Maybe, like me, you sneak a peak at Jason Campbell through the season to see how he's doing. You want to see a good guy catch a break. You also want to see by Campbell's performance whether the Washington Redskins' assessment of him was valid or not.
Mid-season is too soon to say definitively, but you can get a snapshot in time.
At Week Eight, Campbell ranks 21st in the league by quarterback rating (82.5). Donovan McNabb is 25th with a 76.0 rating. Both the Redskins and the Oakland Raiders are 4-4. Both teams are contending for their division title although few football analysts during preseason predicted them to win it.
Campbell is the fourth-rated quarterback on Football Outsiders' Week 8 Quick Reads after the Raiders plundered Seattle 33-3.
"Campbell ranked 30th in DYAR in Week 1 and 29th in Week 2 before being benched for Bruce Gradkowski. He made a relief appearance for Gradkowski in Week 5, finishing 11th, then he was 30th again in Week 6. And then some kind of magic switch was flipped and Campbell went to the other extreme, ranking fourth in Weeks 7 and 8. He has also eliminated turnovers, with no fumbles or interceptions the past two games after 10 combined mistakes in Weeks 1-6."
Football Outsiders' ranked McNabb 24th, but attributed most of his performance to the failure of Washington's offensive line to handle Detroit's defensive front.
"The Lions sacked McNabb six times and put him on the turf another half-dozen plays. The vast majority of those hits were made by Lions linemen, not linebackers or defensive backs. So the problem isn't that McNabb was befuddled or confused by complex blitzes - the Detroit front four simply manhandled the Redskins offensive line, and there was nothing McNabb or any other quarterback could have done about it."
Detroit's Matthew Stafford placed 15th on FO's list for quarterbacks. FO notes that Campbell's performance improved after he was benched.
The dust up over Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan's benching of McNabb took the focus off of line play and put it completely on McNabb. Fortunately, our own Greg Trippiedi charted the offense and named names. His post went up earlier today and is worth a peak.
It's worthwhile to take a second look at stat-master Paul Bessire's preseason comments about McNabb, Shanahan and Campbell.
Bessire's preseason outlook for the 'Skins was a six-win season. He's since upped that to 7.5 to 8.5 wins this year. Most of the improvement was due to Shanahan's position as coach. In his words"
"According to the Predictalator, the Redskins may win a couple more games on average than in 2009, but Washington is still not an above .500 team.
"The improvement actually has more to do with the upgrade in the coaching staff than in additional talent on the roster. Mike Shanahan’s history is thoroughly reviewed to gauge his tendencies in just about every situation as well as how much better (or worse) his players play than we would expect otherwise. Shanahan means about 1.2 additional wins to the Redskins relative to Jim Zorn. That is a very significant jump for a coaching staff in one season."
And here are Bessire's (so far) prescient words about McNabb and Campbell:
"Donovan McNabb, on the other hand, only adds about 0.4 wins to the Redskins over Jason Campbell. McNabb is a 33-year-old quarterback who has hit a plateau and will likely start regressing soon. Jason Campbell is a 28-year-old quarterback who is still improving and was about as efficient as McNabb over the last two seasons, despite having inferior weapons in the passing game. McNabb now inherits those inferior weapons. It’s improvement at the position, but not a big improvement. On the season, McNabb throws for 3317 yards, 23 TDs and 12 INTs. In Oakland, Campbell throws for 3314 yards, 20 TDs and 12 INTs. Kevin Kolb, McNabb’s replacement, throws for 4059 yards, 23 TDs and 17 INTs in Philadelphia."
For the second straight year, a loss to Detroit triggered extreme reaction by Washington's leadership. Both losses merely exposed known flaws on the Redskins roster structure. The Redskins hoped that McNabb could mask those flaws given they only had six draft picks this year and as few as four next year.
For all his struggles in Oakland, Campbell is probably just as happy to be gone. But we are here along with the Shanahans and McNabb. The Redskins have to figure out how to win with the players they've got now. As with Campbell, McNabb's play isn't the biggest issue with this team. Benching McNabb won't fix those issues.
Point after: Football Outsiders projects that the Redskins will win 3.3 more games this season. Statisticians speak in probability and decimal points. Guess they are saying Washington will win seven or eight games in 2010.