Campbell: New England loss drained team

December, 18, 2013
12/18/13
7:50
PM ET
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."

Pat McManamon

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter

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