Jason Campbell's visit with the Beast
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Some of you were having trouble clicking on the link to the Jason Campbell audio from Thursday, so we've transcribed the interview for you this morning. The Redskins quarterback has led his team to consecutive wins, and you get the sense that he's pretty confident heading into Sunday's game at Texas Stadium.
The questions were being asked by ESPN 103.3's Randy Galloway and me. Campbell had a really funny response when I asked him about the recent Chris Cooley Internet controversy, but it doesn't meet our Disney test. You can listen to it in a couple of places, though:
Randy Galloway: You played well here last November. I'm assuming you're bringing some positive feelings into Sunday's game?
Jason Campbell: Coming in Sunday, we understand we're facing a great opponent. The Cowboys have all kinds of weapons on offense and they can move the ball up the field -- both running and throwing the ball. And on defense, they have a lot of playmakers. You have [DeMarcus] Ware, [Greg] Ellis, Terence Newman and you also have Zach Thomas. He's a veteran guy that's been around the NFL for a long time and one thing about him -- he's very smart, he really studies his opponents. He makes sure he has guys lined up in the right area, so it's definitely a tremendous challenge just like any game every Sunday.
We have to come down there and we have to play mentally, we have to be focused and we can't make the mental errors. We know if we play a team like Dallas, you have to make sure you're doing the things you're supposed to be doing -- both offense, defense and special teams.
RG: You tore up the Cowboys last November, but some of the pieces have changed. What was happening last year when you put up 350 yards on this team?
JC: I think we just got into a rhythm as an offense. It turned out to be a shoot-out game. That's one thing about these division games -- you never know how they're going to turn out. Some games, you go out there and you play and people are expecting a lot of points and it turns out to be a low-scoring game. And sometimes people are expecting a low-scoring game and it turns out to be high. You have to prepare yourself for every different situation. Last season, I think we just got into a rhythm and got into the flow of the game and it was an exciting game. I think both teams were competing very hard and it gave us the opportunity to throw the ball a lot that game -- they were doing a great job of stopping our run, so we had to put the ball in the air.
RG: We've considered Wade Phillips' defense to be a huge disappointment around here, but the last six quarters, it looks like it's playing well. As you've watched the tape recently, what have you seen?
JC: What I saw was a bunch of guys flying around, making plays. One thing is they're playing with a lot of confidence. You have a guy like DeMarcus Ware that can put pressure on the end, he and Ellis. Jay Ratliff and [Marcus] Spears do a great job inside. I think a lot of those guys
are back healthy. I think that's a big thing for them. They have Newman back healthy and I think he's an experienced guy and a veteran that they need back there, helping to lead the other guys. He's one of those types of players that can make plays and one thing I've seen from them is just guys flying around, trying to make plays.
Matt Mosley: After that first loss against the Giants, a lot of people were dismissing you guys. What did [Jim] Zorn do to help turn the team around and point them in the right direction?
JC: He said the only thing we could do from this game is to learn from it. He said, just remember the sour taste, remember what we did while out there on the field and the reason we didn't accomplish it and just take it and learn from it, be seriously critical of yourself, personally. He said from him, all the way down to the last guy on the team, to be critical of yourself and just know we have to be in this together. In order for us to succeed throughout the rest of the year, we have to be a group of guys together. One thing he really said was, 'There can't be any finger-pointing. Everyone can point the finger at themselves. No one coached well, no one played well,' and it was all on everybody.
Guys took that approach and -- we were getting beat up; they were getting beat up across the country from all types of writers, we were getting beat up right here in our hometown and we took a lot of heat. There was a point in time where you didn't even want to cut your TV on, for like 3 days. You just hibernated away from it. We just wanted to get things back to the way we knew how to play and get a rhythm, as an offense and a defense and special teams, and I think a lot of it has to do with Coach Zorn also. He's gotten into a rhythm of calling plays, he gets a feel of the defense as the game goes along and he figures out how he wants to call the game.
