In the aftermath of Jay Cutler's injury (which came near the end of the Bears triumph over the Chargers), many talking heads have been saying that the loss of JC is a "big-blow". This may be true on one side, but on the flip side of that same coin is the prospect of 2nd string QB Caleb Hanie getting another chance to shine.
As we all know, Hanie put in an attention grabbing performance last year in relief of Cutler in the NFC Title game against the Pack. Hanie brought heart and fire onto the field with him in that game, and nearly pulled off a "Clint Longley" type miracle. Interceptions is what did Hanie in down the stretch, but let's face-it, he had no time at all with the first team offense, but still played well.
This year, Caleb will have all week to take reps with the first team offense, and the defense has already made it's pledge to step-up their game-play down the stretch. Another thing which plays in Hanie's favor, is the quality time He spent with JC during the off season, and during the lock-out. The two Bear QB's have become close friends as well.
We strongly believe that Hanie will be ready to take this challenge head-on for the Bears, and lead them to a playoff berth. This is also why Lovie Smith addressed the media today by stating;
"Don't feel sorry for us or anything like that, We have a lot of things in place. We're going to miss a great player for a period of time. But offensively we're going to rely on our running game a little bit more. We have a great defense and special teams. You know how we win football games around here."
I agree with Lovie, and this will be a true test for Himself, and his entire coaching staff as well as the players. At the same time, I also strongly feel that Lovie should show more public support for Hanie to further amplify the support he already has among the players.
Now at the same time, many of the talking heads at ESPN and NFL Network are now acknowledging the Bears to a legitimate playoff contender. Needless to say, the O-Line had yet another stellar game against San Diego yielding "0" sacks for the game. The skeptics are now becoming believers.
Yes Bear Fans, we do have something to hope for in these last 6 games. We will also get a chance to see just how much of leader Jay Cutler has really become, by still being a strong presence on the side-lines in support of his team mates, while recovering from his injury.
Our schedule also appears to be in our favor with 4 out of the final six teams on the docket have records of .500 or less. Oakland could be tough game as well as our showdown with the Pack in Christmas Day, but the defense will give Palmer all he can handle come Sunday.
Denver at 5-5 will see the end of Tebow-mania when our defense Bears-down, and force Tebow into a game he will not be able finish like he has in recent days. A lot is also riding on players like Roy Williams, Johnny Knox, and Earl Bennett to play consistently during this stretch run to help keep our passing viable in key 3rd down situations. We are in control of our destiny....
BEAR-DOWN CHICAGO FANS!!!