Around the NFL this weekend, a few backup quarterbacks could potentially get the starting nod for their teams. Jason Campbell is one of them, now that the Bears have ruled Jay Cutler out for Monday night's game against the 49ers.
There are plenty of misconceptions about what it is to be a backup quarterback in the NFL. It normally comes down to excuses about the number of repetitions the backup quarterback receives during the work week. For the record, the backup quarterback receives plenty of repetitions. They just arent with the starting unit preparing that weeks particular game plan.
Any backup quarterback who is worth their salt is going to get their work done while preparing the first string defense during the week on the show teams. Backups typically work on the show teams to prepare the starters on offense, defense, and special teams. Show teams prepare these units by executing drawn up looksplays on eight-by-10 cards of the opponent.
Its not at all surprising for starters to work on the show teams as well. Healthy bodies are hard to come by and coaches make the most of any available week to week. For example, I used to run down on show team kickoff coverage or punt coverage to help special teams prepare their kick or punt return units. A lot of starters rolled through on those units to keep legs fresh. Imagine running eight 40 yard dashes back to back to back. Everyone helps out on show teams.
Its the same for backup quarterbacks. Although they are not getting repetitions within their offense, they are working off cards with similar plays against the No. 1 defense. In case you just missed that point, Campbell is going against one of the leagues best defenses every single day. He is getting reps reading defensive fronts, coverages, working footwork, and making all kinds of throws during the week.
To get quality work done, I found it best to execute show team cards similarly to how I would execute plays within our own playbook, unless the coaches requested differently. First team wide receivers have to roll through show teams also. Essentially, Campbell could be throwing to Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, and yes, even Brandon Marshall when preparing Brian Urlacher and the boys defensively.
Backup quarterbacks also throw individual drills with starting wide receivers, running backs and tight ends during the week. Essentially, Campbell has worked with starters throwing routes on air, one-on-ones and seven-on-sevens since the day he signed. The schedule may say week 11 in the NFL, but Campbell is prepared and has been prepared.
Hes experienced from being in this position before and will only benefit receiving work with the first unit. This week Campbell will hone the Bears' offensive game plan by now working against defensive show teams, who will give him defensive looks he could potentially see from San Francisco if he has to start.
At this point in their careers, backup quarterbacks like Pittsburgh's Byron Leftwich or Campbell have already been there and done that. It really is not that big of a deal -- pretty much what their teammates have been stating throughout the week.