Skip to main content

Campbell works to learn another new offense

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -Jason Campbell dropped back and looked for his receivers.

Standing about 20 yards behind the play, first-year Washington Redskins coach Jim Zorn watched his starting quarterback, also scanning the field for potential receivers. Zorn saw the pass he wanted thrown. Campbell didn't. Instead, the quarterback held the ball a beat too long, and was forced to scramble.

It was just one play in a training camp scrimmage, but it showed the difficulties Campbell faces as he rushes to learn the third new offensive system in four seasons with the Redskins.

Zorn has implemented a West Coast offense and is emphasizing tempo. Saturday's scrimmage was the first time Campbell had a chance to run the offense in simulated game conditions.

"There were several plays where he hesitated," Zorn said. "When he turned down a couple situations, he saw you don't get a second chance."

It's one of the hallmarks of Zorn's system - there's no time to waste.

"Everything is real quick," Campbell said. "Our plays are real quick, the ball comes out quick, and if the progression is not there, you're not waiting for someone to get down field, you can dump it off to the next guy."

Campbell needs to quickly pick up the intricacies of the system, as well, but Zorn wasn't down on Campbell after a week of training camp. In fact, he described himself as "excited" at how well Campbell has been picking up the new system.

Still, Zorn and Campbell both recognize there's work to be done.

"Each and every day you learn something new," Campbell said. "Each and every day we're putting in new plays, and you've got to keep reminding yourself to keep going over plays we ran four or five days ago because we might not get a rep at them until the next week."

Campbell started 13 games last season, throwing for 2,700 yards, 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while completing 60 percent of his passes. But he suffered a season-ending knee injury against Chicago in the Redskins' 13th game, and had to watch as backup Todd Collins led the team on a four-game win streak to end the season and earn a playoff berth.

There was no quarterback controversy entering this year, however. When Zorn was hired in February, he immediately named Campbell the starter.

Campbell is no stranger to learning a new offense. Along with the three different systems he's been a part of with the Redskins, he also had four different offensive coordinators in his time at Auburn.

This time around, the learning curve isn't quite as steep. The last of those Auburn coordinators, Al Borges, also installed a version of the West Coast system. That year, Campbell led the Tigers to an undefeated season.

"I feel very comfortable running the offense," Campbell said.

There's still a lot to learn, however. Not only is Campbell trying to pick up Zorn's version of the West Coast offense, he's also trying to adapt to changes in his mechanics.

Zorn wants Campbell to stay low in the pocket to get the ball out more quickly. It's a small change, but one more thing Campbell has to make second nature before the season opens.

"What I'm trying to get him to do is create those mechanics unconsciously," Zorn said. "He's not there yet. You can see him standing straight up, but I like his effort."

Before being hired by the Redskins, Zorn spent 10 years as the quarterbacks coach for the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks, so he has a special interest in the position.

"He's an excellent pupil," Zorn said. "No. 1, he wants to be good. No. 2, he's got real talent. It's not just fluff. He really can play."

For Campbell, getting up to speed on a new offense has become a nearly annual occurrence.

"You study hard, put the time in, and just go out there and play," Campbell said. "Don't be tight, don't put any pressure on yourself, just play."

Notes: The team announced more than 28,000 people were on hand for Saturday's scrimmage and Fan Appreciation Day. The crowd was a Redskins training camp record, bettering a 2004 crowd of 24,000. The crowds snarled traffic on the roads around the facility. ... Starting DT Anthony Montgomery and reserve LB Rian Wallace both broke bones in their right hand Saturday. Both will have surgery Monday and are expected to miss 10 days. ... OT Kerry Brown is out one to two weeks after spraining his shoulder Friday.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.