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Sticking with Hanie the best plan for Bears

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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Posted Dec. 05, 2011 @ 6:47 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

The list of quarterbacks rumored to have interest in joining the Bears continued to grow Monday, as Brett Favre apparently would answer the phone if the Bears came calling. It's not surprising that getting a chance to be a hero as the team tries to make it into the playoffs apparently has appealed to the likes of Donovan McNabb and Favre, but head coach Lovie Smith said Monday that the Bears are sticking with Caleb Hanie and are not interested in adding any other players to the mix at quarterback.

Hanie is being backed up by rookie fifth-round pick Nathan Enderle, and Josh McCown is the third-string quarterback while Jay Cutler rehabs his broken right thumb.

"That's our group," Smith said Monday. "We're going to make improvement with our group like all positions. We're not looking on the outside. We're not having a quarterback tryout or anything like that. These are our guys and we're all going to get better."

The Bears would make the playoffs as a wild card if the season ended today, but their postseason hopes took another hit Sunday when RB Matt Forté suffered a Grade II MCL sprain Sunday. He's expected to be out for at least two weeks, but Smith said he expects Forté back this season.

Chicago has lost two in a row since Cutler broke his thumb against the Chargers, and Hanie has thrown two touchdown passes and six interceptions and has been sacked 11 times in his two starts. He has struggled mightily, but the Bears appear committed to him heading into their Week 14 game at Denver.

The PFW Spin

The Bears undoubtedly can be stubborn at times, but in this case, staying away from Favre and McNabb is the most sensible move. Don't make struggling into more of a spectacle than it already is.

Hanie has thrown three picks in each of his two games, but there's a case to be made that three of them were made possible by the mistakes or poor decisions of others, and his last one Sunday was on a Hail Mary pass on the final play of the game.

Offensive coordinator Mike Martz made a questionable play call last week against Oakland that resulted in Hanie getting picked off on a deflected screen pass. All three of Hanie's picks Sunday against Kansas City came in the second half of the 10-3 loss. His first interception came on a deep pass intended for WR Johnny Knox. It was a poor throw, but Knox could have been more physical and aware on the play. He may have been able to keep Brandon Carr from hanging onto the ball. The second pick came after an inexcusable bobble and drop by Roy Williams on a play that would have been a game-tying touchdown if he didn't let the ball bounce off his hands and into S Jon McGraw's.

Despite the poor performance from Hanie and the offense against the Chiefs, the Bears still had a chance to win. They have had a chance to win in each of the two games Hanie has started.

It's going to take a focused and creative game plan from Martz, who is now down to his backup quarterback and Marion Barber and Kahlil Bell at running back, to get the offense closer to being on track against the Broncos. Hanie is not suddenly going to change his ways, but the Bears can win with him and trying to do that should be their only focus.

It apparently is.

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