Spotlight: Jason Campbell

posted by Mark Wimer on Jul 27th


Mark Wimer's thoughts

Jason Campbell is a hard-working player who improved noticably during 2009. He threw for 20 TDs last season, his first time over 13 scoring passes during three seasons playing as the full-time starter for Washington. He also raised his yards-per-attempt average over 6.5 for the first time in his career, with 327/507 yielding 3,618 yards, 20 TDs and 15 interceptions for a 7.1 yards-per-attempt average. In fact, he hit career highs in all significant passing statistics last season. However, the Redskins failed to reach the playoffs (again), with a 4-12 record following a 8-8 showing during 2008. The team's failure to make the playoffs spelled the end of head coach Jim Zorn's career, and the end of Campbell's time with the team.

Campbell has now moved on to the rebuilding Oakland Raiders, where he inherits a very young offensive unit that was built around another mobile quarterback (JaMarcus Russell, who may now be the biggest draft bust in NFL history after being cut by the Raiders this offseason). The Raiders haven't won more than five games in a season since 2002, compiling a 29-83 record from 2003-2009 - Russell's failure to develop was a major part of the team's more recent woes. The arrival of Campbell, who is now a seasoned veteran, gives the team at least a glimmer of hope that their efforts won't result in another embarrassing season.

Campbell comes to town as new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson's system (a "Raider football" system - run first, then throw the long ball) is being installed in Oakland. There is a core of speedy, potentially explosive players on the Raiders' offense (Darrius Heyward-Bey, Darren McFadden), along with a very reliable, rising talent at tight end (Zach Miller, who handled 100 targets for 66/805/3 TDs for Oakland last year while fielding passes from a variety of less-than-stellar QBs). Michael Bush provides a powerful running back to complement McFadden, and Louis Murphy and Chaz Schilens look like capable NFL-caliber receivers to provide steady hands in combination with Heyward-Bey. Schilens needs to stay healthy during 2010. When on the field, he's shown himself to be a very capable receiver (he improved steadily at the end of 2009, beginning in week 10 when he joined in the action).

There is plentiful talent on this roster, but very little in the way of proven production beyond Bush and Miller. The speed at which offensive coordinator Jackson can weld this array of players into a cohesive unit will have a lot to do with Campbell's success (or lack therof) during the coming season. If things "jell" quickly during training camp, the Raiders' offense could be one of the league's surprises during 2010.

However, there is a lot of uncertainty about how the Raiders' offense will perform during the coming year. Compounding the worries are the strong pass defenses that Denver and San Diego sport (Denver was third in the NFL vs. opposing passers last year, while San Diego was 11th in average passing yards allowed per game) - Campbell has to face both of these teams twice during 2010 (though he also gets the pushover Chiefs (22nd vs. the pass last year) twice).

One advantage that Campbell brings to the table which may help him overcome the obstacles ahead - he is accustomed to learning new offensive systems quickly as the Redskins switched up their scheme almost annually during his time with the team (and tweaked the attack mid-season last year, in fact). According to reports out of Oakland during June, Campbell has speedily picked up the team's offensive scheme. "It just goes to show you the type of guy he is and the type of hard worker and studier he is," OT Mario Henderson said at the time. Campbell is used to having a limited time window to learn a new playbook/the verbiage of calling plays, which should serve him well as he strives to build rapport with the other Raiders. Secondly, Campbell will seem like a huge improvement in comparison to the lazy, unmotivated Russell, which should give him a leg up with his team mates. Third, Campbell is able to move around the field and run when he needs to, which makes him a good fit for taking over for Russell at QB. His skill set should meld with the other players who were drafted to fit with Russell's presumed merits.

In fantasy terms, Campbell's mobility will add a nice bonus of rushing yards/a few rushing TDs to the box score from time to time.

Positives

  • The Raiders' offense is stocked with young talents who have shown promise during spring OTAs in the new offense.
  • Campbell is coming off a career season which should have helped improve his confidence.
  • Campbell's professional experiences to this point have readied him to jump into a new offensive scheme without years of repetitions.

Negatives

  • The Raiders haven't experienced a winning culture for years, and they have to overcome the costly blunder of drafting Russell.
  • While the players surrounding Russell have potential, there is little in the way of proven production among the group.
  • Team chemistry hasn't had time to develop yet - the Raiders' offense may struggle early in the season as everyone gets used to their new QB and their new offensive coordinator.

Final thoughts

Jason Campbell is a player I'll be watching in training camp very closely. He is in a new system (again), with all-new players around him, which indicates that he may get off to a slow start. This expectation is part of why he is out of fantasy QB2 range on my boards as of this writing (he's 29th on my rankings right now). However, there has been a lot of glowing press about Heyward-Bey's improvement during spring OTAs, and Zach Miller is a quality TE. If Campbell looks comfortable and confident with his new team mates during preseason, he'll likely move up my board into QB2 range. He's a guy who could excel in his "second chance" with the rebuilding, post-JaMarcus-Russell Raiders.


Quotations from the message board thread

To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there), click here.

Raiderfan32904 said:

JC has improved each of the last 5 years under different OC's. His 65% comp. percentage was among the best in the NFL. He had 18 RZ TD's against zero RZ Ints. He has to adjust to new teammates, but has arguably more talent at the skill positions than he had in Washington.

I expect the efficiency to continue, which is good for FF, but he does need to prove he can pull out the close games. I think that there will be growing pains on the way to finding his role as the new leader of the Raiders.

renesauz said:

I happen to think Campbell's had a raw deal in Washington. Marginal skill players, new offense every year. He's no superstar, but Campbell was far from "the problem" in Washington. I think Campbell will be a successful NFL QB, but only a marginal QB2 for fantasy purposes. I'm a little more bullish in dynasty.

Iwannabeacowboybaby! said:

Jason Campbell has been a disappointment to Redskins fans and hasn't played very well overall but he's played better than what's gone on in Oakland the past few seasons. It'll do OK in Oakland but the majority of the time, things are going to look ugly and I just don't think Campbell has that "it" factor to lead a NFL team successfully.


Jason Campbell projections

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