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Campbell learns his lesson as QB

March 21, 2009|By BOB PARASILITI

Jason Campbell feels like a student all over again.

The last four years have been like high school all over again as the Washington Redskins quarterback has quietly sat, studied and learned the National Football League under different coaches using different systems.

Now, like any good senior, the time has come for Campbell to graduate.

"It's all about being a student of the game," said Campbell while signing autographs at a public appearance at the PNC Longmeadow Regional Banking Center on Saturday. "You want to just grow as a quarterback. So far, each year, I have been learning the offense."

Campbell was selected by the Redskins in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He sat back and watched his rookie year as then-coach Joe Gibbs worked to modernize the Washington offense that won three Super Bowls in the 1980s and early '90s.

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That gave way to the new look of offensive coordinator Al Saunders, who employed a sophisticated passing scheme that never really took hold. Then, the Redskins reverted to a Gibbs-Saunders hybrid attack.

It all ended last season when Washington hired Jim Zorn as head coach and offensive coordinator. He brought with him the West Coast style that Campbell learned while leading the Redskins to an 8-8 record, just outside of the NFC playoffs.

"I had a little experience for it because I ran a Wishbone in school (Auburn)," Campbell said. "I had the experience to adjust to the speed of the game, but it will be nice to be able to run one system for a while.

"People don't under how it is sometimes. I'd love to be like Peyton (Manning) sometimes, but it's a challenge. Those are the things I have to overcome to be the quarterback I want to be."

Campbell got an early grasp of the offense as the Redskins rolled to a 6-2 mark in the first half of the season. He was now at the head of the class as Washington's anointed starting quarterback.

But the second half of the season became a nightmare. The Redskins started to have difficulty scoring and the early momentum went into reverse.

It all started with a 23-6 loss to Pittsburgh in a Monday night game, the beginning of a run of six losses in the last eight games to finish.

There was no postseason again. There was only time to look for positives to build on for the future.

"I think we are real close ... closer than a lot of people think," Campbell said. "We started out 6-2 and could have been 7-1. We could have very easily been 9-1. No one knows how close we are to getting where we want to be."

Campbell has a streak of 29 straight starts for Washington. He threw for 3,245 yards with only 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. The Redskins averaged 20.7 points for the first eight games but only 12.5 in last half of the season.

Still, it is a starting point for the Redskins for the 2009 season. And after four years of studying, the time has come for Campbell to graduate with honors for Washington.

"It will take all of us -- coaches, players and owners -- to be on the same page," Campbell said. "Injuries play a big part, too. We have got to stay away from them. It will take us to be able to play all 16 games.

"We want to get into the playoffs and get a home playoff game. The goal is to get playoff games back in Washington and to be able to play for a championship."

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