For Jason Campbell’s first start as a member of the Cleveland Browns, the expectations aren’t very high.
Instead, Browns fans must repeat this mantra: Just be average.
That is where the frustration lies with the 2013 Browns. For two whole games and a sliver of the first quarter in the third game, we all saw what an average quarterback could do for this team.
Help you win freakin’ games.
Brian Hoyer wasn’t reminding anyone of Dan Marino, but what he wasn’t making us do is wring our hands like we’ve done over the years with the likes of Doug Peterson, Luke McCown, Brady Quinn and, yes, Brandon Weeden.
Hoyer was average and made some plays. He wasn’t perfect, but he did enough to keep the team in the game and keep them competitive.
Midway though the third quarter of last week’s game at Green Bay, the Browns trailed the Packers 17-6. Instead of trailing by 11, it felt as if the Browns down by 30. That’s on Brandon Weeden.
And now the Browns turn to Campbell, who was passed over for Brian Hoyer earlier this season. Campbell has those average career numbers. In 71 starts, Campbell is 31-40. He’s completed 60.8 percent of his passes with 76 touchdowns and 52 interceptions. Yup, that seems about average.
He was brought to town to compete with Weeden. It is a tad concerning he lost that competition, unless the idea of a competition was akin to smoke being blown up our rears.
Campbell’s veteran presence is going to be needed, as the Browns travel to Kansas City. The Chiefs are 7-0. The Chiefs’ defense is allowing an NFL best 11.6 points per game, they have the top takeaway/giveaway differential at plus-11, they have 35 sacks (5 per game) and 10 interceptions.
So, good luck, Jason.
Speaking of average, it is what the Chiefs offense is doing best. Speaking of Peterson, he’s Kansas City’s offensive coordinator. Unfortunately for the Browns, he isn’t playing quarterback Sunday.
Alex Smith is and he isn’t putting up astronomical numbers, but he’s being average. Pay attention, Jason. Smith has completed 58 percent of his passes for 1,570 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. He is giving the ball to running back Jamal Charles, who is averaging 4.2 yards per carry and had six touchdowns in seven games.
Last Sunday, the Browns defense was unable to get off the field. The Packers were 7-for-13 on third downs and collected 26 first downs to the Browns’ 17.
Regardless, the Browns defense continued their stout run defense limiting Eddie Lacy to 82 yards on 22 carries (3.7 average).
If the Browns can limit Charles’ effectiveness on the ground, they could force Alex Smith to make a play. It’s a lot less terrifying to have Smith with the ball in his hands than the likes of Aaron Rogers.
But it comes back to the offense that is now the responsibility of Campbell. After collecting 37 points in a win against Buffalo, the Browns have scored 30 points in their last two games.
Is it simply a matter of getting Brandon Weeden off the field? That may be wishful thinking, but while we’re wishing, we need to wish for Campbell to … remember the mantra?
Just be average.