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The Collins Conundrum

I'm getting more and more emails asking my take about the quarterback situation, so I'll throw my two cents out there.

Ride Todd for now - though I personally would not be opposed to giving Jason Campbell a shot should he get healthy deep in the playoffs - but this should be Jason's team moving forward next season.

As one veteran put it to me yesterday: "This is Jason's house. Todd is just renting."

What's happening here is amazing, and Todd will get a healthy contract to stay here as a backup and provide excellent insurance. But I think some people are going overboard talking Todd in 2008. Let's go easy on those campaign slogans.

There has been too much invested in Jason and his potential is too great and this franchise's longterm need for finally some stability at QB is too pressing to shelve a great young prospect because he had the temerity to get blindsided by a protection failure and dislocate his knee cap.

Jason is still learning, he has a ways to go ... But you give any GM in this league a choice moving forward of Jason Campbell or Todd Collins, and they'll eager snatch the kid. It's a nobrainer. Todd has shown he can come in cold and execute this offense astutely for a few weeks. That's perfect for what he is at his age. By all means keep him around.

But he's 36 without a ton of natural athleticism - at least not to Campbell's measure - and the Redskins have been down this road before, far too many times. Show some patience. Give Campbell at least the equivalent of two full seasons before making sweeping judgments about who should start - he's made 20 starts for the love of Pete - and show some faith in the youngster.

Don't kill his confidence and risking setting your franchise back for years by giving the job to Collins. Spoke to some highly thought of NFL execs over the past few days and to them this is a no brainer.

As one top dog put it: "You ride the hot hand at quarterback. You play Collins until your season ends. The only way Campbell plays is if he's completely healthy and the other guy falls apart. It's Collins's show right now. But they've got a potential franchise quarterback there. How many teams can say that? You build your franchise around Jason Campbell. He's the guy next season. That shouldn't be an issue,"

As for the potential offseason demand in Collins, the two guys I spoke to - one of whom would be in the market for a quarterback - did not anticipate even a strong playoff run creating a ton of demand. They pointed to how difficult it is for old quarterbacks to make it through a 16-week season, how they naturally tail off and are vulnerable to injury. Brett Favre, is obviously the exception, but he's a freak of nature who has basically never missed a start his entire career. And please, even the biggest Todd Collins worshipper would not try to compare him with Favre.

"Look at Garcia this year. Look at Brunell. Look at McNair. This guy is a relief pitcher. He's great in the role he is in. But over 16 games you'll see the wear and tear. You make him your starter and put it in his hands, and not Campbell's you're taking a step back."

Another personnel guy made what I thought was a pretty astute comparison. He called Collins an excellent system quarterback, so perfect and well versed in Al Saunders's style, where his lack of mobility and downfield arm strength are not a big problem. But unless you are running that system, you wouldn't really consider him (I do think Minnesota would be one team to take a long look at Todd if given the shot, but, again, I don't think he'll ever see free agency. He'll re-sign here).

This guy compared Todd (6-4, 225 pounds) to Steve Bono (6-4, 215). Remember him? Now, Todd is performing at a much higher level than Bono for these four games - and again, this is a ridiculously small sample we're talking about, which almost no one seems to keep in mind - but the situation is similar, with neither guy an overwhelming athlete.

He was a longtime backup, gets in a West Coast system behind Young and Montana in San Fran, fares well in limited duty - 11 TDs to 4 INTs in 6 starts in 1991 - gets traded to KC to keep backing up Montana nd gets a chance to start regularly in the same system when Joe retires and has a Pro Bowl year out of the blue in 1995 at age 33, leading the Chiefs to a 13-3 record and division title - a little younger than Todd but close. Bono then essentially fades out, does not have another impact season but hangs around another 3 years as a backup.

Todd could shatter all of that, and maybe he has the ultimate renaissance in his late 30s. History would say no, and we'll see what the open market says should he become a free agent. But to me you don't even think about stunting your future for Collins next summer. Todd has shown he can come off the bench without reps and do the job.

You don't have Jason split reps, dent his confidence, and jostle for time with receivers in the offseason and during training camp. If you need Todd, he's there. If you lose Jason, you lose Jason.

By Jason La Canfora  |  January 3, 2008; 1:23 PM ET
 
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