Nothing has been or will be said about the Bears quarterback situation coming into a game but the final exam for Caleb Hanie and the Bears season is at hand. No more, no less.
But if the Bears struggle through another first half with Hanie they have never led after two quarters in his three starts the calls for Josh McCown are likely to be loud and clear Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Bears were averaging more than 30 points per game in their five-game win streak under Jay Cutler. They have totaled 33 points in their three under Hanie.
Hanie was handed an unwanted audition with the injury to Cutler. He is an unrestricted free agent after this season. People are watching.
I'm not worried about it personally, said Hanie, who has had good stretches and horrendous ones. All I'm worried about is the team. It's a critical stretch for the team. We've got three games. We're in the playoff hunt still.
We're confident that if we win out that other teams will slip up. And we're confident in the guys we have. So I'm not worried about any personal goals or agendas at this time, besides getting better and making the plays I need to make during the game.
It wont be easy for Hanie. The Seahawks are allowing opposing quarterbacks a passer rating averaging 78.6, which is 10th-best in the NFL.
The Martz effect
An irony in the Hanie situation is that the Bears are reaping what Mike Martz sowed, not this year, but well before that.
Under Ron Turner, Hanie was the No. 2 on a two-man depth chart with Cutler. When Martz took over, he wanted a veteran in the stable, which was generally met with public approval of Todd Collins. Or at least until Collins actually played.
Hanie was relegated to No. 3, which gave him less than no work with the Martz offense until he was thrown in after Collins failures at New York and Carolina. The only times Hanie began a game as other than the No. 3 was vs. Seattle and Washington and he didnt play then.
Hes getting better, Martz said last week. Theres no question hes getting better. Hes getting a better feel for the game. The more he plays, the better hes going to get. Hes going to have a long career in the league. Hes basically a rookie learning as he goes.
A second irony here is that Martzs own career well could be riding on Hanies performance. Martz may never have wanted Hanie as his quarterback, but Martzs future in Chicago, if there is one at this point, or elsewhere will depend in some measure on his ability to develop a quarterback, and that now means Hanie.
I have not lost any confidence in him at all. I really havent, Martz insisted. Weve just got to continue to teach and support him and encourage him and not discourage him and just hang in there with him, really.