The original intent of my post is going to change, now with all this injury news that came out last night. I was going to just sort of talk about a lot of the things I liked in yesterday's game; Martz's fourth quarter drives that ate up most of the clock, the fact that the OL played well without Chris Williams and even when they weren't their best Cutler still made them look good, the wide receivers being quite productive, including one mister Roy Williams. But now I am going to talk all of you into believing that this team can win and still make the playoffs without their leader and strong-armed starting QB Jay Cutler. That's right, the Bears can be 10-6 with Caleb freakin' Hanie.
How can I believe in a guy who has only taken minimal snaps in his career, made no starts and last played in the NFC Championship Game? Here are the reasons I believe:
-Caleb Hanie stepped into the role when Cutler went down in the NFC Championship Game and performed admirably. Considering that during the regular season the back up gets almost no snaps, and considering that for most of last year Hanie was the third stringer and got less than no snaps, he did pretty well.
-Hanie signed a one-year deal to come back to the Bears. Some say that the Bears were hoping they could get enough of him on film to perhaps try to trade him and get something in return for him, a la the Eagles with Kolb or the Falcons with Shaub. Well here is his chance. Hanie, go out play well, lead the Bears to some Ws get them in the playoffs and see free agent interest in you skyrocket.
-The schedule. Plain and simple, the Bears are into the easiest part of their schedule this last month and a half; at Oakland, vs. Kansas City, at Denver (who isn't bummed that we don't get to see Cutler vs. his old team, even if McDaniels isn't there anymore), vs. Seattle, at Green Bay and at Minnesota. You really don't think Hanie could pull out three of those?
-Our offensive coordinator. Yes, I know, Mad Mike rears his ugly head once in a while but he finally got himself in check last month and we haven't lost since. He can stick with game plans that rely on Forte and the ground game and with the way the defense is going we don't need Hanie to be great. Just good enough.
-Expanding on that, look at what Martz has done with other back-ups in his career: Kurt Warner, obviously, Marc Bulger, Jon Kitna (who was mainly a career back-up who Martz got to light it up). Those are just a few, but Martz has also gotten good games from other no-name guys like JT O'Sullivan and Shaun Hill. Not to mention he also discovered Ryan Fitzpatrick.
-Our next opponent, the Raiders, beat the Vikings by seven yesterday and just last week they beat the Chargers by seven. We beat the Chargers yesterday by 11 and we beat the Vikings by 29. You don't think a Hanie led-Bears team could squeak one out against the Raiders?
-You have to think that down the stretch, at worst we can afford to go 3-3. That would get us to 10-6 and I think Detroit is faltering and we still have a tie-breaker win over the Eagles and not getting swept by Detroit helps too.
There you go. No need to panic, yes it sucks losing Cutler and not having him will show the critics how important he is to us, but all the same, I believe that Hanie can lead the Bears to the playoffs. Once there, maybe Cutler can come back and then who knows....