3 Pros/Cons of the Jason Campbell signing

Ezra Shaw

After 13 futile years of "effort" on the North Shores of Cleveland, it's easy to view all Browns related moves through a filter of black or white. Many Browns fans view decisions as either good or bad, and fail to notice the grey area between these absolute values. The signing of Jason Campbell is best viewed through this lens of moderation, and included here are three reasons to be disappointed and excited with the signing.

LETS GET PUMPED

1. Jason Campbell is a clear upgrade over Colt McCoy as qb competition for the 2013 version of the Cleveland Browns.

Jason Campbell fits the archetype of quarterbacks that Norv Turner and Rob Chudzinski favor. He's tall (6'5") and possesses the prototypical arm for a vertical passing game. As a first round pick for the Redskins in 2006, he was highly touted for his maturity and accuracy coming out of Auburn, with a career completion % of 64.6. He was universally lauded for having quick feet, making good decisions under pressure, and putting good touch on deep balls. His scouting profile featured almost everything you'd like to see in a first round pick.

Campbell played for 3 full years in Washington (after a brief rookie stint) behind a run-first offense that featured Clinton Portis. His passing numbers in that offense featured a rate+ of 94, 102, 104. His yards per attempt reflect the nature of his job as a game manager behind a strong running attack, but he posted a positive TD/INT ratio every year as a starter.

After migrating to Oakland, Campbell actually improved his numbers. His yards per game did not change dramatically, as he was still expected to pound the ball first and throw second, but his yards per attempt and td%'s improved in the two years he started games for the Raiders. He was 7-5 as a starter in his first season, and 4-2 in his second season before suffering a broken collarbone in a game with Cleveland. Despite playing very well, Oakland panicked and traded future assets for the perennially average Carson Palmer, signaling the end of Campbell's opportunity in Oakland.

As an added bonus, Campbell is a career YPC rusher of 4.5+ and runs for 45+ attempts in most of his seasons. He's not a dual threat quarterback, but he features enough mobility to scramble for first downs when the need exists.

Included are some stats that Campbell compiled in his two best seasons, 2008 (Redskins) and 2010. (Oakland)

2008 Redskins

2010 Oakland

(Note: Campbell did not play in games 3, 4, or 12 in this season)

OVERALL STATS (from http://www.pro-football-reference.com)

2. Jason Campbell provides a veteran presence and will mentor "young" quarterbacks.

(We say "young" as it regards to NFL experience, as opposed to referencing Brandon Weeden's geriatric status.)

Head Coach Rob Chudzinski and CEO Joe Banner are quick in the usual superlatives to describe Campbell to the Cleveland media. They use words like, "proven leader" and "physical tools" and "veteran presence" to explain what he brings to the table. Campbell will be the type of quarterback that works hard and maximizes his ability, showing Weeden and a potential developmental QB the right way to prepare for a game and break down film.

In his 6 seasons of playing regularly, Jason Campbell has shown the ability to maximize limited opportunities while minimizing mistakes. His 2.4% interception rate ties him for 8th among allquarterbacks since 2005, and he sports a 20+ positive TD/INT ratio.

3. If Jason Campbell is capable of beating your next best option, it's a clear sign to management that the franchise QB is in next year's draft.

The hardest position on the field to fill is the quarterback, and it's also the most important. Jason Campbell raises the bar of "acceptable" quarterback play for the Cleveland Browns in 2013, and this bar is the measuring stick with which Brandon Weeden and anyone else will be compared. Jason Campbell is capable of providing a stabilizing presence and competent hand to guide the offense, and anything like the roller coaster of the 2012 passing game will no longer be acceptable.

To be clear: if Jason Campbell is the best quarterback in Browns 2013 training camp, it proves that Brandon Weeden does not possess the skills necessary to start in the NFL, and Joe Banner/Mike Lombardi can focus on finding someone who is capable of playing at a high level while Campbell stewards the ship. Campbell is not similar to the cases of bringing in a Drew Stanton or Chad Henne, who have never experienced success at the NFL level; it's more of a comparison to Alex Smith, Matt Moore, or Matt Hasselbeck. Campbell fits the Browns offense and can keep the wheels turning until the franchise quarterback is in place.

THIS IS THE END OF DAYS, FREAK OUT

1. Jason Campbell is juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust competent enough to keep the Browns out of top 5 pick territory, but not competent enough to take a team without a premium running game and defense into the playoffs.

The ugly truth is that Jason Campbell was passed over by his last two teams for Donovan McNabb and Carson Palmer, who were already on the back nine of their careers and had exhibited a strong downward trend. Campbell has been a game manager throughout his career, and Norv Turner knows his capabilities better than most. (Jason engineered the game winning drive against Norv's Chargers on October 10th of 2010, coming in and playing brilliantly in relief of an injured Bruce Gradkowski)

With a solid defense featuring boatloads of young talent and a top five offensive line, a journeyman NFL quarterback with the requisite tools for the system is easily capable of winning six to eight games against mediocre competition. The Browns have a relatively easy schedule in 2013, and appeared to be a team on the rise during the course of a 2012 season that featured rookies and second year players at many major skill positions.

Winning six to eight games all but ensures that being in position for the top quarterbacking talent of 2014 could be a difficult position to get into without providing cringe-worthy amounts of draft pick compensation. Buckle up for the 2013-2014 NFL offseason, should competency rear its ugly head on the shores of Lake Erie.

2. Jason Campbell is a game manager and cannot be featured in a pass-first offense.

This is likely one of the greatest fears for fans of the 2013 Cleveland Browns. When quarterbacks that have made a living by managing the game and leaning on the run game are forced into situations where they have to throw the ball 25+ times a game, weaknesses can be exposed. When Campbell is forced to carry the offense with the passing attack, bad things have a tendency to happen. (Look at the numbers for the games in which Campbell has the greatest number of attempts; there's a pattern)

(I take games against Jax and Indy’s awful pass defenses with a grain of salt.)

3. Jason Campbell sucks against the Steelers.

This is totally unfair, because most teams suck against the Steelers. They have one of the best defenses in the league, year after year.

But those numbers are.....actually worse than Brandon Weeden's stat line, after one attempt. There are a lot of reasons for this disparity, but I'm going to use a small sample size anyway.

Conclusion

Jason Campbell is an above average quarterback that will provide exactly what the Browns front office wants for the 2013 offseason: competition. He can be counted on to provide a measuring stick for Browns quarterback play, and I'm thrilled at the idea that the worst we will see in the 2013 is "average" capability. I sincerely hope that Brandon Weeden uses the signing of Jason Campbell as motivation and spends the requisite time and energy in study to maximize his tremendous throwing ability and wins the quarterback competition, making the first round pick the Browns spent on him worthy of the investment.

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