9:12 PM EST, November 27, 2011
Caleb Hanie was bad. Awful. Sometimes egregiously horrible.
But then, what’d you expect from a guy who hadn’t thrown a pass all season?
Hanie threw three interceptions and so many other bad passes against the Raiders. High, wide, low, you name it. Fittingly, Hanie was bad down to the end when he faked like he was turfing a ball, but got cute, and was called for intentional grounding, and that’s how this aggravating 25-20 loss ended.
The offensive line protected Hanie. He had time to make throws. He had time that Jay Cutler would kill for. If only Hanie’s accuracy was as good.
The defense gave him every chance. Julius Peppers had two sacks, and Amobi Okoye and Henry Melton had one each. Corey Graham grabbed his second interception in as many games since replacing injured nickel back D.J. Moore. Lance Briggs delivered a big hit on Michael Bush inside the 5 to save a touchdown. The defense had limited Oakland to six field goals and 1-for-12 on third down before finally caving with four minutes to go.
And so, this was back to the bad, old days of awful offense and praying for the defense and special teams to score.
Imagine how easily the Bears would’ve won with a healthy Cutler. Imagine how easily the Bears would’ve won with a decent Hanie. It looked like spring training where the hitting was ahead of the Bears’ pitching.
Quick, someone tell Hanie that late, high and wide over the middle is no way to go through the NFL.
Hanie talked a nice game afterward. He said he was amped up early. He thought he settled in later. Not really, but if he believes it, OK. Whatever works for you, pal.
Hanie proved to be the high-risk/high-reward quarterback who threw two interceptions and one touchdown in the loss to Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game. He beat a Raiders blitz to hit Johnny Knox for a score and scrambled to buy time before hitting Kellen Davis in the end zone.
But the interceptions were killers. Mind-boggling in some cases. This didn’t figure to be a game Hanie could win on the road against an aggressive defense. His job was not to lose it, but the guy who said he didn’t want to be a “game manager’’ couldn’t manage it.
Hanie said he has to learn from his mistakes, and if so, he’ll need to stay after school all week.
He’ll also need some help. Play-calling, for one thing, especially in the red zone. A throwback screen that Cutler can’t execute very well, and Mike Martz has Hanie trying it?
Matt Forte and Marion Barber gained 122 yards on 22 carries, a 5.6 average that seemed to be worth riding to minimize Hanie’s chances of losing the game while also giving the defense a chance to win it.
Hanie could use some hands, too. His receivers can’t drop gimmes. They have to hold onto passes in the same zip code as their routes.
But you know what? It’s not that big of a deal.
Yeah, it’s an ugly loss, one that makes you abandon all hope, but this was a game the Bears could afford to lose.
Despite Sunday’s mess, the Bears still hold the top wild-card playoff spot. What’s more, they still have three cupcakes at home, which would get them the 10 wins they figure to need to make the postseason.
Hanie got a tuneup. The coaching staff got a tuneup with Hanie. It’s not so bad if you think of it that way and believe Hanie can be put in position to play better against a worse team.
Kansas City comes here next week. That’s a win. That has to be a win.