The Mind of Caleb Hanie from the Outside Looking In

I’m not always a big fan of the Chicago Tribune‘s David Haugh. But he’s right on point when he says that the moment is unlikely to overwhelm new Bears starting quarterback Caleb Hanie on Sunday. Confidence is not his problem. He’s brimming with that to the point of arrogance. Via Brad Biggs, also at the Tribune:

“‘If you don’t have that confidence, there’s no way you’re going to be the next big thing,’ [Hanie] said. ‘I have to play with confidence and see where it leads, take it week to week.’”

Absolutely right.

As long as that confidence is tempered with maturity. And its this aspect of Hanie’s personality that worries me just a little bit. For instance, here is offensive coordinator Mike Martz on why he has felt the need to coach Hanie extremely hard since he’s been here:

“You have to stress him and press him a little bit, get him out of his comfort zone so he can deal with some of the emotional ups and downs that come with being a starter in the league. Kind of callous him up a little bit.”

Dealing less emotionally and more stably with situations which we meet every day is something all adults go through as they mature. I watched it happen in my parents and I feel it happening to me more every year. With Hanie, it isn’t just about growth as a quarterback. Martz has had to take on the more difficult task of trying to accelerate his growth as a person. And if he’s been extra critical of Hanie and if he’s constantly tempering his compliments for him in his public comments, its probably because Hanie isn’t the kind of person who is likely to be as critical of himself. It is with this in mind that I read this quote from Hanie via Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times on his new role as the starting quarterback:

“‘I feel like we’re pretty similar,’ Hanie said when asked how similar his game is Cutler’s. ‘Our offense is built around being mobile in the pocket and making accurate throws and getting the ball out quick, while … protecting the football. So that plays to my strengths.’”

Really?

First, though Hanie is definitely mobile outside the pocket, I’ve seen no evidence in his limited playing time that he’s mobile inside the pocket. Those are two completely different things with the latter almost being more a question of instinct and experience than athletic ability. As for “getting the ball out quick”, his problems with Martz during the preseason probably had a lot to do with the fact that he wasn’t doing this. And as Martz felt the need to remind both us and Hanie in his public comments over the summer, Hanie certainly didn’t “protect the football” during the playoff loss to the Packers last year.

I don’t know Caleb Hanie, we haven’t haven’t heard him talk enough to make firm judgments and we’ve barely seen him play outside of preseason games. But this isn’t the first time I’ve wondered over the last four years if Hanie sees himself realistically. The above didn’t sound like a list of strengths to me. It sounded like a list of things he’s needed to improve on. Let’s hope he’s had the proper mindset since training camp to allow him to do so.

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