The Kid Shows His Stuff

By Mike Wise
Monday, September 15, 2008

Miami's own Clinton Portis called one of the most sizzling and stickiest games ever played at FedEx Field "one of the hottest days I ever played football."

Ninety degrees, 55 percent humidity and a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter in a home opener Jim Zorn and his young quarterback needed very badly.

So every fool who concluded with certainty after one game that a 6-foot-5, deep-drop passer cannot grasp the nuances needed to run a multiple-read offense with a catchy name, would just shut up and go home.

Before the kid finally won a game at the end, before he gathered himself and delivered that dagger of a deep post route to Santana Moss that made nearly 90,000 delirious with 3 minutes 38 seconds remaining, you could say the heat was all but singeing Jason Campbell's No. 17 jersey.

He was skewered, from the lout beneath the press box in Section 107, one level up from the field, who cupped his mouth like a megaphone and shouted, "Jason, you're not our franchise quarterback!" to the cretin behind his own bench.

"That guy would say, 'Come on, Jason, throw the ball downfield,' " Campbell said. "Or he would stand up and yell, 'Jason, you [stink].' Real nice, huh? You tune it out, but . . . "

It's unclear whether the fan was the same man high-fiving his friends repeatedly after Santana Moss skipped into the end zone with the football and victory in his hands. Or whether that was the same fan telling everyone in his vicinity how he always knew Campbell had not only the mental and physical wherewithal to pick up a complex, new system but also the gumption to throw a clutch bomb in the crucible of a home opener.

Being a fan, media member or both in this weekly referendum town, after all, is nothing if not being fickle.

Either way, Campbell parlayed the harshest criticism of his 22-game career as a starting quarterback this week into one of the most pretty and pressure-cooked finishes imaginable -- a go-long bomb to send the Saints marching home with a galling loss.

That's right, the guy they said doesn't speak up enough in the huddle, let his cannon speak for him.

The soft-spoken, 26-year-old people pleaser, whose Mississippi twang is often mocked by his teammates, who enunciate like game analysts in training -- "Well, you know," they say, sometimes doing Campbell better than he does himself -- didn't tell how to lead yesterday afternoon.

In the fourth quarter, for a change, he showed.

CONTINUED     1           >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company