Cleveland Browns: Jason Campbell

The break between offseason work and training camp provides a good time to assess the Cleveland Browns' roster with a position-by-position rundown comparing it to when the season ended to now.

Quarterback

Then: Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer.

Now: Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel, Tyler Thigpen

Thoughts: Hoyer remains the constant, and he will be the starter heading into camp. He was an unknown when last season ended, with two wins and one quarter of experience with the Browns before he hurt his knee. He remains an unknown, though the two games he started do give plenty of reason for hope. Manziel is a highly regarded draft pick, and as sexy as his name is, he is at this point like a lot of other highly regarded draft picks: unproven with potential. There’s a list of ex-Browns coaches who can say where potential got them. Manziel should be an upgrade over Weeden, who never recovered from a poor finish to his rookie season and the change to a new regime. Last season he looked nothing like the quarterback who was drafted first in 2012.

Positives: Hoyer is healthy and Manziel brings an excitement the team has lacked for years.

Negatives: Inexperience, with plenty of unknowns and hopes based on hope. Depth is a concern, as always.

Upgraded, level or downgraded: Upgrade, though until we see how Manziel plays, we can’t say for sure how much of an upgrade there is.

Next: Running back/fullback, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, secondary, coaching staff, front office.
Lost: Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell

Added: Nobody

Extra points: Mike Pettine said at the NFL scouting combine that the position was obviously a need, and since that day the Browns have released two quarterbacks and signed none. Clearly, the team needs to add someone, but whether they do it with the fourth pick, the 26th or a second- or third-round selection is the great unknown. Not even the National Security Agency has been able to determine the Browns' plans with the most important position on the team.

Draft likelihood: Is there a ranking on the high-medium-low scale that’s higher than high?

Then there's this ...

Last QB drafted by the Browns: Weeden, 22nd overall in 2012.

Last first-round QB drafted: Weeden.

Last QB taken fourth overall: Philip Rivers, by the Giants in 2004; Rivers was then traded to San Diego for Eli Manning.

Last three QBs taken fourth: Rivers, Art Schichter (1982), Bob Griese (1967).

Last QB taken 26th overall: Jim Druckenmiller, by San Francisco, in 1997. One of the poster boys for QB busts.

Last three QBs taken 26th: Druckenmiller, Jim Harbaugh (1987) -- they are the only two.
Jason Campbell and Brandon WeedenAP Photo/Tom UhlmanCleveland Browns quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell were both released in short order on Wednesday.

The team that once released two first-round draft picks on the same day has now released two quarterbacks in 34 minutes.

It’s a Cleveland thing. Though in the case of the quarterbacks, neither was really a surprise as the team parted ways with Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell.

Campbell was a one-year guy, signed as insurance for Weeden. Campbell wound up starting eight games, playing well in some but winning just one. That he was let go wasn’t a surprise, as a new coach usually prefers his own veteran backups.

Weeden’s release was also no surprise, but it does make the final first round of the Mike Holmgren era a complete washout. Running back Trent Richardson was traded early in the 2013 season, and Weeden was released. Both players were touted as the team’s future, but they joined the past faster than they could spell Richardson. Richardson struggled all season in Indianapolis, and the Colts say they still believe in him, but this season could be his last chance. Weeden will try to catch on, no doubt as someone’s backup.

Browns fans won’t miss him, but there's no need for Weeden jokes.

All the guy did was work his hardest and do his best and try to be professional after being drafted in the first round in 2012 by Holmgren. Even last season, after he was ineffective and booed lustily by the home crowd, Weeden tried to stay on the high road. When the season ended, he let the team know he preferred a fresh start elsewhere, and the Browns gave it to him.

In the team’s release announcing the move, General Manager Ray Farmer was gracious.

“First and foremost, the Browns would like to thank Brandon and his agent for being true professionals,” Farmer said in the statement. “The circumstances in which he found himself were not easy for him or the team. After discussions with Brandon and his agent, we’d like to give him the ability to pursue other opportunities.”

