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Bears need QB Jason Campbell to get off to a good start

JasCampbell will need lots help from running game. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

Jason Campbell will need lots of help from the running game. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 19, 2012 1:41PM



Wide receiver Brandon Marshall couldn’t resist a chance to state the most obvious, indisputable difference between the Bears’ top two quarterbacks.

Asked the difference between Jay Cutler and Jason Campbell, Marshall playfully responded, “Jason’s black and Jay’s white.”

When the laughs ceased and Marshall continued, he provided a substantive answer.

“You know what, it’s the opposite,’’ he said. ‘‘You would think Campbell would be like [Michael] Vick. But Jay Cut is like Vick, and Jason is more of a pocket guy.”

Facing a fast and fierce 49ers defense, the Bears may prove wise in shelving Cutler, who suffered a concussion in the second quarter of last Sunday’s 13-6 loss to the Texans.

Cutler’s clearly superior to Campbell in many ways.

But Campbell’s more decisive, takes fewer sacks and, perhaps most important, starts games better.

The Bears put up a record 28 points against the Titans but have scored only 30 points in the first quarter of their other eight games.

Cutler has a woeful 35.7 passer rating in 2012, with two touchdowns and five interceptions, in the first quarter. The first quarter has been his least productive (70.9 rating) throughout his Bears tenure.

Campbell is better, although not by a significant margin. He has a 76.7 rating in the first quarter.

The difference, though, is interceptions.

In 70 career starts, Campbell has eight first-quarter interceptions. In 87 starts, Cutler has 24.

After practice Friday, Campbell acknowledged that the offense needs to open the game well at Candlestick Park.

“In a hostile environment,’’ Campbell said, ‘‘playing against a team like that, they feed off their crowd and energy, so it’s important for us to get off to a fast start and move the ball in a positive direction and just have that mind-set.’’

Campbell generated some momentum when he started the second half against the Texans and completed four of his first five passes. But he was criticized by some for not being more aggressive on the last two drives.

He defended his performance Friday.

“When you stand on the sideline,’’ Campbell said, ‘‘it’s cold, rainy and muddy, and then you’re going against one of the top three defenses in the National Football League, and you got to play without any reps. You try to stay within the system.

‘‘I took three shots down the field. We hit two and missed on one.

“There were others, but [the Texans] dropped everyone, and it just wasn’t there. You can’t just throw it up because if it’s intercepted, then everyone is like, ‘Oh, no. What is he doing?’ ”

On the last drive, Campbell said a receiver slipped, so he had to dump the ball off.

“I have thrown plenty of deep balls in my career,” he said.

Campbell was hardly to blame; he didn’t commit any of the Bears’ four turnovers nor drop any of the four passes.

“We just have to do a better job, outside of the quarterback room, making plays,” Marshall said. “That’s the receivers, the tight ends and the running backs.

“We let him down a little bit last week, but this week, I think we’ll bounce back.”

Offensive coordinator Mike Tice expressed full confidence in Campbell but added that they have to run the ball more effectively. On 16 carries against the Texans, Matt Forte averaged 2.4 yards.

“We have to get the run game going,” Tice said. “We have to take some pressure off Jason. It all starts with that. It’s [going to] be tough sledding, though.”

Campbell echoed that sentiment about the 49ers’ defense, but he didn’t seem at all fazed.

“Just have fun,” Campbell said. “You got to let it hang out in a game like this.”



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