BEREA-- Rob Chudzinski made the announcement Wednesday to switch quarterbacks in a similar way he made the announcement that Brian Hoyer would start earlier in the season citing "the best chance to win" reasoning.
"I have decided that we will start Jason Campbell this week," Chudzinski said. ""It's a tough decision, but I believe this is in the best interest of the team, ultimately, and it gives us the best chance to win. I am excited to see what Jason will do with this opportunity."
Chudzinski said he made the decision on Monday night.
Ironically, Campbell was passed over when Weeden injured his thumb in the second game of the season against the Ravens and Hoyer made the start against the Vikings. Campbell will be the Browns third starting quarterback in just eight games this year and 20th since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999.
"It's been one of those years you can never predict anything," Campbell said. "The NFL season is like a roller coaster. There are up and down moments. The main thing you have to do is just stay even keeled throughout it all. not everything goes your way at times , and not everything is going to be that way. those decisions are out of your hands. at the same time, no matter who the guy is, you try and prepare and move forward."
Campbell admitted he thought he would be the starter when Weeden went down in the second game.
"I thought so, but coach makes those decisions and you find out you're not going," he said. "As a competitor, you want to play, but just because it doesn't go your way, doesn't mean you are beside yourself, you root for the next guy. We're all professionals. We're all on the same team.
"Each any every week, our goal is to win and if we can stick to that mindset and not make things about you, the team can grow in a mature way," he said. "It's all about how you handle situations and how you act. As long as I've played this game, it's never been about one person. Whenever I've been around guys who make it that way, it's usually becomes a bad (outcome) for the team."
Chudzinski said the bottom line was Weeden hasn't been producing. He is 0-4 as a starter and has a rating of 66.5 this season. Weeden has completed 52.8 percent of his passes and has five touchdowns and six interceptions.
"It's really about production and ultimately being consistent in that area."
The Chiefs lead the NFL in sacks with 35 (Ravens are second with 25) and have allowed just 11.6 points per game, tops in the NFL. Campbell has the ability to scramble and Chudzinski alluded to that in naming him the starter.
"I think in looking at what Jason brings to the table, his leadership, his experience. he's been productive and successful in this league," Chudzinski said. "I think you look at his arm strength, you look at his mobility and some of those things tie into a game plan standpoint give us what we feel that we need for this game to ultimately give us the best chance."
Campbell knows it will be a tough environment to get his first start on the road against the 7-0 Chiefs.
"It's a definite challenge, but every week is a challenge," he said. "Arrowhead is one of the loudest stadiums. We have to be on the same page and lined up on our calls because its going to be loud."
Campbell said he's ready for the opportunity.
"I think the only thing I can do is to do my job the best of my abilities and try and be a leader," Campbell said. "I want to stay within my game and try and find a rhythm."
Campbell has started 71 games in his nine NFL seasons, but has only started seven games since 2011. He has thrown for 14,688 yards in his career with a completion percentage of 60.8. His rating for his career is 82.4. Campbell played one series in relief against the Ravens this year when Weeden was injured. He was just one-of-4 for six yards. He's played for the Redskins, Raiders, Bears, in addition to the Browns.
Campbell was asked how he might get the rust off.
"Get some WD40," he said smiling. "I've had some great practices and every time I try to run the offense as close as I could. I just want to go have fun and play."
Campbell, 31, has rushed 225 times for 1,096 yards with six touchdowns.
"Jason does have good mobility and that is one of his strengths," Chudzinski said. said. "It gives you some sense of documentation that he has been productive and can get the job done. I've had confidence in Jason all along the way and am looking forward to seeing what he does with this opportunity."
Campbell was 4-2 as the starting quarterback for the Raiders in 2011 when he was knocked out for the season with a broken collarbone against the Browns on a hit by Chris Gocong. In that season, Campbell was 100-of-165 (60.6 pct.) for 1.170 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions. His rating was 84.2 when he got hurt. Unfortunately, for Campbell, the Raiders traded for Carson Palmer and Campbell ended up with the Bears in 2012 as a backup. He signed with the Browns as an unrestricted free agent on March 26.
Campbell feels he might have been playing his best football when he was injured.
"I believe so," he said. "I was in my second year of the system. it was a similar situation with a group of young guys and everyone was growing together and once you called a play there wasn't any hesitation as they knew the play. It gave me an opportunity to play at my best. Like I said, will i be at my best right away? Who knows, I can't determine those things."
Chiefs coach Andy Reid respects Campbell.
"They have a guy in Jason Campbell, who is a veteran and that is a good thing," Reid said in a conference call. ""I have respect for him. He's a quarterback with size."
Chudzinski didn't rule out Weeden getting another opportunity.
"We're going to evaluate it on a week-to-week basis," he said. "Again, the whole goal is to put the guy out there who gives us the best opportunity to win.Going back and forth isn't ideal, but ultimately finding the production and consistency that we need is the goal."
"I think Brandon has improved. he's worked really hard. again, it just goes back to production." We're looking for the consistency in the production."
