Jason Campbell makes way for Todd Collins at halftime in Redskins' loss to Chiefs

Redskins slip as they try to regain their footing against the Chiefs.
By Barry Svrluga and Jason Reid
Monday, October 19, 2009

When the Washington Redskins emerged from their locker room after halftime Sunday, they had zero points and a second quarterback. Todd Collins pulled on his helmet, which he hadn't worn in a regular season game since December 2007, and began taking warmup snaps. Jason Campbell threw a few balls, pulled off his own helmet and grabbed a ski cap, benched for the first time in his NFL career.

The future of Redskins Coach Jim Zorn has long been tied to the development of Campbell, the 27-year-old former first-round pick who had started each of Zorn's 22 games in Washington. Now, with one move in the midst of an abhorrent 14-6 loss to the previously winless Kansas City Chiefs, both those futures are more in doubt than ever: Campbell was pulled from a game, and hours later, Zorn was stripped of his play-calling duties.

"I told Jason in the second quarter that he was going to have one last shot," Zorn said. "We didn't move the ball. . . . But I felt the need to create a spark on our football team offensively, and went with Todd."

Thus, a stunned Campbell, who had played every snap of Zorn's tenure, was relegated to the sideline after completing 9 of 16 passes for 89 yards and a last-play-of-the-half interception, good for a 46.1 quarterback rating. The Redskins, under Campbell's watch, didn't score in the first half and managed just 110 yards against a defense that was allowing 403 per game -- worst in the league. Campbell overthrew an open Antwaan Randle El on a third-down play early in the second quarter. He missed an open Santana Moss deep down the field on first down of the next drive. He then threw a third-down pass that could have been intended for either Chris Cooley or Randle El -- and found neither.

So before the end of the half, Zorn told Collins he would play in the third quarter. At halftime, he told Campbell, who said afterward, "It was his decision to make, and he made the decision." But he also remembered his performance from two weeks earlier, when he committed three turnovers in a miserable first half against Tampa Bay, but returned to rally the Redskins to a win.

"Sometimes it takes you a while to find your rhythm in games, and I just didn't find it in the first half," Campbell said in a telephone interview after he left FedEx Field. "No excuses. The ball to Santana was definitely one I would have liked to have back because it could have been a big play. I just didn't have my rhythm early on. But I also didn't have my rhythm in the game against Tampa Bay."

Zorn, though, said he felt the entire offense was stagnant, and that Campbell had missed enough plays to warrant a switch.

"I felt like we had some things open, some things that were obvious," Zorn said. "I felt that Jason, as he was trying to get the ball to the right guy, two things: we were a little late on hesitating, hitting some things, and then we were inaccurate."

Thus, a situation that has been deteriorating all season -- the Redskins' inability to score touchdowns even as Campbell and Zorn are in their second season working together -- reached a nadir. Zorn said afterward that the move was his, and his alone. And he said that he does not know which quarterback he will play next week, when the Redskins host Philadelphia on "Monday Night Football."

"Right now, I'm going to just evaluate what I'm going on," Zorn said. "I still have confidence in what Jason can do."

When Collins took the field for the Redskins' first drive of the second half, the frustrated FedEx Field crowd cheered loudly.

"You definitely hear it," Campbell said. "You know that people are basically looking at you like you're the only problem, that if it wasn't for you, things would be going a lot better than they are for us right now.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company