- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 5, 2009

For once, Dan Snyder didn’t get what he wanted. When the Denver Broncos announced Tuesday that quarterback Jay Cutler was on the market, the Washington Redskins jumped at the chance to replace the quarterback they traded up to get four years ago and give up on him two years into his starting career.

But the Chicago Bears swooped in Thursday to acquire Cutler, allowing Jason Campbell to retain his job. But all along Cutler wasn’t worth the price or the collateral damage a trade would have caused among the players.

Campbell is the quarterback for now, and the Redskins’ players hope ownership and the front office can now focus on the draft instead of lusting after another team’s passer. (Byron Leftwich visited Friday, but a team source said he would compete with Todd Collins for the No. 2 job.)

Regardless of who plays the position, the Redskins have holes bigger than quarterback.

Question: Why would Snyder want to give up on Campbell even though he has only been in Jim Zorn’s offense for one year?

Answer: Because the Danny craved his own gunslinger who would throw touchdowns… but also interceptions that will cost his team games. One thing Zorn stressed throughout 2008 was how he didn’t want Campbell to take unwarranted chances that resulted in interceptions - he had only six picks in 506 attempts. In his place, Snyder wanted to mortgage the future for a quarterback who has 37 interceptions in 37 games.

Campbell said after the Cutler trade he was in Zorn’s office Thursday and also heard from assistant coaches and players who gave him votes of confidence. Translation: There probably won’t be lingering friction between the coach and quarterback, but don’t completely rule out the Danny making a play for Mark Sanchez or another team’s quarterback before the spring is out.

Q: For the price he ended up costing Chicago, how much better would the Redskins be in 2009 if Cutler were in burgundy?

A: Not much better, if at all. Remember the price: two first-rounders and a third-round pick.

The Redskins could have been without a pick in this month’s opening three rounds, meaning the chances of finding an impact defensive end, strongside linebacker or offensive linemen were zilch. And the rebuilding of both lines would have been compromised in 2010 without a first-round pick. Plus, despite Cutler’s talents, there’s always a transition to a new offense and new teammates.

Q: With ownership’s desire to get another quarterback and Super Bowl-winning coaches sitting out this year, how connected are the performances of Campbell and Zorn?

A: They’re completely intertwined. A good year for Campbell and he’ll get a new contract somewhere. A good year by Campbell means Zorn pushed the right buttons and Snyder may be forced to overcome an obvious urge to hire Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher.

But if both struggle, the 2010 Redskins will have a new quarterback and a new coach.

Q: If you were standing in Campbell’s shoes, why would you want to come back to the Redskins in 2010?

A: Here’s some advice for Jason: Get the heck out of the District regardless of your play this year. There is simply too much upheaval in the organization for a quarterback to succeed in the long term. Of the 31 other current starting quarterbacks, Campbell should be the pick over them in about 17 cases. So if he has a good year, he’ll have no shortage of pursuers. Today, he’s an average quarterback but could be on the cusp of being really good.

The quarterback is only part of the offense, and the Redskins’ pieces leave a lot to be desired. Campbell was sacked 36 times last year, and that total doesn’t figure to markedly improve. And besides Santana Moss and Chris Cooley, what other skill player in the passing game scares a defense?

Q: With the offseason barely two months old, how would you grade the Redskins’ moves so far, and how does it compare to their NFC East rivals?

A: Based on the signings of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and left guard Derrick Dockery and the re-upping with cornerback DeAngelo Hall, plus the cutting of graybeards Shawn Springs and Jason Taylor, the Redskins have earned a B-minus.

They have climbed closer to the top of the division because Dallas (minus Terrell Owens and Chris Canty) and Philadelphia (shedding of several veterans) have been so quiet. The Giants are clearly the class of the division even without receiver Plaxico Burress and the Redskins, Cowboys and Eagles are in a three-way horse race for second place.

Q: The Eagles figure to help themselves in the draft with 12 picks. What should the Redskins’ priorities be since they still have their first-round pick?

A: Defense, defense, defense. The marquee pass rusher (Texas’ Brian Orakpo) doesn’t figure to be around when the Redskins pick No. 13, and Vinny Cerrato has little ammunition to use in a move to trade up a few spots. So if they stay put, it should be a defensive end (Penn State’s Aaron Maybin or LSU’s Tyson Jackson) or a strongside linebacker (Southern Cal’s Brian Cushing).

The Redskins have made strongside linebacker a nonpriority (heck, they’re considering the return of Marcus Washington two months after he was deemed expendable). The NFC East requires a physical strongside linebacker even if he plays only first and second down. Of the Redskins’ defensive snaps last year, 76.4 percent were first- and second-down plays.

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