Joe Gibbs has a history of developing good young quarterbacks. That’s why the Redskins will be the NFL’s surprise team this year. They’ll go from 5–11 last year to 10–6 this season—and they’ll make the playoffs.
The key to a better year is that quarterback Jason Campbell is in his third season—he’s ready to make a leap forward now that he’s had two years of working with Gibbs.
Gibbs knows how to work magic with young quarterbacks. He won a Super Bowl with Mark Rypien.
And the Redskins don’t have to contend with another top QB in their division. Donovan McNabb used to be a franchise quarterback, but he probably won’t stay healthy. Eli Manning of the Giants and Tony Romo of the Cowboys are unproven.
That means the NFC East is going to be won by the team that gets the best play from its quarterback.
We think Campbell will be that quarterback.
The Redskins have home games against the Lions and Cardinals in their fourth and sixth games sandwiched around a trip to Green Bay. If they sweep those three, they’ll be ready for a roll.
Here’s how Campbell’s going to take the Redskins to the playoffs:
September 9: Redskins 21, Dolphins 17. See all those empty yellow seats in the club-seat sections? Owner Dan Snyder finds out that even good Redskins fans balk at paying $500 a game.
September 17: Eagles 24, Redskins 14. A Monday-night game in Philadelphia is tough for a young quarterback. They boo Santa Claus there.
September 23: Redskins 20, Giants 13. Campbell outduels Manning here at home. Eli is not a chip off the Peyton block.
October 7: Redskins 35, Lions 10. This is like a college homecoming game for the Redskins. Since 1968, the Skins are 20–2 against the Lions.
October 14: Redskins 27, Packers 20. A young Campbell is now better than an old Brett Favre.
October 21: Redskins 31, Cardinals 14. Like the Lions, the Cardinals are patsies for the Redskins. The Skins are 9–3 against them in the last 12 games, and Gibbs was 20–4 against them in his first stint.
October 28: Patriots 24, Redskins 10. The Redskins are no match for Tom Brady in chilly New England. The only question is whether his supermodel girlfriend will show up.
November 4: Jets 28, Redskins 17. Jets receiver Laveranues Coles shows up Santana Moss in their first match since the 2005 trade.
November 11: Redskins 24, Eagles 10. With McNabb sidelined with a bad knee, the Redskins win the rematch before a raucous crowd at FedEx Field.
November 18: Cowboys 28, Redskins 14. Winning in Dallas is never easy. The worst part will be watching T.O. celebrate.
November 25: Redskins 17, Bucs 7. Running back Clinton Portis has a 160-yard day against the Bucs’ defense and then says he wants the Redskins to redo his contract.
December 2: Redskins 17, Bills 0. The Redskins win this one for defensive coach Gregg Williams, who wanted a shutout against his former team. Snyder passes out cigars.
December 6: Bears 23, Redskins 7. There’ll be a monster traffic jam on the Beltway for this Thursday-night game. Plus the Bears’ defense will be too tough.
December 16: Giants 21, Redskins 19. The Redskins fall to 8–6 with a loss in the Meadowlands, where they’ve won only once since 2000.
December 23: Redskins 24, Vikings 19. The Redskins celebrate the holiday season by staying alive in the playoff race.
December 30: Redskins 27, Cowboys 26. It doesn’t get any better than this—a home game against the hated Cowboys with a playoff berth on the line. After the game, T.O. says he wants to play for the Redskins next year.
Playoff game:Seattle 23, Redskins 14. The Redskins have seen this movie before. For the second time in three years, they lose in the playoffs at Seattle. On the long plane ride home, Joe Gibbs has to decide whether he’ll return for another year.