By Laurence Holmes-
(WSCR) No one knew what to expect from Caleb Hanie. Not you. Not me. Not even the Bears coaching staff. The truth is that there just wasn’t enough good information to base a prediction. The good thing about Sunday is that it’s over. I don’t mean that to be flippant. With it being over, the Bears now have something useful to build a more effective gameplan for Kansas City.
The NFL is a league that is based on evaluation. With Hanie making his first NFL start he still is an enigma, even to Mike Martz. You can take all of the Bourbonnais snaps you want, but that doesn’t tell the story. In pre-season games, you’re running against super-vanilla defenses. The idea is more about getting your body ready for the pounding of a season rather than tightening up your skills. Even when Hanie has been inserted into games, it’s not a fair evaluation. Against Carolina last year and vs the Packers in the NFC title game, neither one of those teams were prepping specifically for Hanie. They didn’t have a week to prepare.
In a loss, it’s hard to be happy, but the Bears gained something very valuable, the “tape”. It’s the end-all, be-all of NFL evaluation. Right now, Mike Martz and Shane Day are dissecting Hanie’s performance and let’s hope that they’re harsh. In fact, let’s hope that they’re vicious. By Wednesday they need to have a Hanie-specific gameplan. The tape will allow them to do that.
Good coaches strip down and simplify what they want their quarterbacks to do. Hanie is a neophyte. Forget that he has been here for four seasons. While it’s great he has a working knowledge of the offense, the Bears can now look at how he reacts in the pocket. They can check his footwork and see what plays he is most comfortable with. The Oakland gameplan was more guess work than anything else. Now Hanie becomes clay and now he has a better chance of being molded — a point which Lovie Smith made in the post-game.
“We can build off of this performance. I saw enough for us to build off of today. Next week you’ll see better play from the quarterback position,” Smith said.
Hopefully, the Bears can do a better job protecting Hanie. I don’t mean blocking protection. I mean protecting him from himself. The tape will show tendencies. It’ll show what plays, where the Bears can be more efficient with, to minimize mistakes. That becomes the key now.
This game swung on the 2nd-and-1 call from the 7-yard-line. You may remember that TE throw-back play from the Atlanta game. In that game the Bears had the right look and Jay Cutler missed the throw high. It’s actually a brilliant play… for Cutler, who is adept at throwing while moving, even backwards. It’s a play that needs a great fake, touch and timing. Honestly, asking Hanie to do that was a bit silly considering down and distance and it being a red zone possession, but the positive that the Bears can take from that disaster is they have a better idea of what they can and can’t do.
The offensive coaches are going to have to earn their money this week, but now they actually have a starting point. It’s on them to figure out what Hanie did well on Sunday and put more of it in the gameplan for Kansas City. Let the breakdown and re-constructure of Hanie begin.