November 21, 2011 Leave a comment
If they haven’t been spoken already, we’ll hear those words from Lovie Smith at some point this week. Jay Cutler is reported to be undergoing surgery to repair a fractured thumb on Tuesday. Although there wasn’t a defining hit in the Chargers game where you saw it happen, we know he played hurt for some portion of the game (so can we finally put the issue of Jay Cutler’s toughness to bed?).
My initial reaction to Hanie is that’s fine by me. Hanie has proven about as much as he can that he is an able and workable backup QB. Looking at his line from last year’s NFC Championship game, (13/20, 153 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT), I’ll be the first to say that Hanie is no Aaron Rodgers, but the 65% completion percentage is somewhat encouraging. Since Hanie has a total of 14 pass attempts as an NFL quarterback (and none since October 10, 2010), I’m going back to his college days to look for any consistency.
At Colorado State, Hanie wasn’t even a starter until his junior season, so begrudgingly I’ll limit the evaluation to his last two years. In 24 starts, Hanie went 397/635 (62.5%) for 4882 yards, 29 TD, 27 INT. So we see the INT problem from the NFC Championship game wasn’t exactly a fluke, with a 4.25% INT rate (the NFL league average for 2011 is 2.98%). Even before adjusting from college to pro, we’re already looking at a higher than average interception rate. If there’s any effort to cut down on this rate in Hanie’s first start, it might take away the long ball from Mike Martz’s gameplan against the Radiers this week.
From an armchair quarterback perspective, it seems keen for the Bears to want to try to get the ball in the hand of their speed guys (Devin Hester and Johnny Knox) in open space on some quick screens. I’ve seem far less of those failed bubble screens this year than in the previous two years that Jay Cutler has been under center. I do believe the Raiders are going to make Martz beat them with Hanie. Do-it-all running back Matt Forte will no doubt become Raiders DC Chuck Bresnahan chief focus in his gameplan, and I wouldn’t disagree with that.
From a betting perspective, the sportsbooks seems to value Jay Cutler at more than 12 points against the Raiders. Under normal circumstances according to various power ratings, the Bears should be favored by 8 points. As it stands in most books I’ve seen, Oakland is favored between 4 1/2 or 5 1/2 points. Call me a homer, but taking those points, and I’m calling for a Bears win outright.