You can’t help but wonder what might have been if quarterback Jason Campbell started the last three games for the Cleveland Browns. Would they have been winless on this three-game road trip, or would they have stolen a victory or two along the way? Either way, the Browns no longer need to think about tanking the rest of the season.
Jason Campbell is not the quarterback of the future. He is a 31-year-old veteran who has a 3-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio and an 82.4 quarterback rating. He isn’t great, and he isn’t terrible. He is deliciously mediocre.
Vanilla is the exact flavor the Browns needed for their final-nine game recipe, though. Former starter Brandon Weeden panicked too often and lost the team games. Campbell won’t win you many games on his own, but he usually won’t lose them for you either.
The Browns know they can’t expect Campbell to go 22-of-36 for 293 yards and two touchdowns every game. The law of averages always wins, and it says that’s just not who Campbell is.
What they can expect, however, is to be competitive now. They can expect for the game to rest on the shoulders of the defense, special teams and coaching staff. Campbell will do just enough to keep the offense afloat.
|The Weeden Effect|
|Hoyer or Campbell As Starting QB||Weeden As Starting QB|
|W-L||3-1 (Weeden played majority of win over Buffalo)||0-4|
|Box Scores from ClevelandBrowns.com|
If Campbell had laid an egg against Kansas City, it would probably be time to start looking at next year’s draft. Either way, they are going to select their future quarterback so why not get better positioning, right?
Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, and with eight games in the books, the Browns are 3-5 and just outside the AFC wild-card picture. With efficient quarterback play, meaningful games in December are a reality.
Yes, I am talking about games that could put the Browns in the playoffs.
The supporting cast is good enough to make a serious run at the postseason. The roster and fans deserve a legitimate push toward that.
Browns CEO Joe Banner and the front office have positioned themselves with enough currency to buy their way into the quarterback sweepstakes no matter where they finish this season.
They currently hold seven of the first 128 picks in the 2014 draft, including two first-round picks. Isn’t that why they acquired all those assets? Didn’t they want the flexibility to win and get their future quarterback in next year’s draft?
If they are as good at talent evaluation as they proclaim to be, then they have everything they need to get one of the top quarterbacks. Where they finish this season won’t matter.
Or better yet, where they finish this season will matter. It will matter in changing a losing culture and create an identity for their organization. It will matter to free agents, who want to play for a winner. At $25 million, the Browns have the most salary cap money in the NFL, according to NFL Trade Rumors.co.
Most importantly, it will matter to the fanbase. They need to see that a regime is finally committed to winning. They need to see a regime has enough confidence to win and still find great players in the draft.
Other teams do it. It can be done.
Believe it or not, that all starts with Jason Campbell. He just needs to not be the reason the team loses. It’s as simple as that.
He needs to be the guy he has always been throughout his career and keep the seat warm for the next quarterback the Browns draft. If he plays like himself, the Browns will be primed and ready for a playmaker to push them into the playoffs and beyond next year.
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