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A Good Man

Since Easter I have spent a good bit of time reading more than my fair share of media and fan comment about everyone’s new best friend, Donovan McNabb. I have to say I have not heard this much hype about a guy in Burgundy and Gold taking snaps from center since . . . well . . . since Campbell took over the starting job from Brunell.

Before I elaborate further, I have to admit to you all that I am a Jason Campbell fan but I did not start out that way. I was against drafting him when Gibbs did it as I really thought we had the QB position covered with Ramsey and Brunell. In that I was proven incredibly wrong. I also believed then that we needed to spend the picks differently and build through the draft. In this I continue to be proven right.

It was nothing personal against Campbell so much as it was something against the institutional impatience we had going at the time, constantly trading tomorrow for today and coming out on the short end of the stick both places. He was just the latest example of an organization without a plan and as such represented much of what I had come to dislike about the way the Redskins have done business consistently since the death of The Squire.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum . . . the kid impressed me.

He rolled with everything that happened to him. The constant changes in the play book and the coordinators. The injuries around him and even to him. The obvious disdain for him by the front office/ownership and the lack confidence in him from the coaches. Drops, incorrect routes and just generally poor play from the guys he was throwing the ball too. Age and injuries that robbed him of any protection up front. Not to mention the criticism of the fans and even teammates.

Yet against all odds, he improved. Every season he got better at his craft.

It would be hard to find a young man in the NFL who has endured more professionally than Campbell has since he was drafted by the Skins 5 years ago. It would be impossible to find one who has done so with more class.

For the last 10 days I have read the unintentional slams by well meaning fans excited about the arrival of a “real” quarterback in Washington and I cannot help but think that somewhere along the line we have decided that winning at any cost is more important that playing the game with class and dignity.

Class and dignity have value in my world.

I want my QB to face the music like a man. Say and do the right things. Be a shield for his teammates to take shelter behind when things get tough.

Say what you want about his play, even if you choose to ignore that it continues to improve, but Campbell has been all those things and done them in spades.

Is Donovan a better QB today than Jason Campbell? Yes, but I don’t know that it is as big a gap as many think. I hope it is but I will have to see it play out that way, on the field with this team, before I fully embrace it as reality.

You see, for all I hear how great a QB Donovan is, I look at his last 11 seasons and see that he played for a far better organization than most get the chance to. He played that entire time for the same coach that drafted him and in the same system. He had a front office and coaching staff with a plan. He had a defense that year in and year out was one of the best in the league at forcing mistakes, giving him a short field or even scoring on its own. He had an offensive line.

In short, he had the one thing Campbell has not had . . . a team.

Even with that huge advantage he could not win the big one. Often I had the impression that he felt others were to blame and while he stopped just short of throwing anyone under the bus, he has consistently failed to shoulder much if any of the responsibility for the Eagles falling short. Certainly there has been some whining, a bit of finger pointing and that constant smug grin that seems to suggest that, to steal from Jim Mora, we think we know but we don’t know.

I don’t know if Jason Campbell could have been a better quarterback than McNabb but I do know we will never find out.

I guess the bigger question right now for this Redskin fan is whether McNabb can be as good a man as Jason Campbell.

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