The Bears may have former Bear Ron Rivera to thank for their playoff loss. Think I’m stretching it? Read on, McDuff.
Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times answers you questions:
“Q: Why was Todd Collins the No. 2 quarterback. Sean [Jensen] gave me a “he has experience” answer back when I originally asked the question so if you can give me an answer without using the “e word” I would be most appreciative. — Mike
A. I don’t know if I can. This was Mike Martz’s decision. The offensive coordinator has always preferred a veteran backup. Based on his comments made during the offseason and in training camp, I don’t know if he ever trusted [Bears quarterback Caleb] Hanie, who hasn’t always been the most accurate passer, which is something Martz covets. I have been told that Collins was the more consistent in practice. For whatever reason, what was obvious to everybody after watching the Collins throw four picks against the Carolina Panthers wasn’t obvious to Martz, who stubbornly stuck with Collins. I do know the competition was close enough that the staff was considering moving Hanie back to No. 2 late in the season and only gave Collins two possessions before putting Hanie in versus Packers.”
Yes, but those two possessions were critical. Many have made the argument that had Hanie been the second string quarterback, the Bears might have gotten another score and tied or even won the game.
Its not that surprising that Collins underperformed. He is a veteran but he was retired and was signed in desperation. That need was made acute in part when Hanie was injured in the first preseason game against the San Diego Chargers and then defensive coordinator Rivera. San Diego blitzed continually against all convention in such a game and it was obvious that Rivera did it because he was still upset by the way he was let go by Bears head coach Lovie Smith when he was here.
Setting aside the obvious – that this was a misevaluation of the veteran Collins, there are a couple curious things about this situation.
First, I’m going to ask a question that maybe is anathema to Hanie-mania Bear fans. Is Hanie really a number 2 quarterback? Logically, just because Collins was misevaluated, that doesn’t mean that Hanie wasn’t, too. Yes, he moved the offense late in the third and in the fourth quarter. But he also threw two interceptions. It was evident even to the fans watching on television that Hanie was dejected over his performance. He, at least expected more.
Though I’m willing to chalk up the negative aspects of Hanie’s game to lack of practice with the offense, I’m also not willing to necessarily assume he’ll is or should be the back up next year.
Speaking of the practices, the other question I have about this response regards them. Hayes states that “the competition was close enough that the staff was considering moving Hanie back to No. 2 late in the season”. What competition? I was told that Hanie hadn’t taken a snap in practice since the bye week. If it was simply chucking the ball around in drills, its no wonder that Hanie didn’t move ahead of Collins. There was nothing to judge him by after he got hurt in the preseason.
And there’s the irony. In a season where the Bears were so extremely healthy, it is possible that it was the third string quarterback’s preseason injury in the August that doomed them in January. Thank you, Ron Rivera.