The Bears entered Oakland this past Sunday itching to get into the playoffs this season.
They left scratching their heads.
When Caleb Hanie stepped onto the field on Sunday for the injured Jay Cutler, many expected him to be the same player who almost brought the Bears to victory in the NFC Championship game 11 months ago. What they instead saw was what Hanie truly is: an inexperienced quarterback.
Two early interceptions will not help any quarterback in any game, much less one asked to step into a difficult position and try to keep their team focused for the playoff push. But that is exactly what happened to him Sunday, and it did not get much better from there. A victim of the Mike Martz offense, Hanie was asked to try and make plays that most quarterbacks could not make, much less one who has less than a full game of experience.
Case in point: the first “highlight” in this recap of the game:
Asked to throw a screen over the heads of linemen on a throwback screen is something that some quarterbacks struggle with for years. Yet Martz thought it would be a play that he could make with ease. This may be a isolated play in the future development of Hanie. It could also be another example of Martz thinking he has more in terms of play makers than he really does, something which has haunted him since the days of The Greatest Show on Turf.
Even when he was leading his team back late in the game, inexperience caught up with him again. With time ticking down, Hanie got his offense up to the line of scrimmage. As he took the snap, he stepped back, took another step back, and finally spiked the ball. Unfortunately, Hanie either did not know or simply forgot that you cannot do this. Failing to spike the ball immediately after taking the snap resulted in a penalty and 10 second run off of the play clock. With less than 10 seconds remaining, the clock ran to zero, and the Bears walked out of Oakland with a loss and a number of questions.
Was this gaffe all Hanie’s fault? Not necessarily. Some of most definitely falls on his shoulders, since he was the one who was entrusted to lead the Bears with Cutler out. However, is some of it Martz’s fault? Absolutely.
When you have a running back having a season like Matt Forte is, I do not understand why you hand the ball to him only 12 times in a game where you have a brand new quarterback under center. It would certainly have taken some of the pressure off of Hanie to make plays. However, whenever Martz is the person calling plays for your offense, it is almost a given that second guessing the play calling will occur, and that is exactly what happened.
As long as the Bears defense continues to perform at a high level, they will keep the Bears in the games they play. However, they had better hope that Jay Cutler makes a miraculous recovery from thumb surgery, although that is looking very unlikely. As long as Caleb Hanie and his inexperience is under center, the Bears will find wins hard to come by. And that is just fine with me.
Filed Under: John Rehor