- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Jason Campbell took stock of his first complete season as the Washington Redskins’ quarterback Tuesday by meeting one-on-one with coach Jim Zorn on Tuesday. He will begin his offseason Wednesday by celebrating his 27th birthday knowing he remains Zorn’s starter entering 2009.

Not that he needed Monday’s public endorsement.

“Every year it seems to be the question around here,” Campbell said. “I don’t understand why because when you compare me to the other young quarterbacks around the NFL, wins and losses aren’t based on the quarterback but what the team displays. I feel like I’m on the right track. To hear that [from Zorn], to me, isn’t any different because that’s what I expected.”

Zorn and his staff also feel that Campbell is on course after a 13-touchdown, six-interception season that ended with an 8-8 record and issues with scoring (28th in the NFL) and the passing game (23rd).

The 2-6 second half and the Redskins’ inability to stretch the field with long passes had many fans and pundits pointing the finger at Campbell. But Zorn said Campbell performed well enough to prevent an open competition next summer.

Campbell threw for 300 yards only twice and didn’t throw for more than one touchdown in a game after Week 4.

“I would have loved to have 28 or 30 touchdown passes this year, but that’s not where we were at as an offense yet,” he said. “When we get to that point, it will be exciting.”

During their hourlong meeting, Campbell said he and Zorn reviewed the year before setting the course for the offseason.

“It was positive stuff,” Campbell said. “We’re looking forward to working together again this offseason. He felt I’ve come a long way in terms of footwork and being more sound as a quarterback, and now we can elevate to another level. He was talking about the things he learned this season so he can elevate to another level.”

The vibe among the offensive players is that another offseason to hone the passing game will help the Redskins in general and Campbell in particular.

“I don’t know if the results would warrant us saying we made significant progress, but Jason and [Zorn] went a long way toward understanding each other and you could see dramatic improvement in the results next year because of the year we’ve had under our belts,” left guard Pete Kendall said. “There usually is a pretty good jump [from Year 1 to Year 2]. There’s a lot of verbiage in this system, and the more Jason is around it and exposed to it, the more it becomes second nature to him and the better it will become for everybody.”

Said tight end Chris Cooley: “After playing a year in this, you really understand what it is and you understand your role. Jason knows what it will take for him to be an outstanding quarterback. We’ll have a lot to build on.”

Helping others get acclimated to the system doubled Campbell’s workload for most of the season.

“More pressure was on me because there was a lot that I had to do,” Campbell said. “I tried to get my game right and at the same time, put other people in the places they’re supposed to be and help them be at the right place at the right time. In the second year, I’ll have the luxury of not being so concerned about what everybody else is doing. I’ll do my job, and everybody will do their job, and it will all come together.”

Campbell had the lowest interception percentage in the league and posted an 84.3 passer rating this season. The room for most improvement is yards a completion - Campbell’s 6.41-yard average ranked 25th in the NFL. He hopes another offseason of learning can give the Redskins more chances for big plays.

“To have this year is good going into next year, and it should be even better because we can expand the offense and become more creative and go downfield,” he said. “The base of our offense is in, and now we can grow to the next phase.”

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