Pick of QB puts Gibbs on defensive

Redskins face criticism for adding Campbell when team has Ramsey

Pro Football

April 26, 2005|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Another day, another barrage of second-guessing for Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs.

Fans and local sports talk radio stations have had more than 48 hours to digest Gibbs' decision to use the 25th overall pick of the NFL draft on Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell, but time did little to stem the tide of questions aimed at Gibbs.

When NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced Washington's pick of Campbell on Saturday, some fans at the team's draft-day party at FedEx Field booed.

Two CBS.sportsline.com analysts lambasted the choice (only the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets had worse grades than the Redskins' "C"), and the switchboards at local radio stations have lit up with calls from fans outraged with the team's selection.

After Washington introduced Campbell and Auburn cornerback Carlos Rogers (the ninth overall pick) during a news conference at Redskins Park yesterday afternoon, Gibbs, who is also the team president, once again defended the decision to draft Campbell.

"When we got to that pick, we felt like the best value for the Redskins and for the organization was Jason Campbell," Gibbs said. "There were other people there that we felt like would've been good football players, but we chose him. I made the statement that with the quarterback, you always think long and hard about quality. You want your quarterback situation to be one that you feel very good about."

The curious part about the selection is that Washington already has a first-round quarterback in Patrick Ramsey, who was drafted with the 32nd overall pick in 2002 when Steve Spurrier was the head coach.

Although Ramsey has been chosen by Gibbs to start the season opener against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 11, Ramsey has been through this ordeal before. Last year, Gibbs personally recruited Mark Brunell and named him the starter before the regular season.

The Redskins went 3-6 under Brunell, and Ramsey started the final seven games, compiling a 3-4 record and improving by season's end.

Gibbs reiterated that the team's decision to choose Campbell is not intended to send a message to Ramsey.

"Patrick Ramsey is the guy we're counting on to take us to the playoffs," Gibbs said. "He is our starter. I labeled him the starter last year before we ever started talking about drafts or anything else."

Campbell is regarded as having a powerful arm and quick feet to escape trouble. But there were concerns about his ability to decipher the intricacies of a new offense, and some have suggested that the backfield duo of Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams - selected second and fifth overall in the draft - had more to do with Auburn's undefeated record last season than Campbell.

Campbell, who will wear the No. 17 jersey that Doug Williams wore when he guided Washington to its second Super Bowl victory under Gibbs in 1988, said he is focused on learning from Ramsey and Brunell.

"It's not about a quarterback controversy," Campbell said. "I just want to come here and work hard and get better and learn as much as I can."

There has been little complaint about Rogers, who fills a need at cornerback after unrestricted free agent Fred Smoot left for the Minnesota Vikings.

Rogers, who will wear No. 32, said he understands that he will have to compete with Walt Harris to start opposite Shawn Springs. DeWayne Walker, who coaches the secondary, said he is excited about Rogers' potential.

"In the NFC East, there's big, physical receivers, and that's the type of game he brings to the table," Walker said. "He's fast, he's physical, he's athletic, he's been well-coached. ... The attributes that he brings really fit with what we have to go against in our division."

NOTE: Gibbs said he and other team officials met yesterday morning with wide receiver Rod Gardner's agent, but there was no news regarding trade talks. Although Joel Segal, who also represents Campbell, declined to say whether Gardner would attend the team's minicamp next month if a trade has not been reached, Gibbs pointed out that Gardner still has one year left on his contract. "I would think that he would be here," Gibbs said.

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