Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 Jan 2011

Jason Campbell: "I Was The Scapegoat"

Our friend Jamie Mottram of the DC-centric Mister Irrelevant blog conducted an interview with Jason Campbell discussing whether he got a fair shake in Washington.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 06 Jan 2011

30 comments, Last at 11 Jan 2011, 1:01pm by ArizonaCardinalsFan


by NJBammer :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 5:38pm

Jason Campbell has had about (not exaggerating) 15 OCs from his freshman year to now. It's amazing the man can throw a forward pass.

by maxspire :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 6:00pm

That is probably the worst interview I've ever seen printed. Even by blog standards, it was terrible.

by jfsh :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 6:20pm

You know you're in for a treat when it starts with this unprompted disclaimer: "Please do trust, however, that I talked to Jason Campbell and haven’t misrepresented any of his answers here."

by Pantaloons (not verified) :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 6:33pm

I was going to reply to your comment but I couldn't type fast enough.

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 10:41pm

I blame the replyer.

by dmb :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 7:57pm

Yeah, that was really awful. If you have the opportunity to interview an NFL player for the first time in 4 years, shouldn't you put some more effort into ensuring that you can record it?

by *Legion* (not verified) :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 3:07pm

Especially when you have a laptop right there. They have microphones built in. Click RECORD. Even if it's not great audio, it's something you can listen closely to later to fill in the gaps.

by barry (not verified) :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 6:18pm

There's an interesting part in Bill Simmons podcast with Trent Dilfer this week, where Dilfer mentions how much of an effect the situation you are drafted into affects your career, and how you are perceived in the NFL.
Guys like Campbell, where you can see flashes of ability from game to game, always make me wonder how differently their careers would have been if they had been drafted by better teams, or had more stable coaching. How many guys are true busts, or are they products of shitty situations that ruined them?

by dmb :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 7:59pm

That's very much the gist of one of the most interesting things about Vinny Testaverde that I've ever read, courtesy of the PFR blog: http://www.pro-football-reference.com/blog/?p=5449

(Of course, the blog post points out that Testaverde may not have actually been ruined by his early-career nightmare situation ... but it almost certainly did affect his career and legacy.)

by William Lloyd Garrision III (not verified) :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 9:49am

Great article. Thanks for posting.

by William Lloyd Garrision III (not verified) :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 9:38am

In sales I have learned that it's 1.) Timing, 2.) Territory, and 3.) Talent, and in that order, that determine your success in both the short run and the mid run. I think the draft and team you are on, etc. play a huge part in your success and how you are perceived.

But when guys like Corey Dillon want to get out of a bad situation with a losing mentality like Cincy, they get ripped apart.

Campbell still wouldn't be great even with a better situation, though he did seem somewhat capable of being "ok" when he was here an D.C. But the thing is, most people around town sort of feel that way. He was generally perceived to have the talent level of a John Kitna type, not that they have a similar playing style, but talent level. You can live with that. But he's stretching to say he was a "scapegoat". He was generally liked around town as a person, and generally tolerated as an adequate but not great QB.

by V. Barbarino (not verified) :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 6:24pm

Definitely agree with this thought. I have no opinion on Campbell's play one way or the other, as I never saw him that much, and he never struck me as anything beyond 'guy behind center' when I did, but the situation/coaching/system is enormous in determining the sort of success a guy can have. If Steve Young didn't get moved to San Francisco, where the situation couldn't have been much better, is he even remembered? Who knows? Does Cassell hit paydirt if he's not on New England, where the coaches, in desperation, made him into a passable player? I seriously doubt it. There are levels of talent that all players have, but,except in rare cases, I don't think it's that much more than other guys in much worse situations who often fail because of bad coaching, teammates, etc. What if Joe Montana had been drafted by the Houston Oilers in '79? Would we even know who he was?

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 10:36pm

Montana would have backed up Pastorini of a year, then beaten an over-the-hill Stabler to start at QB. With Earl Campbell stomping over everyone, Montana would have given Bum Phillips a Super Bowl win.

by V. Barbarino (not verified) :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 1:21am

Maybe, but we certainly don't know that. Would Montana have been as good in the 'hand it to Earl 755 times' kind of offense? Doubt it. His skills fit with what Walsh was doing, but you can't say that about Phillips.
I was just using Houston as an example, it could've been any other team.

by JonFrum :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 4:17pm

No one is made into a passable player. NE coached him up, but he put in the work, and he had the skill base. Would he have had the same chance on another team? Probably not.

by ChicagoRaider :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 6:53pm

The Davis/Snyder question was a good one, but it isn't like there was a real answer. Davis has a reputation of being a players' owner. He sure as heck isn't good to coaches. Campbell should have been in a great position to talk about the differences between two of the more extreme personalities among owners. If he became a Cowboy next, he'd be set.

