Why was it a good fit here in Cincinnati?
“You just look at the whole organization, the team has been winning the last three years and been to the playoffs. I just feel like the structure top to bottom is an opportunity for success. Then you look at Coach Hue Jackson, I had a relationship with him back in Oakland. This late in my career, you don’t want to be having to relearn all the time. You want to try to be in a situation where you have an idea of what type of offense we’re running and have a familiar face. So with me knowing him from a few years ago, and to be able to come to a good team that has a lot of talent on offense, and to be able to help Andy (Dalton), and be able to help some of the younger guys with some of my experience, and the things that I’ve had to go through, the highs the lows, and the things that I’ve seen from seeing great players around me sometimes, I just want to be able to help.”
How pivotal was it having Hue here? How much was he involved to get you here?
“He reached out to me, but he didn’t want to be the forefront guy that was pushing this. He wanted the other coaches to make sure they were on board to make the right decision. I came in for a visit, and was able to connect, and I liked everything and the direction it was going in. Like I said, when you’re around success, it’s just something you want to be a part of. I just wanted to give myself the opportunity, that if I have to go out and play anytime, that I can have success because of the guys here, and at the same time, have the familiarity of the offense.”
What are some of the things you can do to help develop Andy?
“I remember when I first came into the league, the most important thing to me was having a veteran guy in the room. Someone you can relate to when there’s questions, especially since I’ve been in this offense before. If he asks a question of what Hue is thinking or how did you do this before, I think those are some aspects that I can help him along with because of some of my experience within the offense. That really pays dividends. On the other side of it, this is a big year for him coming up. I can help with film study and being an extra set of eyes.
“I had a chance to be in the division last year, so just having another set of eyes in the room to help break down game tape, and even talking to A.J. (Green), because he’s one of the brightest young receivers in the league. I’ve been around a great one in Brandon Marshall. I’ve seen the way the guy works and prepares himself during practice, the things that he does to be so good year in and year out. I’ve talked with Brandon before, and he said it took him a while to get it. But once he really got it, it just took his game to another level. Hopefully those are things I can share with some of the guys like that, just take their game to another level with some of the experiences I’ve had.”
Who was the mentor for you?
“When I first came in the league it was Mark Brunell, who played forever. I told him, ‘You must not want to go home, scared the kids are going to be chasing him around or something.’ Mark played forever, I don’t even know what year it was he came in the league or what year he was in the league. It was just good to have him there. He welcomed me with open arms. He always told me there were going to be highs and lows in this game, especially at our position. Teams are so good, and sometimes things just don’t go your way.
“He was really good at helping me at film study, helping me rebound from a rough game. Putting good things behind you, move forward from an aspect of breaking down defenses as well. And how to predetermine your read or get a good look at certain things before the ball is snapped. Just to have that comfort zone. Someone you can come to the sideline, the coach is there too, but just to have a veteran guy on the sideline to say, ‘Hey, I see them doing this.’ And a veteran guy will say, ‘So, next time try this.’ And you are going to listen to him because he’s played it. You listen to people you can relate to. Not that you don’t listen to what the coach is saying to you all the time, but they are the ones that have been in your shoes. Your tendency is to relate to that person, when you see what they are saying.”
Is part of your mindset as a backup now knowing you have to be part coach, part psychologist?
“I understand that now, at this point in my career. When it first happened, it was tough. I feel like I was coming into my prime when I broke my collarbone (with Oakland in 2011). Things were going really good. To have to sit back a year in Chicago, you feel like you just lose your rhythm, and you lose yourself as a player during that time, because I was so used to being the guy and playing. To take that seat, then last year, I really didn’t understand my role until maybe later on into the season. But here I understand what my role is. They have already laid it out what my role is. I know from day one how I need to prepare myself, what my job is and what is the importance of my job. I think that is a big thing going forward.”
How big is it to know your role and what is expected of you?
“It’s big. It’s just like in free agency, you think, where are you going to be? It just feels funny. When you have been playing the game for a while, and everything has been kind of set in stone what you are doing, you are just ready to make your next move. Sitting around working out not, knowing what teams, what city you are going to, is kind of nerve-racking. Nobody wants to feel like you are out in la-la land. You want to be sure of what you are going to do and the things you are going to be doing. For this to happen pretty early for me was big.”
