Before the football season began I wrote a post about all the wasted time spent on Bears back up quarter talk. The Nathan Enderle versus Caleb Hanie debate was nonsensical because it didn’t factor in the outcome of the season. Neither possessed the talent to keep the Bears in contention should Jay Cutler go down so what did it matter where they fell on the depth chart. Little did I know that the talent of the number two quarterback would make or break the Bears season.
My statement in the preseason was “If Hanie or Enderle is forced to play more than two games this season, the team can kiss the playoffs goodbye.” Who knew the thesis would be put to the test. At 7-3 the Bears currently hold one of the two NFC wildcard spots but will rely on Caleb Hanie, a second stringer with little experience, to run the offense for the remaining six regular season games. The teams that remain on their schedule are a combined 31-29 with road games against the Raiders and Packers being the most challenging. Without seeing Hanie in ‘game action’ it’s hard to stand firm on my previous statement. But the reality is even if Cutler was healthy, making the playoffs wasn’t a lock. And unless Hanie plays above what most analysts expect, his play will indeed prevent the Bears from playing into January. If you believe Hanie is being underestimated, the actions of Bears management prove you wrong.
Jerry Angelo put in a failed waiver claim on ex-Bronco Kyle Orton who was eventually awarded to the Kansas City Chiefs this week. Orton would likely have made his way into the Bears starting line up after a few week crash course in the Martz offensive system. Angelo immediately went to his back up plan and signed Josh McCown to be Hanie’s back up. Jerry Angelo, Lovie Smith and, most of all, Mike Martz will keep Caleb Hanie on a short leash until he proves trustworthy. And if he doesn’t cut it, don’t be surprised when McCown is inserted into the starting role. Martz is familiar with him from their overlapping time in Detroit and he tends to trust veterans over inexperienced youth at the quarterback position. I’m all for Caleb Hanie leading the Bears into the playoffs but without at least a 3-3 finish, the Bears will end up on the outside looking in.