Donovan McNabb and Jason Campbell

Donovan McNabb and Jason Campbell

Washington Football Team

Donovan McNabb and Jason Campbell


Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb has seen his name floated in very serious trade talks over the last two days, with projected destinations including, but not limited to, St. Louis*, Arizona, Oakland, and Buffalo.

*it was reported as recently as yesterday afternoon that McNabb to St. Louis was basically a done deal.  I believe this report was erronous — the Rams aren’t interested in McNabb.  The Eagles do seem to be interested in Rams S OJ Atogwe, however, so it’s easy to see how those McNabb to St. Louis reports got started.  If nothing else, these reports instantly heated up the market for McNabb, and helped to identify his suitors.

McNabb’s fate could determine what happens to Jason Campbell.  The trade market for veteran quarterbacks is very limited.  Arizona isn’t going to give the Eagles what they are looking for in a McNabb trade, but they might be willing to meet Campbell’s price tag.  Oakland thinks in terms of buy high, sell low: the Randy Moss story, so they won’t be in on Campbell as long as McNabb’s available.

Buffalo, on the other hand, provides a team that might be willing to pay a premium to bring in a veteran quarterback such as McNabb or Campbell. And with McNabb recently suggesting reluctance to sign a long-term deal in Buffalo (which is near his college home of Syracuse), maybe the Bills will move on to a different target?

Ultimately, it’s probable that Buffalo will probably be willing to give the most for McNabb, and that McNabb will eventually relent, and take the money to finish his career there.  And so, in all likelyhood, Campbell will stay in Washington for at least one more year.

A Skins Nation Divided?

Jason Reid wrote this in Redskins Insider yesterday:

“No player, it seems, divides our Redskins Insider community more than quarterback Jason Campbell.”

It’s a superfically accurate statement.  Those who are in the camp of “Jason Campbell should have already played his last snap here” are quite a vocal bunch, if a slight minority.  But the embedded poll in the RI article suggests that it’s hardly a majority that wants Campbell gone now.  Not even close.

  • 84%, Yes, Campbell should be the starting quarterback this fall
  • 16% No, Campbell should not be the starting quarterback this fall
  • 3,774 votes at time of posting

If the poll question was rephrased into a question about future prospects, you’d get a much different result.  My informal poll of “fans” tells me that perhaps about 1/3 or fewer still think that Campbell is ultimately the future in Washington.  That even if you got him an offensive line and an outside threat to help the tight ends, he would ever end up being more than passable.  That 1/3 of fans (selection bias noted) does seem like a crowd compared to the group that thinks we have either of our future offensive tackles on this team.

Regardless, the fan base seems to be anything but divided on Campbell’s short term future.  I’m frankly a bit surprised that support for the incumbent is so high, yet clearly, a decision to replace him before Mike Shanahan gets to work with him would apparently be received as unpopularWell, I’ll be.

What if: we project Campbell as Washington’s QB through 2014?

It’s safe to say that if the Redskins take a quarterback with the 4th overall pick, the team will not look to bring back Campbell after the 2010 season.

But if the Redskins wait to address the quarterback position until the second round or later, Campbell’s shot in the Shanahan offense will have the opportunity to produce a future contract.  Using past data on Campbell, I can do a (pretty vanilla) projection for his numbers for the next five years, assuming 15 starts per season.

If we progress Campbell’s rate statistics along an expected age-improvement curve, and also project an regression (in this case, improvement) to the mean of the talent around him to a league average crew over a three year period, I can project his completions (out of 500 attempts), yards, and touchdowns for the next five seasons.

To project the difference between where the Redskins offensive talent is right now, and where it can be in 2012, I will use the difference in Jake Plummer’s rate statistics from Arizona to Denver, age-adjusted.  It’s hardly ideal, but it’s the best I can do without investing many hours into an excel spreadsheet.

  1. 2010: age-28 — 63% completion, 3400 yards,  20 TDs, 10 INTs, Rating: 88.9
  2. 2011: age-29 — 63% completion, 3550 yards, 21 TDs, 11 INTs, Rating: 89.0
  3. 2012: age-30 — 64% completion, 3750 yards, 22 TDs, 8 INTs, Rating: 95.7 *(peak-offensive talent for Redskins)
  4. 2013: age-31 — 64% completion, 3800 yards, 23 TDs, 12 INTs, Rating: 92.4
  5. 2014: age-32 — 60% completion, 3450 yards, 16 TDs, 13 INTs, Rating: 81.0

Here we see that Campbell’s peak value is in 2013.  What’s not obviously apparent is that, in 2010, Campbell’s already about as good as he’s going to get, according to the age/expectation curve.

By 2014, Campbell is expected to be on the decline as a player, which would make any sort of extension an interesting proposition.

This isn’t scientific or really anything more than a fun excercise, as it doesn’t consider a whole bunch of variables I don’t want to project even though in reality, they will have an effect on the offensive production of the Redskins.  For example: what if Kyle Shanahan takes a head coaching job elsewhere after the 2011 season?  Heck, what if there isn’t a 2011 season?

All this really says is that, if left to his own devices, Campbell is capable of 5 consecutive 20 TD seasons in the prime of his career.  If the Redskins fall into 13 wins one year, he’ll be a probowler.   But if he ever gets hurt for a lengthy amount of time, he’s probably out of a job.

Bobbing for Draft Apples

It’s rare to have a player, a first round draft pick at quarterback, make it to the prime of his career in a town, and then not have delieved a playoff berth or a pro bowl, but I believe that it’s a function of the Redskins’ passive views towards supporting an offense.  Jim Zorn didn’t have a lot of talent to work with (execution, was his buzz word), and it showed in his vanilla offensive gameplanning.  Mike Shanahan would rather suffer 5 consecutive losing seasons before being associated with a vanilla offense, so if nothing else, you’ll have a lot to try and follow.

And if Jason Campbell isn’t capable of running point on the creative, new Redskins offense, Shanahan will certainly get someone else who can.

What will be most interesting about this draft is how aggressively the Redskins approach drafting a quarterback.  Mike Shanahan is going to go and personally evaluate the top five quarterbacks in this draft, which includes Bradford, Clausen, McCoy, and two others that aren’t quite as obvious, and may or may not include Florida Gator QB/heartthrob Tim Tebow.  This is intresting, if only because of the high probability that the top two quarterbacks in the eyes of most, Bradford and Clausen, might come off the board well before the Redskins could select them at value (Bradford in the 1st, Clausen in the second — both are likely first rounders).  So if we assume that the Redskins will use their first pick elsewhere, and miss out on those two underclassmen, that will give them three remaining highly scouted quarterbacks to pick from throughout the rest of the draft.  If they want McCoy or Tebow, they might have to use their second round pick.  But if the fifth of the “top five” is someone like Dan Lefevour, Mike Kafka, Zac Robinson, Tony Pike, or Jevan Snead, it’s possible the Redskins could wait until the fourth round to address the position.

Why does this matter?  It’s because using a third day draft choice on a quarterback in the 2010 draft does not prevent the team from taking a QB in the first round of the 2011 draft, should they still have a need at the position.  It’s really early to say, but there will likely be more options at the top of the draft next year than their are this year, with at least three if not four first round prospects.

Still, look for the Redskins to define the guys they might be interested in, and to land one of the many senior prospects in this draft sometime after the first round.  Shanahan has promised competition at all positions, but his being coy towards the top prospects in this draft leads me to believe that this is his likely decision.

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