Mike Wise: Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell is making the best of a bad situation

Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell had another effective game, passing for 222 yards and two touchdowns. Campbell also scrambled for 20 yards and did not throw an interception
Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell had another effective game, passing for 222 yards and two touchdowns. Campbell also scrambled for 20 yards and did not throw an interception (Toni L. Sandys/the Washington Post)   |   Buy Photo
By Mike Wise
Monday, December 14, 2009

OAKLAND, CALIF. Another name surfaced in the unseemly drama this week, and again the person cheated on said nothing about the young, exotic thing on the other end of the line.

Vinny Cerrato, that cad, flirted heavily with NFL-quarterback-to-be Jimmy Clausen on Friday. As usual, the team architect forgot Jason Campbell ever existed, continually pining for something better just two days before the most loyal employee in the locker room went out and helped guide this hard-times franchise to its first road victory in almost 13 months.

Cerrato's crime may have only been a harmless interview with the Notre Dame junior on his weekly radio show. But this comes after dalliances with Mark Sanchez and Jay Cutler last spring -- when he felt he could trade up, jettison the only Redskin behind center in 10 years to start and finish a 16-game season. Just last month, Cerrato flew to see his old college coach Mack Brown at Texas, where Colt McCoy bedazzled the brain trust the day before the Cowboys game.

Call it bona fide scouting or due diligence by the Redskins' executive vice president of football operations. Or forge whatever rationale needed to hide the truth:

Campbell was never wanted. He could march his team downfield every week for four touchdowns, like Sunday against the Raiders in Washington's most one-sided victory of the two-years-and-out Jim Zorn era. He could come into the game as the fifth-most sacked quarterback in the NFL, dodging large, menacing men paid to hurt him -- behind a duct-tape offensive line that many of those large, menacing men use like Rock Creek Parkway at rush hour -- and it still wouldn't matter.

He could keep picking himself up, groggy from another hit, and pull his mud-caked No. 17 jersey over his exposed shoulder pad. On a cold and sloppy field in Northern California, he could win a game of last quarterback standing with knocked-out Bruce Gradkowski and JaMarcus Russell, still running from Andre Carter and Brian Orakpo. It still wouldn't matter.

Campbell was long ago compartmentalized in the minds of management, thought to be who he is and not what he might become, just like all the rest.

He is the most recent model of the impetuous people in control, enraptured by the sound of the train in the distance because they have no faith the one in the station can take them where they want to go.

Antonio Pierce, Ryan Clark and Brad Johnson, a quarterback once replaced by another big name that didn't pan out, all have something in common. When the Redskins became enamored by someone else, they left and won Super Bowls elsewhere.

Campbell is a restricted free agent in less than a month. Four and nine is 4-9. Understood. But no one can argue his continued progression and improvement the past month, despite losing every genuine offensive weapon he had coming into the season except Santana Moss, not to mention any semblance of experienced protection on his line.

Beyond being sacked 36 times, thrown to the ground many more and essentially treated like a rag doll, he is still standing. Despite his own organization giving up on him before the season started, he never gave up on his employers.

Campbell never so much as pointed a finger at a guy who failed to block for him or blamed Cerrato for looking out for his personal safety by fortifying the line through the draft. Whatever critical can be said about his play, especially early in the season, he kept taking physical and psychological hits and kept going forward. In many ways, he was the resilient character from the "Friday the 13th" films -- only this Jason was the victim.

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