At the beginning of the 2008 training camp the Chicago Bears had no idea who would be the third string quarterback. On a team where quarterbacks change or get injured on a moments notice, having three quarterbacks on the roster is a high priority. I speak for every Bear’s fan when I say not drafting a quarterback on draft day was one of the biggest mysteries in team history.
In walked undrafted rookie quarterback Caleb Hanie and the legend began to grow. Reports kept surfacing that during training camp an unknown rookie quarterback looked remarkable sharp. Enter the preseason and every week it seemed the whispers of Caleb Hanie kept growing. Every week Kyle Orton was adequate and Rex Grossman struggled in the first half. Every week Caleb Hanie would enter the second half and put on a show that made fans wonder about restructuring the depth chart at quarterback.
Hanie finishes the preseason completing 29 of 49 passes for 321 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Those may not be remarkable numbers but it doesn’t speak to his ability to evade the pass rush and work effectively in the pocket. He is the complete opposite of Rex Grossman in every way. He looks calm and cool on the pocket, slips away from defenders, and finds the short pass instead of throwing long bombs into coverage.
I have to remember that Hanie was starting against other third string defenders and it isn’t a true test of his ability. However, having good mechanics makes it irrelevant if it’s the third team or the first team offense. A quarterback that can actually function as a quarterback and control the pocket is a good person to have on this team.
The way the Bears have protected quarterbacks in the past, perhaps we’ll get a chance to see him before this season is over. Until then the legend of Caleb Hanie will continue to grow in Chicago.
Here’s a little taste of what he does best: