It’s been quite the day for news that’s not remotely surprising yet it still causes us grave concern. First, Michael Vick was officially ruled out this morning, which did little other than remind us that Michael Vick hadn’t already been ruled out. And now the next hammer has fallen on the four battered quarterbacks from last Sunday.
Jay Cutler has also been officially ruled out for this week due to his concussion, according to the Bears’ official Twitter account.
Backup Jason Campbell will now start against San Francisco Monday night, a matchup that’s the opposite of appealing for any Bears offensive player regardless of who’s under center. The 49ers are one of just five teams allowing less than 200 passing yards per game, and they’ve held opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of just 77.2. Not good.
Campbell was pursued by the Bears this past offseason after the loss of Cutler quickly led to the decimation of what was a promising season until Week 11. Caleb Hanie couldn’t stop being Caleb hanie, and the season fizzled away, though in fairness the injury to Matt Forte certainly didn’t help matters either.
So in steps Campbell for at least one start, and possibly more. He’s far more capable than Hanie, and he was indeed one of the best backups available on the free agent market last March. That also makes him still one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league, and it’s a little unfair that the stench of Campbell’s time in Washington when he was shattered mentally by having to learn a new offense pretty much every offseason still follows him around. Before he broke his collarbone last year — an injury that prompted the Raiders to mortgage their future for Carson Palmer, because that’s just how they roll — Campbell was pretty OK over six starts. Two of those games were +300 yard outings in wins over Buffalo and New England, and overall his average yards per attempt was a respectable if not spectacular 7.1.
That last number is key for Campbell’s fantasy impact Monday night and beyond, and specifically how much he does or doesn’t limit the production of Brandon Marshall. Campbell also chucked 17 passes of 20 yards or more last year, a fine pace of nearly three per game. That’s reassuring for the Marshall owner who’s quite petrified about the outlook of their wideout who’s second overall in receiving yards while averaging 100.4 per game, and he’s now catching passes from a backup QB.
There’s certainly a step down here, as there is with any backup quarterback on any team at any level of football. But the step down in this case is likely the least significant of all the possible tumbles down QB depth charts throughout the league. I’m not sure if that makes you feel any better, but it’s a start I guess.
At least Matt Forte owners will benefit from this, because he’ll surely receive the ball in his gut by way of Campbell’s hand far more often Monday night. Then he’ll continually run into the wall of humanity that is the 49ers’ fifth-ranked run defense.
No matter what way you turn here, an awful matchup wins the day, with or without Cutler.