Sunday will mark the third career start for Cleveland Browns quarterback Jason Campbell against the Pittsburgh Steelers and he will be looking to make that third time a charm.
Campbell, who enters the game Sunday with a 55.7% season completion ratio, hasn’t fared too well in his previous two starts against the black and gold.
As a member of the Washington Redskins back in 2008, Campbell was 24-of-43 passing for 206 yards and two interceptions in the 23-6 loss to the Steelers. In that game, 12 of the Redskins 14 drives lasted six plays or less.
In 2010, as a member of the Oakland Raiders, Campbell was 7-of-19 passing for 70 yards and an interception in the 35-3 blowout loss to the Steelers. He was so bad in that game that he was benched in favor of current Steelers back up quarter Bruce Gradkowski in the third quarter.
“He’s got a strong arm and he can make any throw on the field,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin of Campbell Tuesday during his press conference. “Play-action, vertical passing has been an asset for him wherever he’s been.
“Obviously, with coach [Norv] Turner over there, the vertical passing is a big element of what they do. He’s capable of making all the throws on the field – the play-action, deep digs, the vertical balls down the field and along the sideline. He’s shown that. He’s got a quick and accurate release in that regard.”
As Tomlin eludes to, one of the key things that the Steelers must do on defense against Campbell and the Browns is not give up the big play. Since taking over as the starter, Campbell has completed 10 passes for 20 yards or more in the last three games. Three of those 10 explosive have gone to wide receiver Josh Gordon, who scored touchdowns on two of them.
Last week, in the 41-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Campbell only completed 48.21% of his passes and was picked off three times. The way the Browns defense is playing this year, the Steelers will need to hope that’s the Campbell that shows up Sunday in at FirstEnergy Stadium if they are going to notch their third straight win.