Quarterback Jason Campbell will start in place of Brandon Weeden Sunday when the Browns (3-4) visit the Kansas City Chiefs (7-0), coach Rob Chudzinski announced this morning during a news conference.
“It's a tough decision,” Chudzinski 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 said he benched Weeden because of a lack consistent production. Drafted 22nd overall last year by the previous regime, Weeden is 0-4 as a starter this season and 5-14 in his career.
“It really is about production and ultimately being consistent in that area,” Chudzinski said.
Campbell joined the Browns by signing a two-year, $3.75 million contract in March. He has a career record of 31-40 as a starter, and his last start was with the Chicago Bears. During Campbell’s last two seasons as a full-time starter, he went 11-7 with the Oakland Raiders. That ended in 2011, when he began the season 3-2 before suffering a season-ending broken collarbone against the Browns in Week 6.
Campbell said he's eager for a chance to prove himself and hopes to provide a lift.
“I just think it’s time for us to have a sense of urgency,” Campbell said. "Just all together, not just Brandon, but just all together as a team.”
Chudzinski said he met with Campbell and Weeden to tell them his decision. He said that Weeden was disappointed, but he expects him to remain ready to play.
Weeden declined to speak to reporters in the locker room today. A team spokesman said he’s expected to address the media later this week.
Chudzinski said he doesn’t want to vacillate between quarterbacks this season, but he didn’t rule it out.
“We’re going to evaluate it on a week to week basis and again the goal is to put the guy out there who gives us the best opportunity to win,” Chudzinski said. “Going back and forth isn't ideal, but ultimately finding the production and consistency that we need is the goal.”
The Browns won back-to-back games with Brian Hoyer as their starting quarterback after Weeden suffered a sprained right thumb Sept. 15 against the Baltimore Ravens. Chudzinski let Hoyer leapfrog Campbell on the depth chart and start in place of Weeden, but Hoyer suffered a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament during the first quarter Oct. 3 against the Buffalo Bills.
Weeden helped the Browns rally from a 7-0 deficit and defeat the Bills 37-24. But he struggled mightily Sunday in a 31-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers and Oct. 13 in a 31-17 defeat against the Detroit Lions.
Now Campbell is on the verge of becoming the 20th quarterback to start for the Browns since their expansion era began in 1999.