Chicago Bears: 5 Reasons to Keep Caleb Hanie
When you think of the quarterback position in Chicago, you naturally think of Jay Cutler. Whether you love him or hate him (and really, there aren't too many opinions that are in between), Cutler is a name that generates lots of interest.
But as the NFC Championship game pointed out, the backup QB position is still important for any team, particularly one that allows its QB to get sacked more than a bag of groceries.
Todd Collins clearly wasn't the answer for the Bears last season. In fact, he was so awful, I'm not even sure what the question was. Still, having him seeded higher than Hanie tells us that Mike Martz prefers a veteran in the backup role.
That said, there aren't many backups out there willing to accept such a limited role, and meanwhile, you already have a player in Hanie that appears to be capable of getting the job done in Cutler's absence.
So without further ado, I give you my reasons why the Bears should keep Hanie as the backup for 2011. Assuming there is a season, of course.
Hanie Is Mobile and Has Upside
Mobility is certainly a trait that is needed when you are quarterbacking the Chicago Bears. Unless they improve that offensive line, a QB needs to scramble for his life under center. Fortunately, Hanie can do that.
Plus, Hanie looked decent at times in 2010. Sure, his resume is incomplete, but he completed 65 percent of his passes, leading the team to TDs twice in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game.
Sure, he also threw two interceptions in the game, but then again, Cutler has this same problem, right?
For his very limited career, Hanie has at least been somewhat accurate, completing 21-of-34 for 219 yards, including five of seven in 2010 during the regular season.
Now, those are not numbers to get excited about, but they aren't bad either.
Bears Can Use the Money Saved Elsewhere
Why should the Bears spend big money on a backup QB when that money can be better utilized to acquire a free agent offensive lineman or wide receiver, for example?
Plus, Hanie comes fairly cheaply, as he should given his background and lack of playing time.
And even if the Bears don't go the free agent route, they have their own free agents to re-sign.
Hanie Knows the Mike Martz Offense
While last season's offense wasn't really the true Mike Martz style of offense, there is still a lot of precise timing routes and a big playbook. Martz expects his players to know all the plays, as he is prone to call any one of them out of the blue during a game.
Hanie has mostly sat and held a clipboard, but he knows the offense, has a good rapport with the players and can more easily come into a game than, say, a guy who has never stepped foot onto Soldier Field.
Time May Not Be on the Bears Side
With the lockout going full force, there is a good chance that things won't get resolved until there is a sense of urgency from the owners and players. That time will come as we get closer to the regular season.
That said, there may not be much time to sign free agents or make trades. And what limited time there may be might be better spent finding help for the offensive line, rather than trying to find a backup QB.
Hanie and Cutler Appear to Get Along
Whether it's a fact or speculation, attitude and personality issues seem to cloud Jay Cutler wherever he goes. The popular consensus during the second half of the NFC Championship game seemed to be that Cutler wasn't much interested in helping his backups while he sat injured.
Fair or not, one would assume that getting along with Cutler would be a very positive thing. Cutler might view another veteran QB coming in as a potential threat, while he knows that Hanie is not going to take his job, most likely.
Hanie doesn't have the experience or pedigree to suggest that he has any chance of taking the starting job from Cutler. Hanie has thrown just 34 passes in his career after being undrafted out of college.
But the two do seem to like each other, even if they don't hang out together. While that won't help Hanie play any better, it leads to better chemistry within the team and can't hurt Hanie's chances at sticking around.