Forget about Marion Barber's mistakes in the loss to the Broncos, the real problem lies with Bears' brass that felt that Caleb Hanie was a capable backup for Jay Cutler. | Getty Images
Updated: December 12, 2011 4:59PM
The Kansas City Chiefs fired coach Todd Haley on Monday. His crime? He didn’t have a No. 2 quarterback.
A tough break for the ex-Bears wide receivers coach. His team lost three of four games with Tyler Palko at quarterback. The only victory came against the Bears and Caleb Hanie last week at Soldier Field.
Unfortunately, Hanie as a No. 2 quarterback is an even bigger crime. The Chiefs were 4-5 even with starter Matt Cassel. But the Bears are paying a much higher price for Hanie’s failure to even come remotely close to filling Jay Cutler’s shoes. They’re now 0-3 with Hanie after a stunning 13-10 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday. That’s three straight losses to No. 2 quarterbacks, by the way — Carson Palmer, Palko and the great Tim Tebow.
Running back Marion Barber was an easy target after the Bears dropped to 7-6 and saw their once-promising postseason hopes dwindle to longshot status. But once we’re done piling on Barber for two more bonehead plays that cost the Bears a victory, the focus will turn to the real culprit for the Bears’ demise — the Bears’ inability to identify and develop a capable backup quarterback.
General manager Jerry Angelo, coach Lovie Smith and offensive coordinator Mike Martz all share blame for Caleb Hanie being the best the Bears have to offer after Jay Cutler suffered a broken thumb against the Chargers. By now, Hanie should have been in a rhythm to produce enough points to make Tebow irrelevant in the fourth quarter. Instead, they had to dumb down their offense by rushing 38 times and throwing 19, which kept them turnover-free for most of the game but also kept the Broncos within striking distance — which is a death wish against Tebow.
Cutler’s injury is a tough break. Of the 12 teams currently in playoff spots in the AFC and NFC, all but the Texans and Broncos have their No. 1 starter for every game. And the Broncos don’t really count, because they’re No. 2 is an upgrade mostly because they didn’t get the No. 1 right. Of the 15 teams that have started their No. 1 all season, only the Panthers (4-9) and Browns (4-9) have losing records.
But the Bears should have been able to survive the Cutler injury — at least qualify for the playoffs — and now it’s going to take quite a sudden reversal by Hanie and some good fortune around the league for the Bears to make it.
At the very least, Angelo has some explaining to do. The Raiders have won three games with veteran Carson Palmer, who came in cold off the street six weeks into the season. The Texans have won three games with rookie T.J. Yates in place of Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart. The Bears — because of bad timing and the confining nature of Mike Martz’s complicated offense — seem to have boxed themselves in with neither a proven veteran nor a qualified prospect.
It’s not the first time this has happened. The question for Angelo is simple: How did he get fooled again? CLICK HERE for 10 other observations from the Bears-Broncos game: