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The Curious Case of Caleb Hanie

Well, if you haven't heard, the Bears have another quarterback controversy on their hands; thank Ditka it doesn't involve the starting quarterback for once, but it does include the near-savior of the NFC Championship game and Mad Mike's hand-picked quarterback (part deux, of course). Do the truffle shuffle to enter.

Caleb Hanie entered the league in 2008 as an undrafted free agent out of Colorado State. In three years in the league he's only totaled eight completions and sixty-six yards with no touchdowns before last year's performance in the NFC Championship game (13-20, 153 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT). Relative to expectations in terms of his draft status, Hanie has been a success, making the roster after posting an 82 passer rating in 2008 and a passer rating of 89 during the 2009 preseason. His performance in the NFCC game led Bucky Brooks to include Hanie on his short list of backups that could eventually become starters (a nondescript group that includes Matt Flynn, Joe Webb, and... well, lets move on).

While Hanie at least has gain the respect of various media outlets for his performance in the NFCC game despite being relegated to third-string status the majority of the season, Martz tempered Hanie's comeback attempt with "its not like he had a great game or anything." This after wanting to address the backup QB role last year with he-who-shall-not-be-named. After showing enough moxie in the playoffs to seemingly lockdown the backup QB spot, the Bears extended the lowest qualifying restricted tag on Hanie, so that they could match any offer or let him walk without compensation. A second-round tag? Worth an extra $800,000.

Look, Hanie obviously isn't a Martz guy; the body of evidence is clear between two late round QB picks, last year's demotion, a minimal qualifying offer this offseason, and now this. Hanie was reportedly visibly (as opposed to invisibly?) upset after watching Enderle take all second team snaps in 7on7 drills. Hanie had an inconsistent week of practice leading up to the Bills game, but after going 3-7 for 32 yards, no picks, and a rushing touchdown which proved to be the Bears only touchdown, I'm surprised by the move and disappointed by the Bears. Yes, he took sacks that he was at least partly responsible for. Yes, he's inconsistent. That's why he's a backup. But Hanie deserved credit for keeping the Bears in a playoff game despite being ill-prepared to do so.

Hanie should have been locking down the Bears #2 QB spot for this season while Martz searched for his next Warner/Bulger white whale. Enderle's drafting is a solid long-term investment; good size, big arm, good scheme background, and Martz likes him. A Martz man is like a Baird man, you either belong or you work hard to prove you belong. But he's doing the team and the player a disservice by toying with a guy for two solid seasons without either cutting him loose or locking him down as the guy (#2 QB). Hanie may not be a Martz guy, but he deserves to be given a valid opportunity, not batted around like a cat toying with a mouse before the kill.