Hey, Bears media: It’s Caleb Hanie, not the Second Coming
BY JOE COWLEY email@example.com August 17, 2011 8:24PM
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz says that Caleb Hanie (above) will be the Bears’ backup quarterback, “unless Caleb’s arm falls off.” | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:31AM
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Everybody loves the backup quarterback. I get it.
But we’re past love when it comes to Caleb Hanie and a majority of the Bears media lately. The stalking laws must be different in Bourbonnais than in other places because when Hanie speaks these days, there aren’t enough recorders, cameras and smiles of obsession to go around.
Quick reminder: It’s Caleb Hanie.
So after offensive coordinator Mike Martz dismounted his very feminine-looking orange bicycle before practice Wednesday to talk all things Bears offense, what was the first topic?
No. 12, and the treatment he’s been receiving in camp this week.
After Hanie — fresh off a 56.8 quarterback rating in the victory against the Buffalo Bills on Saturday — watched his second-string reps handed to rookie Nathan Enderle on Monday, it was treated as if the coaching staff had chopped off Hanie’s pinkie toe as punishment.
On Tuesday, Hanie was given his workload back as the No. 2, and he responded by throwing three interceptions.
On Wednesday, it was damage control, starring Martz.
Martz: ‘Nothing has changed’
Was Monday’s message to punish Hanie?
‘‘No, we don’t do that,’’ Martz said. ‘‘No, it was a combination of two things. He struggled a little bit on Saturday, and whenever quarterbacks do that, you try to give them a day to kind of sit back and kind of regroup. Most quarterbacks go through this. He didn’t have a real good outing, but he’s fine.
‘‘The other part of it, Nate did a real good job in the game. So we wanted to know a little bit more about Nate. So each week, he’ll get one day with the twos, and, of course, Caleb will get some snaps with the ones. So nothing has changed.’’
Asked what he spoke with Hanie about specifically after the Saturday showing, Martz said, ‘‘Just what we normally do in camp. There’s nothing special about it. He didn’t play as well as I’d hoped he would Saturday. But Caleb is fine; he’s our No. 2. He’s just got to clean some things up.’’
Obviously dissatisfied with those answers, reporters then asked Martz if there was a scenario in which Enderle enters the regular season as the No. 2.
‘‘Not unless Caleb’s arm fall off,’’ Martz replied.
Could you imagine the media scrum to rescue Hanie’s fallen arm? To try to be the first to reattach it?
Another quick reminder: It’s Caleb Hanie.
The bigger question the Bears need to be asking themselves is: How did they get into a situation in which they’re still $30 million under the salary cap and are even having a discussion about Hanie vs. Enderle for the No. 2 spot?
There’s no doubt that starting quarterback Jay Cuter is the franchise. Even in practice Wednesday, it was easy to see which quarterback is Cutler and which two aren’t.
If Cutler goes down for a significant amount of time, does it even matter if it’s Hanie or Enderle? No. It will be a lost season.
That’s why the Bears should have had a plan in place to address the depth at quarterback as soon as the final seconds ran off the clock in the NFC Championship Game in January.
If they missed the memo then, well, how about when they realized that center Olin Kreutz wasn’t coming back and there would be an offensive line to rebuild?
How about a veteran backup QB?
‘‘Remember now, of the five positions, four of them are at different positions or new,’’ Martz said. ‘‘We didn’t have the time in the offseason to get these guys grounded in it, the footwork and that kind of stuff that you do.’’
That’s why you insulate yourself even more with veteran quarterback depth. Getting the line to jell in such a short time is worry enough. Leaving the offense without a parachute in case Cutler goes down is just plain ignorant.
To his credit, Hanie did have a better practice Wednesday, actually throwing the ball to the players on the offensive side of the ball.
‘‘I talked to him,’’ Cutler said when asked about Hanie’s psyche. ‘‘I think it really hurt him missing those first six days of camp, not so much physically, but mentally. Just installing and going through the reads on the field.
‘‘It’s one thing to sit in a classroom and see it on the board, see Mike teach it, but to go out and actually experience it is a whole different thing. He had a really good day [Wednesday], so he’s getting back into it.’’
Jay, it’s Caleb Hanie.