|The special on-field connection between Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall won't be on display Monday night against the formidable 49ers. Marshall will have to try and connect with backup QB Jason Campbell. (US Presswire)|
The basis for the Bears offense this season has to be reconstructed by Monday night.
The Jay Cutler-to-Brandon Marshall connection that started in Denver in 2006 has carried the Bears' offense with 904 of their 1,814 passing yards and seven of their 12 touchdown passes. So with the announcement Friday that Cutler will miss Monday night's game at San Francisco, backup QB Jason Campbell is suddenly the one who must develop a quick connection with Marshall.
"The thing that Jay and I have is something a little extra," Marshall said. "You don't have to have that to be successful."
Campbell showed an ability to find Marshall in the second half against Houston, hitting him for 45 yards to set up a field goal. But Campbell's other 10 completions accounted for only 49 yards and reinforced a tag he'd been slapped with in Washington and Oakland as "Checkdown Charlie."
"I can't make up for four years that they've been together," Campbell said.
Instead, the Bears will be less inclined to take chances with Campbell at QB in his 71st NFL start but first since Week 6 of last season. It's possible more receivers could get more involved in the offense with Campbell because he doesn't have a rapport with Marshall.
Campbell is taking it realistically. As the backup QB, he's just hoping to find an open receiver anywhere, any time.
"You can't worry about trying to please everyone," he said. "You've just got to try to play your game because everyone knows that you haven't played in a while and, of course, you're not going to be like a Peyton Manning or anything.
"You've just got to do what you do and try to do it to the best of your abilities. Jay is good at what Jay does, and I'm good for different reasons for things that I do, and that's the way I have to do."
Cutler is good at moving around in the pocket or outside it, which ultimately led to his concussion, and Campbell is more a classic pocket passer. Because he doesn't move as much and the opponent is San Francisco's third-ranked defense, the pressure is on the Bears' offensive line to pass block at least as well as last week when it didn't allow a sack.
From Campbell's viewpoint, it should be an easier assignment than coming in after halftime against the Texans on a rain-soaked field.
"Think about it," he said. "You're sitting on the sidelines. It's cold, rainy, muddy and all of a sudden you've got to go in there in a quick second and play.
"Last week's game I think was good for me, knowing that I have to play this week, to get those reps against a really good defense in Houston and get your feet wet and get back into it."
Campbell was brought in as an insurance policy in case anything happened to Cutler, such as when he suffered a broken thumb and the Bears went 1-5 under last year's backups. Or as Marshall put it, "When you look at what happened to the Bears last year, that's why he's (Campbell) here. He's more than capable, and we're fortunate enough to have a starting quarterback as our backup."
Campbell realizes this and knows he will have to do better than his last start against the 49ers defense in 2010 for Oakland when he was 8 of 21 for 83 yards and two interceptions for a 10.7 passer rating.
"They expect a lot out of you because this is the reason they went and they tried to bring you here as the backup," he said. "I understand that I'm going to play as hard as I can."
There's actually more at stake for Campbell personally in this one because he has just a one-year deal for $3.5 million, including $1.5 million in bonuses. So whether it's returning to the Bears next year or getting a chance for a starting spot somewhere else, he needs to produce.
"It's definitely an opportunity but at the same time I can't put so much pressure on myself to feel like I've got to make every play or I've got to do this or do that because you can't play the game that way," he said. "Guys are too good. This is a really good team we are going against.
They didn't get to the NFC Championship Game last year by fluke."
Follow Bears reporter Gene Chamberlain on Twitter @CBSBears.