Campbell, Zorn connected by uncertain futures
Monday, January 4, 2010
SAN DIEGO -- The quarterback and the head coach -- at least in title and at least for a few more hours -- walked through the concrete tunnel, two of the last members of the Redskins to exit Qualcomm Stadium.
Jason Campbell walked alone and 20 feet behind Jim Zorn, with a couple of team employees at either side. Zorn stepped in silence, his eyes cast at the ground in front of him. The coach's fate was all but sealed. The quarterback's, though, not quite as certain.
"I don't know what's going to happen," Campbell said following the Redskins' 23-20 loss to the Chargers, in what amounted to the final game of the 2009 season, the final game of Zorn's tenure as head coach and quite possibly the final game of Campbell's run as Washington's starting quarterback.
"I don't know my situation," Campbell said. "But I'm going to do everything I can to prepare myself for 2010."
The question is, for which team will Campbell be playing in 2010? If next season is played without a salary cap, Campbell will become a restricted free agent, which means the Redskins can match any other team's offer.
Finishing the season with a 4-12 record, the Redskins will pick fourth or fifth in the NFL draft in April, which puts them in great position to nab a top college quarterback.
The last time the team spent a first-round pick on a quarterback was when it selected Campbell with the 25th overall pick of the 2005 draft. In the five seasons since, Campbell has improved statistically each year. Against the Chargers on Sunday, Campbell was 28-of-42 passing for 281 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He posted a 101.4 passer rating, the fifth time this season he topped 100.
This season, Campbell set career highs in completions (327), attempts (507), completion percentage (64.5), yards (3,618), touchdowns (20) and quarterback rating (86.4).
Though his numbers have improved -- his 20 touchdown passes were seven more than he threw in 2008 -- the Redskins' win total dropped in each of Campbell's past three seasons under center.
Following Sunday's loss, Zorn offered an endorsement that probably won't be etched on a plaque anytime soon.
"I thought he improved himself this year," Zorn said. "He was our quarterback this year. He has a chance to still be the QB. He played well in this final game. Can he improve? Absolutely. I could say that about everybody. . . . If he's allowed to be the QB here next year, he'll get better, because he'll work at it, and he'll become stronger. He became a better QB because of this football season, and I just continue to think that he's going to improve his game.
"Everybody wants to know, is he a franchise quarterback? And he didn't prove that in this particular point in his career, with what he is doing. But he's certainly a starter in this league, an improving starter, and he plays in a courageous fashion."