I think we can all agree that, outside of playing in the 4th quarter with the Bears up by 4 touchdowns, none of us want to see much of Caleb Hanie this year. However, there has been quite a bit of trepidation about what would happen if He Who Need Not Be Named ever was injured. Many of us keyboard prognosticators have openly speculated about the wisdom of not acquiring a veteran backup QB, fueled by the worry that Caleb Hanie and (God help us) Basenez are somewhere between a division III college redshirt freshman and a practice squad-caliber signal caller.
Though all of us are going to see, along with our first sip of real football in too long, a lot of Caleb Hanie live in a matter of days, I thought it'd be fun to expand a little on our #2 backup, which you can read more about in a Nice Article in the Daily Herald that was included in the most recent edition of the Bears Den. I saw him a few times when I lived in Fort Collins (home of Colorado State University), and hope this discussion will help, at least kill time, if not offer some hope, before cleat hits pigskin to start the game with Buffalo this weekend.
After coming in as an undrafted free agent last year and within a year solidifying himself as the #2 QB behind one of the most legitimate QB talents of the past decade, Hanie has earned his way to a crossroads of his career. From the Herald Article above:
(Last Preseason), Hanie completed 29 of 49 passes for 321 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions for a passer rating of 82.1. But, since he was active for only one regular-season game last year and never took a snap, the preseason remains the most crucial time of year for the 6-foot-2, 225-pounder. His evaluation begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, the preseason opener against the Bills in Buffalo
My honest assessment of Caleb Hanie is that he has the potential (though admittedly still unproven) of being our Matt Cassel, flying under the radar but possibly better than anyone ever realized. For those of you who like raw skills and scouting reports, good luck finding a consistent answer. Mel Kiper originally ranked him right up with Flacco as one of a dozen QB's with the tools to start in the NFL in his career, while most others (as was borne out in the draft) didn't even have him as draftable. For those of you who haven't been to Fort Collins, it is unbelievably windy there, and despite having a no-name supporting cast there and verifiably awful pass protection, here are his numbers from his last two years in college:
The guy's accuracy is notable, and included 70%+ completion games of 220 and 300 yards vs Colorado and California respectively even while getting sacked 8 times in those two games. I've noticed he has a fairly slow release, can get overconfident in some of his throws, and gets sacked a lot because of lack of mobility on the negative side. However, his arm strength looks good, accuracy very good, and he plays with confidence and a chip on his shoulder. I personally will be watching him with a lot of interest in the pre-season to see how well he steps up to the new level of competition he will be playing against this year.
I find it very interesting that the Bears haven't gone out and gotten a veteran QB. Though I am not a fan of putting quarterbacks on the squad to learn our offense, who can then go out and play for the Vikings in a couple of years later, I think that their belief in Hanie's skills is another key reason they haven't seen a need to shore up the position. Either way, my question for discussion is, do they have a justifiable faith in Hanie?
While your preparing your takes on this, here's some video candy:
Lots of footage from 2008 preseason (and lots of drops of very catchable balls)
2009 Training Camp clips? I can't find any.