BR Rookie Diary: Matt Blanchard

QB Matt Blanchard (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

Jay Cutler is down, Jason Campbell is starting and Josh McCown was signed off the street. Rookie Matt Blanchard talks about the transition currently underway with the Bears' signal callers.

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has been ruled out this week due to a concussion suffered against the Houston Texans. Jason Campbell will start in his place and Josh McCown, whom the team signed this week, will serve as the backup.

It's been a crazy time for rookie Matt Blanchard, who was hoping to get a crack at the 53-man roster. Bear Report talks with Blanchard about the transition currently happening on Chicago's roster.

"Watching Jay go down last week was a difficult thing to see. You never want to see a player hurt like that. Jay is such a tough guy that I'm sure if it had been his own decision, he would have stayed in there until the end. He is so competitive and will do anything to get our team the win.

"We all hope that he heals quickly, but until then, the team is in good hands with Jason at quarterback.

"This past week has been a real education for me. Things change so quickly here in the NFL and the successful teams are the ones who are able to adjust and go forward from there. With Shea [McClellin] and Jay both going down, that's two concussions in one night. It's a worst-case scenario.

"It was important to see how the other players reacted, and how the team as a whole functioned with the change in quarterbacks. I have the highest regard for Jason. He's worked quite closely with me during my first year here, teaching me about how the game is conducted at this level. He's extremely knowledgeable about the game and is completely dedicated. He'll be in the meeting room early, and in the film room late. He has been aware since he arrived here that his job is to be prepared to take over a game immediately. When it happened, he was ready. To me, he seemed poised and calm. There was never any panic, no sign of any nerves at all from him. That's exactly what you want to see, because that attitude builds confidence in the team as a whole.

"The quarterbacks' meeting room has been quite a bit different as you can imagine. Jay is not active right now, Josh just arrived and Jason is starting. That's a lot to handle in the space of a few short days. Jeremy Bates, the quarterbacks coach, has been working closely with Jason on the game plan. That process is interesting for me to watch, to see how things are altered to fit Jason's skills as opposed to Jay's strengths. Jason tends to be more of a pocket passer while Jay scrambles around a lot. Jay tends to go to Brandon Marshall quite a bit because their communication is so good. That might change slightly with Jason leading the offense.

"Early last week I had a slight hope that perhaps I'd be elevated but then Josh came in. I have to admit to being disappointed but that feeling went away soon enough. The big thing about rookie year in the NFL is that you have to be patient. I have to trust that when I am ready, I will get my chance. I'm helping out all I can with the scout team and filling my role of watching and learning from the sidelines on game day.

"I've never had an injury like Jay's, which makes me lucky as I've been playing football since I was a little kid. From what I've read and what I've heard, the big problem is that it's hard to quantify the healing process. You never want a player to go back too soon. Hopefully the extra time Jay will get this week will help him recover.

"I'd say that overall the mood of the team is confident and optimistic. This is the hard part of our season and we're prepared to go on from here. The 49ers' defense can be tough and it's a home game so fan noise will be an issue. Jason has dealt with that kind of thing many times before and he'll do fine."


Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.

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