- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Washington Redskins will debut an offensive play caller when they face Philadelphia on Monday night - but not a starting quarterback.

On his weekly radio show Tuesday, coach Jim Zorn said Jason Campbell, who was benched at halftime of Sunday’s loss to Kansas City in favor of veteran Todd Collins, will remain the starter.

“What I’m going to do is go right back to Jason,” Zorn said on ESPN 980. “I made the decision [to sit Campbell], but I didn’t give up on the young man. I didn’t give up on the QB.”

Campbell will take the first-team practice reps Wednesday as the Redskins (2-4) prepare for an Eagles defense that is in the NFL’s top 10 in yards, passing yards and sacks. He will be working with his third play caller; offensive consultant Sherm Lewis was handed the keys after Zorn was stripped of the responsibilities by executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato.

Although not necessarily a second chance, Campbell has a final 10-game opportunity to prove to the Redskins or another team that he is worth a long-term contract. For the year, he has six touchdowns and six interceptions.

The play caller may have changed, but the same problems persist for Campbell. It’s hard to envision how Lewis can fix an offense that has eight touchdowns in 61 non-kneel-down possessions. Three of them came on a fake field goal and drives of 13 yards and 1 yard.

The Redskins enter this experiment averaging a dismal 13.2 points (29th in the league) and with an offensive roster that was constructed with the idea that major injuries would not develop.

“It’s hard to believe,” Campbell said of the unit’s struggles. “We have more issues than you can think of, and they’re not going to get solved overnight.”

When comparisons are made with last year’s 6-2 start, consider these factors: The offensive line consisted of five veteran starters who were healthy, running back Clinton Portis had yet to get banged up and the Redskins won time of possession in six of eight games.

This year, right guard Randy Thomas is out for the season; left tackle Chris Samuels will miss his second consecutive game; Portis has been stalled by a calf injury and doesn’t have near the running room; and the Redskins haven’t kept possession. They’ve lost time of possession five times and have only nine drives of 10 or more plays.

With a revamped offensive line Sunday, the Redskins had to account for the lack of continuity by using an extra tight end (seven times in Campbell’s half of play) and throwing shorter passes. Eight of his 14 passes traveled 5 or yards or less.

But even when the parts were working, as they did on a few key plays against Kansas City, Zorn was unhappy with Campbell’s decision-making.

“I think there are things there I know he missed without being under duress,” Zorn said. “I can handle the idea [of missing things] if he’s getting hit play after play. I didn’t see that. I saw some things open.”

The video confirmed Zorn’s original thought that Campbell chose the wrong times to scramble.

“I do encourage him to run but to run at the right times,” Zorn said. “This was part of the issue. He started to scramble when there was no reason to scramble. … Just that little indecision made the decision for me. When it’s there and he should run, he’s pretty good at it. I’m going to continue to encourage that. I don’t want him to run before it’s time.”

It has been another hectic few days for the quarterback and coach, whose fates remain as intertwined as ever. The latest twist leaves Zorn with the role of relaying Lewis’ plays into Campbell’s helmet.

During his radio show, Zorn reiterated his uneasiness with giving up what he always called the best part of his job.

“I think it’s going to be very difficult,” he said. “We’re all going to have this challenge before us. We’re going to make the best of it. … We know it’s going to be pressure-filled and don’t know what the end results will be. We’ll be right in the mix and help him as much as we can.”

Portis said on ESPN 980 that the players’ performance is the cause for the team’s struggles - not Zorn’s game-day decisions.

“When he calls a play and we go out and execute the plays, we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” he said. “It’s breakdowns constantly when we have an opportunity to make a big play. … What we need to do is stay healthy, which we haven’t done. What we need to do is execute, which we haven’t done. What we need to do is not penalize ourselves, which we’ve done.”

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