In most cases, a team’s depth chart, with regard to its backup quarterback position, would not have fans calling for the head coach’s job. But, the Bears are not "most cases."
For a team that statistically has the worst offensive line in the NFL, is number one in sacks allowed (31 in seven games), and has already lost its starting quarterback for a game due to concussion, it’s perfectly reasonable to be concerned about the backup quarterback.
When Mike Martz was first hired in Chicago he made it very clear that he wanted to go out and sign a veteran quarterback to compete for the backup role. "It would make us all feel a little easier with a veteran because you just never know,'' Martz said at the Bears’ rookie minicamp.
The Bears ran the gamut of available veterans who were best suited to the Martz offense to no avail. Both Trent Green and Josh McCown turned down their respective offers.
I’ll probably regret admitting this, but I was one of the first covering the Bears to suggest Todd Collins for the backup spot. Collins was a free agent and had played in a Martz-like system. Sure he was a career backup, but that’s what we were looking for right?
John “Moon” Mullin first reported, when Collins was signed on August 23rd, that he was likely informed he would be the Bears backup QB to start the season.
When the Bears lost starting QB Jay Cutler to a concussion against the Giants in week four, Collins got his shot. He finished the day four of 11, for 36 yards, one interception and an 8.1 passer rating. In his first start with the Bears, in week five against Carolina, Collins threw four interceptions and finished with a dismal 6.2 passer rating.
It was shortly after Collins’ performance in Carolina that Caleb Hanie reclaimed his role as the number two QB. But, it wouldn’t be for long…
On Tuesday of this week, the Bears announced that Todd Collins was again promoted to the backup role, listing Caleb Hanie as the number three QB on the depth chart. And fans immediately started calling for Lovie Smith's job.
So, the question remains: Why make the change?
Bears’ head coach Lovie Smith said the team would use the bye week to evaluate everything from “scheme to personnel” in order to put themselves in the best position to win moving forward.
Last week, we made note of the fact that starting QB Jay Cutler did not throw a single pass in the Bears’ abbreviated practice sessions, leaving Hanie and Collins to take all the reps.
It’s likely that this is exactly one example of what Smith was talking about. And, when all was said and done, the Bears decided that Todd Collins was the right choice moving forward.
"Todd's a guy who has played a great deal, won, and played exceptionally well at this level," Martz said. "He can play at a high level. It's just a question of getting him a little bit more familiar. I feel good about Todd in those pressure situations, and we anticipate him managing the game very well and playing very well. That's why he's the No. 1 (backup) and that's just kind of how we feel about it."
It is fair to note that Collins has played just over one full game in a Bears uniform. And while his performance was pretty poor, to say the least, what did we really expect from a guy who hadn’t started a game since 2007?
If anything, Collins has officially “knocked the rust off.”
In 2007, while starting for an injured Jason Campbell in Washington, Collins led the Redskins to a 3-0 record, including a win over the Bears and a playoff birth.
I’m not suggesting Collins is or is not the right choice, but maybe, it’s not quite as bad as you think.