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Doug Farrar
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Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Ask Jason Campbell

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While the Redskins' performance at Texas Stadium was tremendously impressive, Washington remains the NFC East team I'm not quite sold on. Jim Zorn has done a great job with Jason Campbell, and Campbell's quick study with the West Coast offense proves that all he needed was a system that played to his strengths, and the same offensive coordinator for more than two weeks in a row. Still, Campbell won't always be the beneficiary of Dallas' confounding run-free offensive game plan, nor will the Eagles use Terence Newman's "Play 10 yards off Santana Moss at All Times" strategy. What the Eagles will do is bring everything but the kitchen sink at the kid. And this is where I wonder how it will go for Campbell in this division.

In the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys, the Redskins face three division rivals with great ability to get after the quarterback -- New York and Philly are tied for second in the NFL in sacks with 13, behind only Tennessee. Dallas has 10, including two in a nondescript first quarter for the 'Skins. Washington has six, and while I don't usually put divisional standings and sacks together, it's a bit more sensible to do so in this case. If Campbell gets past the Eagles with the same poise and productivity he showed against Dallas, I reserve the right to change my answer!

The Eagles are next on my list, because I don't know how they can keep it together if Brian Westbrook can't stay healthy. I have said before that I thought he should have been the NFL MVP last year, and the Eagles are learning, once again, just how valuable he really is. There are issues in New York and Dallas, but both teams have enough talent to overcome them. The Giants are about their front four and their running game, which makes the recent Plaxico drama less than a death blow. And the Cowboys have the firepower to overcome Tony Romo's occasional red zone floobers, not to mention any under-the-bus action T.O. might have for his QB down the road.

In the end, I think Jason Campbell has the key to Washington's playoff hopes in his pocket. Where he goes, they go.

By Doug Farrar  |  September 29, 2008; 10:47 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Wow - that's some incredible insight... the quarterback will determine how well an NFL team does. And to think all these years I thought it was the left guard. Amazing analysis Doug.

Posted by: mesozorny | September 29, 2008 12:58 PM

Heh -- I know what you're saying, but it's not always as obvious as you think. Look at the 2007 Giants (unstoppeble front four), 2006 Bears (defense and special teams) or the Bucs and Ravens earlier in the decade (defense, defense, defense). With some championship teams, the quarterback is a supporting (f)actor. I think the Redskins are set up in such a way that requires their quarterback to lead where other quarterbacks may not. He's going to have to do more than just not make mistakes.

When I say "Where he goes, they go," that's what I mean. It's obvious, but it's not so obvious.

Posted by: Doug Farrar | September 29, 2008 1:47 PM

Hello...Doug. Skins are a west coast offense now. Lots of three step drops, quick releases, quick routes. This helps negate blitzes and sacks will be fewer.

The Skins are showing to be quite a ball- control team with time of possession stat clearly in their favor. Come fourth quarter where the Skins have been excellent, they are able to win the game because of having the other team's defense on the field for most of the game.

It's funny how people forget the Skins were a playoff team last year and Campbell is only getting better every year. Sounds like a good formula to me...a playoff team with better quaterback play.

Posted by: redskinbo | September 29, 2008 2:15 PM

YEAH- I love how all these sportswriters state the obvious and then repost a link to this article in week 15. Come on you basically left yourself a get outta jail card didn't you? if he plays well or poorly you can say i told you so. I could say the same for Romo or Eli (perfect example) make a decision and defend it until the end of the season. this isn't politics it's the NFL!!!

Posted by: Hail2theChief | September 29, 2008 2:16 PM

First, love the work at Football Outsiders, though it has been difficult to get the Sportscenter faithful to listen, and boy have I tried. Of course, I didn't even have to point to any of the FO stats to deride Vince Young, the normal stats spoke for themselves.

I think the Skins D at this point validates the team as a real threat, regardles of Campbell (who has been efficent and mistake free, but hardly phenominal from a statistical point of view, we could see his yds/g increase as the year goes on). When you look at the average offensive output of any of their first 4 opponents and what they did against the Skins it's hard to not buy into this team as a serious playoff contender. Add to that theyll have all 3 divisional opponents at home in the second half of the season and I call that cause to be, dare I say, optimistic.

Before my glass becomes half full, watching Philly load the box against the Bears makes me fearful for the Skins and Jason next week. We'll see how comfortable in this offense Campbell really is.

Posted by: Organic Water | September 29, 2008 4:34 PM

Redskinbo -- I've lived in Seattle for 22 years, so I'm quite familiar with the offense Zorn's running in the "other Washington." What I do want to say is how impressed I've been at Campbell's ability to pick it up and make ihs knowledge transfer to the field. I watched Matt Hasselbeck go through some pretty heavy growing pains as he learned it under Mike Holmgren, with Zorn as his go-between/tutor/confidante.

Thing about high-sack teams is that it's not just about sacks, it's also about pressure. The WCO does allow escape hatches for quarterbacks to be sure, but the Seahawks had a sub-par line in 2006 and 2007, leaving Hasselbeck with less time and fewer options. It's about how Campbell responds to that pressure. From what I've seen, I don't doubt that he can, but the proof is on the field. For Campbell and the line. What Campbell showed me on Sunday is the ability to move up and around in the pocket out of pressure and make crucial throws. That impressed me.

I'm actually doing an extended write-up on Campbell's performance against Dallas on Football Outsiders this week, so watch for that.

Posted by: Doug Farrar | September 29, 2008 4:36 PM

Seattle, eh? Just moved to here (there?)...tell me the weather is this nice and the "rains all the time" talk, is just to keep folks away?

Doug, while you are here and attentive; can you tell me what you think of TDs as a statistical measure for recievers? I feel that they are way overrated as a reliable indication of skill. I point to '87 when Jerry Rice grabbed 22 and the next year, in more games no less, he only snagged 9. No one on earth could argue that Rice, in the corse of an offseason, got worse at catching TDs, so doesn't that call into question the idea that a WR's skill has anything (or very little) to do with TD production?

Posted by: Organic Water | September 29, 2008 4:47 PM

Organic: It's true what you say about the "rain propaganda" in the summertime -- Seattle has the best summers anywhere, if you ask me. However, you tend to pay for it with 3-4 straight months of mid-40s and drizzle in the winter. Gets a bit monotonous after a while. I love it here without question.

I think touchdowns are a barometer of opportunity as much as skill. In a West Coast offense, I’d put catch rate and yards after catch above touchdowns. I want to know how a receiver is producing on every play, and the closer you can get to that, the better. Of course, I’m going to say that DVOA and DYAR are the BEST indicators, but you knew that. The point is obviously to score, but the larger point is to produce consistently.

Posted by: Doug Farrar | September 29, 2008 6:04 PM

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