Miller: Campbell well-prepared to run Bears' offense

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Miller: Campbell well-prepared to run Bears' offense

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.

Fast Break Morning Update: Scott Darling leads Blackhawks to win over Blues

Fast Break Morning Update: Scott Darling leads Blackhawks to win over Blues

Here are the top Chicago sports stories from Sunday:

Scott Darling shines in fill-in duty as Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

White Sox pitchers headed for World Baseball Classic look sharp in win over Rockies

What if… Cubs GM Jed Hoyer’s takeaways from epic World Series Game 7

Quick hits: Blackhawks start strong in win over Blues

Illini keep NCAA tournament hopes afloat with dominant win over Nebraska

White Sox: Happy with progress, Brett Lawrie tries to clear final hurdles

How Indians regrouped and reloaded after losing unforgettable Game 7 to Cubs

Jim Thome: Getting into baseball Hall of Fame would be indescribable

Kurt Busch steals a monster of a win in Daytona 500

Michigan State gets big win to boost tourney hopes, while Wisconsin loses for fourth time in five games

 

 

 

Scott Darling shines in fill-in duty as Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

Scott Darling shines in fill-in duty as Blackhawks break late tie to best rival Blues

Scott Darling found out at 8 o'clock this morning that he was starting for an ailing Corey Crawford. Considering he did this back in December for a few weeks, adjusting quick for one game was fine.

"It's kind of my job," Darling said.

And Darling, once again, did his job.

Darling stopped 30 of 32 shots and Patrick Kane scored his 24th goal of the season as the Blackhawks beat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 on Sunday night. The Blackhawks have won nine of their last 10 games. They're one point behind the Minnesota Wild, who made their splashy trade-deadline move in acquiring Martin Hanzal on Sunday. But the Blackhawks, thanks to veterans regaining their form, a top line finding its rhythm and youth consistently improving, are just rolling right along.

"We had a great start to the game. I thought Darls was excellent all night, great stretch there in the last 10 minutes where we fight through some tough shifts, particularly in the last couple of minutes in our end. But good win," coach Joel Quenneville said. "You look at the nice plays on the goals, it was kind of a comparable ending to the outdoor game: tied and about the same time they scored, we scored (tonight). Big two points for us."

Jonathan Toews scored his 16th of the season and Artem Anisimov scored the game-winning goal with 5:20 remaining in regulation. Tanner Kero added an empty-net goal with 2.6 seconds remaining in the game.

The Blackhawks already knew they'd be without Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) for at least a day or two when they found out Crawford couldn't go this morning. As Quenneville said Darling was strong once again, denying the Blues all but twice (a 2-on-1 goal from Magnus Paajarvi and a power-play goal from Alex Pietrangelo).

Toews and Kane (power-play goal) staked the Blackhawks to a 2-0 lead early before the Blues tied it in the second. But late in the third period Anisimov took the feed from Artemi Panarin to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead.

"I saw the puck all the way. It was easy to pick up," Anisimov said. "When you don't see the puck at the last moment and it comes, it's hard to receive and prepare for the next move. But I saw it all the way. Easy to prepare for the next move."

Speaking of next moves, do the Blackhawks make any more before the trade deadline. General manager Stan Bowman said on Friday, following the acquisition of Tomas Jurco, that he'll keep talking and listening but likes the group he has right now. If Bowman's made moves it's for what the Blackhawks have needed, not because of another team's trades. The Blackhawks like what they have right now. Winning nine of 10 and continuing to trend in the right direction, they should be careful not to disrupt what they've got going.

"I think we're, as we've said lately, trending the right way. We're playing solid. I think all four lines are contributing in every which way," Toews said. "I love our group right now. Everyone is getting better individually, contributing more and more and it's a lot of fun to see the way we're playing right now. We know that the ceiling is way higher and we can keep getting better too."