June 7, 2009

Redskins Roster Review: Quarterbacks

There are two heads of state in Washington DC. One lives in the White House; the other resides in Landover, Maryland at FedEx Field. Approval ratings are everything. If things stay positive expect another term.

Washingtonians grill their incumbent quarterback as hard as they do their president. Success is the only option; failure is a quick ticket out of town.

For Redskins’ current starting QB Jason Campbell “the future is now.” This year is the last in his contract, and as of yet he has done nothing to merit a new one.

Campbell has the poise and arm strength, but he has struggled with consistency since assuming the starting position. Each year since 2006, Campbell has failed to make significant steps forward into becoming more than an average starter in the NFL.

Last year, Campbell opened the first half of the year by throwing no interceptions. However, he threw just eight touchdown passes to match that. His inability to lead scoring drives was overlooked until the struggles began.

The second half of the season, Campbell threw five touchdowns compared to six interceptions. Washington went 2-6, largely due to the offense and its lack of ball movement.

Campbell appeared unable to sustain any type of rhythm after week eight against Detroit. His solid completion percentage of 62.3% was skewed by his low yards per completion (6.4).

Campbell is the type of QB who will play it safe. He isn’t comfortable in a game where he has to stretch the field often. He likes to keep things in the flats, but that unimaginative style won’t win him many games or fans.

Campbell’s big windup and slow progression through his reads also work against him. Jim Zorn’s west coast offense demands a quick release and a swift progression through the reads. Campbell has struggled to pick up that rhythmic approach and he must work on improving those aspects of his game.

If Campbell wants another term in DC, he will need to deliver not just wins, but post some good numbers. If he is unable to make defenses respect the air attack, then the ‘Skins will have to look to Clinton Portis and their defense to bail them out.

The ‘Skins have three other QBs on the roster. Todd Collins led Washington to the playoffs in 2007 when Campbell was sidelined with an injury, but he succeeded largely due to his familiarity with Al Saunders’ offense.

Now Zorn is running the offense and Collins appeared uncomfortable with the west coast scheme last preseason. Throw in the fact that he’s 37, and Collins has little value despite his big contract.

Expect Collins to compete for the backup role and mentor the other three quarterbacks who are all in their twenties.

Colt Brennan will be competing for the backup job this year after tearing through the 2008 preseason. Brennan is better suited to the west coast offense with his quick release. He showed plenty of poise and confidence last year. He knows how to sling it around from his run-and-shoot days in Hawaii, and is very mobile in the pocket.

Of course, Hawaii isn’t a pro style offense, but Brennan certainly seemed comfortable last year in the preseason. Fans are clamoring for Brennan to start and should Campbell fail yet again, Brennan could see some time late in the year.

No one knows if Brennan can succeed against elite competition. At Hawaii he played the bottom feeders of college football and he beat up on third-stringers last preseason. Still he possesses a certain swagger that entices many people to believe he’ll succeed wherever he goes.

Brennan is definitely the most intriguing prospect on the Redskins list of QBs, but Chase Daniel is also a captivating player.

Daniel is an undrafted free agent rookie out of Missouri, but he was certainly spectacular in college. He threw for 12,515 yards for a completion percentage of 68.0 while tossing 101 touchdowns during his career at Mizzou.

Daniel was a Heisman finalist in 2007 as well and, like Brennan, has a sort of cult following. Both players were exciting and skilled in college, but they have been labeled system quarterbacks, too short (in Daniel’s case), and untested by elite talent (in Brennan’s case).

However, the potential each displayed in college consistently showed up every Saturday and both could be surprise candidates for a starting job down the road.

Overall QB grade: C+

It’s all potential, really. Campbell could pan out with some improved mechanics and renewed aggression, but he hasn’t looked special in his time with Washington.

Collins is nothing but an overpriced backup. There’s chance he won’t even make the roster if both Daniel and Brennan outplay him in the preseason.

Brennan and Daniel are certainly exciting options, but they both haven’t been highly touted as future stars. The cold reality is that Brennan was a sixth round pick and Daniel was never drafted. More often than not that’s an indicator that neither will amount to much in the NFL.

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