By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Extra Points …
Needing some Christmas cheer: The strain of losing six of seven starts and the thought of blowing a career opportunity has Jason Campbell really down. Even his dad, Larry, picked up the vibe in a phone conversation Tuesday night.
“He said you need to sound a little bit more enthused. And I told him, it kind of hurts when you look at the opportunity when you’ve been here,” Campbell said. “To have the opportunity to win some of these games tough games and really help the franchise to get turned around, and for us still not to be winning, and at the same time, some of my games I played up to my ability, some of my games had a couple mistakes. So it’s been tough in that aspect because I want to take advantage of the full opportunity.”
The experience of 2011 still haunts Campbell. That’s when he was playing the best of his career in Oakland, had the Raiders at 3-2, and then lost his starting quarterback job in a major injury. It set him off to Chicago as a hardly-used backup for one year and then to the Browns.
Campbell got passed over twice before opportunity called in the Browns’ eighth game. After a good debut in a loss to undefeated Kansas City and then a win against rival Baltimore, there has been loss after loss after loss.
Campbell is 1-6 as the starter, completing 56.9 percent of his passes, has 10 TDs vs. seven interceptions, and a mediocre passer rating of 77.8.
Pressing to impress: After the 24-13 loss to the Jets, Campbell admitted he “pressed” and became “unraveled” after missing a few opportunities early in the game. On Tuesday, it was obvious he feels pressure to earn another opportunity to start here, or elsewhere.
“I think I take things a little bit too hard at times,” he said. “A lot of it is from the pressure of trying to be successful and just reaching the expectations you have for yourself. I set high expectations when I got a chance to play and sometimes you lived up to it and sometimes you didn’t. And in the games you didn’t, it could’ve been the other way around just based on a few plays here and there. It’s all a process. Overall, I’m happy in some things and disappointed in a lot of things.”
Why would you press, he was asked, when the team has nothing more to lose after such a defeated season?
“Even though you don’t have anything to lose, it’s the inside of you that wants to win. You want to win if you’re a competitive person. We have guys that just want to win and they’re still fighting.”
Campbell’s introspection demonstrates that even a nine-year NFL veteran doesn’t feel secure in this game.
“It’s because of everything I’ve been through,” he said. “That probably plays a lot into it. You want to prove that you still kind of belong. At the same time, when those games don’t happen the way they could have happened, you kind of put too much pressure on yourself.
“I have high goals. My goal wasn’t just to get to the National Football League and play three, four, five years. It was to make the most out of it and be the best that I can so that when it’s time for me to retire or move on, you can know that you’ve done your best.”
The final chapter?: Coach Rob Chudzinski said Tuesday that he will make no change at quarterback for the season finale in Pittsburgh. So Campbell will start. It may be his last in a Browns uniform.
“I don’t know,” he said. “That’s up to the GM and the coaching staff. Whatever it is, I just want to finish on a high note and go into the offseason feeling good or at least get a win and not feeling bitter or bad.”
Campbell is under contract through 2014 for $2.25 million. It’s very affordable for a veteran NFL backup. But the Browns expect Brian Hoyer fully recovered from ACL surgery for the start of training camp. And everyone expects them to draft a quarterback high, perhaps with their first draft pick.
He would like to stay, but there have been no indications made to him that he will be back.
“I have the utmost respect for Brian,” Campbell said. “If they decided to draft a guy, I would have the utmost respect for that guy, too. At the same time, whatever situation or my role is, I’m still competing. But I’d do whatever I can to help whoever it is.
“It’s hard to predict. Brian, he came in and did good. That’s not to take anything from him. It’s tough when you lose your job to injury and tough when you’re unable to see what you can do down the stretch. I got a chance to play. I had a lot of tough teams on the schedule. There haven’t been any games out there … all of them have been very competitive and tough to go against.”
Campbell’s win over Baltimore on Nov. 3 was the team’s last taste of victory. Since then, he has started in losses to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, New England, Chicago and the Jets. He also lost to Kansas City.
He said his father asked him what he wanted for Christmas.
“I said I don’t really want a Christmas gift, just to get a W and end the season the right way,” Campbell said.
God bless us, everyone.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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