NFL Team Report - Cleveland Browns - INSIDE SLANT
The Cleveland Browns coaches talked it over and when they were done talking on Monday they decided Jason Campbell is their best option at quarterback.
Coach Rob Chudzinski made the surprise announcement Wednesday morning. Campbell will become the third starting quarterback for the Browns this season when they play the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in Arrowhead Stadium.
Brandon Weeden was the starting quarterback at the beginning of the season and lost two games. He injured his right thumb in the second game and missed two starts.
Brian Hoyer won both and started against the Bills on Oct. 3, but on the second series of the first quarter, Hoyer suffered a season ending knee injury.
Weeden came off the bench cold and beat the Bills. Since then he has lost to the Lions and Packers. The Browns carry a 3-4 record against the unbeaten Chiefs. Weeden started all four losses.
"It's not all Brandon," Chudzinski said. "That's the first thing you have to look at as you look at the tape and see. There are some execution errors and issues with other guys. We all need to play better."
Nevertheless, Chudzinski made the switch.
Although Campbell is the third starter for the Browns this season, this is the first switch based on merit.
Weeden has completed 103-of-195 passes for 1,154 yards with five touchdown passes and six interceptions. His completion percentage of 52.8 ranks 32nd. His 66.5 passer rating ranks 30th.
"It's a tough decision," Chudzinksi said. "I believe this is in the best interest of the team ultimately and gives us the best chance to win. I'm excited to see what Jason will do with this opportunity.
"I think that looking at Jason and the things that he brings to the table, leadership, his experience, he's been productive and he's been successful in the league.
"I think when you look at his arm strength and you look at his mobility, and some of those things and tie it into as far as a game plan standpoint. It's what we feel like we need for this game and gives us the best chance."
Chudzinski could have named Campbell the starter when Weeden was injured but did not. It would have been the logical choice since Campbell was the backup in preseason and the first two preseason games.
Chudzinski could have named Campbell as Hoyer's backup in the Buffalo game, but he went with Weeden even though Weeden had only one day of practice as Hoyer's backup that week.
"The guys have to understand on this team we're not built to ... we're not blowing people out," defensive captain D'Qwell Jackson said. "We're not scoring 40 points.
"All right, so, OK, what do you do? You play great defense, you play great special teams and you don't turn the ball over offensively. You kind of build a formula like the Kansas City Chiefs. Alex Smith is known for managing the game. I think we have the formula to win a ton of games. We just have to figure out our identity."
Jackson said the negative attention Weeden was getting has shaken the second year quarterback. Talk radio and Twitter was harsh last week when the subject of Weeden's backhand, underhand flip interception in the fourth quarter of the Detroit game provided fodder for days.
It has been worse this week, especially with Weeden being named starter again.
"Anybody would (be bothered)," Jackson said. "I'd be lying if I said he wasn't. I'm pretty sure he is. You try to block out the noise and can't avoid it. It comes with the territory. It's a big-boy league. You've got to take the good with the bad.
"People are going to love him when he plays well and people are going to try to run him out of Cleveland if he doesn't. And that goes for all of us. It comes with the territory, especially playing in Cleveland."
SERIES HISTORY: 24th regular-season meeting. Browns lead series, 11-10-2. Tie games are rare in the era of overtime. The last time the Browns and an opponent played to a tie was in 1989 when they and the Chiefs battled to a 10-10 draw. What made that game especially memorable is the Chiefs were coached by Marty Schottenheimer, who coached the Browns from mid-1984 through 1988.
NFL Team Report - Cleveland Browns - NOTES, QUOTES
--The Browns beat the Chiefs, 30-7, on Dec. 9 last year in Cleveland. Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles raced 80 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the game, but never found the end zone again. Trent Richardson scored on two one-yard runs and Travis Benjamin scored on a 93-yard punt return for the Browns.
--Phil Dawson kicked his 300th career field goal in the victory over the Chiefs. His milestone field goal was from 23 yards. He also kicked one from 24 yards and one from 34 yards in the game. The short field goals illustrate how the Browns struggled to score touchdowns in their 5-11 season.
