JENSEN: Bears expected more from QB Jason Campbell, who got little help from his mates
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org
Jason Campbell pounces on the ball after he fumbled while being sacked in the second quarter Monday night. Campbell had a 52.7 rating, going 14-for-22 for 107 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. | Tony Avelar~AP
SAN FRANCISCO — The Bears’ backup-quarterback bar couldn’t have been much lower, littered with abominable performances from the likes of Henry Burris, Todd Collins, Will Furrer, Caleb Hanie and Rick Mirer.
Jason Campbell’s final quarterback rating Monday night (52.7) was markedly better than many of those players, who posted in the single digits.
But the Bears, who signed Campbell to a one-year, $3.5 million contract in March, expected more.
“Tonight was probably the worst nightmare,” Campbell said from the podium late Monday, still in his dirt-caked game pants.
“We all — from top to bottom — got a lot of work to do. Just need to use this as some form of a wake-up call.”
The veteran Campbell returned to the Bay Area, where he was unceremoniously replaced after a 4-2 start with the Oakland Raiders in 2011, when he broke his collarbone. The prevailing sentiment at Halas Hall was that the Bears were fortunate to sign him, given the struggles to find a capable backup for Jay Cutler, who missed the game with a concussion.
But Campbell completed just 14 of 22 passes for 107 yards, throwing one touchdown pass against two interceptions and losing one of his two fumbles, catching a break when a penalty wiped away a third that was knocked out of bounds.
“It was tough. I don’t think we gave him a fair shot to showcase his talent,” receiver Devin Hester said.
Campbell was sacked six times and pressured 11 other times, according to official statistics. Second-year 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith had a career night, with 5½ sacks alone, prompting Bears players to come to Campbell’s defense.
“I thought Jason played well, but we have to do a better job of not letting pressure get to him,” tight end Kellen Davis said. “He didn’t have any time in the pocket, which isn’t good, because when he gets time — just like Jay — he can make all the throws.”
On Monday night, in his first NFL start, Colin Kaepernick displayed mastery of the quarterback position, completing passes short and long, avoiding any turnovers. He finished 16 of 23 for 243 yards with two touchdowns for a rating of 133.1. He could have done even more damage, if his team didn’t seemingly scale back in the fourth quarter.
Campbell, meanwhile, looked flustered, holding the ball too long and struggling to complete routine passes. His best plays were 13-yarders, one a run, one a touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall.
But those plays came in the third quarter, when the 49ers were up 27-0.
Until then — and even after — the offense was a disaster.
Running back Matt Forte once again couldn’t get anything going, averaging three yards per carry with a long run of eight yards. Marshall didn’t catch his first pass until minutes into the third quarter. And the Bears had no answer for Smith.
No play better summed up the Bears’ evening than the third-quarter safety, which will go down in the Bears backup-quarterback Hall of Shame.
Heading into the season, Campbell, 30, believed he can start in the NFL.
Monday’s performance won’t help his cause.
“One of the toughest games I have been involved in my career,” Campbell said. “[But], you are still 7-3, you’re still sitting there at the top of the division and everything moves forward.”
“You have to use this as a wake-up call for us to go back to work.”
For Campbell, though, that might be back to the bench.