The decision to select Weeden now looks like the reach of all reaches. The Browns were so intent on getting a quarterback that they took Weeden with the 22nd overall pick even though he was 28 years old. The organization felt it was too risky to wait for the second round.

That was not Weeden’s fault. Nor was it Weeden’s fault he was named the starter in 2012 with little competition against Colt McCoy. Weeden’s arm and accuracy were too compelling for the Browns, so he started as a rookie. His opener against Philadelphia was a disaster, as he completed just 12 of 35 passes for 118 yards with four interceptions. His rating that day: 5.1.

The next nine games he showed promise, throwing 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. But he regressed in his last few rookie games, then was caught in the wash of the team’s ownership, front office and coaching changes. It was evident GM Mike Lombardi and CEO Joe Banner did not want Weeden, but with few options available they went with him and trusted Norv Turner and Rob Chudzinski to “coach him up.”

It did not go well, as Weeden played poorly and never had the support of the entire organization. Former GM Phil Savage used to say the entire organization had to be on board with the quarterback, and that was not the case with Weeden. He never helped himself either, as he became more hesitant to make a mistake and held the ball far too long. Fans turned on him, and he became the object of many Twitter jokes.

In the end, Weeden needed a new team, and the Browns would have had to deal with continued negativity if it kept him. A clean break was best, and that’s what Farmer provided. His release means the Browns will carry $4.2 million in dead money for him under the cap, and that he earned $7.5 million in guaranteed money. Campbell’s release saves the Browns his $3 million salary and $250,000 roster bonus.

It will be interesting to see if a team signs Weeden and where he winds up. He’s 30, which will work against him, but he does have a strong arm and some ability, which needs more coaching.

In the end, Weeden leaves the Browns like so many other quarterbacks before him (Charlie Frye, Brady Quinn, Tim Couch, Colt McCoy) -- as damaged goods, with confidence destroyed.

No team has chewed up and spit out quarterbacks like the post-1999 Cleveland Browns.
The Cleveland Browns direction regarding one of their quarterbacks will be known soon.

Campbell
Jason Campbell is due a $250,000 roster bonus on Thursday. If the Browns choose not to pay the bonus, he will be released. Campbell told ESPN's Josina Anderson he does not know what will happen.

"Right now I'm just anxious to know what the Browns are going to do," Campbell said. "If I'm going to be back, I'd like to be able to prepare for that. If I'm not returning, my agent can get to work on my next move."

Campbell signed a two-year contract a year ago in hopes of reviving his career. Injuries and performance led to the Browns giving him eight starts. He completed 56.8 percent with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions, but the Browns won only one of his starts.

It would not be at all surprising if new coach Mike Pettine seeks a new backup quarterback.

The most expensive Browns in 2014

February, 28, 2014
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The release of D'Qwell Jackson leads a wandering mind to wonder: What players will cost the Cleveland Browns the most money this season?

[+] EnlargeJoe Thomas
AP Photo/David RichardJoe Thomas' $10.9 million base salary is the highest among offensive linemen in the league.
Here they are, in terms of their cash cost, which equals base salary plus any bonuses.
A few thoughts:

Yes, Paul Kruger is indeed the second-highest paid player on the team.

Kruger’s base salary is the fourth highest among linebackers in the league, behind only St. Louis’ James Laurinaitis ($10 million), Jacksonville’s Paul Posluszny ($7.45 million) and Pittsburgh’s LaMarr Woodley ($8 million).

Yes, Campbell ranks fifth on the Browns. And Bess sixth.

Sigh.

It will be shocking if either Campbell or Bess is with the team in 2014.

Four of the top seven highest paid were signed in the Joe Banner-Mike Lombardi era: Kruger, Bess, Campbell and Bryant.

Greco’s $1.7 million roster bonus is due the fifth day of the league year, which would be March 16.

Thomas has the highest base salary ($10.9 million) among the league’s offensive linemen, and his cash cost for 2014 ranks second among linemen to Philadelphia’s Jason Peters’ $12 million. The contract extension Thomas signed in 2011 included $29.5 million in guaranteed money.

