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.
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.