Here's a Change: QB Is the Same
You know the last time a Washington Redskins quarterback who began the season as the starter finished as the starter?
"When was that?" Jason Campbell asked.
Brad Johnson, 1999.
"That's ironic because I talked to Brad Johnson in the Grand Caymans this summer for an hour."
"We were out by the pool," Campbell said. "He was playing with his kids, telling me about the year they went to the playoffs that year. He told me he feels like, just from things he's been watching, that we're going to turn things around."
We were in a car on the way back to the Redskins' living quarters on the second day of training camp in Ashburn. I had taken this same ride with Patrick Ramsey two years ago when Joe Gibbs dubbed Ramsey, another youngster with a cannon of a right arm, his team's unquestioned starter. I had sat down with Mark Brunell a year ago after he was named the unquestioned starter. Dating from Johnson and on to Jeff George, Tony Banks and beyond, I'm guessing they all believed they were the one at some point, the next Jurgensen, Kilmer or Theismann.
But in the eight seasons since Johnson passed for more than 4,000 yards and 24 touchdowns, there have been 10 changes at the position. As believing and genuine as the 25-year-old kid from Taylorsville, Miss., sounds, what makes Campbell immune to recent history? At some point, he's got to hear the unrealistic chatter about the season riding on his young shoulders.
"Is it on you?" I asked, like any caller from Miserable Suburban Guy radio might.
"I don't feel like it's on me," he said. "But that's the way it's always been. People always say, 'It all depends on the quarterback,' but you need a team doing their job also. So you can't put that kind of pressure on yourself to think you can go out there and win games [alone]."
That last line is a telling statement. The problem with Ramsey, I always felt, was that he truly believed his failure at any crucial moment was going to lead to the season blowing up because of him. He tried to play it off, but he always had this weight-on-his-shoulders feel to his game and his demeanor.
Maybe the worst thing that can happen to this team as they attempt to rebound from an 11-loss eyesore is for anyone to put the season's outcome solely on Campbell's conscience.