ProFootballTalk.com reported that Rubin could be on the cut list due to his salary. We’ll see.

Here are the 10 most expensive Browns as they fall under the salary cap, with prorated signing bonuses included in the calculations:

  • Thomas, $12.3 million
  • Haden, $8.9 million
  • Kruger, $8.2 million
  • Rubin, $8.175 million
  • Bryant, $4 million
  • LB Barkevious Mingo, $3.715 million
  • Taylor, $2.575 million
  • Grego, $2.43 million
  • QB Brandon Weeden, $2.204 million
  • Campbell, $3.25 million
A position by position rundown of the Cleveland Browns following the 2013 season.

QUARTERBACKS

2014 Free agents: None, though Brandon Weeden is expected to be given his “free agency” shortly after the Super Bowl.

The good: The best news at this position is that Brian Hoyer should be back in time for training camp after tearing his ACL in October. Hoyer’s emergence for the two games he played was the brightest spot at the position. That it was only two games matters, but it gives the Browns a small hook on which to hang some sort of hat.

The bad: This could also be called “the old.” The Browns do not know if they have their quarterback of the future and must decide if they want to use one of their two first-round picks for a quarterback, use both to trade up for a quarterback or be patient and find the right quarterback. There’s a lot of chatter already about Johnny Manziel, that GM Mike Lombardi likes him a lot. But nothing is certain yet, and pre-draft chatter can be misleading.

The money: Weeden will be cut, not because of money (his salary cap figure is $2.2 million), but because this regime didn’t want him and gave him a chance because it had no other options. Hoyer, Jason Campbell and Alex Tanney together do not account for $4 million under the cap, so their status with the team will depend on what the new coach wants and is not a financial decision.

Draft priority: High. At some point in the draft, the Browns will take a quarterback. It could be high -- a Manziel or a Blake Bortles -- or it could be mid-round -- someone like A.J. McCarron of Alabama. But with Josh McCown of Chicago the best projected free agent on the market, the Browns will turn to the draft when it comes to upgrading this spot.

Plays that shaped a season: No. 4

January, 14, 2014
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The Play: The hit to the head that wasn’t called.

The situation: The Browns trailed 13-3 and were in Steelers territory when Wiliam Gay gave Jason Campbell a concussion with a hit to the head -- with no flag thrown.

The reason it mattered: The play led to a turnover and fumble return to the Browns' 5. When Pittsburgh scored a play later, the Steelers led 20-3 and a route was on. A penalty and first down would have given the Browns a chance to get back in the game. The league admitted this no-call was a mistake, just like it did the pass interference penalty on Leon McFadden. It didn’t change the result, though.
Any season always leaves memorable moments and plays that linger. Taken together, they shape a season. We’ll take a daily look at the 10 plays that shaped the Cleveland Browns season.

The play: Davone Bess fumbles a punt against the Chiefs.

The situation: Down three to the undefeated Chiefs with Jason Campbell playing well, the Browns were looking to be set up with excellent field position -- 20 or 25 yards from the game-tying field goal.

The reason it mattered: Bess’ gaffe was one of several that played huge roles in could-have-been-win games. That it was Bess was significant as well. He was acquired from Miami in an offseason trade and given a new contract. Bess was a complete disappointment, as he dropped passes, never seemed to like being in Cleveland and was sidelined for “personal reasons” the final two games.
Some lingering questions remain about the Cleveland Browns' season, and how certain things played out.

It doesn't take a lot more than common sense and logic to see why what happened did happen.

1) Why was so much time, effort and commitment dedicated to Brandon Weeden?

Weeden
From the second the Browns hired Rob Chudzinski as coach and Norv Turner as offensive coordinator, the latter's addition was praised. This wise veteran coach would help Weeden with an offense better suited to him, an offense that would put him back in the shotgun and throw the ball down the field.

The praise was almost embarrassing to the point of making Turner sound like a miracle worker.

As the offseason progressed, no other quarterback was brought in to compete with Weeden other than Jason Campbell, a veteran backup whose career had been decidely mediocre.

