- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Cleveland Browns quarterback Jason Campbell still keeps in touch with Bears backup Josh McCown via text messages, and respects the job he’s done filling in for Jay Cutler while also understanding the challenges such a dynamic presents.
Campbell said he’s “been very impressed with what [McCown] has been doing,” in relief of Cutler, and acknowledged that Chicago coach Marc Trestman deserves the credit for the way the team’s quarterbacks have performed this season. During his time as a quarterback consultant, Trestman worked with Campbell prior to the 2005 NFL draft, and the quarterback was taken 25th overall by the Washington Redskins.
“A lot of it has to do with Coach Trestman. The type of offense that he brings in there, it gives your quarterback an opportunity to be successful, gives a chance to give him an opportunity to make plays,” Campbell said. “You look at Josh and you look at Jay; two very smart guys. Then you add Coach Trestman as an offensive coordinator, and it helps so much. I can just tell from last year to this year, from an offense point of view, they’re making big strides. You look at Brandon [Marshall], and you look at Alshon [Jeffery] and getting Martellus [Bennett] in there, those guys are on the right track, especially with [Matt] Forte and [Michael] Bush back there, as well. So they present a lot of problems to a lot of defenses. You look at them, and it’s kind of like looking at a big basketball team. They’re doing good things.”
Campbell spent 2012 with the Chicago Bears as the primary backup to Cutler after signing that offseason to a one-year deal that included a $2 million signing bonus and a base salary of $1.4 million. Heading into the 2013 offseason, Campbell was simply too expensive for the Bears to bring back.
Campbell signed a two-year deal in March with Cleveland and has started five games this season after taking over for Brandon Weeden.
After spending last season with the Bears, Campbell isn’t surprised by the success McCown has experienced. McCown was named NFC offensive player of the week on Wednesday after throwing for 348 yards and four touchdowns Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys.
“Just being around Josh all of last season, he’s kind of like a coach on the field,” Campbell said. “Just watching him Monday night, he’s playing in a way where he just knows exactly where to go with the ball. He knows exactly what the coaches are doing on the board, where they’re trying to attack and the things they’re trying to do. And he’s just doing his part because that’s pretty much what he is. He’s like having an extra coach on the field.”
That’s not an easy feat for a backup, Campbell explained, which makes McCown’s accomplishments even more impressive.
“The thing is, when you’re a backup, it’s harder because you don’t get a lot of reps,” Campbell said. “When you’re a starter, you get a chance to practice a lot. You get a chance to get a lot of reps, and you get a chance to get into a rhythm and a groove.”
That’s what Campbell seems to have done in Cleveland, and Trestman believes the quarterback might have finally found a place where he can stick. As a first-round pick of the Redskins, Campbell played for multiple offensive coordinators. More instability followed during a two-year stint in Oakland in 2010 and 2011 that eventually led to Campbell signing with Chicago.
In Campbell’s lone start last season for Chicago under former offensive coordinator Mike Tice, the quarterback suffered six sacks during a 32-7 slaughter at San Francisco. But that’s not the quarterback Trestman sees.
“I know Jason pretty well. I know he’s a very smart guy. I think he’s a very good passer. He’s got mobility. You’ve seen him here play. He’s a quiet leader. He’s not an outwardly emotional guy,” Trestman said. “I’ve gotten to know him personally. He’s a very passionate, very smart player and right now he’s got good coaching around him. He’s got an environment that certainly on his journey this might be the place for him. Being with [Browns offensive coordinator] Norv [Turner] and being with [Browns coach Rob] Chud[zinski] and those guys who really know how to work with a big, strong quarterback like Jason. So that calmness, that veteran experience, it gives them a chance each and every week. I’m sure they feel that way.”
958dMichael C. Wright