COMMENTARY | Journeyman.
It's not a flattering term to use for any professional athlete. A NFL quarterback wants to be the face of a franchise, a guy such as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning. No QB yearns to jump from team to team every few years.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Jason Campbell has never settled in with any team during his nine-year NFL career. He flamed out with the Washington Redskins. His stint with the Oakland Raiders came to an unspectacular end. He was never meant to be the starter with the Chicago Bears.
Then, he lost the Cleveland backup gig this fall to Brian Hoyer.
Hoyer's emergence as the latest advertised Browns savior left Campbell as the odd man out, a 31-year old QB eying the end of his days in the league. In Hoyer, an offense that had lacked life and confidence under Brandon Weeden evolved into one capable of hanging with any opponent in the league. Campbell went from being third on the depth chart to a complete afterthought, a man on the verge of being dropped by another team.
Cleveland football having nice things has never been a thing since 1999, so of course Hoyer had to tear his ACL on a standard QB slide in October. The coaching staff of the Browns then left individuals such as myself wondering how bad Campbell must be when the team went back to Weeden, who, simply stated, doesn't have the goods to play on Sundays. Cleveland sports talk radio jumped into 2014 NFL Draft talk, looking toward what would hopefully, for the most battered fan base in the NFL, be better days.
Campbell didn't get the memo that he was only supposed to be a Band-Aid over the final two months of the 2013 campaign. He has, in his two starts, been the best QB the Browns have had in several years. Thanks largely to Campbell, Cleveland nearly defeated the perfect Kansas City Chiefs on the road, and he tossed three touchdowns in the team's victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
Campbell's stats against two pretty good defenses show what might have been had he been given the starting the job back in August. He, against KC and Baltimore, completed a combined 45 of 71 pass attempts for over 550 yards and five touchdowns. As important as was his production was that Campbell didn't once turn the ball over in his past eight quarters of play.
Utilizing the full assortment of his weapons outside of standouts Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron has been massive for Campbell revitalizing his career. He went to Davone Bess, who hung his QB and team out to dry via several dropped passes and one muffed punt, eight times at KC, and the six-year pro rewarded Campbell this past Sunday with two touchdown grabs against the Ravens. Running backs Chris Ogbonnaya and Fozzy Whittaker got a total of ten looks from their QB versus Baltimore.
Odds are that the Browns will use one of their two first round picks to take a touted QB of the future next spring, as they should. Campbell isn't the answer for the long-term. He has, minus an unforeseen meltdown between now and the end of December, earned the opportunity to do more than just mentor a rookie next season.
Campbell can still go, and he deserves a shot to take Cleveland to the playoffs over the next two seasons.
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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- Jason Campbell
- Cleveland Browns
- Brian Hoyer