Given the options, the organization, with the backing of Turner and Chudzinski, committed to giving Weeden a full chance. He was a former first-round pick, he had the big arm, he had played as a rookie. It made sense.

Brian Hoyer was added late in the offseason program, but at that point the Weeden train had long left the station, and Hoyer arrived with few credentials other than as a backup.

2) Why did Weeden receive the large majority of first-team reps in the offseason and training camp?

Even though your mother said never to answer a question with a question, this one begs a question: Is a team supposed to give the backup more reps than the projected starter?

The team and the organization as a whole committed to see what Weeden could do. Everyone gave him a chance. To give him the reps simply made sense.

3) Why was Hoyer not worked in immediately?

Because he was acquired to compete, not to start. The Browns can say this is not true, but Hoyer was a backup when he arrived -- and given reps accordingly. The word the team was given from those who knew him in places he had played was he was a backup.

Hoyer
At this point it's easy to say that Hoyer should have played sooner, but the case also could be made that eyebrows were raised when Hoyer was made the starter in Week No. 3.

Turner really didn't know what he had in Hoyer, and during the season he admitted everyone was surprised at his production. Who knows where the team would have wound up had he not torn his knee ligament?

Turner also thought highly of Hoyer for the future. Fox analyst Brian Billick said he talked to Turner before the Bears game and Turner expressed how much he thought of Hoyer.

4) Why not go to Jason Campbell after Hoyer was hurt rather than go back to Weeden?

Because Campbell is Campbell.

A guy with tape, a track record and a history is not going to transform into Otto Graham because he joins a new team. This is the fallacy of free agency -- that giving a guy money or signing him from another team will make him into a different player, just because.

Campbell's playing experience for the Browns illustrates the point. He played a couple of good games for the Browns, but he eventually settled into his career arc while lamenting being emotional over losing in New England, the cold, and the fact that he pressed against Chicago.

Campbell's completion percentage and his 76.9 rating were his lowest since his rookie season in 2006. Campbell is a good player, a good teammate, and a good backup quarterback.

When he arrived in Cleveland, there was film on him. A track record. That he did little to alter the track record should not be a surprise.

5) What happened with running back Bobby Rainey?

The Browns picked up Rainey after training camp, after the Ravens waived him. In a quirk of the present-day assessments, Rainey was tabbed the "best player cut," a double-edged sword if ever there was one.

Rainey
He played six games for the Browns, ran 13 times and gained 34 yards.

He was picked up by Tampa, where he ran 137 times for 532 yards and five touchdowns.

If it weren't for injury, the Bucs may not have played Rainey much either. The Bucs turned to him after Doug Martin and Mike James were injured, and he responded.

The Browns waived Rainey on Oct. 18, six days after they had signed wide receiver Charles Johnson off the Green Bay practice squad. To make room for Johnson, the team put Hoyer on injured reserve.

Johnson, though, arrived with a torn knee ligament. Because Johnson was signed off a practice squad, the Browns had to leave his roster spot open for two weeks.

At that time, they hadn't added a third quarterback to replace Hoyer, and they needed to cut someone.

The team decided to cut Rainey and keep Fozzy Whittaker.

Clearly, that turned out to be a mistake, but it was a mistake forced by issues unrelated to Rainey.

At the same time Rainey was cut, safety Josh Aubrey was placed on injured reserve and the Browns promoted receiver Tori Gurley and cornerback Julian Posey from the practice squad. Posey was waived three days later, then re-signed to the practice squad two days after that.

Campbell laments missed opportunity

December, 24, 2013
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Jason Campbell more or less admitted his emotions are getting the best of him as the Cleveland Browns' season winds to a painful end.

Campbell said he talked to his father, Larry, Monday night, and even his dad noticed the anguish in the quarterback’s voice.

Campbell
“He said, ‘Hey you need to sound a little more enthused,’” Campbell said. “I told him it kind of hurts when you look at the opportunities that have been there.”

He also admitted: “I take things a little bit too hard at times.”

