Championship teams can often be defined by the collaboration between a head coach and the quarterback. It can be contentious and frustrating with more potholes than New York Ave. on the way to Lombardi Drive. Whether Bradshaw and Noll, Walsh and Montana, or Gibbs and Theismann, the growing pains that lead to their championships were well publicized and caused more second guessing than the health care debate on Capital Hill.
Ultimately, however, there was a competitor’s switch that went off inside the field general where he finally took command. There was a defining moment: a game winning drive, a closed door meeting, or a personal challenge in the huddle, where the unquestioned leader laid down his gauntlet and took the helm.
That time is now for Jason Campbell!
Campbell has earned the respect of his teammates who continue to stand behind him despite a 30 percent completion percentage (4 of 13) and a 48.1 passer rating (whatever that means) in his two preseason starts. But at some point Campbell’s play on the field has to warrant the confidence the Ashburn spin zone continues to float in high definition and on radio.
Physically there is no question about Campbell’s tools. He is not Patrick Ramsey or Mark “Over the Hill” Brunnell who were quarterbacks that didn’t have the athleticism or arm strength to make the plays that were necessary for the team to win. Campbell has the physical tools and the potential to be a special player in the league. But unrealized potential is a fast track to being a career back up or unemployment and is the reason he wasn’t given a contract extension.
In the NFL there are three to four difference making plays in a game and Campbell leaves too many on the field. Whether overthrowing a receiver streaking in the secondary, missing a receiver for a first down, or delivering short passes late or behind the intended target on a slant route, which is the staple of the west coast offense, he has not taken advantage of the opportunities to make big plays.
Campbell is a intelligent, easy going, victim of his own personality. It is easy for outsiders to mistake his laid back persona for a guy who is soft. However, you can’t be an undefeated SEC quarterback at Auburn if you don’t possess a certain amount of intestinal fortitude. That is what makes his struggles so frustrating because the potential for greatness is there but the intangibles are missing.
It is not time to write off Campbell just yet. The thoughts that he can’t lead the team are very premature. But the time has come to give fans a cause for hope. This is a high risk high reward offense that needs a fearless leader to take command. This could be Campbell’s town by the end of the season but he could also be run by their bye week.
For those who say the organization has set him up to fail be advised they have given Campbell an opportunity to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Now its on him to take advantage of it.