Redskins are eager to prove they haven't quit

By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 24, 2009; D01

As he prepares for what could be his final home game as a member of the Redskins, quarterback Jason Campbell finds himself in a unique position. Life hasn't always been predictable in his five years in Washington, but the circumstances that have encircled the Redskins in the week before Sunday's Dallas game are unlike any Campbell has seen before.

The distractions and discord came to a head in Monday's 45-12 loss to the New York Giants, and players and coaches are hoping the problems dissipate before the Cowboys arrive in town this weekend.

Reflecting on Monday's loss, the most lopsided since Jim Zorn took over as head coach, Campbell said: "It's a total of everything we've gone through all year long. All the uncertainty, different questions, distractions, everything just caught up with us in that one game."

The team is trying to regroup in two key areas: playing and coaching.

The Redskins' coaching staff has been dealing with news that one of the assistants, secondary coach Jerry Gray, has interviewed for the team's head coaching job while Zorn is still under contract. While multiple sources have said Gray has interviewed for the position, Gray would not confirm the reports in certain terms Wednesday, saying, "Jim and I have had conversations, and the conversation is between he and I."

As for the players, Campbell came out of Monday's game questioning the effort of his teammates, saying some may have quit on the team. "I'll be honest, I used to be a guy who used to try to beat around the bush a little, but I'm going to be honest, I think some guys have," he told Comcast SportsNet on Tuesday.

In a separate interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday, Campbell said, "Did some guys quit? You know, I always try to be positive and [think the best] about people, but I don't know. Like I said, something like that happens, it just makes you wonder about everything."

During his weekly media availability before practice Wednesday, Campbell seemed to back off of his strong comments, saying Monday's woes were more a "matter of everyone getting dominated in every phase of the game.

"Monday night, it just seemed like everything we've been going through just fell on us," Campbell said. "Nothing was going right, offensively, defensively, coaching, anything. Nothing was going right. Everything was in disarray."

While other players shied away from using the dreaded "Q" word -- quitting is a serious felony in the NFL -- they acknowledged that the effort in Monday's loss didn't match what the Redskins had put forth in the preceding weeks.

Cornerback DeAngelo Hall said the difference against the Giants was more attitude than effort, though he acknowledged that "from the outside," it might look like some players have given up.

"Because it does seem like that. You put out great effort after great effort after great effort and you come up short," he said. "And then you put out the kind of performance we put out on 'Monday Night Football,' which is supposed to be the biggest stage and guys are supposed to bring their A-game because the world's watching. When you put that kind of egg out there, it's hard for that smell to go away."

When the team returned to Redskins Park to begin preparing for the season's penultimate contest, players gathered for their regular Wednesday team meeting, and Zorn talked about effort. It was difficult for coaches to review film of the Giants loss, and Zorn conceded the players' level of effort was lacking.

"We hadn't had a game like that, so I think it was down," Zorn said. "We did things, but we needed more. And we didn't get it. Really, that's a reflection on me."

Zorn said he liked how players responded at practice later in the afternoon, but he won't know for certain whether they heeded his message until Sunday.

A loss to the Cowboys would mean the Redskins will not post a single win against an NFC East opponent this season. It would mark the first time since a 3-13 season in 1994 that the Redskins failed to beat a single division foe.

"I try not to think about it," Campbell said.

But he's certainly aware of it.

Campbell enters Sunday's game 16th in the league in passer rating (87.0), 15th in yards (3,138), 16th in touchdowns (18) and fourth in sacks (38).

He's a restricted free agent at the end of this season, which means the Redskins will have the opportunity to match any offers. But the Redskins have scouted college quarterbacks and could part ways with Campbell if they think a quarterback change is in order.

"I don't know. It's something that I'm not even thinking about," Campbell said of the possibility that Sunday is his final home game. "I just want to finish these two games on a strong note."

That's a popular sentiment in the Redskins' locker room. Players are trying to not look past their next game, and at the same time, they're eager to forget their last one.

"Any time you put that kind of performance out there on the field, you definitely want to get the taste out of your mouth," Hall said. "I think the guys on this team are definitely ready for the Cowboys."

"Luckily enough, we get another opportunity. We get another prime-time audience, another great NFC opponent, another team that's pretty darn good, fighting to stay alive in these playoffs. We got the same caliber of opponents, so this is another chance for us to redeem ourselves."

Staff writer Jason Reid contributed to this report.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company