Sports Outside the Beltway

Redskins’ Campbell Has Romo Envy

Now that the Dallas Cowboys have ended their quarterback controversy, attention shifts to the one brewing against their NFC East arch rival.

Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell stayed up to watch the whole game Sunday night when Tony Romo won as a first-time starter for the Dallas Cowboys. “He kept his composure, played with a lot of poise,” Campbell said Monday. “It’s something you have to do when your first time comes.” Campbell did his best not to sound envious, but he is still waiting for his first time. And with the Cowboys coming to town this week, the debate over when that should happen will only intensify.

Romo’s performance in the Cowboys’ 35-14 victory at Carolina was vindication for Dallas coach Bill Parcells’ decision to bench 30-something Drew Bledsoe and give an untested youngster a shot at energizing an inconsistent offense. There’s a case that Joe Gibbs should do the same — by replacing Mark Brunell with Campbell — but the Redskins coach isn’t yet ready to copy his longtime nemesis. Gibbs, for that matter, wouldn’t offer an opinion on what Parcells’ move. “For me to say something about that is out of place for me,” Gibbs said. “What they’ve got right now is a quarterback who played extremely well last night.”

The Redskins traded three draft picks so they could move up and select Campbell in the first round in 2005. He has been the inactive No. 3 quarterback for every game since. No one would question his absence of playing time if Washington were headed toward another playoff season, but Gibbs’ team is 2-5 and struggling to establish an offensive identity.

“Right now you’ve just got to stay patient and stay confident and understand that when your number’s called, that you can go in there and do some good things,” Campbell said. “It’s just another test in your life. You’ve got to understand it’s all going to pay off for you one day. I’ve seen guys thrown in there who weren’t ready, and I’ve seen guys have to wait.”

Far be it from me to give quarterbacking advice to a Hall of Fame coach who made his bones as an offensive guru and won three Super Bowls with three different QBs. Still, Brunell and Bledsoe are comparable: former Pro Bowl caliber guys who seem to have lost something. Both were hampering the progress of young QBs with potential on their teams.

Tony Romo looked quite good in his starting debut, although he was horrid as a second half replacement for Bledsoe against the Giants the week before. He’s also in his fourth year in the league, having come in as an undrafted free agent who was the top player in Division I-AA. Campbell is only in his second second but was a 1st round pick and a star at the highest levels.

If, as I hope, the Cowboys come to town and make the Redskins a 2-6 team, it’ll all but end Washington’s season. At that point, Gibbs has no real choice but to make the switch and start seeing what he’s got in Campbell.

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