By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) “Give us Orton!” the peasants cried from outside the gates of Halas Hall. “We demand Orton!”
And they were given Kyle Orton. And it was not good. And they cheered the prodigal Rex Grossman as he took the helm after halftime of an awful game against Atlanta. That same Grossman they had left for the guillotine in favor of Orton weeks and seasons before.
“We like what we see out of this Hanie guy!” they yelled years later. “He doesn’t have a face you want to punch, which means he must be a superior talent! He threw touchdowns against the Packers who had no game tape on him!”
And a non-punch-to-the-face injury to Jay Cutler had then-GM Jerry Angelo telling the panicked, angry masses, “Let them eat cake.” And Caleb Hanie sure as hell ate something out there.
There was even at one time an underground organization—damn near China—that created a pro-Enderle manifesto, but their movement never quite caught on.
I can’t speak for other NFL cities, but I do assume that most do not wear their hearts on their sleeves like a laminated set of plays the way Chicago does for a backup quarterback. That is, until each is no longer the backup.
General Manager Phil Emery made Jason Campbell an instant fan favorite when Campbell was signed simply because he was not Hanie, who is likely the biggest reason Angelo’s reign of malapropistic terror is over. A capable backup! A guy who can actually throw the ball to people in the same jersey should the porous offensive line lead to another Cutler injury that puts the season on the brink of disaster!
Wait… he’s actually playing now? He got told at halftime to warm up and win a game in crappy weather against a very good defense while already trailing? And he didn’t do it?
This Campbell guy sucks!
That’s the way it goes with Bears fans. The backup is beloved until called upon, and if he doesn’t perform like a starter, start yelling for the next guy in line.
Just watch. If Campbell has to start against San Francisco—that 49ers defense with Patrick Willis and his merry band of decapitators, on the road, at night—and doesn’t win, there will be plenty of shouts not for newly re-signed Josh McCown. Oh, no. It will be Matt Blanchard mania because his scouting report isn’t well known—which in dumb fan terms means he hasn’t been proven bad—and, worse, he’s a local product. A Chicagoan playing for the Bears (or in this case a Lake Zurichian which is almost like a Chicagoan. Or is it Zurichite? Zurich to linebacker?) is football Christmas to Bears fans because I don’t know why. His practice squad status matters not. He’s a geographically worthy “free agent on the Chicago Bears,” damn it.
And it will be calls for Emery’s head even though he acquired a guy as a backup who could probably start for a handful of teams in this league. This wasn’t Angelo ignoring a good possibility like a Bush administration FEMA director. This was spending significant money on an insurance policy, and with insurance policies you’re not getting the original product.
And now that insurance policy is kicking in. And what the Bears are asking Jason Campbell to do this week and hopefully not longer is tread water. What Bears fans are demanding Campbell do is replicate Cutler. If I crash my Porsche, I’m not expecting the temporary sedan I receive to open up on the highway the same or pick up chicks equally.
I don’t know if it’s the illusion that the Brady-replacing-Bledsoe scenario is more probable in other situations than not or if it’s just that so many fan don’t understand that a backup is a backup for a reason—he’s almost never as good as the guy in front of him. To expect Jason Campbell or anyone besides Jay Cutler to be a smooth transition at the quarterback position in an offense run by coordinator in his first year is concussive in itself.
Campbell has started games and won games in the NFL. I am not overly worried about him filling in such as I was with Caleb Hanie. But I am also not merely assuming the offense won’t skip a beat nor will I get angry when it probably skips several beats like a record made out of Seal’s face.
He’s a backup—his job is to weather a storm without creating a tire fire. Cry all you want for a replacement to be as good if not better than the original. But don’t be surprised if all you hear in reply is to go eat cake.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.