How Long Will Cleveland Browns Quarterback Jason Campbell Escape Criticism for His Poor Play?

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | November 3 sure seems like a lifetime ago for fans of the Cleveland Browns.

In case your memory is clouded by the Browns' recent run of bad football, that was the day that Cleveland broke their 11-game losing streak to the Baltimore Ravens with a 24-18 victory at FirstEnergy Stadium. A huge factor in Cleveland's win against the Ravens in Week 9 was the play of Browns quarterback Jason Campbell. Campbell threw three touchdowns and finished the game with a quarterback rating of 116.6, good enough to earn him the title of AFC Offensive Player of the Week.

That performance, combined with a solid effort in his first start of 2013 in Week 8 against the Kansas City Chiefs had Browns fans optimistic that Cleveland would be in the thick of the AFC wild-card race this fall. It also had to make Cleveland faithful wonder what took Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski so long to give Campbell a chance to lead Cleveland's offense after a month of lackluster performances by Brandon Weeden.

Campbell struggled mightily in his next start -- Cleveland's Week 11 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Even though he threw three interceptions and completed just 48 percent of his passes in that game, Campbell escaped scrutiny from Browns fans due to the lousy weather at Paul Brown Stadium on that day.

In the Browns' Week 12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Campbell was more or less ineffective before being knocked out the game with a concussion. This, of course, meant that Cleveland had to turn to the almost-universally derided Weeden once again, and Campbell's mediocre performance went unnoticed for the most part.

The concussion Campbell suffered against Pittsburgh kept him out of Cleveland's Week 13 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Weeden played excellent for 57 minutes against the Jaguars, but his three turnovers that came nearly in succession in the closing moments of the first half ensured that Weeden would take the brunt of the blame for Cleveland's eventual 32-28 loss to Jacksonville. The fact that Weeden threw for 370 yards and posted a decent quarterback rating of 94.8 was conveniently forgotten, instead replaced by the usual criticism of the second-year quarterback.

Campbell was back in action in Week 14 against the New England Patriots, and he responded with one of the best performances of his career. Campbell threw for 391 yards and three touchdowns in a heartbreaking 27-26 loss to the Pats which many felt should have been a Cleveland victory.

Unfortunately, the last two weeks have not been so good for Campbell. In Cleveland's losses to the Chicago bears and New York Jets, Campbell has been picked off four times and has completed just under 52 percent of his passes. His quarterback rating over the past games is a meager 52.2, and that number stands at 77.8 in 2013, which put Campbell firmly in the lower-tier of starting quarterbacks in the NFL in that category.

With four mediocre performances in his last five starts, it might be time to take the kid gloves off regarding Campbell. I realize that in the eyes of most Browns fans, anyone is better than Weeden, but how much longer will Cleveland's fan base continue to let Campbell's Weeden-like performances slide?

Shaun Heidrick is a Yahoo Contributor who has followed the Cleveland Browns for over 25 years.

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