The Browns signed Jason Campbell to a two-year deal yesterday to “add to the pile”1 at the quarterback position. Is this more like Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace? That’s what we Browns followers like to do, you see. We try to put everything in the context of other stuff we’ve seen before. Remember when we were talking about hiring coaches and were forced to endure “logic” about how Chip Kelly was like Butch Davis and Nick Saban because they both were former college coaches?2 Maybe Jason Campbell is like Jeff Garcia or Trent Dilfer. Or maybe he’s just Jason Campbell and unlike any of those other guys.
Campbell is a guy with starting experience. He’s not at an advanced age with declining skills like Jake Delhomme was when he arrived in Cleveland. He also probably hasn’t had the same level of success at the top end that Delhomme had at points with the Panthers. Campbell has had some pretty excellent statistical seasons.
Campbell also arrives as a more qualified starter than Seneca Wallace was when he was brought in by Mike Holmgren. Still, in terms of accomplishing the goals of bringing in a “system” guy, there are similarities between Jason Campbell’s experience with Norv Turner-style offense and Wallace’s prior Seattle experience with Holmgren.
Beyond the mostly meaningless comparisons and irrelevant anecdotals, Jason Campbell is a guy who makes some sense for the Browns right now. As I pointed out yesterday, unlike a year ago this time, there really was no “solution” to the Browns’ quarterback position. And really, what’s the downside of signing Jason Campbell in free agency? It’s not like trading picks for Alex Smith.
Jason Campbell is exactly what we all think he is. He’s an opportunity to let the team float along without being the reason the team sinks. At worst, he’s a very qualified backup that Brandon Weeden can compete with to be the starter. At worst, he’s hopefully an option that makes any talk of Colt McCoy largely irrelevant. At best, he might be a better placeholder than anyone else available until the Browns can find a guy who projects to be their QB for the next decade.
Consider this. In Jason Campbell’s career his won/loss record as a starter is 31-40. In his most successful statistical years where he threw for tons of yards, his team went 8-8 and 4-12 in 2008 and 2009 respectively. That 8-8 record is the best he’s achieved in any season as a starter. Sounds about right. The team’s record with a certain starting QB isn’t ultimately the best test of a QB anyway. Whomever the Browns choose to helm the team this year is going to need a lot of help. We already knew that.
Jason Campbell is not going to win you enough games by himself to take you to the playoffs, but at least he’s proven he can win enough to keep you out of the top five of the NFL draft, right? For the presumed low cost3 Jason Campbell is a good enough option to push the Browns QB competition for a year.