Teammates making it hard for Hanie to succeed

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Teammates making it hard for Hanie to succeed

As the Oakland Raiders game ended, Caleb Hanies quarterback arrow was pointing decidedly up. Since then

What has happened to Hanie?

It is not as simple as just declaring him an unfit quarterback for the NFL, denigrating Bears personnel staff for allowing 2011 to begin with him as the No. 2 behind Jay Cutler. Or ridiculing the coach staff for going with him as first alternate.

Thats hindsight, second-guessing, selective memory, whatever you want to call it. And it somehow doesnt add up to an adequate explanation for three straight losses with an increasingly inept offense.

Something isnt making complete sense here. Maybe its as simple as. Maybe its. Answer at the end.

Respectable history

On three separate occasions last season Hanie entered games as an emergency throw-in after utter Todd Collins failures. One was against the New York Giants after their nine-sack half against Cutler. Hanie threw four passes, completed three for 36 yards, and his 102.1 passer rating was a relief from Collins 8.1.

A week later Hanie succeeded Collins again and completed two of his three attempts for 19 yards.

Hanie didnt play again until the NFC Championship game when he again replaced Collins after Cutler was lost to the knee injury. Hanie completed 13 of 20 passes, threw an INT that was returned for a touchdown, but recovered from that to a degree that even doubting coordinator Mike Martz was impressed. Hanie had the Bears with a third-and-3 at the Green Bay 27 before Martzs end-around call to Earl Bennett backfired and Hanies last attempt was intercepted at the Green Bay 12.

That was enough of a body of work for the Bears to invest some hope in Hanie, who managed to spit the bit for a time in training camp with his interceptions but not enough for the organization to make another Collins-type move.

Put another way, Hanie gave the Bears more on-field reasons for at least guarded optimism than Matt Cassel had by the time he succeeded Tom Brady several years ago, than Matt Leinart and T.J. Yates had by the time they came on for Matt Schaub in Texas, and any number of backups.

Oakland fourth quarter, and then

In the second half of the Oakland game, Hanie recovered from the interception nightmares of the first two quarters and posted a passer rating above 97. He completed 11 of 21 passes for 182 yards and a TD in the second half and directed three straight scoring drives in the fourth quarter.

The problem is that hes managed just 13 points in the eight quarters since then.

The problem I have with that is its not a full picture.

Hanie has made too many bad passes to escape any sort of blame. He whiffed on Bennett in the Kansas City game and on Marion Barber in Denver.

But whats wrong with the Bears offense right now is so clearly Barber, Roy Williams and points given away. This isnt all that complex.

Hanies problem is that he has not been able to raise his game enough to overcome the 14 lost points by Barber (formation) and Williams (drop) against Kansas City, plus the missed Robbie Gould field after sacks on consecutive pass calls at the Chiefs 7-yards line. And the Gould opportunity that vanished in Denver with the Barber fumble.

The difficulty right now is knowing exactly how good or not good Hanie is. Hes been without franchise running back Matt Forte since mid-first quarter vs. Kansas City. Leinart and Yates at least still had Arian Foster to hand off to, and Carson Palmer threw more INTs (7) in his first three Oakland starts than Hanie (6) has in his first three.

Hanie isnt good enough yet to carry a team past the plays of a Barber and a Williams (at least not both).

Maybe nothing actually has happened to Hanie after all.

Kevin White not looking like a rookie as Bears open training camp

Kevin White not looking like a rookie as Bears open training camp

BOURBONNAIS — Call it a linebacker’s worst nightmare. Twice.

First it was outside linebacker Lamarr Houston, who found himself with wide receiver Kevin White on a pass route that made the wideout — he of 4.35 speed in the 40 — the coverage responsibility of a 274-pound defender whose specialty is going after quarterbacks.

White streaked away from Houston and caught Jay Cutler’s pass for a win for the offense.

Two snaps later it was inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman, whose first NFL interception was of a Cutler pass while Freeman was a member of the Indianapolis Colts, and who suddenly became the latest Bear defender to understand that with White, “if he’s even, he’s leavin’." To his credit, Freeman never lost sight of White, but neither was the overmatched linebacker more than a minor annoyance on the route that ended with another completion from Cutler.