While this may sound like yet one more quarterback chewed up and spit out by the machinery that is the Cleveland Browns, for Campbell it’s a little more personal. He had a taste of starting two years ago in Oakland, but lost his job and his spot when he broke his collarbone. He backed up in Chicago for a year, then handpicked Cleveland where he thought he’d have a chance to revive his career because he may have a chance to play.

His decision was very calculated.

He got his chance thanks to injury and patience, but the Browns went 1-6 in the games he started and Campbell’s passer rating is 77.6.

In the past few weeks, Campbell has said he was emotionally let down after the loss in New England, struggling with the cold against Chicago and pressing against the Jets.

Though coach Rob Chudzinski said pressing can be a good sign because it shows a player cares, Campbell lamented the way things have gone.

“Because of everything that I’ve been through,” he said. “That probably plays a lot into it. The fact you still want to prove that you belong.”

Campbell is under contract this season for $1.5 million and is due to be paid $2.25 million in 2014. Campbell seems to have cemented his status, in Cleveland at least, as a backup and veteran mentor.

He’s an excellent guy, excellent teammate. But two things the Browns know from this season are that Campbell and Brandon Weeden are not the long-term answers. While Weeden likely will be released, Campbell could stay as a backup.

The irony, of course, is that Campbell lost his job in Oakland to injury, but most seem to feel that Brian Hoyer will be the Browns’ starter in 2014, even though he missed most of the season to injury.

“What’s going to happen,” Campbell said, “is going to happen.”

Browns continue to find new lows

December, 22, 2013
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Pick a word for the performance the Cleveland Browns put on the field Sunday against the New York Jets. Any or all apply.

Brutal. Ugly. Half-hearted. Lifeless. Disappointing. Sloppy.

The Browns talked all week about having two more chances this season to put forth their best effort.

They performed as poorly as they have all season, and maybe in years (and that's saying something) during a 24-13 loss.

[+] EnlargeCleveland's Gary Barnidge
Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY SportsGary Barnidge and the Browns struggled to hold onto the ball against the Jets.
There were dropped touchdown passes, a penalty on the defense for 12 men on the field, a penalty that wiped out a touchdown run, two interceptions and a defense that gave up 10 points in the final 1:18 of the first half and an 80-yard drive when the Browns had cut a fourth-quarter deficit to 17-13.

It also allowed Geno Smith and the Jets to be masters of third down.

The Jets started the game converting 36.4 percent. The Browns gave up 66.7 percent, 12-of-18.

A week ago, the Bears had the best day on third down against the Browns in five years -- 64.3 percent.

The Jets, a 6-8 team that had turned the ball over 29 times, did better. And the Browns did not force a single turnover.

A week after Jay Cutler went 11-for-12 for 152 yards with two touchdowns on third down, Geno Smith (unofficially) went 9-for-12 for 107 yards, six of the completions for first downs, one for a touchdown.

For good measure he ran for a 17-yard touchdown to seal the win.

The Browns defense has been living on numbers and ranking all season, but the numbers show for the second week in a row that a back had 100 yards against them. First it was Matt Forte, this week it was Chris Ivory, as the Jets ran for 208 yards.

The numbers also show that the Browns have given up 79 points in the final two minutes of halves. They started the game with 69 points in that time, 29th in the league, then gave up 10 to the Jets in the final 1:18 as the Browns saw a 10-0 lead dissipate into a halftime tie.

Go down the line, though. Greg Little and Josh Gordon dropped touchdowns that could have changed the game (on two red zone possessions, the Browns got three points when they could have had 14). Gordon (six catches in 16 targets) was handled by rookie Dee Milliner. Gary Barnidge's penalty wiped out a rushing touchdown.

Campbell was a woeful 18-for-40 for 178 yards with two interceptions. One killed a third-quarter drive, the last was in desperation time. He also badly overthrew a wide-open MarQueis Gray late in the first half on an important third down.

Dropped passes can take the life out of a team, as does letting the opposition convert third downs. Maybe that, or maybe 11 losses this season explains some things. The Browns looked lifeless, listless and as if they have mentally checked out.