--Browns first-year tight ends coach Jon Embree was the Chiefs tight ends coach from 2006-08. He maintains a close friendship with Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons tight end who spent the majority of his career in Kansas City.
Before training camp began, Embree hooked up Gonzalez with Browns tight end Jordan Cameron.
"Nothing crazy," Cameron said of his time with Gonzalez. "Just hanging out. We ran some routes, a few details here and there. We mainly talked about pre-game, pre-practice daily routine and that stuff.
"After I talked to Tony, I changed my routine a little bit, but I've been working hard for a long, long time. This system we're in is tight end friendly and I think that's been very beneficial to me."
--Aware of the problems the Browns are having at quarterback, Jeff Garcia called the front office and asked if they wanted him to try out. He was told no. Garcia, 43, hasn't had significant time with an NFL team since playing 12 games with Tampa Bay in 2008.
"I actually reached out to the Browns and said, 'Hey, if you need a guy to come in, work me out, take a look,'" Garcia said in a radio interview on 92.3 The Fan. "I don't know if people want me back in Cleveland, but I'm open to the opportunity.
"What I hoped would happen is that Brandon Weeden would see how Brian (Hoyer) was playing the game and try to emulate that. And I just don't think it's translated in that sort of way."
Garcia played for the Browns in 2004. He was 3-7 in 10 games as a starter.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- Rushing touchdowns by the Browns after seven games this season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Obviously, you want consistency at your quarterback position every week, but from that standpoint, that's out of our control." -- Browns WR Davone Bess.
NFL Team Report - Cleveland Browns - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Chiefs and future opponents could see a lot more of Travis Benjamin as a kick returner. Benjamin has only five receptions, albeit for 105 yards. Limiting him to only punt returns doesn't take full advantage of his speed.
Benjamin returned his only kick of the season so far 86 yards to set up a touchdown against the Packers last week. The Chiefs already know how dangerous he can be because he returned a punt 93 yards for a touchdown last season. The longest kick return against the Chiefs this season is 35 yards.
Fozzy Whittaker will be the primary kick returner, but Benjamin could see spot duty.
--WR Brian Tyms was signed off the Dolphins practice squad. Tyms was signed by the 49ers as an undrafted rookie on May 4. He spent the first seven weeks of the season on Miami's practice squad.
--WR Tori Gurley was waived to create a roster spot for Brian Tyms.
--WR Davone Bess is unhappy with the way he has played. He said he needs "more focus and concentration" to hold onto the ball when it is thrown to him.
--KR Fozzy Whittaker has returned three kicks for the Browns for a 34.3-yard average. He has a long return of 56 yards with Browns. He returned six kicks with the Charges.
--LB Quentin Groves (ankle) did not practice.
--RB Willis McGahee did not practice. He rested and is expected to practice Friday.
--DE Billy Winn (quadriceps) was limited in practice. Winn has missed four straight games.
GAME PLAN: It won't be easy, but the Browns would like to find a way to run successfully against the Chiefs. Leading rusher Willis McGahee is averaging only 2.9 yards a carry.
Chris Ogbonnaya carried four times for 15 yards in Green Bay and could get more opportunities Sunday.
The Chiefs are giving up an average of 4.8 yards a carry, but they have allowed only two rushing touchdowns.
The alternative to concentrating on the run is turning on the Kansas City sack machine. The Chiefs lead the NFL with 35 sacks.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Browns RT Mitchell Schwartz vs. Chiefs LOLB Justin Houston -- The theory players make their most improvement from their first to their second year has not applied to Mitchell Schwartz. He has had a difficult season starting with Cameron Wake of the Miami Dolphins in the opener. Now he has to contend with Houston in noisy Arrowhead. Houston already has 10 sacks. The Browns will give Schwartz help with a tight end.
--Browns ILB D'Qwell Jackson vs. Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles -- Jackson bemoaned the fact the Browns missed too many tackles in the 31-13 loss to Green Bay. This is a chance for redemption. Charles leads the Chiefs with 561 yards rushing. He has scored six rushing touchdowns. On top of that, Charles leads the Chiefs with 36 receptions. Charles will also challenge LB Craig Robertson in open space.