For Jason Campbell, the hits just keep on coming

Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell is slammed down by Eagles defender Juqua Parker in the closing minutes of the 27-24 loss.
Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell is slammed down by Eagles defender Juqua Parker in the closing minutes of the 27-24 loss. (John Mcdonnell/the Washington Post)
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By Thomas Boswell
Monday, November 30, 2009


Jason Campbell hadn't yet lost consciousness. That sudden blackness, courtesy of Eagles defensive end Juqua Parker, would swallow him a second later. And he had not yet lost feeling in his left arm. All he knew was that the hundredths of a second in a collapsing pocket were down to an even smaller number. On fourth and one with 1 minute 9 seconds to play and the Redskins behind 27-24, he had to throw the blasted football. So he aimed for Santana Moss, flashing open beyond the first-down sticks, and, just as the Parker Building fell on him, he fired his pass.

Like everything about this Redskins season, 3-8 and spiraling down, as well as much of Campbell's career with the team, his best effort came up short, bouncing in front of Moss.

Campbell's face stayed pressed against the sod for a minute or more, the fingers of his throwing hand tapping the ground as though thrumming them would somehow help him regain consciousness and, in time, sensation in his arm.

When the game ended minutes later, Donovan McNabb, whose stats were similar to Campbell's -- 22 for 37 for 231 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and a touchdown run -- pulled the Redskins quarterback's head close to his and said, "Keep fighting."

That's all that's left. Keep fighting. Hang in. Spit in the Broncos' eyes and beat them two weeks ago. Punch the Cowboys in the mouth but lose by a point last week. Bloody the Eagles' nose, take a 24-16 lead with 11:42 to play, but blow the lead.

There are many reasons why the battered, short-handed Redskins have, for the last month, continued to battle and, despite their scores, actually play like a team that a fan could support with a clear conscience. But nobody is more central than Campbell.

It's time for the town and the franchise itself to appreciate the 27-year-old, who is a restricted free agent after this season, for what he is -- a competent, gritty, middle-of-the-pack quarterback -- and not damn him for what he'll probably never become -- a top-shelf star. It's time to love the one you're with, 'cause the ones you dream about are nowhere in sight. And they aren't coming soon.

There are 12 quarterbacks on the planet who are clearly better than the one the Redskins already have. Their names are Brady, Favre, Brees, Manning, Manning, Rodgers, Rivers, Warner, Roethlisberger, McNabb and, probably, Romo and Schaub, too.

"No team lets those guys get away from them," said the Redskins' Cornelius Griffin. So, they're not headed to Washington.

There are also about a dozen other quarterbacks in the NFL who are just about as good as Campbell, give or take a bit. Statistically, they are grouped around his passer rating of 85.3 -- quarterbacks like Kyle Orton, Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer and Matt Hasselbeck.

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