Coach Rob Chudzinski called it unacceptable.

Which might be an understatement.

Rapid Reaction: Cleveland Browns

December, 22, 2013
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A few thoughts on the Cleveland Browns' 24-13 loss to the New York Jets:

What it means: That the Browns have a lot of problems, and all the folks saying how close they are and how the 2014 NFL draft can make the difference might want to realize the depth of their problems. They start at quarterback and go throughout the offense and defense, which has given up long fourth-quarter touchdown drives in the past four games. Sunday’s 80-yard Jets drive lasted more than six minutes and gave New York a 24-13 lead -- after the Browns had cut the deficit to 17-13.

Stock watch: How can a team’s stock not be plummeting when it loses six games in a row heading to the finale in Pittsburgh? One year after new ownership and leadership promised a new approach and smarter decisions, the Browns must win in Pittsburgh to match last season’s five-win total.

Dropped chances: The Browns can lament a lot of mistakes from this game. Wasted timeouts. Twelve men on the field for the defense. Two interceptions of Jason Campbell. A penalty that wiped out a touchdown. But they may most lament dropping two passes in the end zone in the first half, wiping out touchdowns. For good measure, they even had a penalty wipe out a touchdown run in the fourth quarter. This was a bad, bad, bad game.

Poor finishes: The Browns gave up 10 points in the final 1:18 of the first half. That makes eight of the past nine games in which they gave up a scoring drive in the final two minutes of the half -- for 53 points. The defense is failing to get off the field in quarters other than the fourth.

Not smart: Safety Tashaun Gipson helped give the Jets their last-play field goal at the end of the half by pushing Jets quarterback Geno Smith when he was a few steps out of bounds. It appeared that Smith took a dive after the shove, but there was no reason whatsoever for Gipson to even touch Smith. He was out of bounds, the play was over, and the league has made it clear the quarterback is sacred.

What’s next: The season comes to a merciful end in Pittsburgh, where the Browns face the Steelers.

A single point to ponder, with a bonus

December, 20, 2013
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Two defensive starters left the Baltimore Ravens in the offseason. Paul Kruger went to the Cleveland Browns, Dannell Ellerbe to the Miami Dolphins. Playing for the Ravens defense a year ago, Kruger had nine sacks, and Ellerbe 4.5; playing for the Browns and Dolphins, Kruger has 4.5 sacks and Ellerbe has one.

And ... since the holidays are coming ... a bonus point to ponder, which technically makes this week “A Double Point to Ponder.”

Norv Turner scoffed when asked if the Browns should have run more against the Bears given Cleveland averaged five yards per carry and it was a windy day when Jason Campbell was struggling. Turner’s response was to basically say: Have you watched the other games?!?!? But in the eight games prior to the Browns running 17 times for 93 yards, the Bears gave up this in the run game: 198, 246, 258, 174, 145, 199, 209 and 123 yards. Average: 194 yards, more than double the Browns' total.
Jason Campbell had an interesting theory on why the Cleveland Browns played so poorly against Chicago last weekend: a hangover from New England.

The loss to the Patriots, which saw the Browns give up a 26-14 lead partly due to their inability to stop Tom Brady and partly due to two controversial penalties against the defense, lingered.

“Did it take a lot out of us as a team and individually?” Campbell said. “Honestly, yes.”

He added that the game was “kind of taken” from the Browns, and that the next week “it didn’t sit right and emotionally it changes your whole output going into next week’s game.”

Which means the Browns were not themselves as they prepared for Chicago, and not themselves against Chicago.

“You try to say it won’t or it doesn’t [affect a player],” Campbell said. “But [it's] human nature. It does.”

To Campbell, even though the Browns worked hard to get ready for the Bears, their emotional focus was not in the proper place, and that affected their physical play on Sunday.

"[A win over the Patriots] could have sent us to a whole new level," the Browns quarterback said. "But instead you’re just sitting there trying to answer questions, the ifs and the 'why this' and 'why that,' instead of just focusing on, 'We really beat a great team in their home and we’re moving forward.'"

