Hoge: Angelo Cost The Bears The Playoffs

By Adam Hoge-

SOLDIER FIELD (CBS) With 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 38-14 loss to the Seahawks, thousands of Bears fans flooded the exits of Solider Field knowing the season was all but over.

The only question: Why did they wait so long to give up?

Looking back on it now, the Bears never had a realistic chance without Jay Cutler. And when Matt Forte went down, any Tim Tebow-like prayer was lost as well.

It’s probably not fair to expect any 7-3 team that loses its starting quarterback and running back to do better than 3-3 like so many of us did, but 0-4 – and probably 0-6 two weeks from now – is completely unacceptable.

Football is the ultimate team sport and while quarterback is clearly the most important position in the pass-happy NFL, a competent general manager should at least have a serviceable backup ready. You know, one that won’t lose you four games in a row.

In other words, not Caleb Hanie.

How bad has the Bears quarterback situation been in the midst of their four game losing streak?

As the fans bailed early in the fourth quarter with the Seahawks leading 31-14, Lovie Smith could have made a change at quarterback, but decided not to.

“(Hanie) was struggling, but we still felt like we were in the football game and he was our best option at the time,” Smith said.

Yes, even after throwing two interceptions – one that was returned for a touchdown – while only completing 9-of-20 passes up to that point, Hanie was still the best option.

And the sad thing is, he probably was.

Other than August practices in Bourbonnais, we haven’t been able to watch how Hanie has truly developed since joining the Bears four years ago. One could only assume that if he was still a No. 2 quarterback in the NFL after all this time, then he should at least be able to lead the Bears to a 3-3 record and make the playoffs while Cutler’s thumb healed.

That assumption was understandable. The Bears’ inability to accurately evaluate his talent is not.

Thus has been the problem with Jerry Angelo in charge. Sure, he could tell that Jay Cutler had a rocket arm and that Julius Peppers was a freak of nature, but when it comes to evaluating the talent of younger players – you know, the part of his job he really gets paid for – Angelo has consistently failed.

And his failure this year – Caleb Hanie – has cost the Bears the playoffs.

Where To Go From Here

While Smith kept Hanie in the game at the start of the fourth quarter, the quarterback didn’t last long. He was sacked twice on one drive and then promptly threw another pick-six on the first play of the next drive.

Finally, with 4:54 left in the game, Smith put Josh McCown in the game.

Of course McCown’s second pass was… intercepted.

Asked after the game if he thought he would start next week’s game at Green Bay, McCown said he had no idea, while Smith left the door open to that possibility.

When asked after the game if the quarterback position was open, Smith said: “Open? It’s right after the game and we’re disappointed in our performance today at the quarterback position. Can’t tell you anything more than that.”

In other words, it’s not closed.

Injury report

The only good news for the Bears after the game was that wide receiver Johnny Knox was not paralyzed. Unfortunately he still needs surgery Monday to stabilize a vertebrae in his mid- to lower back. He suffered a scary back injury in the first quarter on a hit where his upper body was bent backwards. The Bears says the prognosis for his playing career and quality of life is good.

Meanwhile, Chris Conte left the game with a foot injury and never returned, while Devin Hester saw his playing time limited because of a nagging ankle injury.

adam hoge Hoge: Angelo Cost The Bears The Playoffs

Adam Hoge

Adam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the White Sox, Blackhawks and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.

  • Dag

    It’s not Hanie’s fault that he’s in that line-up.

    When Cutler was playing and the Bears had the game sewn up, why wasn’t the 2nd or 3rd string q.b. put in the game to get some playing time? Culer didn’t have to finish all the games.

    Bears fail miserably at developing their back-ups. They fail misterably at the type of back-up(s) they have.

  • http://todayscoolalbumoftheday.wordpress.com Larry Carta

    Adam, if you’re going to say he dropped the ball on Hanie, then why didn’t you make at least ONE suggestion on who should have been the backup?

    Larry Carta
    aka Formula One Boy

  • val

    Best of luck Johnny Knox

  • ger

    The season is over. But we’ve got Christmas Day and the potential for an improbable media event. Have Farve come out of retirement to play for both the Bears and Packers with lawyers and league reps present to arrange a team change at halftime. Then, later, have MJ and Magic come out of retirement to kick off the NBA season. None of these games will probably matter to any of these teams so why not make something interesting out of it?

  • mathew idicula

    Why stop at Angelo, I agree Jerry Angelo is incompetent. But Angelo or any other GM can only go as far as the McCasky’s will let them go after all they are where the buck ultimatly stops and it is there name on the product. Any person that says other is skirting the issue. Considering all the parody in the league, a league where you can pretty much go from worst to first in one or two season and the dedicated fan base the this ownership has constantly takes for granted. I would easily rank this ownership as one of theworst in all of sports.

  • Jon

    Consider this. The 1985 Bears team was put together under the same ownership, the main difference was a GM by the name of Jim Finks. Some who knew how to evaluate player talent. I must agree that Jerry Angelo has been nothing but a total failure and he along with Ted Phillips should be fired. I guess we’ll have to wait and see exactly how committed the McCasky’s are to making the Bears a winning team.

  • bob

    Time to see Enderlee………….forget McCowan and Hanie………goodbye. Lovie, Angelo, Martz…………cya. I feel bad for the players who gave all. Roy Williams, bye, and all, etc……….bye, time to start fresh. Is Theo willing to GM football??

  • Swanny

    Angelo needs to go…but, not simply because Hanie “cost” them the playoffs. Angelo’s bigger sin is not providing a competent offensive line.

    In today’s NFL there’s maybe 5 teams that have legit backup QB’s that could win multiple games over a 6 game span (albeit schedule dependent). It’s pretty hard to say there should be a backup plan “just in case” your starting QB and RB both go down.

    He did cost them the playoffs, but not because of Hanie. It’s part of a bigger problem.

    Agree with every criticism on talent evaluation.



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