August 23, 2014

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Browns’ Campbell said goal this week it to have fun, beat Steelers

Cleveland Browns quarterback Jason Campbell watches from the sidelines during an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)

Cleveland Browns quarterback Jason Campbell watches from the sidelines during an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)

BEREA — Jason Campbell joked Tuesday that the technical difficulties delaying his media interview were preventing him from finishing his Christmas shopping. Then he offered to lead the group in carols.

He was putting his father’s advice to sound enthused into practice.

“Our whole goal is to go out this weekend, have fun, cut it loose and do everything in our power to win a game,” he said. “It’s Christmas time, time to be jolly, not sullen. It’s time to smile and not frown. We don’t need any Grinches.”

Campbell’s state of mind has been a popular topic recently. Last week he said the heartbreaking, last-second loss to the Patriots carried over and contributed to the defeat to the Bears. After the loss to the Jets on Sunday, Campbell said he and the offense didn’t handle the adversity well, pressed and unraveled.

He was asked Tuesday where his head is.

“Today I’m good,” he said. “Yesterday I was pretty down, pretty beat just because I’m used to winning and we got guys on this team who want to win so hard, so bad and sometimes you can let things get to you emotionally and you feel like we’re always so close.

“But at the same time, I was talking to my family and coach, and just relax, go out and play the game and have fun and don’t beat yourself up and control the things that you can.”

Coach Rob Chudzinski said Campbell will start the finale Sunday at Pittsburgh as the Browns (4-11) try to eliminate Pittsburgh (7-8) from the playoffs. Chudzinski said Brandon Weeden will remain the backup, and Alex Tanney, famous for his trick-shot video, will be the No. 3. Tanney hasn’t played since arriving last month.

With another chance to improve on his 1-6 record as the starter, Campbell’s trying to regroup. He said his father, Larry, is a good sounding board and usually gives him a boost. They talked Monday.

“He said I need to sound a little bit more enthused,” Campbell said. “I told him it kind of hurts when you look at the opportunity that’s been there. We’ve had the opportunity to win some of these games, some of these tough games and really help a franchise out to get turned around.

“Some of the games I’ve played up to my ability, some games I’ve had a couple mistakes. It’s been tough in that aspect because I wanted to take advantage of the full opportunity presented. They’re hard to come by.”

Much of Campbell’s disappointment stems from his inability to capitalize on the chance to start for an extended period of time. He hadn’t been a full-time starter since 2011, and at 31 — he turns 32 next week — wasn’t sure he’d get another shot. Weeden’s struggles opened the door again, but Campbell stumbled through it.

He’s completed 56.9 percent with 10 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 77.8 rating. After taking over in Week 8 and opening with two impressive 100-plus-rating games, he struggled against Cincinnati (44.3 rating) with sore ribs, suffered a concussion against Pittsburgh, missed the Jaguars game, played great against New England (391 yards, three touchdowns, 116.8 rating), then threw two interceptions each against the Bears and Jets.

He has eight touchdowns, no interceptions, a 64.3 completion percentage and a 113.2 rating in his three good starts. He has two touchdowns, seven interceptions, a 52.2 completion percentage and a 53.1 rating in the four other starts.

His only win was against Baltimore in his second start, and the Browns have lost six straight since. He’s fallen to 32-46 in his career as the starter.

Campbell said he’s always taken losses and struggles hard. The fact that he admitted his play has been affected is unusual for a nine-year veteran.

“It’s just because of everything that I’ve been through, that probably plays a lot into it,” Campbell said. “The fact that you want to prove that you still kind of belong, and you kind of put too much pressure on yourself.

“I have high goals. My goal wasn’t to come into the National Football League and play three, four or five years and just be a quarterback, but make the most out of it and be the best that I can so that when it’s time for me to retire and time to move on then you know that you did your best and you just didn’t give up.”

Chudzinski pointed to a few missed throws and a forced interception, but didn’t think Campbell let the struggles affect him against the Jets.

“I didn’t necessarily see it as the game went on,” Chudzinski said. “He said he felt like he may have been pressing, trying to make a play instead of just letting the game come to him. That’s when he’s played his best is in that kind of rhythm.”

Campbell’s battle with his inner demons haven’t been obvious to his teammates.

“I don’t see that, everyone fights themselves mentally, but I think from everything I’ve seen, if something negative happens, he’s been able to turn it around and get the ball rolling in the right direction again,” left guard John Greco said. “Jason’s a vocal leader in the locker room, but he seems like he’s never too high, never too low.”

Chudzinski didn’t want to talk about whether Campbell would be back next season until after the finale. He signed a two-year deal last offseason and is due a $250,000 roster bonus in March in addition to his $2 million salary for 2014. The Browns can save themselves that by releasing him before the bonus.

“I have no idea,” Campbell said when asked if he thinks he’ll be back. “I’m just going to go out and play Sunday and have fun. I just want to finish on a high note and go into the offseason feeling good or at least get a win going into the offseason and not feel bitter or bad about some things.

“What’s going to happen is going to happen. Whether I’m here or anywhere else or mentoring or playing. That aspect I can’t worry about.”

Campbell’s dad asked him what he could get him for Christmas.

“I told him I really don’t want a Christmas gift, just to get a ‘W,’” Campbell said. “Just to end the season the right way, that would be the only Christmas gift I’d really appreciate.”

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.