Shanahan: Skins want to bring back Jason Campbell
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Mike Shanahan said that the Washington Redskins plan to tender Jason Campbell, their starting quarterback the past 3 1/2 seasons, before free agency begins on March 5.
But Shanahan wouldn’t commit to Campbell as his starter. Shanahan said he’s still evaluating Campbell, whom Redskins owner Dan Snyder tried to replace in failed attempts to acquire Jay Cutler and Mark Sanchez last offseason.
Shanahan spoke to the media from the scouting combine in Indianapolis for the first time in the 51 days since his introductory press conference as Redskins coach.
The coach said that his son, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, will call the plays whether the quarterback is Campbell or perhaps a rookie if they take a QB in the draft.
Shanahan didn’t rule out taking a quarterback with the fourth overall pick in April’s draft despite major needs on the offensive line which he called “a battered group.”
That was largely true of the entire Redskins in 2009 as they finished 4-12, which prompted Snyder to fire coach Jim Zorn after two seasons and hire Shanahan, a consistent winner with the Denver Broncos.
While the Redskins have won just two postseason games since 1992, their NFC East rivals have put together strong seasons recently. The Dallas Cowboys won the division title as well as their first playoff game in 13 years this past season. The New York Giants won the Super Bowl in 2007 and had the NFC’s best record in 2008. The Philadelphia Eagles reached the conference championship game in 2008.
“We understand how competitive the NFC East is and how well these teams have been playing,” Shanahan said. “So that’s our goal: to get us back to where we’ve been.”
The Redskins will also play a 3-4 defense for the first time.
Using the 3-4 scheme isn’t somewhere the Redskins have been, but it is the preferred defense of new coordinator Jim Haslett. Washington ranked among the top 10 defenses in five of six seasons under Gregg Williams (2004-07) and Greg Blache (2008-09). Shanahan said the Redskins will use both the 3-4 and the 4-3 which means that their defensive linemen will have to be especially versatile.
Shanahan, who just completed his staff with the addition of two assistant strength coaches, wants all of his players under contract to be on hand for the start of offseason conditioning on March 15.
That conflicts with the preference of running back Clinton Portis, who likes to train in Florida and whose production slipped noticeably over his past 16 games before he suffered a season-ending concussion in Week 9 last season.
Portis, who was traded by Shanahan to Washington in 2004 for cornerback Champ Bailey and a second-round selection, will be 29 in September.
“Let’s not talk about Clinton,” Shanahan said when asked about Portis’ offseason commitment. “Let’s talk about everybody on the Washington Redskins. Let’s not focus on one guy. I want everybody to be as good a football player as they can be. I want all the guys on our football team to make a commitment in the offseason to work, and work extremely hard. That’s how we’re gonna get better as a team … It’s very important to show your teammates exactly how hard you work and how dedicated you are to the program.”