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Friday, November 16, 2012

With Or Without You: How The Bears Can Survive A Jay Cutler Injury

In 2011, through eleven games, the Chicago Bears were 7-3. They were on a roll and their schedule through the next 6 games was, for the most part, a cake walk. They were on pace to easily get the #5 seed in the NFC come playoff time. Then the injury bug struck them. They lost starting running back Matt Forte which was a bummer but could have been dealt with because the Bears had Marion Barber and Kahlil Bell. But then the killer injury happened- Jay Cutler broke his thumb during a 31-20 win over the Chargers. The cake schedule turned out to be a huge disaster as the Bears lost their next five games and finished the season 8-8.

In 2012, through ten games, the Chicago Bears are 7-2. They are on a roll, but their cake walk schedule is behind them. They face a really, really good San Francisco 49ers team this Monday Night and they still have the Packers left on their schedule (although it will be in Soldier Field) and three more divisional games. Jay Cutler is now injured again (I could write a whole other post about the play which gave Cutler his concussion  and the low fine that came from it, but I digress) but this will NOT be a disaster rest of the season like the Bears' 2011 season was.

Let me give you a player comparison:

PLAYER A: 60.1 completion percentage, 1.34 TD/INT, 4.6 TD%, 3.5 INT%, 7.2 YPA, 84.1 QB Rating

PLAYER B: 60.8 completion percentage, 1.45 TD/INT, 3.4 TD%, 2.3 INT%, 6.7 YPA, 82.8 QB Rating

You can probably already guess who these players are. Player A is Jay Cutler and Player B is Jason Campbell. Those are the career numbers of these two men. If you look at those numbers they are extremely similar. Jay Cutler can get more yards per play and is much more likely to throw a touchdown, but Campbell makes up for his ability to not throw a touchdown by turning the ball over less. There is no doubt that Jay Cutler is a better quarterback than Jason Campbell, but Jason Campbell is a starting-caliber NFL quarterback. I think, right now, he is a better quarterback than Mark Sanchez, Ryan Tannenhill, Blaine Gabbert, Matt Cassel, and Kevin Kolb.

I did a post back in May grading NFL's best off season moves and I gave the Campbell signing an A-. The only reason I didn't like it more was because of the money the Bears gave him. But that being said, that signing was great and every GM in the league (and myself) would have made that deal.

I thought the Bears were going to be fine in 2011 when Cutler went down because I liked the then Bears back up Caleb Hanie. When Cutler got injured during the 2010 NFC Championship game, Hanie came in and looked really good against a tough Packers team. However, that was the only thing I (and most other people) had to judge Hanie on. Boy was I wrong. Hanie was fucking atrocious and I can't believe he is not out of the league after the poor performances he showed while as a Bears starter. Jason Campbell is different. He was a starter for five and a half years and we have a really good sample size to judge what Campbell is. He is certainly no 1999 Kurt Warner but he is a solid NFL player and could legitimately lead this Bears squad for the rest of the year if he needed to.

Luckily, it looks like the Jay Cutler injury will only be a one week injury and even if Cutler was healthy, the Chicago Bears will probably lose to the 49ers in San Fran. However, Jason Campbell is a really good back up quarterback and people need to stop giving him crap.

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