Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Jason Campbell's downfield reticence
By Kevin Seifert
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is "getting better" as he recovers from a concussion suffered three days ago, coach Lovie Smith said Wednesday. In reality, as we've discussed already, we won't have a meaningful update on Cutler's condition and playing status until we find out if he joins the team for its first practice of the week Thursday.
Would the Bears clear Cutler to play Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers without a full week of practice? There is no way of knowing that. But the Bears would be foolish to rush Cutler back after spending $3.5 million this spring to sign backup Jason Campbell.
So while we have a moment, let's circle back on a portion of Campbell's relief appearance Sunday night that no doubt had some fans concerned. As we noted, Campbell attempted only two passes that traveled more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage, a conservative approach that grew less understandable as the clock became a factor in the fourth quarter.
Research from John McTigue of ESPN Stats & Information suggests Campbell has played that way for much of his career. Since the start of 2008, during which he has thrown more than 1,500 passes, Campbell's average throw has traveled 6.6 yards past the line of scrimmage.
That's the lowest figure for all quarterbacks who have thrown at least 1,000 passes over that time. The highest average belongs to the New York Giants' Eli Manning (8.8). Cutler, meanwhile, ranks No. 9 at 8.2 yards.
Campbell has a strong arm, and in some cases that average has probably reflected the scheme he has been in. But it might be a bit much to expect a quarterback to depart dramatically from a trend that's carried over from three franchises over that period.
Related: Houston Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins was fined $30,000 for the hit that caused Cutler's concussion. We will circle back Thursday with a more detailed post on the rules that did and did not apply on the play in a Dirty Laundry post.