What to expect of the Browns, Campbell

October, 25, 2013
10/25/13
5:44
PM ET
It’s tough to say what to expect of quarterback Jason Campbell when he starts for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Campbell started one game in 2011 for the Bears, played poorly and was signed by the Browns in the offseason, where he was twice passed up to start.

At this point the best thing that can be said about Campbell is he’s not Brandon Weeden.

[+] EnlargeJason Campbell
Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY SportsProtecting Jason Campbell should be a heavy priority for the Browns, who have just two quarterbacks on their roster.
The flip side lists all the other numbers that seem relevant. Seventy-one career starts, 31 career wins, the career passer rating of 82.4.

But most of those starts were long ago, and in fact the high water mark of Campbell’s career was two years ago, when he had the Oakland Raiders off to a 4-2 start. But in a game against the Browns, he scrambled and was tackled by Scott Fujita and Chris Gocong. He separated his shoulder and never started again for Oakland.

Since that game, he’s thrown 55 passes in games -- four this season, the last one an underhand flip (there’s that flip again) to tight end Jordan Cameron on fourth down that gained six yards.

In some ways, Campbell seems like the worst possible matchup for Kansas City.

He has a long windup when a quick release is important against the league’s best pass-rushing team.

He tends to tuck the ball and run if he doesn’t see a receiver, a habit that has led to many quarterback injuries this season.

And he’s placid to the point of seeming completely unemotional. Evidently Campbell undergoes a drastic transformation when he goes on the field.

None of that means he can’t win, of course.

And coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner both said Campbell would be good for this game and this game plan. So there must be something they see in him, other than he’s not Weeden.

The Browns have to rely on two factors to win: They have to protect, and they have to defend.

Kansas City will get sacks. They are too fast, aggressive and successful defensively not to. The Browns can’t worry about that, but they can’t let the game get away from them by giving up too many sacks in key situations.

Because yards will be tough to come by, the Browns have to defend. Alex Smith is not completing 60 percent of his throws, and the Chiefs rely on Jamaal Charles. Containing Charles, making Smith work and pressuring Smith will all be key. If the Browns do that, they might force a turnover or two, and may even provide a defensive score.

Kansas City is a deserved 7-0. They are playing at home. Their pass rush is relentless.

But the teams they’ve beaten are a combined 15-33, and their quarterback does not cause nightmares for defensive coordinators.

As crazy as it sounds for a team that is on its third quarterback in eight games, the Browns could compete in this game. And if it’s close in the fourth quarter, who knows?

What do the Browns expect from Campbell?

Play smart.

Play careful.

And, perhaps, win.

Pat McManamon

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter

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