Campbell Confident He's Redskins' Future
Saturday, April 19, 2008
After hearing disturbing rumors earlier in the offseason about his status with the Washington Redskins, quarterback Jason Campbell figured it was time to speak with new coach Jim Zorn. There were rumblings Zorn was not committed to Campbell as the starter next season, and Campbell wanted to know where he stood.
Campbell came back from vacation in February and met with Zorn at Redskins Park, hoping for some answers. Campbell said Zorn did much more than he expected.
"He told me it wasn't true. He told me this is my team," Campbell said after workouts this week at the complex. "He made it clear that I'm the quarterback the Redskins are going to grow with. He told me that I'm still developing as a young quarterback, but that he thinks I have it all. . . . I have what it takes to take us to where we want to go. That was a confidence-builder."
Fully recovered from the dislocated left kneecap that cut short his 2007 season, Campbell is assuming a leadership role in the voluntary offseason workout program that began March 17. He has focused on refining his passing mechanics under the guidance of Zorn and new quarterbacks coach Chris Meidt while also working with the receiving corps and studying videotape of himself daily. Campbell has set the tone for his teammates, players said, displaying his work ethic and professionalism amid change for the Redskins.
In less than two weeks, Washington will begin its first minicamp in five years without former coach Joe Gibbs, and start the transition to Zorn's version of the West Coast offense. Campbell said he's optimistic about what's ahead for the Redskins and committed to Zorn's new way of doing things.
"Whatever [Zorn] needs me to do, whatever he needs from me, I'm ready," Campbell said. "I know he knows what he's doing; you can tell he's so smart about what he does. It's early; we're really just getting started with everything, but I feel good about what we're doing."
Since workouts began, most of Campbell's time on the practice field has centered on footwork and positioning his body correctly while passing in the quick-paced scheme Zorn will unveil during minicamp, which begins May 2. The pass-oriented offense of former play-caller Al Saunders, now with the St. Louis Rams, was predicated on timing and rhythm. Quarterbacks throw to spots before receivers complete their routes, and receivers, in theory, are supposed to make big gains after catching balls in stride.
Timing is a component of Zorn's offense as well, but "everything we do in it is a quicker reaction," Campbell said. "It's done at a different speed, there's no wasted movement, because it is a West Coast offense. That's what you have to be ready for."
In preparing Campbell and backup Todd Collins for his offense, Zorn has instructed them in drills designed to improve their footwork and placement of the ball before beginning their throwing motion. Zorn was the Seattle Seahawks' quarterbacks coach before joining the Redskins, and his reputation as a good teacher is well deserved, Campbell said.
"The thing I love about him is that he talks a lot," he said. "He was a quarterback, so with him having played the position before, he'll take the ball himself and be like, 'Okay, let's try it this way.' He'll demonstrate it for you, so it's not just like you're hearing it. He's demonstrating it for you, and then you're running with it. He was a quarterback, but he's really a players' coach no matter your position.
"He's not like an in-your-face guy. He's a teacher. When you mess up, he lets you know, but he's just trying to help you be successful. And he always talks about footwork. He always talks about don't be so mechanical. He wants you to play loose, play relaxed and just try to do things right and take the game to the next level."
Zorn was unavailable to comment because the Redskins were in meetings preparing for the NFL draft April 26-27. Early during the voluntary workouts last month, Zorn said he was pleased with the progress he had observed in Campbell's passing mechanics.