Jason Campbell: Horrific Performance Proves Bears Can't Win without Jay Cutler

Ethan GrantAnalyst INovember 20, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 19: Jason Campbell #2 of the Chicago Bears walks off the field after the Bears lost the ball on downs during their game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on November 19, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Whatever "it" is, Jason Campbell just doesn't have it.

The Chicago Bears QB was thrust into the starting role against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night, and confirmed what we knew about him for most of his time in Washington and Oakland.

The guy just isn't a winner. Conversely, the Bears can't make a deep playoff run without Jay Cutler under center, good defense or not.

It's crazy to look back at Campbell's career, both when he was drafted and now, and see how strikingly average he has been. Taken just after Aaron Rodgers at No. 25, at the time he was a great pickup for the Washington Redskins.

But he's bounced around systems and failed to produce on the big stage. When you watch him play, he doesn't have the stuff to make the big play down the field, and is seemingly the master of checking down to the running back when things are rough.

At some point, you have to take a chance.

Call it bad luck, the wrong system or that he just isn't a good football player, but Campbell confirmed to the Bears that Jay Cutler should be doing everything possible to return in Week 12. The Bears just can't win if Cutler isn't in the lineup.

There's a lot of factors going into that conclusion. One, the pass protection wasn't great. Campbell was sacked five times, and was trying to avoid the pass rush for most of the evening. Chalk some of it up to timing, and the line not being used to him under center.

However, he also threw two interceptions, something he hasn't been known for doing over the course of his career. As noted by ESPN's Stats and Information, Campbell has one of the lowest NFL interception percentages over the past few seasons.

Jason Campbell had the 3rd-lowest rate of Int per game since his rookie season in 2006 entering this game. #MNF

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 20, 2012

That was a nasty bid of foreshadowing for the Bears, who watched him throw those two picks compared to just 107 yards and 4.9 per completion. He also had a touchdown, but it was when the game was well out of reach.

He also sat on the sidelines and watched his counterpart, Colin Kaepernick, assume the same role for San Francisco and throw for 243 yards and two touchdowns. Kaepernick made all the throws, stretched the Bears defense and turned this highly-anticipated game into a blowout.

But after all the excuses, sometimes it's time to face facts. Just like Grantland.com writer Bill Barnwell noted while watching the broadcast, it's a broken record in regards to his inconsistent performance over the course of his career.

"This isn't fair to Jason Campbell." - every recorded broadcast of a Jason Campbell game, ever

— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) November 20, 2012

All the talk about six offensive coordinators in six years is one of the craziest stats in professional football. So is the fact that Auburn was seemingly on the outside looking in of the national championship in 2005—when Campbell led them to a 12-0 season but no true recognition as the best team in the country.

If that isn't a dark foreshadowing to his career, I don't know what is.

Simply put, the Bears need Cutler to hurry back. He's obviously more accomplished and has the confidence to run this offense, but it's the intangibles that are going to kill the Bears in his absence. They need Cutler, and Campbell needs to return to his role as the NFL's version of the AAAA player.


Ethan Grant is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a member of the Breaking News Team.