Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears' Best Hope Doesn't Rest with Kyle Orton, but with Caleb Hanie

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 09:  Caleb Hanie #12 and Kyle Orton #18 of the Chicago Bears look on during warm-ups against the Tennessee Titans at Soldier Field on November 9, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Max KienzlerAnalyst INovember 23, 2011

Listen, I love Kyle Orton. I do.

I watched him since he was a rookie thrust into the starting role and navigated the Bears to a 10-6 record. I cheered for him after the Rex Grossman meltdown. He made some plays. He limited his mistakes. Orton isn't a bad QB.

When the Bears traded him to Denver, I still rooted for him. I still hoped he would win. I still enjoyed watching him succeed. Heck, I was even was saddened when I heard of his benching and then his release, and this is three years removed from his time in Chicago.

I wish him all the best in the future—just not with the Bears.

I understand the reasons behind wanting Orton. He is a great game manager. He has a relationship with the Bears, the head coach, the front office, the fan base and even some of the players still.

However, he doesn't have a relationship with Mike Martz, and that is the big problem.

Martz is notorious for running a very complicated and very large playbook for his offense. It has taken this core group of players until this season to fully begin mastering it, including Jay Cutler himself. To ask a Orton to come in and learn it quick enough to make a difference in how the Bears finish this season isn't fair to Orton and isn't fair to the Bears. 

In the next three weeks, the Bears face three teams that they should be able to beat with a QB that just needs to understand the system and not make mistakes. Enter Caleb Hanie.

While there may be an argument to be made for needing for a veteran backup behind Hanie and rookie fifth-round pick Nathan Enderle, the Bears' starting QB for the next six weeks, barring injury, is going to be the undrafted free agent out of Colorado St. who has been on the bench for the past four years.

He has sat behind Cutler and learned from him over these last three years. He has worked in Martz's system for the same amount of time. He has sat in all the meetings and studied. He has earned the respect of the team and the fans.

Hanie even came in during the NFC Championship Game and gave the Bears a little spark after Cutler's injury and the failed Todd Collins experiment. (That man still haunts my nightmares.) He played decently and deserves the chance to prove he can play in this league.

There are no better options right now than him, and I know that is scary to hear. Heck, it is scary to type, but it is the truth. For the Bears to win right now and have any shot of sliding into the fifth or sixth playoff spot, they need the best possible QB in right now. That is Hanie.

If the Bears signed Orton, it means No. 12 will spend a lot of time looking over his shoulder every time he throws an incomplete pass. There is enough pressure on him already—Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo just need to give him his shot.

The rest of the Chicago Bears' regular season is, and should be, placed squarely on Hanie's shoulders. It does not matter whom, or even if, the Bears select for a third quarterback while Cutler is on the shelf. The Bears' best hope for making playoffs now rest with Caleb Hanie as their starter. End of story.

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