quarterback at this spot. GM Bruce Allen is a dealmaker and he may move up for RG3.”

  17. The Mayor of FedEx Field

    January 17, 2012 at 9:27 PM

    So, a CB, OT, and DT are options per the “experts” but Kirwan is “living in his own world” with that DT pick.

    Id like to trade back and get WR Ashron Jefferies from SC and then take the CB from South Carolina, early 2nd round. Cant remember his name. But he’s tight.

  18. Jericho

    January 18, 2012 at 10:41 AM

    I agree that getting a QB is the top priority. I tend to think that without at least an above average QB, you’re not going to win the Super Bowl. By far the best way of obtaining such a QB is through the draft. However, what is not talked about enough is how likely it will be to find said QB.

    Mainly, there’s this idea that you can find and develop QB gems anywhere in the draft. Tom Brady is the poster boy for that kind of thinking. But as I look at the last decade of drafts, I find only one guy drafted outside the first 32 picks (or essentiually the first round) who is above average. That guy is Matt Schuab. Another QB went undrafted – Tony Romo. But that’s two guys in ten years total. And expecting the Redskins to find one of these guys, should one even exist this draft season, is a very low percentage move.

    That said, while the rest of the above average QBs were taken in the first 32 picks (and the vast majority of them in the first 11 or so picks), not all first rounders pan out either. But based on recent history, the odds of finding your franchise QB decrease exponentially the further down you get on the draft board.

    Which is not to say its impossible to get a good guy in the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th round. But the idea that the Redskins take a guy in those rounds and then develop him will likely result in abother Jason Campbell/Patrick Ramsey scenario. a medicore QB who’s not good enough to win it all with.

    I agree that sticking with Campbell would have been a better move. I hated the McNabb trade when it was made. Not because I thought McNabb was washed up, but its was an extremely short sighted move. I thought McNabb might help the Redskins make the playoffs for 1-2 years before fading away. Instead it was not even that good. but making the playoffs should not be the goal. Winning the Super Bowl should be the goal. And that starts with an above average QB.

  19. Terps77

    January 18, 2012 at 6:02 PM

    For the record, I wish the Skins did a better job building a team around Campbell as well. I think with the right coach and right “system” he might be productive.

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