A lot can be said about how he played yesterday, but most of all, he stuck through it until the end. That says a lot for a new starter. He’s no rookie, by any means, and he’s worked with Cutler long enough to know how the team works, and what is expected from a Bears QB. Yes, he threw 3 interceptions, 2 of which were clearly his fault, but I think we can chalk it up to anxiety, or just being unsure in the position. However, what I can’t figure out is what Martz was thinking in trying to establish the pass before the run.
First of all, you have a fresh QB, that hasn’t seen any real playing time, and a run game that many teams would kill for, so why start with the passing game? Any good football coach will tell you that by establishing the running game, you open up for a passing game. It usually doesn’t work the opposite way, unless of course you have Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. The Bears don’t have a deep threat, and don’t have enough experienced receivers to be able to make the big plays needed to create a strong passing game. Chicago has always been known as a running team, and this season we have 2 backs that can hit the mark, when and where they are needed. Matt Forte and Marion Barber are a dynamic duo of running speed, power, and just kickyourass running. Plus, as any defensive lineman will tell you, beat the run and you’ll tire out the defensive line, allowing for the QB to have more time in the pocket to allow those big passing plays to develop. But no, Martz decided to see if Hanie could live up to Cutler’s standards. And to that I say, you’re not too bright Mr. Martz. Every QB needs to stand on their own merits and abilities, and not be sent into a game hoping they’re a carbon copy of their predecessor. And that’s what happened yesterday.
The play calling yesterday would have been just fine if Cutler was in, but as we all saw, it didn’t work for Hanie. And it probably wouldn’t have worked for a lot of quarterbacks. That’s because each QB has their own way of playing the game, working with the plays they’re given, and so on. Yes, this is a Mike Martz offense, but it should be a Bears Offense, one geared towards the players on the field. The prime example is the Bears Special Teams. The entire squad is geared towards Devin Hester’s (and sometimes Johnny Knox) ability to take the ball great distances. The offensive play calling needs to work the same way.
Let’s hope that Hanie’s mental errors yesterday are just that, and he is able to focus and make the plays he’s capable of. He’s shown is ability to throw the long-ball, his ability to move around in and out of the pocket, and have the entire offense rally around him. This is the makings of a strong QB. Hopefully Martz and Smith are able to see that and work out better strategy. The next big question is, if Hanie gets the Bears into a Playoff position by the time Cutler returns, who will be the starter…..? Will Cutler really be 100% by week 17, and will Hanie be so adapted to the offense that it will be hard to switch again?