Redskins must choose Campbell or Collins at QB

Against the Eagles, the Redskins will go with career backup Todd Collins or usual starter Jason Campbell. Both struggled against the Chiefs.
Against the Eagles, the Redskins will go with career backup Todd Collins or usual starter Jason Campbell. Both struggled against the Chiefs. (John Mcdonnell/the Washington Post)
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By Barry Svrluga
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jim Zorn no longer gets to call the plays for the Washington Redskins' offense. He does, however, ostensibly get to select who plays quarterback when the Redskins host the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night. But after a tortuous 24 hours -- a period when he yanked starter Jason Campbell in favor of backup Todd Collins, when his team lost to previously winless Kansas City and when he was then informed he would have to give up play-calling duties -- Zorn said Monday that he had not yet chosen a starter for a game that may determine Zorn's future in Washington.

"I want to really make sure I do the right thing there," Zorn said. "That'll be a hard decision."

Zorn said he will make the decision between Campbell, who has started all 22 games of Zorn's tenure, and Collins, the career backup who threw his first regular season pass since 2007 on Sunday, after watching the tape of the 14-6 debacle two or three more times. Campbell, though, said, "I'm preparing to be the starter."

Campbell, 27, tried to balance his disappointment with a positive attitude going forward when he addressed reporters Monday.

"Honestly, it's difficult," he said. "Any competitor [doesn't] like being put on the sidelines. But at the same time, you got to move forward. You got to try to stay positive, not get your head down, and understand that there's going to be fingers pointed, and know things happen for a reason. I can't just sit down and get down on myself and think that I'm the problem."

Through six games, Campbell's passer rating is 84.3, which ranks 19th in the league and exactly matches his rating from last year's career high. He is completing 65.6 percent of his passes -- also a career high -- and has thrown six touchdown passes and six interceptions.

Collins, 37, started three games when Campbell was injured at the end of the 2007 season -- all victories, all part of a Washington run to the playoffs. But those are Collins's only three starts since 1997. Though Collins entered the NFL a decade before Campbell did, Campbell actually has more career completions (782) than Collins has attempts (665). Collins went just 6 for 14 for 75 yards in Campbell's stead Sunday, and he was unable to get the Redskins into the end zone despite twice leading them inside the Kansas City 30.

Collins is 10-10 in his career as a starter, with 13 of those starts coming in the 1997 season with Buffalo. Campbell is 18-24 as a starter. Neither said he had an indication of Zorn's thinking during a whirlwind Monday in which the head coach was obviously struggling to deal with management's decision to relieve him of his play-calling duties.

"There's so many changes coming," Collins said. "I was just disappointed for Jason. No one likes to see someone get pulled from a game. I told him I know what that feels like. I know what it feels like going in to relieve someone for performance issues. So it's kind of hard on both ends."

Since he was hired as the offensive coordinator in January 2008, and then later promoted to head coach, Zorn has worked more closely with Campbell than almost anyone in the Redskins organization. Though Collins's run to the playoffs under then-coach Joe Gibbs was fresh in the minds of Washington fans, Zorn immediately informed Campbell -- and the public -- that Campbell would be the starter heading into the 2008 season. He then stuck by Campbell even as the Redskins pursued offseason trades for quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Mark Sanchez.

"Jason will not back down," Zorn said. "That's what I like about him. So I could easily go back to Jason and say, 'Listen, you know, you have to perform in this game.'"

The entire situation left the Redskins' offense in some disarray Monday. The players have Tuesday off, and will reconvene Wednesday to begin preparing for Philadelphia. Zorn said he would name a quarterback by Thursday at the latest. Some in the locker room, though, would have left Campbell in, regardless of his 9-for-16 first-half performance that featured several missed throws against Kansas City.

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