Tuesday, August 24, 2010
CHICAGO - It took two preseason games for Jason Campbell to stop feeling like the deposed quarterback of the Washington Redskins and to begin feeling like the rightful quarterback of the Oakland Raiders.
"It was weird when I first got here," Campbell said late Saturday night, standing in a rapidly emptying visitors' locker room at Soldier Field after he made his second preseason start for the Raiders. "But as months have gone by, it's kind of like getting farther away now. Last week, the first time being in a different uniform playing a game just felt different. But this week, it was like: 'Okay, you got that first game out of the way. Now let's turn to the second game.' "
Campbell's five-year tenure with the Redskins was all about change. He endured new head coaches, offensive coordinators and offensive systems. When the Redskins - under another new coach, Mike Shanahan, and a new general manager, Bruce Allen - stopped believing that the former first-round draft choice was the answer for them at quarterback, the biggest change of all came when Campbell was traded to the Raiders in April.
The Redskins' new regime had traded for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, making Campbell's departure inevitable.
"I look back on it just saying it prepared me for this part of my career," Campbell said Saturday of his Redskins tenure. "I went through a lot of things there, a lot of changes. . . . Playing the quarterback position, you get blamed for a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff was just way too much, though."
Former Redskins coach Jim Zorn said fans and others may have assigned Campbell more blame than he deserved. Zorn, who had a record of 12-20 in two seasons as the team's head coach, said the Redskins could have won with Campbell at quarterback if the rest of the club had been functioning smoothly.
"He was progressing as well," Zorn said. "Think about the pressure that he was under with all the criticism. He had been there longer than I was. And that was part of the issue. People were tired of seeing him, right? But we could have pushed through with him. We couldn't push through with some of the injuries we had."
Zorn, now the quarterbacks coach of the Baltimore Ravens, said he expects Campbell to succeed in Oakland if the Raiders' offensive line performs well.
"Watch him," Zorn said at the Ravens' training camp earlier this month. "If they protect him and they give him an opportunity to move the chains and move the ball and not have to go to drastic schemes to protect him, absolutely he's going to be fine.
"Now, his big growth has got to continue to be decision-making . . . He does have a lot of talent. . . . He's learned a lot in a couple years."
Zorn inherited Campbell from his predecessor, Joe Gibbs, who drafted Campbell in 2005. The Redskins went to the playoffs twice in Gibbs's second go-around as coach, but neither time was with Campbell at quarterback. Once was with Mark Brunell in the 2005 season, a year before Campbell took over as the starter. The other came when backup Todd Collins took over for an injured Campbell and led a late push to the playoffs in the 2007 season.
Former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann said it "remains to be seen" if Campbell can be a winning NFL quarterback.