Chicago Bears: 5 Players Who Need to Step Up in Week 12
The Chicago Bears are in a tough spot.
They've gone from playing arguably the best football in the NFL over the past five games to losing their star quarterback for the rest of the season. Now they are forced to finish the year with a backup who hasn't started a game in his career.
Caleb Hanie will fill the role Jay Cutler played as the man leading this team to the playoffs.
Hanie won't need to do the same things Cutler did in order to win games for the Bears, but he will need to play well, and much of the team's playoff hopes now rest on his shoulders.
This list will cover Caleb Hanie and four other areas of the Chicago Bears that will need to step up in Week 12 in order for the Bears to continue their winning streak and stay in the playoff hunt.
Devin Hester has done little to nothing this season as a wide receiver, but as a special teams specialist, he has been great.
Hester does so much for the Chicago Bears' offense without even catching passes. He sets up Chicago with great field position and has been a huge part of why the team's offense has been so much better this season.
Hester's incredible return game will be even more important now that Jay Cutler is out, and it will be vital for the Bears to get good field position so Caleb Hanie can lead our offense on scoring drives that don't take 80 yards.
Devin Hester will need to continue his punt-returning dominance and help the offense at wide receiver if the Bears are going to make the playoffs.
OK, Mike Martz isn't exactly a player, but there is no question that he will need to step his game up.
Martz will have to craft an offensive game plan for Caleb Hanie that helps the Chicago Bears score points without the play of Jay Cutler.
Hanie cannot do the same things Cutler can, and Martz will need to recognize that fact quickly.
The Bears will need to run the ball more than usual and put Hanie in situations where he can find early success to build his confidence.
If Martz thinks he can keep his usual game plan and expect Hanie to preform like Jay Cutler, he is in for a major surprise, and the Bears will be in a bad place.
I am confident Martz will design a plan for the Hanie-led offense that works well for the young quarterback and sets up the Bears to end the season well.
The Offensive Line
The Chicago Bears' offensive line isn't exactly one player either, but as a unit, they will need to step their game up.
The line has been great the past five games for the Bears and have protected Jay Cutler very well, allowing him time to throw the ball and help the Bears score points.
Cutler has also learned how to move in the pocket well, which has prevented a lot of drive-killing sacks from occurring.
Caleb Hanie does not have the pocket presence that Jay Cutler has, so the offensive line will need to hold their pass blocks longer and key in on blitzing players more effectively.
If Hanie gets the same treatment that Jay Cutler got early in the season, the Bears' offense will sputter and the team will be in trouble.
Running the ball will help the offensive line and Caleb Hanie, so a healthy dose of the run game will need to occur.
How much more could the Chicago Bears ask of Matt Forte?
Not much, honestly, but he will need to step his game up nonetheless.
Forte will once again need to put the offense on his back and carry the majority of the production if the Bears are going to win games. Yardage will be key for the Bears offense moving forward.
Forte is extremely effective catching the ball out of the backfield and because those are easy throws for a young, inexperienced quarterback to make, expect a lot of screen passes and "dumpoffs" to No. 22.
If Forte can continue his dominance running and catching the ball, the Bears offense' won't slow down too much and the team will pick up some wins.
Caleb Hanie needs to step up more than anyone on the Chicago Bears this week if the team is going to pick up a win.
Hanie doesn't need to make the throws Jay Cutler made, he doesn't really even have to make many big throws at all, he just needs to take care of the ball.
Limiting turnovers and running the ball is all Hanie needs to do to "step up" and as long as he can play game manager, the Bears' defense and special teams will take care of the rest.
Hanie showed flashes of quality play against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game last season and if he has progressed at all since then, Chicago Bears fans may be in for a pleasant surprise.
As long as Hanie doesn't lose any games for the Bears, I see him doing enough to win three to four games and helping the Bears get into the playoffs for the second year in a row.