Between now and the NFL Draft, we will run a series of articles analyzing each team’s needs using stats provided by ProFootballFocus.com
New Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has said he’s willing to give Jason Campbell a chance, but we all know Daniel Snyder will be pushing hard for either Jimmy Clausen or Sam Bradford in the draft. For all intents and purposes, Campbell’s career in Washington would appear to be over. But do the Redskins really need a new quarterback?
There’s no question that Campbell isn’t a franchise quarterback. He isn’t on the level of Tom Brady or Peyton Manning and never will be. But the stats seam to indicate that Campbell can be a winning quarterback in this league.
Using the stats at ProFootballFocus I tried to go beyond the box score to examine just how effective Campbell was in 2009, independent of those around him.
The first thing I looked at was how much Campbell was hurt by his offensive line. Once Chris Samuels went down with a potential career-ending injury in Week 5, the Redskins suddenly had one of the worst offensive lines in the game. Levi Jones was picked up midseason to play left tackle, but was just a shell of his former self. The result was a battered and bruised quarterback.
Campbell was sacked 42 times, tied for the third most in the league. But that doesn’t really tell us how much his linemen impacted his stats. To do this, I looked up which quarterbacks where hit while throwing most often and which ones had the most balls batted down or tipped at the line of scrimmage – the two stats that best quantify the offensive line’s impact on the quarterback’s stats. As expected, Campbell ranked near the top in each category.
It wasn’t just the offensive line that gave Campbell trouble though. His receiver’s didn’t help much either. If you remove the times Campbell threw the ball away or spiked the ball, he made 483 pass attempts this past season. 30 of those, or 6.2 percent, were dropped. It isn’t a horrendous percentage, but still high enough to rank him 18th among quarterbacks that took at least 25 percent of their teams snaps.
To expand upon this, I added the drops to the balls thrown away and spiked and removed them from his pass attempts. I then divided his completions by this new pass attempts number to find his “true completion percentage”.
The top 10 in this category reads like a who’s who of the game’s top quarterbacks… plus Jason Campbell.
I would be remiss if I didn’t also throw some blame in the direction of the coaching staff. Over the first 13 games of the season, Campbell threw the ball on 58.4 percent of his snaps – a high, but not out of the ordinary percentage. Over the final three weeks – during which he averaged just 6.2 yards per attempt, down from 7.4 through the first 13 weeks – Campbell threw the ball 69.4 percent of the time. With an offensive line as porous as the Redskins, that’s an inexcusable percentage for their coaches to call. Quite simply, they put Campbell in a position to fail.
After looking at these stats I see no reason why Jason Campbell couldn’t eventually be a successful quarterback in the NFL. Rather than rebuild with a rookie quarterback, the smarter move may actually be to draft a player such as Russell Okung and attempt to acquire a proven receiver such as Anquan Boldin in the offseason. That said, it sounds as though the end of this book has already been written. Too many bridges have been burnt for Campbell to revive his career in Washington.