When Mediocrity is a Huge Improvement at Quarterback


Oct 27, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Jason Campbell (17) drops back to pass against the Kansas City Chiefs in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns came out and really struggled in the first half, not being able to get a first down in the game until the second quarter.  After some struggles and a few punts, the Browns got a spark in the form of a trick play and everything seemed to fall into place and while the offense was never overwhelming, it did far better than many were expecting against the best defense in the NFL in the Kansas City Chiefs.

Jason Campbell looked about as awkward and uncomfortable as most would expect initially coming into the offense with only a week of first team reps.  It took him a while to get into the flow of things.  The play that really seemed to loosen things up for the Browns offense and get things rolling was the flea flicker that resulted in a 39 yard touchdown to Josh Gordon, who was the biggest play maker on the team a week after having his share of struggles.  Trick plays are not something a team can count on to create offense where there is none, but this really seemed to work the way it was intended.  It worked and got the Browns on the points, but the impact seemed to carry forward as the whole offense seemed to let out a sigh of relief and get going.

They followed that up with another big play to Gordon where he was able to take a slant off of a rub up for 47 yards up the sideline before getting knocked out of bounds.  The drive ended with a field goal, but the Browns did have an opportunity to get more as they had three straight incompletions before Billy Cundiff kicked the field goal.

The Browns came out in the first drive of the third quarter and went with a 10-play 80 yard drive that ended with Fozzy Whittaker scoring a touchdown on a wheel route that had the linebacker cut off to cover it for the score.  Coming out in the third quarter had been a plague on the Browns both offensively and defensively, but they came out and scored quickly and put the game at 20-17.

Through mistakes, penalties, and missed connections, the Browns could not get anything going of real substance after that, but in terms of a job interview and Campbell ‘auditioning’ for the start next week and perhaps the rest of the year appeared successful, though he has not been named as the starting quarterback for next week just yet.  17 points is not going to win many football games and obviously it did not here, but Campbell did not make the critical mistakes that were characteristic of Brandon Weeden that forced the Browns to make this move.  Making most of the plays he should and just avoiding disaster was a substantial improvement for the Browns at the quarterback position and resulted in the Browns having a chance to win.

With another week or practice, a weaker defense in the Baltimore Ravens, Campbell could get more comfortable and play even better.  On the other hand, the Ravens will have more to work off of in terms of tape with the Browns, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out and where Campbell is ultimately able to come out in a week.  While the Browns may not get rid of Weeden due to the fact that Campbell could get hurt, failing that, it is difficult to imagine the coaching staff will ever willfully put him back on the field due to his ability.