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Mike Wise: The Redskins Chose Campbell. Now They Must Stick to Him.

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By Mike Wise
Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's become rote around here this week to call Miserable Suburban Guy radio, e-mail local sports cable networks or post on Redskins blogs about Jason Campbell's regression, to the point that some warped louts believe the starting quarterback should be benched in favor of Todd Collins.

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Look, as much as Toddball was fun for everyone, these poor, myopic souls have to understand two realities:

1) Retarding Campbell's continued growth on the off chance a 37-year-old career backup can recapture the greatest month of his career is not a calculated risk; it's calculated stupidity.

And, most important, 2) after all the euphoria that followed a 4-1 start, the same people petrified in August that Jim Zorn would finish 6-10 became so engrossed in their Tampa fantasies they forgot to look through the wide lens:

It was never about this year.

Daniel Snyder might have said he expected to win the NFC East and return to the playoffs in an interview with Comcast SportsNet in August, which was a nice, preseason carrot for the owner to dangle in front of the needy masses. And the signings of Jason Taylor and later DeAngelo Hall might have been done to immediately bolster the defense.

But from their build-through-the-draft mantra to their brazen pick of a position-coach lifer to take over for Joe Gibbs, the Redskins have not-so-covertly sold their fans and themselves on one big idea: that 2008 would be a starter kit toward lasting NFL success.

That doesn't mean instantly believing smoke and mirrors can lead to hoisting a Lombardi Trophy a year after essentially the same roster barely made the playoffs. It means planting seeds, marrying the minds of a new coach, his young quarterback and yet another new system.

Just because there was gravy before the grunt doesn't mean the long-term goals should now be shelved.

"We just got to take more chances, continue to keep working and understand it's a process," Campbell said after Washington lost its third game in the last four on Sunday. "The first year of the offense is a process. There's up and downs. People are quick to put it on the quarterback and rightly so. I have to look myself in the mirror and continue to fight.

"But this is one of those things that takes some time to get and learn."

It was easy for everyone to get off track when that zany Zorn took play-calling suggestions from players on the sideline, sending in draws on fourth and one, beating Dallas and Philadelphia early by power as much as innovation. And it was just as easy to believe Campbell had arrived as a top-flight quarterback, winning games in the fourth quarter with rockets to Santana Moss, knowing when to absorb a sack and when to head upfield toward the marker.


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