You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
Looking forward to next Sunday’s game against Dallas, there
is a little bit of smoke hanging out there, some haze that is keeping the view
of that game from becoming clear. That smoke is being created by some talk,
coming almost exclusively in the national media, that Jason Campbell will start
that game at quarterback for the Redskins rather than Mark Brunell.
Here is a report typical of what we’ve been hearing. This is
from Adam Schefter on the NFL Network on Thursday (at least I think it was
Thursday’s edition of NFL Total Access; they repeat it so many times that they
all tend to run together):
It certainly looks that way. Jason Campbell took all the
snaps this week with the first team offense. Now, granted, Mark Brunell does
have a rib injury and the Redskins are on a bye week, so it was a good time to
get the young Campbell some work with the first team. Now, there’s a climate in
which young quarterbacks are starting all around the league--Tony Romo in
Dallas, Seneca Wallace in Seattle, Matt Leinart in Arizona, Vince Young in
Tennessee--and it looks like the Redskins could be thinking the same thing. It
could be, a week from this Sunday, Romo vs. Campbell.
Now, the first part of the report has been verified.
Campbell did take all of the first-team work in the Redskins’ two practices
before they took their extended, four-day weekend due to the bye. According to
the team, Brunell suffered a rib injury against the Colts and that is why
Campbell got the work.
It is after that, however, that Schefter strays from
verified fact into what appears to be conjecture. He does not cite a source,
named or unnamed, that says that Campbell will start on Sunday. It appears that
he is reading tea leaves composed of Campbell’s practice snaps and the
league-wide trend towards putting younger QB’s behind center.
But Schefter isn’t given to sheer speculation. Certainly, he’s
not always accurate but the guy is well connected. The same can be said of
Chris Mortensen, who, in a broadcast report, said that Campbell might take the
snaps with the first team this week as well. It seems unlikely that they would
go with such reports based solely on Campbell filling in for an injured starter
at practice and the fact that Romo, Young, and other inexperienced quarterbacks
This makes me wonder if they have been tipped off by someone
on a deep background basis, meaning that the source gave one or both of them
the information on the condition that they not report it directly. A source
might do this in a situation where a fairly small circle of people is in
possession of the information and the chances of him getting fingered as the
leaker are high.
I also wonder why Brunell would sit out both of those
practices. One of those, the one on Tuesday I believe, was all about how to fix
what’s been wrong with the passing game. If your starting quarterback, the
player who certainly bears some of the blame for the passing game’s woes, if
not the lion’s share of it, is at all capable of participating in that practice
you would think that he would. Certainly a rib injury can be very painful, but not
as painful as watching the Redskins’ ineffective air attack all year long. If
he’s still your starter you get him out there for that one day, let the kid
Campbell hand the ball off on the other day and then take the four days off.
The emphasis, of course is on if Brunell is still the
There are other possibilities in play here. Perhaps Tuesday
and Wednesday were essentially a two-day audition for Campbell. Joe Gibbs and
Al Saunders put him through the paces, captured his every move on film and are
spending a good chunk of this weekend evaluating how he handled things. They
may determine that he could well be ready for prime time and give him his shot
next Sunday or they could decide that the team would be best served by him
being kept on the shelf for a while longer.
Another possibility—and, in reality, it’s the probability—is
that there is nothing to this. The situation was what Gibbs said it was. None
of the Redskins beat writers, the guys who spend countless hours every week at
Redskins Park, has given any credibility to the notion that Campbell will start
against the Cowboys. One such writer, John Keim, our Redskins insider, looked
in to these reports his conclusion was that they were “baseless”.
He did add, however, that if Brunell can’t practice on
Monday, “then let the speculation begin.”
Well, John, we decided not to wait until Monday to
speculate. The bottom line is, however, that there’s a lot more smoke than fire
in the reports by Schefter and Mort. It would be very surprising—but not
totally shocking—if the Jason Campbell era were to start on November 5 at FedEx
Field against the Dallas Cowboys.
Rich Tandler is the
author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book
has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they moved to
Washington for the 1937 season through 2001. For details and ordering
information go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com