Nobody questions that Jason Campbell had a disappointing season last year. Even his biggest defenders admit that his overall numbers weren't as good as they should've been. But, they argue, the problem isn't really his. The offensive line was as effective as the Maginot Line. He rarely had time to let plays develop downfield, and the pressure impacted his ability to make the right decision.
Thanks to the good people at Football Outsiders (relayed by Homer McFanboy), Campbell can point to some specific numbers. FO looks at every game for every team, entering the plays into a giant database, working their magic to compare players around the league.
The picture their numbers paint is that Campbell didn't have the help he needed.
First, the Skins receivers dropped 39 passes. Thirty-nine! That's more than every other team in the league, and over two per game. Think about how many drives would've extended. How many third downs would've been converted? Wouldn't just an extra yard or four have put some of those Suisham dying quails over the bar?
Breaking that down further, Santana Moss was second in the league with 10 drops. It's easy to remember his clutch catches, but there were far too many flubs, especially for the team's top receiver. Antwaan Randle-El dropped nine, which is ninth in the league. Think about that -- the Skins No. 2 receiver dropped more balls than all but nine other pass-catchers!
Even Clinton Portis wasn't much of a help. He dropped 17 percent of the passes headed in his direction. About every six passes Campbell threw him went right through his hands to the grass. Ugh!
Second, the offensive line wasn't much of a help. Coach Zorn previously talked about how he had to change the playbook in the second half because of protection breakdowns that prevented the team from being able to let plays develop downfield. Football Outsiders adds to the anecdote with some data.
Sixteen percent of the time Campbell went back to pass, he was hit. If he dropped back 30 times in a game, some lineman, linebacker, safety, cornerback or old man in the stands was putting hands on him about five times. And that doesn't include the time where his scrambling ability let him flee to safety.
So while Campbell might not be the answer, last year's results aren't entirely his fault. Nobody could've succeeded with that supporting cast.