But I think he showed he was pretty smart by not getting into talking about NFL team owners. The upside: nonexistent except for the joy of popping off. The downside: unemployment.

by dmb :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 8:07pm

No matter how crazy, absurd, disheartening, or simply pathetic the circumstances (circus) around him was, Campbell was always an absolute diplomat. I don't think the guy ever criticized anyone other than himself.

by Alaska Jack :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 7:51pm

Hmm, I don't know. As I indicated in another thread, every time I watch Campbell he strikes me as the King of the 6-7 yard completion on 3rd-and-10. I find myself asking in frustration: "WHY? Can't you see that does you NO GOOD?!"

Also, he seems kind of stiff and robotic; he doesn't seem to process things and adjust on the fly, like Gannon did. I agreed with the benching for Gradkowski, because this is one thing G does ok at.

I guess that bottom line is that Campbell seems like he is going to be exactly as good as the team you put around him.

On the other hand, I do admit he looked better toward the end of the year. Maybe he'll continue that improvement if he gets an offseason of work in the same system.

- AJ

by dmb :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 8:12pm

"Campbell seems like he is going to be exactly as good as the team you put around him."

Having watched almost all of Campbell's snaps in WAS, I couldn't have said it better myself. At this point in his career, I would be shocked if he turned in an elite performance (unless karma hands him an elite surrounding cast at some point), but he's also never going to be the biggest problem on a bad team.

by B :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 8:44pm

I thought Tom Cable was the scapegoat.

by ChaosOnion :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 1:34pm

I thought Donovan McNabb was the scapegoat.

by Danny Snyder (not verified) :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 10:37pm

I saw JC "fail to win" a bunch of close games with bonehead INTs, fumbles, or bad decisions. He's an OK QB but will always be the lower-tier in the NFL. Plain and simple he doesn't have the smarts to master the position.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 01/06/2011 - 11:51pm

Campbell is a lot like Washington's previous 1st round QB, Patrick Ramsey: Never given a real chance to succeed, but probably not good enough to really succeed if he had been. In fairness to Campbell, he's better than Ramsey.

by The Other Ben Johnson (not verified) :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 11:30am

McNabb: 351 DYAR, 0.1% DVOA, 3,126 Yds, 14 TD, 13 INT, 58.5% Comp, 6.1 YPA, 2010 Salary $12.5M.

Campbell: 164 DYAR, -3.7% DVOA, 2,280 Yds, 13 TD, 8 INT, 59.5% Comp, 6.3 YPA, 2010 Salary $2.9M.

So another way of saying it, $9.6 million dollars and a 4th rounder gets the Redskins the following:

+187 DYAR, +3.6% DVOA, +846 Yds, +1 TD, +5 INT, -1% Comp, -0.2 YPA.

For one year.

Yeah, that was stupid.

Just for fun:

Grossman: -78 DYAR, -19.4% DVOA, 807 Yds, 7TD, 4 INT, 56.9% Comp, 5.7 YPA, 2010 Salary $622K.

Yup, the Redskins are a poorly run team.

by RichC (not verified) :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 2:26pm


Jason Campbell wasn't the problem, and for that matter, neither was McNabb.

The problem is the redskins offense isn't very well run.

by The Other Ben Johnson (not verified) :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 3:51pm

One positive thing I'll say about Shanahan is he's not afraid to start undrafted nobodies over more highly paid players if they're playing better. Releasing Devin Thomas because the team already had Anthony Armstrong and Brandon Banks was a savvy move. Drafting a left tackle was a good idea. Torain and Williams have been solid in the backfield behind an improving line. The offense has some cause for hope.

But this McNabb trade, iffy even at the time, has proved to be a fairly egregious blunder in hindsight. They could have spent that McNabb money on Campbell and a free agent upgrade over Stephon Heyer (which to be fair, they at least tried with Chad Clifton) and had just as good (not good) of an offense, but with more options for the future. Options that would have included a 4th round draft pick who could have helped with depth.

But hey, McNabb is gone and it's not like Campbell is the solution. He's more like a very professional, very reliable band-aid. Funny above posts mentioned commentary from Trent Dilfer. Jason Campbell is Trent Dilfer.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 01/07/2011 - 4:16pm

Jason Campbell is better than Dilfer. A lot better. Dilfer has more in common with Rex Grossman than with Campbell, and I don't mean just that they both rode elite defenses to the Super Bowl.

by Samson 151 (not verified) :: Sat, 01/08/2011 - 8:57am

The move to blame the problems of the Zorn era on the QB was always a stupid one. Jason's numbers never backed it up; he always played just about like he was -- a careful QB who was clearly good enough to lead a better team into the playoffs, but maybe not beyond. By the end he was so overcautious as to be his own worst enemy. Sherm Lewis helped temporarily, but essentially his last season in Washington was an endurance test.

by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 8:22am

I've always known Campbell was the scapegoat in Washington, but that's probably better than Tom Cable breaking your jaw.

by ArizonaCardinalsFan (not verified) :: Tue, 01/11/2011 - 1:01pm

At least Campbell has had a chance to be the scapegoat. Matt Leinart wishes another team would pick him up and let him compete, scapegoat or not. Campbell and Alex Smith must have a lot to chat about from across the bay, between them they have seen plenty of offensive coordinators.