One of the most frequent questions asked by the media and Redskins fans following Jim Zorn’s promotion from offensive coordinator to head coach was: “How will Jason Campbell adjust to Zorn’s version of the West Coast offense?”
Campbell has been hearing questions like that his whole career. Now entering his fourth season as a pro, he is going to learn his seventh new offense in eight years, including his four seasons at Auburn. This time, Campbell and the rest of the quarterbacks will be receiving special attention from Coach Zorn, a former Seattle Seahawks quarterback and quarterback’s coach.
The 26-year-old ran a similar offense in college so he has some familiarity with what Zorn will bring from Seattle and is excited about the prospects of experiencing a wide open passing game. Campbell has shown flashes of athleticism and talent but has never had a stable offensive makeup. It will be important for him to be in this offense for more than two years in order to have the chance to become the franchise quarterback fans want him to be.
In 2007, his second season under former associate head coach Al Saunders, Campbell made strides following a 2006 season which can be viewed as him merely "getting his feet wet." He helped lead the team to a 3-1 start, earning NFC Offensive Player of the Week following a 34-3 victory over the Lions in Week 5 and showed off his running ability throughout the season as well. He passed for a career high 2,700 yards and 12 touchdowns prior to dislocating his kneecap in Week 14 against the Chicago Bears. The injury ended his season but his replacement, Todd Collins, filled in admirably.
Collins was a disciple of Saunders in Kansas City, having learned the intricacies of the famed “700 Page Playbook.” Despite not starting a game in over 10 years and not even attempting a pass since 2004, he led the Redskins offense with surprising ease during the final four games of the season, completing 67 passes for 888 yards and five touchdowns. After helping the Redskins become the hottest team heading into the 2007 Playoffs by ending the season on a four game winning streak, Collins was named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Month for December.
Collins was a free agent this off-season and many thought he would follow the departed Saunders to St. Louis, but despite having to learn a new system and his lack of familiarity of Coach Zorn, he re-signed with the Redskins for three more seasons. His spot as the No. 2 quarterback appears all but cemented.
In an effort to inject youth and competition to the No. 3 quarterback slot, the Redskins used their final sixth round selection on Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan. The former Warriors gunslinger set or tied 31 NCAA records but leading up to the draft, was the subject of bad press concerning his attitude and skepticism regarding his ability to adapt to the pro game after mastering a high-yardage shotgun offense. Brennan finished third in the 2007 Heisman Trophy voting and was sixth in the 2006 race. He finished his college career as the NCAA’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns (131), career total offense per game (387.9 ypg), career completion percentage (70.4), and finished second all-time to former Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang in career passing yardage.
Chang is a point of reference for critics who question Brennan’s chances of becoming a successful NFL quarterback. Chang, like Brennan, had an amazing, record-setting career at Hawaii under Coach June Jones. But despite summer stints with the Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, and Philadelphia Eagles, he failed to make an NFL roster and last played in the Canadian Football League.
Monitoring Brennan’s progress while adjusting to a different offense will be something for fans to watch for in training camp.
During training camp, the only battle at quarterback will be for the No. 3 position. For Derek Devine, it was made easier with the recent release of former University of Maryland product Sam Hollenbach, who was with the Redskins in 2007 as well.
Devine joined the Redskins in May and after spending time as an undrafted free in Seahawks training camp in 2007 under the tutelage of Zorn, who was the team’s quarterback’s coach, he is accustomed to Zorn’s style. Though he is likely the odd man out, he should bring a good knowledge of the system to the competition. Since fourth string quarterbacks see little to no time in preseason games, his performance in training camp practices will most likely determine his status.
What to Watch For At Camp:
--The relationship between Jason Campbell and Jim Zorn.
--Campbell's progress grasping the West Coast Offense.
--Will Derek Devine surprise everybody and beat out Colt Brennan for the third string job?