BEREA, Ohio — Jason Campbell didn’t get passed over a second time. He’s all Cleveland has left.
Campbell is finally getting a chance to start at quarterback for the reeling Browns, who are turning to the veteran to settle things down and save a season that’s beginning to spin out of control.
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski benched ineffective starter Brandon Weeden and will go with Campbell on Sunday against the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs. Campbell is the third QB to start for Cleveland already this season and the 20th — the most in the NFL — since 1999 for the Browns, who have spent their entire expansion era searching for an on-field leader.
Campbell started just one game last season and knows he may have some rust to knock off.
“Go get some 40-W, EW-40 or something like that,” Campbell joked, searching for the name of the well-known lubricant. “I just want to go have fun and play, and we’ll see what happens.”
With Weeden coming off poor performances in losses to Detroit and Green Bay, Chudzinski decided to switch to Campbell, who was leapfrogged earlier this season by Brian Hoyer. When Weeden sprained his right thumb in Week 2 against Baltimore, Chudzinski picked Hoyer, who was No. 3 on Cleveland’s depth chart, over Campbell to start against Minnesota.
Hoyer led the Browns (3-4) to wins over the Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals before his season ended in the first quarter Oct. 3 against Buffalo. But Weeden’s struggles, coupled with a perceptible loss of faith by Cleveland’s offensive players, left Chudzinski with little choice but to start Campbell.
“It’s a tough decision,” Chudzinski said. “I believe that 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.”
Campbell is pumped, too.
But talk about a brutal assignment.
The undefeated Chiefs not only have one of the NFL’s top defenses — they lead the league with 35 sacks — but play in rowdy Arrowhead Stadium.
“They are No. 1 in third down, No. 1 in the red zone and No. 1 in points allowed, so it is definitely a challenge,” said Campbell, who signed with the Browns as a free agent in March. “Arrowhead is one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL, and that means even more we need to be on the same page.”
Weeden’s fate was sealed after Sunday’s 31-13 loss against the Packers. He completed just 17 of 42 passes for 149 yards with one touchdown and one interception, a 48.6 rating. He dropped to 0-4 as a starter. His 66.5 rating is 30th overall, and he’s 32nd in completion percentage.
The second-year QB, who must have known his demotion was coming after Chudzinski failed to offer his support Monday, politely declined to speak with reporters at his locker.
“I’m not going today, guys,” he said.