Monday, November 21, 2011
Who is Caleb Hanie?
By Kevin Seifert
Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith has confirmed that quarterback Jay Cutler has a broken right thumb. As ESPN's Adam Schefter and Merril Hoge discuss in the video below, the chances of the Bears acquiring a short-term starter at this point are remote. That leaves backup Caleb Hanie at the helm of a 7-3 team that appeared to have a direct path to the playoffs before Cutler's injury.
Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie has appeared in six games over the past three years.
Who is Caleb Hanie? Bears fans know him as an athletic scrambler with a live arm who has produced some exciting preseason moments. Players and coaches consider him a friendly youngster who understands his place in a veteran locker room, one who earned respect for the way he has handled the notorious scrutiny of offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
For the rest of you, let's take a quick look at the player who the Bears hope can maintain their approach to the playoffs:
Weight: 222 pounds
How acquired: Signed with the Bears in 2008 as an undrafted rookie from Colorado State, where he started 28 games over four seasons and set the school record for completion percentage (64.2) as a senior.
Experience: Has appeared in six games over the past three years. He has thrown 14 regular-season passes, and he tossed 20 more in a relief appearance during last season's 2010 NFC Championship Game.
Playing style: The best way to describe Hanie's game is "wide open." He is quick to leave the pocket and fast enough to make plays when he does it. In parts of 13 career preseason games, Hanie has scrambled 17 times for 92 yards and a touchdown. That style has left him open to turnovers, however. He has committed eight turnovers in those preseason games, including six interceptions.
Turning point: Martz demoted him to third string in 2010, advocating for washed-up veteran Todd Collins to be signed in his place, and appeared unconvinced on Hanie's candidacy to be the No. 2 quarterback late in the 2011 preseason. Ultimately, Hanie won the job with a sparkling performance in the Bears' final preseason game, completing seven of 10 passes without a turnover and finishing with a 128.3 passer rating.
Future look: In a sign of how they viewed Hanie just a few months ago, the Bears extended a low tender when restricted free agency began in July. A team could have signed him to an offer sheet without giving the Bears compensation. After the lockout, no team was willing to do so. So Hanie is making $1.2 million this season and will be an unrestricted free agent this winter. Although he wouldn't have wished Cutler any harm, he has received a well-timed opportunity to make a case for himself on the free-agent market.