12:22 AM CST, November 16, 2012
I've heard it suggested that Jason Campbell is the best backup quarterback in this year's NFL — and that maybe the former Raider and Redskin is better than any No. 2 the Bears have ever had.
That's tantamount to the proclamation that Jay Cutler is the best starter in Bears history. One need not squint to see how low the bar previously was set.
But if Lovie Smith thinks Campbell's helmsmanship is as effective as advertised, his decision for Monday night's game in San Francisco should be easy. Campbell starts and Cutler wears civilian clothes. Even if he isn't as wobbly as he was after the Texans' Tim Dobbins laid him out on Soldier Field's soggy, clumpy turf last Sunday night.
The 49ers game is one the Bears weren't supposed to win with Cutler.
Why compromise the back end of the schedule by scrambling your starter's eggs even more? Four of the Bears' last six games are against NFC North teams. Those are more meaningful.
Coaches, of course, seldom approach their weekly assignments that way.
Every game is winnable. Every game MUST be won. Even if it means treating human beings like they're equipment.
Thing is, a Bears win at Candlestick Park doesn't get them any closer to New Orleans come February. Recent history illuminates how insignificant home field "advantage" is.
The Giants' road to the Super Bowl last winter was paved by beating the Packers at Lambeau Field and the 49ers in San Francisco.
In January of 2010, Green Bay won three postseason games on the road.
In Philadelphia, Atlanta and, uh-hum, Chicago.
Home field advantage is almost as mythical as "Bear weather." I cringed when Smith alluded to it Wednesday in his news conference — just three days after inclement weather meant nothing for the rough and tumble Midwesterners against a dome team.
Bears coaches and players have intimated they won't scale back on the passing game if Campbell plays. I don't believe them, but I don't find any fault with Campbell liberally sticking the football into the bellies of Matt Forte and Michael Bush, either.
The Bears running game has underwhelmed and it won't improve because of what transpires on the practice fields. The collective bargaining agreement precludes teams from smacking around their own, which is the most proven method to becoming a more physical team.
The Bears haven't been physical enough offensively. Here in Week 11, I'm not sure if Mike Tice's unit has been enough of anything. Save maddening.
Here's hoping Smith backs off the pressure this week. A win would be nice, but a loss doesn't threaten the season.
Forget the lights and the national television audience. It's a perfect time to brush up on the offensive fundamentals and get their $3.5 million backup some of the work they haven't requested from him since training camp.
I'm not as head over feet as some others are with Campbell. But I'll wager a week's pay he bests a 16.7 first-half rating and doesn't throw the ball to the 49ers five times.
Special contributor Dan McNeil hosts "The McNeil and Spiegel Show" weekdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on WSCR-AM 670.
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