The Redskins traded up in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft to select Jason Campbell with the No. 25 pick. The team was desperate for a young quarterback after Patrick Ramsey — a 2002 first-rounder during the brief, tumultuous Steve Spurrier era — didn’t pan out. But Campbell arrived in Washington … and promptly took his place on the bench while veteran Mark Brunell saw the majority of playing time.
Campbell started seven games in 2006 (he went 2-5 in those starts) and finally earned the full-time gig in 2007 and that lasted until 2009. During his time in Washington, Campbell had two coaches (Gibbs retired after the ’07 season and was replaced by Jim Zorn) and three offensive coordinators: Don Breaux, Al Saunders, Sherman Smith and Zorn.
Saunders was known, in part, for his 700-page playbook. That could overwhelm any young player but it was hardly the weirdest thing Campbell saw during his five seasons in Washington. Near the top of the list would be the decision to bring in Sherman Lewis as an offensive consultant during Week 5 of the 2009 season. Lewis retired from coaching in 2004 and was calling Bingo games at a senior center before the Redskins requested his services. By Week 7, Lewis was calling plays.
“That was really weird,” Campbell told the Washington Times‘ Deron Snyder of the Lewis situation. “He didn’t even know all the plays. It was just crazy. You could feel the animosity on the field. Lewis told me in all his years in football he had never seen a quarterback deal with so much chaos going on around him. It was a hard position for me to be in.”
Back in October 2009, Zorn basically confirmed what Campbell recounted recently.
“This is not an easy thing. … I feel for Sherm because he’s been here for two weeks,” Zorn said at the time, via ESPN.com. “We’re going to give him as much help as we possibly can to get a spark out of our offense.”
Campbell says there was a lot to love about Washington but the dysfunction was tough to miss.
“The hard thing is the Redskins have a really big fan base and you fall in love with people in the D.C. area,” Campbell said. “That’s the part that makes you want to be there. Then there’s the football side of it. You have a good relationship with the guys who played before you. But the flip side is when you realize there’s a whole bunch of crazy going on.”
Campbell later played for the Raiders, Bears, Browns and Bengals before calling it career after the 2014 season. His best stretch came with the Raiders in 2010 and 2011, when Tom Cable and Hue Jackson were head coaches; he was 11-7 during that time, the only winning record he had while playing for five different teams.
“I just wonder if I stayed in one system, one team with one head coach and one coordinator, how far could I have gone,” Campbell said.