The Chicago Bears learned a valuable lesson last year: Backups can sabotage your season.

So they made the smart move by signing free-agent Jason Campbell as their backup quarterback. Campbell has been a starter in Washington and Oakland, and he's had his moments, but he's better suited as an insurance policy.

Which is what he'll be in his new home, taking over a spot that last season was manned by the inexperienced Caleb Hanie -- and I don't need to tell how he did after quarterback Jay Cutler was hurt.

Basically, he didn't.

The Bears were 7-3 when Cutler bowed out after a defeat of San Diego. They finished 8-8, which means they were 1-5 the rest of the way -- winning only a season finale vs. Minnesota.

Once upon a time they thought they could survive with Hanie, and maybe they could. But they couldn't survive without Cutler and leading playmaker Matt Forte, which is what happened in 2011. So they've taken an important step toward protecting themselves with Campbell.

He's the ideal backup. He's won before, and he can win again. He's no threat to Cutler. And he's a marked improvement on Hanie.

More than that, he's protection against another collapse. If Cutler is hurt again, the Bears simply call on someone who has been productive as a starter before and could be again.

In essence, it's much needed insurance at the most important position, and it's a smart move.