The Quarterbacks are the focal point of my first positional breakdown. We are in a very interesting position this year. Jason Campbell is now in his fourth year, in his third offensive system, and while he hasn't proven himself to be an elite NFL quarterback, has shown flashes of being a very capable quarterback. Unfortunately for him, he has Todd Collins' late season push last year casting a shadow on a promising season ahead. When Campbell went down with a knee injury, Collins stepped in and admirably led the offense to four straight wins and a wild-card birth in the NFC Playoffs. A promising start in Seattle fizzled out to bad mistakes and coverage lapses, and the Skins were eventually booted to the tune of a 35-14 loss. With a new coach and new offense, this is what we should look for going into this summer at the Quarterback Position:
Position Battle to Watch: Going into June, we have four quarterbacks (ignore Derek Devine) that are vying for 3 spots. Let's stick with Jim Zorn's belief that Jason Campbell is a solid #1 with no QB controversy. Essentially, it's a battle between second-year man Sam "Hollabackgirl" Hollenbach and Colt "I swear I didn't sexually assault that girl" Brennan for the 3rd QB position, and it should actually turn into an interesting battle during camp. As a recent Virginia Tech alumnus, I can honestly say my only major knowledge of Hollenbach comes from the two games I saw him play in as a Terp. The one that stands out most was a 55-6 egg that UMD laid in Blacksburg on a Thursday during my freshman year. Hollenbach had to put down his clipboard when the 1st string QB played his way out of the game and the 2nd stringer was knocked out cold. He actually played pretty gutty, and led the Terps on a nice FG drive, but that was about all I remember. He was very average in 2005 against the top-ranked Hokie defense, only managing a meaningless score in the 4th quarter in a 28-9 loss. Basically, I've heard he was an average quarterback in a very average program, and I don't see a lot of major potential. He has to have something going for him or the coaching staff would not have kept him around, but I'm not sure what it is. Brennan is coming off hip surgery, but the organization is already selling his jersey (which is an idiotic move for a #3 QB), so you wonder how high Jim Zorn must be on him. Once he's healthy, I'd put my money on Brennan because of his upside.
Progress Under the West Coast: We all know that Todd Collins success last year was greatly affected by his experience under Al Saunders' offense. He excelled in a system that he knew well. Redskins fans are keeping their fingers crossed that Jason Campbell will be able to recapture the magic he had in his Senior Year at Auburn under Al Borges' West Coast scheme. Campbell propelled himself into the first round by leading the Tigers to a perfect 13-0 record, a Sugar Bowl win over Virginia Tech, while throwing for 2700 yards, with 20 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. If he can have the same success under Zorn, things will look very good for the Washington offense in 2008.
Pocket Presence: Jim Zorn believes that Campbell's release is good, but that his footwork needs to be more efficient. Campbell has received a lot of credit in the past for his release form, but he always seems to hold on to the ball too long. He was sacked 21 times in 13 games, but many more plays seemed to be out of rhythm and turned out negatively (incompletion, batted down, fumble, etc.). Zorn is tweaking how Campbell stands in the pocket, and hopefully his reputation as a strong QB tutor will pay off. How Campbell responds to his teaching will go a long way to determining how this season will go.
Positives: Jason Campbell still has a world of potential, and his leadership ability and physical tools could eventually lead him to Pro Bowls, or maybe a Super Bowl. As long as he has the capacity to learn and adapt, the offense can do well. Collins proved himself to be a capable backup if Campbell goes down, and fans have a lot to feel good about. Brennan is a nice developmental prospect for a coach like Zorn, and keeping him on the roster could pay off down the road if he pans out as a solid player.
Negatives: While Campbell has always shown the willingness to learn and work hard, he has to be a little uneasy about how well Collins played down the stretch last year. If he stumbles early, how long will Zorn, or more importantly, Dan Snyder put up with poor play? His tendency to hold onto the ball needs to change, and change fast, or he could lose his job.
- Skill- Campbell has strong throwing ability, but needs to improve on his short throws
- Athleticism- Jason Campbell has all the physical tools to be a top 10 NFL quarterback
- Depth- The Redskins have a strong starter in Campbell, with Collins being more than capable as a backup and Brennan in a good position to learn and develop
- Experience- None of the quarterbacks has been a healthy, consistent NFL starter, but the combined experience isn't too bad
- Intangibles- The potential for controversy is there, but it's ludicrous if people believe that Collins is a more capable quarterback. Campbell has a lot of incentive and tools around him to succeed, and the motivation should be enough
Let me know what you think!
Next section: Running Backs