When you're a third string quarterback in the NFL, getting into a game can be a rare occurrence. And getting into a game because both the Bears' first and second string quarterbacks are injured is probably not how Caleb Hanie thought he would get into last Sunday's game against the New York Giants. But that's exactly what happened; it's the first time the Bears have played three quarterbacks in a single season since 2007, when Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman and Brian Griese all played, and the first time they've used three in a single game since December 28, 2003 against the Chiefs, the year of the ill-considered Kordell Stewart experiment (Stewart, Rex Grossman and Chris Chandler all completed passes in that game). Just who is Caleb Hanie, then, and can he be more productive than guys like Chad Hutchinson, Craig Krenzel and Jonathan Quinn, not to mention Gary Huff or Larry Rakestraw?
Hanie was signed by the Bears as an undrafted free agent in April 2008. As you'd expect for a team's third quarterback, he has seen limited regular season game action. While active for one game in 2008, he did not appear in that game against the Tennessee Titans. Last year he appeared in two games, completing three of seven passes for 11 yards and one interception.
He attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins, majoring in history. His name appears at the top of almost all of the school's passing categories. From the Bears website:
"Sits near the top of Colorado State's record book in almost every major passing category after spending four years (2004-07) in Fort Collins where he played in 35 games, including 28 starts at QB... Finished his career ranked 2nd in school history in completion percentage (61.0) and 3rd in passing yards (6,337) and TD passes (39)... Ranks 5th all-time in Mountain West Conference history in TD passes and 7th in passing yards... Team captain as a senior, completed 188-of-293 passed for 2,455 yards, 18 TDs and 15 INTs after starting all 12 games at QB... Led the MWC and ranked 19th nationally in passing efficiency (144.6) and ranked 2nd in the conference in TD passes... Set the school record for completion percentage (64.2) in a season... Threw a career-high 3 TDs in three games as a senior... Also added a career-high 301 yards vs. Cal... Started all 12 games at QB, throwing for 2,427 yards on 209-of-342 passes for 11 TDs and 12 INTs, as a junior... Completed a career-high 25 passes vs. New Mexico... Appeared in 4 games as a sophomore, including action in the Poinsettia Bowl vs. Navy... Completed 13-of-29 passes for 251 yards and 2 TDs... Saw action in 7 games, making 5 starts as a freshman... Threw for 1,204 yards on 85-of-147 passing to go along with 8 TDs and 7 INTs."
With Jay Cutler now officially out this weekend against the Carolina Panthers, Hanie will back up Todd Collins. According to this Sun-Times article, Hanie played reasonably well in his performance last Sunday:
"... third-string quarterback Caleb Hanie looked solid late in the fourth quarter. He completed three of four passes for 36 yards, including a team-high 26-yarder."
And he will be ready if needed again this coming Sunday.