Lost in all the talk about the knee injury that sidelined Jay Cutler in the Bears’ NFC Championship Game loss has been the fact that the Bears completely botched their backup quarterback situation on Sunday by foolishly installing Todd Collins, and not Caleb Hanie, as their No. 2 quarterback.
When Cutler went out, Collins went in, and he was horrible: He threw four ugly incompletions before Bears coach Lovie Smith yanked him for Hanie.
But why was Collins ahead of Hanie on the depth chart in the first place? Collins got into two games in the regular season, and he was absolutely terrible: He completed 10 of 27 passes for 68 yards, with no touchdowns, five interceptions and a passer rating of 5.9. At this point, the 39-year-old Collins simply doesn’t belong on an NFL roster. And he certainly doesn’t belong ahead of Hanie on the Bears’ depth chart.
And yet even when the Bears made the right call of pulling Collins and inserting Hanie, they did it at an incredibly stupid time: With less than a minute remaining in the third quarter. It’s important to remember that the NFL’s third quarterback rule means that once Hanie got into the game in the third quarter, the Bears couldn’t put Collins (or Cutler) back in. If Hanie had gotten hurt, the Bears would have been stuck without a quarterback for the rest of the game. (And as bad as Collins is, he’s better than not having a quarterback at all.)
Particularly stunning is that the Bears put Hanie in only to have him hand off twice before the clock ran out on the third quarter. If they were just going to call two straight handoffs, the Bears should have had Collins hand off and wait until the first play of the fourth quarter to insert Hanie.
We’ll never know what would have happened if the Bears had made Hanie the No. 2 quarterback instead of Collins, but it would have been nice for Chicago to get that spark Hanie provided in the third quarter, instead of the fourth. The Bears botched their quarterback situation on Sunday, and Cutler isn’t the only one who deserves criticism.