November 21st, 2011
by bearsbacker

Fourth-year quarterback Caleb Hanie has completed eight of 14 regular-season pass attempts for 66 yards and one touchdown.

Why am I talking about backup quarterback Caleb Hanie?

Well, if you haven’t heard by now, Bears starter Jay Cutler suffered a broken thumb in the Bears’ 31-20 victory over the Chargers Sunday night.

Jay Glazer first reported the injury on FOXSports.com, and then the Chicago Tribune said that Cutler will be out six to eight weeks.

Surgery could be an option, but don’t expect the Bears to put Cutler on injured reserve.

The Bears were in a similar situation in 2005, when Rex Grossman returned for the playoffs with Kyle Orton holding the offense down.

That didn’t work out so well for them. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

It’s not clear when exactly in the game he suffered the injury. He went down hard on a tackle he made after he threw an interception in the fourth quarter with 10:03 on the clock. Chargers linebacker appeared to make the tackle on Cutler.

The only other play where Cutler seemed to have pain in his hand was late in the second quarter.

“You don’t want to be in that position too often trying to run down a DB,” Cutler said after the game. “I had to do what I had to do.”

That play ultimately ended Cutler’s season. It just goes to show how much he loves the game of football and what a leader he was becoming in his second season under the Mike Martz offense.

The Bears have not made an announcement about the subject and head coach Lovie Smith didn’t even mention the injury.

Smith’s news conference is scheduled for noon CT.

Cutler finished perhaps his best game of the season against his biggest rival in Philip Rivers. Cutler played through the pain the entire day, going down hard after taking a knee to the head. No matter where in the game the thumb injury occurred, Cutler showed his toughness and likely put away a lot of the doubters that were jumping on him this past January.

With his broken thumb on his throwing hand likely needed to surgery to heal properly. it will take some quality football for this team to make the postseason.

The Bears currently sit at the No. 6 spot in the NFC, so if the season ended today they would be in the playoffs. However, Dallas (6-4) and Atlanta (6-4) are coming on as of late.

Their final six games include trips to OaklandDenver, Green Bay and Minnesota, and home matchups against Kansas City and Seattle.

The last time the Bears saw Hanie play with the first-team offense was this preseason, where he completed seven of 10 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. He really struggled at times during training camp and a lot if it had to do with lack of practice due to the new collective bargaining agreement.

Hanie’s biggest action in a game was in the NFC Championship. He replaced ineffective veteran Todd Collins, who was in for a hobbled Cutler (knee) and went 13-of-20 for 153 passing yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

The first interception was returned for a touchdown and the second one was a desperation throw on the final drive that allowed the Packers to ultimately win it all.

You can’t blame Hanie—he hadn’t a real experience or adequate reps in practice, but he was resilient at times. There is a reason he went undrafted.

He isn’t going to be the Kurt Warner to the Trent Green, or the Matt Cassel to the Tom Brady, or even the Tom Brady to the Drew Bledsoe, but he might not be as bad as we think.

He showed a true connection with receivers Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett in the NFC Championship and this preseason. Knox slipped on the interception thrown by Cutler and that led to the devastating injury for the Bears star QB. If only you can take away that one play, it’s unfortunate, but the season isn’t over just yet.

At 7-3, the Bears are showing the NFL why they’re are a good team. They win with all three phases: special teams, defense and offense.

The defense has stepped it up as of late, Devin Hester is always a threat in the return game and running backs Matt Forte and Marion Barber are hard runners.

Hanie will likely start on Sunday in Oakland, unless by some godly miracle Bears head coach Lovie Smith announces Cutler OK to play.

This won’t be at the same level as the NFC Championship, but if he wants to be known as a good quarterback the time for Hanie is now because the league didn’t know who he really was until this past January.

He is athletic enough to be a good player; he may not have the best arm, but he makes it up with his athleticism.

With ample time in the pocket and a solid running game, this offense could be good enough.

All quotes from Chicagotribune.com.

Jake Perper is the owner and head writer for Bearsbacker.com. He is also the Chicago Bears writer for NFLTouchdown.com. Follow him on Twitter, @Bearsbacker and on Facebook for up to the minute news about the Bears.

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