The Redskins wanted to start this way, with a mostly smothering defense, a strong ground game and, most importantly, a win.
It's not the way Jason Campbell wanted to start, however. After an offseason of glowing press and praise, Campbell reminded everyone that he remains a work in progress. His inexperience continued to show against the Dolphins in the 16-13 overtime win.
He eyed receivers too long; he threw into double coverage; he threw into tight coverage. When he did those things, he got in trouble. When he did those things, he looked every bit the guy who has now started just eight games in the NFL.
As much as he progressed in the offseason, it's the games that will help him grow the most.
But, what impresses about Campbell, is that even in a bad game he made plays that helped the Redskins win. He picked up a first down with his legs. He hit Antwaan Randle El with a pretty deep ball. He made the correct read, and a good throw, when he hit tight end Chris Cooley in overtime for a crucial first down.
If he continues to make such plays, while eliminating the bad ones, then the Redskins can dream big dreams. This might be 2005 all over again – with a stout defense overcoming a weak offense – but unlike that season, the offense could become dynamic by season's end. If, that is, Campbell progresses.
It's likely that he will do so, though, in truth, no one really knows. Many said the same thing about Patrick Ramsey and he's now a distant afterthought.
But Campbell has too much poise, too much confidence, to imagine him failing. He might not become a superstar, but he should at least be a productive quarterback.
The good thing is, the Redskins don't need to have him play his best game to win. That was proven last week. Of course, against a good team he might have to do much more. However, all they need to do is continue to run the ball the way they did vs. Miami and play good defense. And get a few plays in the passing game.
If they can do that long enough, then maybe Campbell will start to catch up. Maybe then the Redskins can really deliver on the hope they've promised for so long.
It's too early for this topic, considering Jon Jansen's injury is less than a week old. But you have to wonder what his future is in Washington. Though he just signed a new deal, that matters little in the NFL and its ever-expanding salary cap.
If Stephon Heyer shows he can do the job or if Todd Wade proves to be a quality starter, would the Redskins release Jansen in the offseason? That's impossible to know at this point. Jansen remains respected by his teammates, but he will be 32 next season and will have been hurt, or played hurt, in three of the past four seasons. This is a brutal business and nothing surprises me anymore.
Jansen would deserve better. Many others could say the same.
The shame for Jansen is that he missed one entire season already in his career, now he'll miss the final 15 games. The good news, if there is any, is that he won't have to spend the entire offseason rehabbing and he can prepare for 2008 with gusto.
Receiver Antwaan Randle El had a big game against Miami and if the Redskins are to do anything this year, he'll have to have more. He seems to have more rhythm with Jason Campbell than Santana Moss at this point.
Sunday was also a continuation of a strong summer. Randle El was the best receiver in camp.
However, it's also evident that Miami did not fear him downfield. The Dolphins' safeties focused more on tight end Chris Cooley going down the seams than on Randle El on the outside.
Randle El did what he was supposed to do: make plays against man coverage. Maybe he's not a strong No. 2, but he is off to a good start. And at least he didn't stop running on one play that resulted in an interception, unlike Brandon Lloyd.
And, by the way, the Redskins do practice grabbing a rebound off a Hail Mary pass, as Randle El did against the Dolphins. They did so three times in the week before this game. We also saw them working on it this summer. It nearly paid off.
Here's what I remember about the Redskins Monday night win over Dallas two years ago: chaos. The game, one of five Monday night games recalled elsewhere in this magazine as part of the 75th anniversary celebration, led to harried reporters changing stories multiple times.
Because it was a Monday night, deadlines were tight to begin with. Most copy would have to be in right when the game ended, so reporters do a running game story. Blowouts are appreciated. When Washington scored its first touchdown, I had to change my grades and tweak other parts to reflect the fact that the Redskins weren't shut out.
The story remained the same, however. Until the second touchdown. Then all heck broke loose. I had to completely redo my grade box, redo other sections doling out game honors and then rewrite my story. All in about 10 minutes.
When Dallas returned the ensuing kickoff inside Redskins territory, another rewrite loomed. Fortunately for my heart, that did not happen. The ending was unbelievable and all too memorable.
…Did Rocky McIntosh really not know the defense at all last season? The kid seems so far along now that it makes you wonder what happened in 2006. Not sure whose fault it was, either. Don't forget, fired-linebackers coach Dale Lindsey made his career by developing young linebackers.
…The Redskins best cover corner remains Shawn Springs. Looks like they're trying to save wear and tear on him by rotating him with Fred Smoot and Carlos Rogers. But the latter two have still not proven they can be No. 1 corners.
Campbell Shows his Youth
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