“You know I think having our receivers out there healthy and able to practice, whether it’s Kevin or Alshon [Jeffery] or even Eddie Royal,” head coach John Fox said. “I think you feel the difference when they are out there playing.”

[MORE: Rough first camp day for Kyle Long, Bears No. 1 draft pick Leonard Floyd]

(Motion seconded by Messrs. Houston, Freeman.)

White was not done looking like anything but an inexperienced young player who’d missed his rookie season and virtually all of training camp with a stress fracture to his left leg. He made a twisting grab of another Cutler toss in the 7-on-7 drill, and later worked himself open on a broken play, making a sliding catch to save a pass from Cutler on the run.

Cutler and White spent time together in the offseason, away from football, and one result is the receiver understanding what his quarterback needs and demands.

“If he wants me at 9 yards, at 10 yards, come back down the line or run back to him, that’s what I have to do,” White said. “We’re continuing to do that.”

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!

White was practicing late last season before the Bears opted to leave him shut down after their season all but ended with the disappointing losses to San Francisco and Washington. The lost season set him behind on his learning curve, particularly given his relative inexperience playing at the highest level at West Virginia.

But the Bears also gave White’s injury time to heal rather than rush their No. 7-overall draft choice onto the field. The time off allowed more than just the stress-fracture surgery to mend.

“I had a whole year to recover, mentally and physically,” White said. “If we’d had had this talk last year, it would have mentally been a little rough as far as getting on my routes and trying not to run with a limp. And obviously taking a hit.

“But I’ve had a whole year to get it right. I thank the organization for giving me the time, and so I’m ready mentally and physically.”

Rough first camp day for Kyle Long, Bears No. 1 draft pick Leonard Floyd

Rough first camp day for Kyle Long, Bears No. 1 draft pick Leonard Floyd

BOURBONNAIS — The first day of 2016 Bears training camp was one with players not in full pads as the team eases players into the rigors of the most intense practice stretch of the football year. “No pads” may suggest less grueling, but Thursday saw the Bears finish practice with two of their last four No. 1’s departing early with health issues, even as last year’s top pick was finally back on the field where his rookie season effectively was closed out.

Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd left practice early on a trainer’s cart, while guard Kyle Long finished his day in a walking boot. Neither situation was initially considered dire, but both were in disappointing contrast to the excellent first day of wide receiver Kevin White, whose 2015 season had ended with a stress fracture in his left leg.

[MORE: Bears' first round pick Leonard Floyd leaves practice with illness]

The feeling that swept over the practice fields on the Bears’ first day of practice in Bourbonnais was a mixture of shock and disbelief: Floyd, the Bears’ No. 1 draft choice, was leaving the field on a cart, typically one of the more ominous ways a player can exit a field. After Kevin White’s season was lost last year to a stress fracture suffered in practice even before training camp, the prospect of another Bears No. 1 pick going down before even a first practice in pads was one scenario that organization could hardly have contemplated.

Fortunately, Floyd was down with what he described as a “stomach bug” that had bothered him earlier in the week, and the rookie was expected to be practicing on Friday — subject to trainers’ OK.

“I’m feeling good right now,” said Floyd, who had tried to talk his way back onto the field initially. “What happened today was I’ve been a little under the weather the past couple of days and the trainers knew that. They told me to go out and give it a shot today and then they shut me down.

“I really was begging them to let me go back out there. They told me to shut it down and shut it down tomorrow. I’m basically just trying to get back healthy and get back out there ... because I don’t like to sit out. They recommended that I take it easy today. They didn’t want me to injure myself further.”

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!

Long left practice late with a calf issue, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.

Long has started since day one as a rookie in 2013 and missed only one game over the span of three NFL seasons, all ending with his selection to the Pro Bowl.

Bears' first round pick Leonard Floyd leaves practice with illness

Bears' first round pick Leonard Floyd leaves practice with illness

Leonard Floyd provided a scare on the first day of practice at Bears training camp, but the first round pick appears fine.

Head coach John Fox said Floyd, who left Thursday's practice on a cart, is simply battling an illness and was not injured.

The Bears moved up in April's NFL Draft to select Floyd with the ninth overall pick. The outside linebacker tallied 17 sacks at Georgia and was projected to be in the mix as an outside rusher in the Bears' 3-4 defense.