When Jay Cutler went down with a concussion Sunday night, an awful lot of Chicago faithful probably had a bit of deja vu.
After Jason Campbell finished the game with just 95 yards, for a few fans, it became a full blown panic attack, especially given that 45 yards came on one pass.
This is why I always say stats should never be looked at in a vacuum.
Jason Campbell is not Jay Cutler, no. He's also not a disaster. In fact, he will more than fill Cutler's shoes until the normal starter resumes his duties.
First of all, remember that the field was absolute trash by the second half and the weather was downright frightful. That the Bears had him throw 19 times was astounding.
That 11 of his tosses were complete should be cause for celebration.
Especially in comparison to the the other quarterbacks on the field. Cutler completed just seven passes on 14 attempts for 40 yards and two interceptions.
In an entire game, Texans starter Matt Schaub totaled 95 yards on 26 attempts, completing just 14 of them. He also threw a pair of picks, one of which should have been returned for a touchdown but was whistled dead. He threw a touchdown, yes, but overall it was a tremendously unimpressive performance.
I just want to be clear here. Campbell got almost as many yards as a guy who played a whole game, doubled his team's actual starter's total and threw no picks, all while coming in cold off the bench in the driving rain....and this is a failure?
Any Chicago fan with his head in the oven should old off on lighting the gas.
Another complaint has been that Campbell was too conservative, didn't air the ball out enough and didn't seem confident.
Sure, Campbell's accuracy looked a bit spotty at times and he certainly lacked the chemistry Cutler has with the receivers.
Let's remember though, as I mentioned a minute ago, he's had no practice as a starter. He gets minimal reps with the first team, if any.
Of course the chemistry wasn't there last Sunday. He'll get those reps this week and it should be less of an issue.
Also, you can point a finger at offensive coordinator Mike Tice to some extent as he was the one calling check-down plays all second half. Tice has taken some hits for not running the ball enough, and while it's off-topic a bit, let's tackle that briefly.
More than half of Matt Forte's 16 carries happened in the second half. Arian Foster, by comparison, only got 17 carries total.
It's almost unfathomable, but both teams threw a bunch. In the rain.
Forte wasn't remotely impressive, mind you, so that didn't help either.
Again, with a week of practice as a starter, expect more variety of plays. Especially against a tough San Francisco defense.
Now let's get to the meat of the matter and break down some plays.
After handing the ball off a pair of times, Campbell throws a short pass to Brandon Marshall.
You can see this is a scripted short play when you look at the still above. All three receivers are going just a little down the field. It's a safe, high percentage pass and a good way to get your cold quarterback some rhythm.
Marshall doesn't get much after the catch, but it sets up the next play perfectly.
Right after the short throw to Marshall, the Bears send two receivers (left side) long, two (tight end and running back) short and one receiver on the bottom/right for an intermediate route.
It overloads the Texans pretty thoroughly, but what you really want to pay attention to is the throw. Campbell fires it to Brandon Marshall again, but this time Marshall goes long.
He stutter-steps the defensive back (Jonathan Joseph) getting him to pause, then runs right past him. Campbell sees him wide open (the safety comes over but is way too late) and delivers a nice pass to him along the sideline.
Campbell can make the throws the Bears need and he can do them efficiently and accurately.
Does he make mistakes? Sure, but no more than Cutler does. His ceiling is nowhere near as high, but he's no Caleb Hanie.
Campbell will have no problem fitting into this offense. It may not be seamless, but it will be far from a disaster.
He will definitely keep the Bears on the path to a playoff spot and possibly a division title.
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