We have déjà vu in Chicago, almost. It was about this time of year that Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was sidelined for the rest of the 2011 season with a broken thumb on his throwing hand.
The Bears were on a five-game winning streak going into Week 11 with a 7-3 record, but unfortunately, they followed that up with a five-game losing streak. This was all thanks to Chicago not having any quarterbacks with quality experience behind Cutler. The Bears had the defense to carry them for the rest of the season, but the offense didn’t contribute enough on their end.
This season, Cutler suffered a concussion in Chicago’s loss to the Houston Texans. The Bears’ defeat came after a six-game winning streak, and they are now headed into Week 11 with a 7-2 record. The difference between this year and last year is that Chicago now has a reliable quarterback waiting in the wings.
Quarterback Jason Campbell has started in 70 games in his seven seasons prior to joining the Bears. In two of those seasons, Campbell started all 16 games for the Washington Redskins. Campbell’s experience under center greatly outweighs the experience of last season’s backup Caleb Hanie.
In addition, Chicago has a much better defense than last year. This season, the Bears’ defensive unit has at least four players who will be named to this season’s Pro Bowl, as well as a potential NFL Defensive Player of the Year in cornerback Charles Tillman.
With the combination of Campbell’s experience, Chicago’s dominance on the defensive side of the ball and knowing the fact that Cutler won’t be out for the season like last time, the Bears shouldn’t be far off track from where they were before Cutler’s concussion.
Even with a far more experienced backup quarterback, Chicago still should consider giving the ball more to running back Matt Forte in Cutler’s absence. During this time of year, when the weather is cold and the wind picks up in the Windy City, running the ball will be a much-needed necessity.
Lately the Bears haven’t been giving Forte the ball as much. This injury to Cutler could be seen as a blessing in disguise, which will remind Chicago’s coaching staff that they need to find more ways to get Forte, one of the most versatile backs in the league, involved more.
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