What did they say your role would be?
“They wanted me to come in and help Andy. Help him develop into this offense. Help him to develop on the field as well. Help the younger guys. You still need those veterans in the locker rooms. We are still a big part of the teams. The other part is, continue to prepare yourself to stay ready to play, in case you have to go in there and play and do things. At the same time, push the guy in front of you. Help the guy be better.That’s a job anyway, for a backup to push the guy in front of you. That’s the only way the guy gets better. The years I played the best were the years when I knew I had somebody behind me pushing me. It gave me that little urge to make sure I was doing things I needed to do in the right fashion.”
Is part of helping Andy just helping him understand playing for Hue Jackson?
“That’s a big part of it because Hue is a miniature fireball. He has a lot of energy, he’s aggressive in practice, and it brings out the best in his players. When we both got to Oakland, we went from like the 30th offense in the league to top-10 in rushing, top-10 in total offense, top-five or top-seven in scoring offense in both years. So it just goes to show you that comes from pushing someone, and dedication and someone believing in the system. That’s the biggest part, you’ve just got to get guys to believe in the system, understand what the coaches are trying to teach us, and then go out and apply it, and understand that it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s going to take you studying, it’s going to take repetition, and those are things that you have to do a lot of on your own time.”
Are you going to pop over and see your old college coach? (University of Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville was Campbell’s head coach at Auburn.)
“Yeah, I didn’t know that Coach Tuberville is here. I’ll pop over and see him. It’s been some years since I’ve been over to see him. He’s been at Texas Tech, and now he’s over at Cincinnati. It’s just how ironic things are happening. And Billy Hamilton is playing for the Cincinnati Reds. We went to the same high school. So I can go to Reds games, and I’ve got somebody to watch, and I can go over to the Cincinnati Bearcats games and I’ve got somebody to watch. And my family is from Columbus, Ohio, so it’s a pretty good fit.”
Does that go along with what we just mentioned, you’re comfortable and coming into a situation where you know the lay of the land that much more?
“Exactly. It’s not like you’re trying to figure out what girl you’re dating (Laughs). You know who you’re dating. So I look forward to it. I look forward to being able to help in any possible way, and at the same time, pushing myself to still learn the game. You can never learn too much. You never can stop learning and continuing to improve. I’m healthy. Last season I had a rib injury late in the season. It happened after the Baltimore game. Now I feel great. I feel healthy again. So I’m just ready to have fun and I’m ready to help this team. I’m just glad to be part of a good franchise and a team that’s already been winning.”
Have you had a chance to talk to Andy?
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet. But I look forward to meeting him and talking to him. I’ve heard how he’s a great person, how he’s a man of faith, and how he’s just a good guy to be around. That’s always important; that you have a good quarterback in the room and good communication amongst each other. So I look forward to meeting with him, and getting to know him as a person and as a quarterback.”
You talked about guys buying into Hue’s system in Oakland. How quickly did that happen?
“I didn’t happen overnight. First, we were trying to figure out, ‘Who is this guy?’ He was hollering after every play and screaming. I told him he’s a lot slimmer now than he was then (Laughs). But the big part of it was when we started winning games. When we started looking up and were scoring almost 30 points every game. We were like, ‘Man, this comes from what we were doing all OTAs and training camp and everything.’ It becomes fun.
“When you’re scoring points and moving the ball, it becomes fun. That’s what you want to be a part of. Like I said, it didn’t happen overnight, it took some going, but the one thing this team already has is the winning attitude. That’s not the aspect that you have to change here. That’s the aspect that’s already been going, so that now you’re just buying into the system, and we’re going to work our butts off to be in the top five or top 10 in offense and scoring.
“And it’s understanding that everything still comes off the run game. I don’t care how many times you put the ball in the air, you still have to be able to run the football. The reason we were scoring 20-something, 30-something points every game was because we had a strong run game. When you have a strong run game, your play action comes off of it, your drop-back game comes off of it, and it takes pressure off your offensive line. When you’re dropping back 40 or 50 times every game, it’s tough. It’s hard. There are good defenses in this league, and you’ve got to be able to run the ball. You run the ball, you score. Seattle is a team that won the Super Bowl this year off good defense and running the football, and everything else came off of it. I don’t care how well you throw the football, you still have to be able to run the football.”