Caleb Hanie Taking the Reins From Jay Cutler

Nothing brings out the neurosis of being a Chicago Bears fan like a quarterback controversy. Which, of course, is exactly what we have now that Jay Cutler is out for a few weeks with a fractured thumb.

Drama is building around his backup, Caleb Hanie, because Hanie is apparently not really trusted by his coaches, who have not only dissed him frequently with their playing time and depth chart choices over the last season and a half, but who just this year drafted another quarterback (Nathan Enderle, from Idaho), and raved about how good he was, and even moved him ahead of Hanie for one day in training camp. It’s no coincidence that Hanie is heading into the final year of his initial deal. It’s also possible that all this doesn’t really add up to anything at all, but these are the kinds of signs you see when management is positioning themselves to say goodbye to a player.

So it’s pretty clear, at least to me, that Martz does not care for him, and would prefer that he go away for next year, even though Martz himself only has one (or two?) more years on his deal, so he is not exactly a lock to be around two years from now either. And I’m not a Mike Martz fan, as I’ve outlined on this blog before, several times.

Against this whole backdrop, Caleb Hanie himself has an opportunity to shut them all up. He’s the guy, he’s going to play this Sunday, as the starter against Oakland. And let’s not forget, he did lead the Bears to their only two touchdowns in the NFC title game, and if not for a rookie mistake — throwing the pick-6 — they had a good chance to win that game and go to the Super Bowl. So it’s not like he’s never produced under pressure, or is a totally unknown quantity. He’s got good athleticism, a decent arm, seems to make good decisions for a young player (though obviously there is always room for improvement there), but more than that, he seems to have that “it” quality: the leadership and ability to make things happen on the field that is so hard to define.

So place your bets. I hope he plays well and makes his doubters — especially Martz — look stupid. Partly because depth is a great thing at any position and helps the team win games, and partly because I don’t think he’s had enough chances to show what he can do.

Talk is great, but the beauty of sports is that it’s really all about what happens on the field. As Al Davis famously said: “just win, baby”.

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