Red Right 88

Life as a Cleveland Sports Fan

Jason Campbell could join select fraternity Sunday vs. Steelers

campbell steelers sackWhen Cleveland Browns coach Rob Chudzinski announced earlier this week that the team will “keep it the way it is” with the quarterback situation for Sunday’s season-finale in Pittsburgh, he kept alive the possibility that Jason Campbell will join a select group of Browns quarterbacks.

If Sunday’s game turns out to be Campbell’s last as the starting quarterback for the Browns he will join Thad Lewis, Seneca Wallace, Colt McCoy and Bruce Gradkowski among Cleveland quarterbacks since 1999 who made their final start in a Browns uniform against the Steelers.

The good news for Campbell is that the aforementioned group set the bar pretty low for quarterback play against Pittsburgh:

  • Lewis had the best day in last season’s finale, finishing with 204 yards with one touchdown and one interception while taking three sacks.
  • McCoy, of course, was knocked out by a James Harrison cheap shot in his final start in Week 14 of the 2011 season. Before that, he had thrown for 209 yards and two interceptions while being sacked three times.
  • In the season’s last game that same year, Wallace finished with 177 yards, an interception and three sacks.
  • Gradkowski sent the gold standard in the final game of 2008, throwing for 18 yards and two interceptions while being sacked three times.

The bad news is the Browns lost each of those games – they haven’t won in Pittsburgh since 2003 – and given his 1-6 record as a starter this year there is little reason to think the Campbell can break the streak.

Since playing perhaps his best game of the season in the loss to New England, Campbell has endured a rough two weeks, throwing four interceptions in his past two games and (possibly) bottoming out with last Sunday’s poor performance against the Jets.

If Sunday turns out to be Campbell’s last game as the Browns starting quarterback, he is at least prepared to try and go out on a better not than his predecessors.

“Going into the last week of the season, there’s still a lot to play for as far as your mindset and trying to go out on the right note,” Campbell said. “We need to come out competing and do everything we can in the preparation, just try to get back to the basics. We just want to get back to our fundamentals, not try to press, not to force the game and just try to let the game come to you.”

Sounds like a plan.

Joe Haden deserves a Pro Bowl spot

haden pro bowlWhen the Pro Bowl rosters are announced tonight, Browns cornerback Joe Haden deserves to have his name called.

It goes beyond his four interceptions (tied for the team lead), his career-high 54 solo tackles and 21 defended passes. He deserves a spot because of the work he’s done all year against the league’s best receivers.

Anyone who has been watching the Browns this year knows that Haden has been kicking ass, but the point was really driven home when we read Bill Barnwell’s latest at Grantland, where he picks his All-Pro team.

Barnwell picks four wide receivers – Detroit’s Calvin Johnson and the Browns Josh Gordon are first-team selections; Cincinnati’s A.J. Green and Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown are Barnwell’s second-team choices – and Haden has faced all three this season (and faces Gordon in practice).

While Johnson, Green and Brown have been terrorizing NFL secondaries all year, Haden shut them down when he faced them:

  • Johnson has averaged six receptions for 113 yards this season when not facing Cleveland. Against the Browns, he was held to two catches for 25 yards.
  • Green is at 6.5 receptions and 100 yards against everyone else; in two games against the Browns he caught nine passes for all of 58 yards.
  • Brown is the only one of the three to have an average day against Haden. In their first meeting of the season, Brown pulled in six passes for 92 yards, in line with his season average of seven receptions and 94 yards when not playing Cleveland.

The biggest stat comes when you consider that Johnson, Green and Brown have combined for 30 touchdown receptions this year – but only one of those came against Cleveland.

“I did everything I could this season, so I hope it’s good enough,” Haden said this week. “Your play speaks for itself, but if I don’t make the Pro Bowl, I’d be upset.”

Unfortunately, we may not get a rematch between Haden and Brown this weekend, as Haden is listed as questionable with a hip pointer. With nothing to play for, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Browns shut Haden down for the season finale.

In addition to Haden, the Browns should be sending Gordon and Joe Thomas to the Pro Bowl, and could be sending Alex Mack, Jordan Cameron and T.J. Ward, making them this year’s version of the Kansas City Chiefs, who sent six players to the Pro Bowl in 2012 despite a 2-14 record.

Updated: We were only off by one as Haden, Gordon, Thomas, Mack and Cameron all made the Pro Bowl. Only Ward got shafted (Troy Polamalu? Seriously?)

It’s going to be interesting to see how Berea spins letting  a Pro Bowl center in the prime of his career walk away over money.

(Photos courtesy of ClevelandBrowns.com)

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