It seems that it would be hard to go back to Weeden after being benched, but Chudzinski said he expects Weeden to be ready, if he's needed.
"Obviously, Brandon was disappointed but am confident he will be ready," he said. "I believe he'll be ready as he has in the past. He's shown his mental toughness and have confidence he'll be ready (if called upon)."
Chudzinski said the fact that fans seem to have lost faith in Weeden played no part in the decision.
Campbell said he feels bad for Weeden.
"It is a tough situation," he said. "It's not about Brandon or that's the one thing that's keeping us back. That's not the case. When you watch the film, there are a lot of things we have to improve on.
"The decision was made, but it was tough at the same time for me, because of the friendship I have with Brandon," he said. "I made sure that I talked with him at the same time and encouraged him to keep his head up. Like I said, it's not about one person. If you uunderstand this game, changes are made and you have to move on in life and keep striving as best as you can to get better."
Campbell said he's not surprised by anything.
"This is the NFL," he said. "You can't be surprised about anything."
Chudzinski said he doesn't feel the change at quarterback affects the team.
"We have a group of guys that are very resilient," he said. "They want to win. They want to do everything we can do to win."
Davone Bess agreed.
"It's the easy thing to say that a change needs to be made," Bess said. "We know we have a lot of work to do. It's not one person, Brandon or anyone else.
"It's the nature of the business," Bess said. "Obviously, you want consistency at quarterback and you want to know who is going to be (at quarterback)."
Josh Gordon says the offense is familiar with Campbell.
"It's part of the game," he said. "Guys get hurt. Guys come in and come out and you have to roll with the punches."
Campbell says the Browns have a chance to still do something this season.
"There's a definite sense of urgency," he said. "We're still right in the middle of our division fighting. All you can do is take it one game at a time. We can't get ahead of ourselves. you want to be playing for something in December than not playing for anything. That's what brings a sense of urgency to have a shot when its all said and done."
"We have to have a sense of urgency for the whole team," he said. "We've practiced with Jason and I think we'll be fine."
Campbell thinks he needs to set the tone at quarterback.
"Obviously, I just have to go out there and do my job and be a leader and help us get to where we want to go," Campbell said. "We're still a young football team. We're not a veteran football team yet, so we have to keep putting things together week in and week out. That's part of the growth. We all have to do our job and compete at a high level.
"We're mostly a young team that's growing," he said. "We have talent but everyone knows when you have a new system, on both sides of the ball offensively and defensively, you're going to have high moments and low moments. It's all part of the growth process. You can't get down when things don't go right. It's all about responding. I think this group is a resilient group and a group that has been through some things early on in the season and was able to respond and I expect us to continue to respond and bounce back."
Reid on Joe: Chiefs coach Andy Reid worked with Browns CEO Joe Banner for 14 years in Philadelphia with the Eagles and he praised him.
"I'm a big Joe Banner fan," Reid said in a conference call. "I spent 14 great years with him and we had a ton of success. He was instrumental in giving me the opportunity to win a lot of football games.
"He's a brilliant guy," he said. "He knows what it takes to win. I think Cleveland is very fortunate and he will do a great job."
Gordon on Rumors: Despite Chudzinski saying the Browns weren't planning on trading WR Josh Gordon, rumors continue to persist that Gordon might be traded. ESPN said earlier this week that there were at least two standing offers for trades for Gordon. The NFL trade deadline is Oct. 29.
"It would be naive of me to not think (it could happen)," Gordon said. "If it happens, it happens."
Gordon said he would like to it behind him.
"It's ultimately up to (CEO) Joe Banner and (owner) Jimmy Haslam, the guys up top," he said. "It's not up to me. I'm in Cleveland and I want to make a difference."
Gordon had just two receptions for 21 yards against the Packers, but has 27 27 receptions on the season for 450 yards (16.7 avg.) with two touchdowns.
Gipson on Finley: DB Tashaun Gipson talked about the play that resulted in Packers' TE Jermichael Finley being likely lost for the season after a hit by Gipson last Sunday.
"It was a very unfortunate accident that took place," Gipson said. "I pray that doesn't happen again. I wish him well."
Gipson said he hasn't heard from the NFL regarding the hit nor been fined, as of yet. He said he has exchanged texts with Finley.
"I thought it was solid shot," he said. "I pride myself on a clean hit. It's the kind of hit how do you avoid?"
Winn Close: Chudzinski said that DL Billy Winn (quad) is "really, really close" to returning. He returned to practice Wednesday.
Groves Out: Chudzinski said that LB Quentin Groves (ankle) missed practice Wednesday and would be evaluated.
"We're going to have him looked at," he said. "He's really sore."
Fozzy Returns: Chudzinski said that RB/KR Fozzy Whittaker will be the primary kickoff return man. Whittaker had three returns against the Packers for 103 yards, including a 56 yard return.
Chudzinski was asked about using WR/KR Travis Benjamin on kickoff returns more after Benjamin had one return for 86 yards.
"Well continue to find opportunities for him."
Hello, Again: The Browns re-signed DB Julian Posey and RB Jamaine Cook to the practice squad.