The Chicago Bears should be on the top of the world.
They have won five straight and if the season ended today they would be the second wild card team with a record or 7-3.
However some bad news came out of the locker room on Sunday after the Bears beat the San Diego Chargers.
Jay Cutler broke the thumb on his throwing hand and will require surgery and miss the remainder of the regular season. The injury happened after Cutler threw an interception and he attempted to make the tackle on Antoine Cason who was returning it. Cutler did remain in the game but only threw two passes the rest of the game.
So with Cutler out and the Bears now turn to backup Caleb Hanie for the remainder of the season. So how can they do over the next six games?
Now for all those standing on the ledge ready to jump I’m here to talk you down. I’m not going to say that the Bears won’t miss Cutler but all is not lost. There was a chance that the Bears could have gone 5-1 or even 6-0 if Cutler was healthy the rest of the season but is going 4-2 or 3-3 so bad with Hanie replacing him?
It’s true that Hanie has never started a game in the NFL but remember how well he played against the Packers during the NFC title game. Many said that maybe the Bears could have beaten the Packers if the coaching staff had inserted Haine immediately instead of letting Todd Collins replace Cutler.
This comes at a great time for Hanie as he is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and is playing for the chance to compete for a starting job on another team. Ignore that he has only thrown 14 regular season passes and focus on what he did against Green Bay as the third string QB. Now think what he can do getting all the first team reps against the teams left on the Bears schedule.
To be honest this could not have happened at a better time for the Bears. They have a very winnable stretch of games ahead against Oakland, Denver, Kansas City, Seattle and then division matchups against the Packers and Vikings. The hardest part of the remaining schedule is that only two games are at home while the other four are on the road including the final two against the Pack and Vikes.
With Cutler the Bears would have won the quarterback matchup in every game except against Aaron Rodgers but with Hanie don’t the Bears still win at least four of those matchups?
Hanie or Tebow? Hanie or Travis Jackson? Hanie or Carson Palmer? Hanie or Ponder? Hanie or whoever might be starting for the Chiefs?
I’m taking Caleb over all those guys except Carson Palmer.
The really scary thing is who know sits behind Hanie. Rookie Nathan Enderle is now the backup and with the Bears not likely putting Cutler on IR don’t expect the Bears to sign a veteran QB unless they want to carry four quarterbacks on the roster.
So relax everyone. The season isn’t over. Hanie is a four year veteran who knows the offense and he might not be able to do everything Cutler can do but he can do enough to keep this Bears offense going.
I want to ask everyone two things.
First please don’t say the Bears need to call Marc Bulger or Brett Favre. They are retired and can’t be of any help to us this late in the season.
Secondly please don’t start saying that if Hanie goes 4-2 or 5-1 that he should keep the job if Jay is healthy or not. Jay is the better quarterback this is not a Tom Brady-Drew Bledsoe situation.
In other news long snapper Patrick Mannelly also left the game injured and was replace by fullback Tyler Clutts. Mannelly is also expected to miss the remainder of the season. If it is true it will end Mannelly’s streak of 147 consecutive games. Mannelly has appeared in 215 games which is most in Bears history. It is unclear at this time if the Bears will sign another long snapper or just go forward with Clutts or tightend Matt Spaeth.