And I think in the first game, we never got into a rhythm offensively. We never got many first downs in order to stay on the field a lot. So, we were never really able to get into our offense to see what we could do. And I think over the last two weeks we were able to get into our offense and get into a rhythm and now he has a better feel for the way to get these guys into a rhythm on the offensive side of the ball to make them play well and give them an opportunity to be successful.
RG: When fingers start pointing, it's usually at the quarterback. As a young quarterback in the NFL, how have you learned to accept and adjust to that?
JC: I understand it's part of the territory. When things don't go right, the first two people to always get blamed are the head coach and the quarterback. You just have to have tough skin. You just have to have alligator skin. You have to just keep your eye on the positive things. I went back and watched the Giants game and just tried to take all of the positives that came out of the game, even though we didn't win. I'll continue to work on all the positive things to get better for the next week and don't sit and think about the negative things. The negative things don't do anything but bring you down as a player and don't do anything but bring your attitude and emotions down. You try to focus on positive things, you try to listen to positive things and you try to use it as a chip on your shoulder. You try to play with a chip on your shoulders. You know you have doubters.
You also know as a player, and as a quarterback, that no matter how well or how great you do that you're not going to please everybody. And you can't make that your goal. You're not going out there to please people or to do certain things to make people happy. You're going out there to win a game. You have to go out there and play as hard as you can play. And at the end of the day, if you know that you gave your best effort and that's all you can give, then that's all you can ask of yourself.
But if you know you didn't, then you have to be your own worst critic. I criticize myself more than anybody would. As hard as people were on me af
ter the first game, I was even harder on myself. Even though you go back and look at the film and there are a number of things you did and a number of things we couldn't do, as a whole offense, because you look at it as a group. And that's how you have to approach it. It's not one person that loses a game, or two people that lose the game -- it's a whole team, it's the group. In that first game, offensively, it was a different person, every play that was messing up -- whether it was a penalty, whether it was jumping offsides, we were missing a block, we were missing a throw, whether it was the wrong route -- it was the whole consistency of everything and being consistent of everybody doing it.
MM: Is there still a hatred for the Cowboys? A lot of us think about George Allen and Tom Landry when we think of this rivalry, but do current players learn to hate the Cowboys?
JC: I remember when I first came in here my rookie year and we were playing the Cowboys and I was downtown eating and that's all you would see were people wearing shirts with about Dallas and I thought, 'Man, these people really hate Dallas around here.' You just learn to know that it's a big rivalry. It's a big rivalry for the reason that it's a division game and it's a division opponent and it goes back to the old NFC East days. People have been saying over these past two years that the NFC East is getting back to what it used to be -- where you have the Cowboys, the Giants, the Eagles and the Redskins battling it out for the whole year to decide who wins the divisional championship and where you have three to four teams heading to the playoffs. It's a tough division. I think that's what makes everything such a rivalry.
When I was in the SEC, we treated every game like a rivalry. We played LSU and it was just like playing Georgia and Alabama. Every game was a rivalry game because we felt like if we wanted to get anywhere, we had to win our own division and the SEC was hard enough. And to make it through that, we felt like you earned the right to play for a national championship. I feel the same way about the NFC East division.
RG: The NFC East is considered the strongest division in football, and the Cowboys are thought to be the best in the division. Does that hiss you and your teammates off?
JC: As a player, and I speak for my teammates, that's something we really don't worry about. We just approach each game and understand that it's still early in the season and you never know how things are going to turn.
One thing you can do is to focus on what we have to do and what we can do. When we practice, we practice on trying to get better -- our technique, our decision-making -- and understand that in order for us to get to where we want to be that we're doing the things the coaches want us to do in our offense, our defense and our special teams. That's our main focus for each week, it's to get better and go out and win games. You try to take it one week at a time, one game at a time and you're only as good as your last game or you're only as good as the next week. You can only focus on the team you're playing the next week.
So this week, all of our focus is on the Cowboys and we'll worry about the next week when it gets here. You can't look down the line. But you hear those things and you understand those things -- and rightfully so. They have a lot of weapons offensively and defensively and on special teams and you know they're at the high mark of the NFL. That's a lot of people's opinion and all we can worry about, ourselves, is to worry about what we can do.