Interesting reaction. Probably not one shared by coach Rob Chudzinski.

Teams lose tough games all the time. Good teams lose them, bad teams lose them. The key to a season can be how a team reacts to losing.

Bill Belichick can afford to be coy since he has Brady, but he is the most boring and dour person on earth after a loss. All he will say is: They played better, coached better and they beat us. He does not want to focus too long on a loss, nor does he want his team to do so. To Belichick, each game is its own entity, just like each season is its own season.

It’s a lot easier for a coach of a winning team to do that than it is the coach or players of a team trying to win, like the Browns. When wins are fewer and farther between, they are more precious. And the ones that hurt hurt all the more because the team is scratching for success. In that sense, Campbell’s feelings are understandable.

But until the Browns get past the mental hurdle of letting one loss loom too large, they might find themselves talking this way again.

Chudzinski, meanwhile, remains undaunted.

"I've said all along, I believe in our plan that we have, and that’s a long-term plan for sustained success," he said. "I see progress, and although the outcomes and the wins and the losses aren't what I or anybody else wants them to be, I see the progress, and it’s internal progress. It’s the things in developing what I believe is a backbone for success and future success.

"I've seen player development. I've seen growth from them in our system and systems. Those things give me the feeling of excitement, hope for the future. I believe we will win here. We have the right people."
Another long Cleveland Browns season heads down the finish line ...

  1. The Angry Browns Fan is back with version two of his Cleveland Browns Christmas Carols. Some of the lyrics are submitted by fans. You can imagine.
  2. The reasons for trading Trent Richardson were well and good -- and may in the long run be very smart. Certainly Richardson has done nothing since his trade to warrant criticism of the deal.
  3. But to say the Browns had a running game after Richardson’s departure would be misleading. The Browns have had a patchwork run game, at best. Willis McGahee is a tremendous locker room presence, and it’s a shame he doesn’t have more left because he brings a lot and gives all he’s got. He just doesn’t have that much to give. Chris Ogbonnaya and Fozzy Whittaker are what they are.
  4. It’s measure of the way things are that Edwin Baker opened eyes in his eight carries. This should not be happening in the 14th game of the season. A coaching staff simply can’t win with one hand tied behind its back, and that’s what’s happened this season. Trading Richardson may have been the right move, but there hasn’t been much done to make things better since.
  5. When seeing a position like that, the thought comes to mind of Joe Banner at the scouting combine saying the Browns might be short at a position this season, but the team would be well aware it was short. Presumably this is still true.
  6. Paul Kruger is a standup and accountable guy, and that is greatly appreciated. But he lined up most of the game against Chicago against Jordan Mills, a rookie fourth round-draft pick. Kruger had zero tackles, zero sacks, one quarterback hit and one pass defensed.
  7. The Bears have won 12 games in a row when scoring a defensive touchdown. The Browns have lost two in a row. How does this happen?
  8. Further proof the Browns defense took a step back on third down against Chicago: Jay Cutler was 11-for-12 for 152 yards two touchdowns on third down.
  9. The Browns now are the second franchise in NFL history to lose 10 games in 10-of-11 seasons. The last was the Tampa Bay Bucs, who lost at least 10 games 12 seasons in a row from 1983 through 1994.
  10. There was some interesting information from Chudzinski about his decision to defer after winning the opening coin toss, which allowed Chicago to take the wind in the fourth quarter. Chudzinski said he thought the wind only affected the kicking game, that Jason Campbell preferred to throw into the wind. But Chudzinski also said Campbell thought the ball was sailing going with the wind -- which would indicate it affected more than the kicking game. At the end of the third quarter, Chudzinski used a timeout to preserve time so the offense would have the ball going with the wind. At that point the wind mattered. Cutler’s rating was 75 going into the wind, 105.1 with it. Campbell’s difference was less dramatic (51.4 with, 73.2 against) until the Browns final drive when the Bears played soft to keep the clock running is discounted. Eliminate that drive -- which does still count -- and Campbell’s rating into the wind drops to 40.2.

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