COMMENTARY | Jason Campbell is a backup quarterback.
That isn't a dig at the nine-year veteran. Campbell has the goods to come on in relief and even win a team a handful of games. That's an admirable trait, one held by maybe 20-30 people in the NFL.
It turns out that Campbell is not, however, a long-term answer for the Cleveland Browns. The 31-year old journeyman has hammered that home over the past month via up-and-down performances in what were, for the Browns, losing efforts. Out-playing Tom Brady was a great personal achievement for Campbell, but it didn't result in a Cleveland victory.
Campbell blamed the wind for his inability to throw the deep pass and target elite wide receiver Josh Gordon while playing against the Chicago Bears yesterday. The wind had little to do with Campbell seemingly being thrown off by the Bears playing a basic Cover 2. Campbell can't blame the conditions for his missing open WRs inside of ten yards.
Wind and snow hit Cleveland in Novembers and Decembers. It happens. Campbell being unprepared to deal with unfavorable weather on the shoreline of Lake Erie on December 15 is like an astronaut being shocked to find that he floats when in space.
This all leads to the following question: What do the Browns have to gain in starting Campbell again this month? Cleveland is at 4-10 and set to once again end a season dead last in the division. Finishing at 5-11 or 6-10 won't feel any differently than will the Browns losing out and going 4-12.
There is no longer any way that Campbell can win the Cleveland starting quarterback job for next season this December. Campbell lighting it up at the New York Jets and the Steelers will not keep Brian Hoyer and some to-be rookie QB from competing for the first spot on the depth chart in 2014.
Campbell turns 32-years old on the final day of the year. Logic suggests that his best playing days are behind him. What you've seen from him in the past month and a half - some good games coupled with a few "meh" starts - is what you're going to get so long as he in the league.
It's likely that Alex Tanney, third on the depth chart at the QB position, won't even be on the team's roster next spring let alone competing for the starting gig. The Cleveland coaching staff knows what they have in Brandon Weeden, and he isn't going to throw another pass in a game this season barring injuries to both Tanney and Campbell.
Why not give the 26-year old YouTube trick-shot guy a chance?
The Browns literally have nothing to lose in seeing what Tanney has to offer on back-to-back NFL Sundays. At worst, the trend continues and Cleveland closes out the season having lost ten of the team's last eleven games. Maybe Tanney provides a spark to what is a deflated locker room, and the Browns earn a win or two and then enter January with heads held high.
Campbell has earned a pat on the back for what he provided the Browns during a lost campaign. That doesn't mean that he deserves another start this season. The tradition that is Christmastime being more about Cleveland players auditioning than it is about the team earning wins continues.
Put the spotlight on Tanney, and see if he can do what the Browns haven't done since November 3: win.
Zac has been following Cleveland sports since a little before his birth, and thus his heart breaks a little more with every year. He has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and the NFL for Yahoo Sports since 2010.
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